Mental Health and Isolation
My name is Rhys, and I’m the Project Support for Mental Health First Aid Wales.
We said that we’d be offering you information and advice over the coming weeks and months, so here is our first blog offering. We decided that with many of us having to isolate and work from home, that it would be a good idea to share some advice around doing this healthily. Much of this post is applicable for those solely in isolation, however we’ve also included some work-specific information.
Connecting with others
Staying at home for prolonged periods can be taxing and can leave us feeling lonely. Whilst working at home you might feel more distant from your work colleagues. Video and voice calling work colleagues during work hours can be an excellent way to feel connected and can offset some feelings of isolation. If you have Microsoft Teams software, this can easily be done via the chat function. Alternatively, there’s always FaceTime or Skype.
Outside of working hours we still need to keep in contact with our loved ones – especially those who might be vulnerable. Having conversations with people from outside of our household can help to remind us that there are still people out there who care for us when things can seem very lonely. Try texting, video or voice calling family and friends – there are even online games for people to play and interact together.
Pets can also be a great source of comfort here and make fantastic companions during isolation. If you have one (or many!) then play with them or give them a cuddle. Afterall – this is a new experience for them, too!
Do something different! If you have other members in your household then take some time with them away from the tv: sit in the garden or play a game (I’m going to be learning how to play poker.)
It is easy to think that since we need to stay in the house we can sit at home and binge watch all the TV programs on all the streaming services. Try not to do this. Keep the TV for limited times of the day so that we aren’t overdoing it and zoning out constantly.
We have been lucky enough to have lovely weather the last couple of days, too – let’s take advantage of it. Walk around the garden (if you have one) for a while. Take a break from the screens and soak in that vitamin D.
At the time of writing it is possible to have exercise outside once a day, use it for a walk, jog or run (keeping in mind government restrictions) so let’s make the most of that as well.
People are feeling restricted with regards to fitness now that the gyms have had to close. Have a look at ways where you can carry out fitness routines in your own home. You can create your own fitness routine or find online videos by fitness gurus who will be able to safely take you through exercises. A few running clubs have even created virtual runs for people to complete.
Don’t underestimate the power of cleaning! Dusting, vacuum cleaning and wiping down surfaces can provide gentile exercise plus having a clean home will make us feel more comfortable and less clutter around us can help us to focus.
Keep on learning
Do you have a pile of books that have been on your ‘to read’ list for months? Or is there one that you have wanted to buy online but haven’t had the time? This is the perfect opportunity for that.
There are a lot of resources out there online to help you learn and a lot of them are free. YouTube have thousands of online tutorials for you to follow – maybe there is a DIY task you have been waiting to do but not quite sure how or is there something you can learn to further your career.
Now is the time!
Whilst it is important to keep ourselves indoors as much as possible there are people who we know that are vulnerable and need our assistance. If you are able to provide supplies to a vulnerable person – do it safely and according to guidelines.
Other ways we can help those who need it most could include a phone call to someone who might also be isolated. Local groups are also being developed to help those in need. Have a look online or maybe ask your network on social media.
During this uncertain time charities also need help to provide the vital services they have and might have to adjust their approach. They could be in need of donations or volunteering from the community to keep their services going. Help them out if you can.
Take a moment to explore your surroundings.
Stand in your garden and listen to what sounds there are or what do you see. Is there something you haven’t noticed before? So often we are stuck inside our own minds – have a go at observing and noticing more around you to broaden your your own.
There are plenty of mindfulness resources online – there are even apps out there which can help you find out what’s right for you – take a look.
There are other types of relaxation resources that are easily available too. You can find these on YouTube and on apps like Headspace and Calm – to name a few.
It can be so easy to reach for the comfort food during this time to help us cope with the stress, anxiety and isolation, but during times of reduced movement we are unable to burn off the excess calories that come with snack foods.
Keep up with the 5 fruit and veg a day and maintain a balanced diet, there is a relationship between what we eat and how we feel and of course increasing these foods boost our all important immune system.
Try cooking using new recipes and keep yourself hydrated throughout the day – don’t depend on the tea and coffee to get you through the day. Drink water, or add a little squash to make it more palatable.
Get up and get ready as if you’re going out to work. Keep to your normal routine as much as possible. Treat your day as you normally would then leave the space at the end of the day.
Take regular breaks from your work-space.
Check your work environment too. Is your work space comfortable? How is your chair? Should you move around a little more?
Set up your home office in an area where you can get as much natural light and ventilation as possible and keep your area clutter free.
Follow government and NHS guidance and look for reputable sources of information.
There is a so much misinformation and confusion around that it can be difficult to know what is factual. Follow official channels for guidance.
Restrict your times watching the news and reading news websites to help reduce anxiety and give yourself a break.
That’s it for this post! I hope you found it helpful. We will be looking at lots of different topics in the near future, so keep an eye out and follow us on our social media to keep up to date with all the latest content