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Taking care of our mental health during the lockdown

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Right across the UK, we’ve been observing lockdown measures for seven weeks now. While recent signs indicate that the spread of COVID-19 is slowing down, it’s important to not let our guards down. This means maintaining social distance as much as possible.

Seven weeks is an unusually long time to be at home feeling stuck or missing out on company. With the measures set to be in place for potentially the next few months, it can have quite an effect on our mental wellbeing. This is especially the case for those who live alone and rely on regular visits from family, friends and caregivers.

Tightened restrictions on going out and visiting others have made everyone’s daily lives a bit tougher. Normal routines have been disrupted and it’s extremely unlikely we’ll see things getting back to normal all at once. The latest Government update has suggested that lockdown measures may begin to ease in gradual stages on a conditional basis.

So far, the uncertainty has left many people feeling the strain on their mental health. Major factors of this include anxiety over how the virus may affect you and your loved ones, and feelings of loneliness brought on by social distancing. On top of this, remaining mentally prepared for a lengthy and gradual return to normal can also be quite a challenge.

Keep occupied

Whether you’d normally go out to meet others or receive visitors at home, it can be tough having to spend long periods of time at home on your own. You can keep your mind occupied with hobbies and activities, like reading, knitting, doing puzzles or even tending to your garden if you’re able.

While you may not be able to meet with friends or loved ones in person, try to keep in touch over the phone. This is still the most effective way to stay in touch, although lockdown restrictions have been slightly loosened to allow for some brief meetings as long as social distance is maintained. For example you could talk to a visiting family member through your front window or from a distance at the doorstep.

At times when conversation may not be possible, try turning to television or radio programs to break up the silence. You may not be able to have a direct conversation, but having a friendly face or voice nearby can feel engaging and help to lift your spirits on a daily basis.

Stay physically active

Regardless of your living situation, maintaining good physical health is vital to your overall health. When you stay home every day, it’s all too easy to sit in one place and neglect your physical fitness. In turn, however, lower motivation can lead to a lower mood and you’re more likely to feel fed up.

Staying active and eating well can have positive effects on your mental health and mood, as well as your physical wellbeing. If you’re able to get out of the home for a short walk, make sure to steer clear of places where you might come into contact with others. You might not be able to avoid passing by somebody in the street, so aim to maintain a distance of at least 2 metres wherever possible.

In the home, try to commit yourself to some daily exercises. They don’t have to be too strenuous; just a few stretches in the morning or arm exercises during the day can be enough to get your blood pumping. You could even get a bit creative and improvise with a couple of tins of beans from the cupboard to use as small makeshift weights!

Helping your mental health

Even if you feel fine most of the time, there may be moments when your mood shifts. Whether you start to feel low, worried or even overwhelmed, the important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Speaking to someone on the phone or a visiting caregiver can help you to feel a little more relaxed and comfortable.

For times when you can’t speak to somebody, some simple breathing exercises can help. Try and get outside or near a window for some fresh air and take a few deep breaths while sitting comfortably. As you take a deep breath, hold it for a moment and count to 5 as you slowly breath out. Doing this a few times can help to soothe your worried mind.

You can also use the coronavirus section of the Government’s website to keep up with the latest advice and updates. Information is changing on a daily basis and it’s easy to get confused or forget about the present situation, but this website lets you stay informed and can keep your mind at rest.
 

SureCare has teams of care workers operating nationwide to support local communities at this time. If you or a loved one is in need of physical assistance or compassionate support, get in touch with your local branch of SureCare for information on how we can help. Find your nearest SureCare team on our Find a Branch page.