How to look after your mental health in lockdown – Evening Standard
This post has been taken from 'How to look after your mental health in lockdown – Evening Standard'. We hope it will be useful to some community members.
Dr David Crepaz-Keay, from the Mental Health Foundation, shares his advice for dealing with anxiety, insomnia and loneliness during the pandemic
I feel worried all the time, what can I do about it?
“It’s OK to worry — it’s a natural response to a scary situation. Try to acknowledge how you’re feeling and, if possible, talk to a friend or family member about it. Alternatives include telephone, email and text services that offer emotional support. Keeping physically and mentally active is likely to help. Try taking a walk, doing some yoga or dancing in your kitchen.”
Is there advice for coping with loneliness?
“Many people will be having the same experience. Being in touch with someone you care about, either by phone, email or social media, may help you feel less alone. Consider volunteering, some of which can be done from home. Research suggests that helping others is good for the helpers, as well as the ‘helped’.”
I can’t stop reading the news, is it adding to my anxiety?
“It’s important to stay up to date with government guidelines as these may change frequently, but do try to get your information from reliable sources. Too much news may be harmful if it makes you feel uncomfortably anxious or afraid. Consider limiting your news intake to once or twice a day for 15 minutes.”
How do I know if I’m experiencing anxiety or if my breathlessness is Covid-19?
“A panic attack can include feelings of sudden and intense fear that last for between five and 30 minutes. These may happen at the same time as a racing heart, rapid breathing, feeling breathless and an upset stomach. Some, but not all, of these symptoms are similar to those of coronavirus. If you have a high temperature or a new continuous cough, follow the official advice and self-isolate.”
What can I do if I find myself hyperventilating or feel a panic attack coming on?
“Breathing exercises can help to slow breathing and calm feelings of anxiety commonly experienced during a panic attack. The NHS offers these online. Regular exercise, eating well, and moderating our intake of caffeine and alcohol can also help us to manage stress, which can trigger panic attacks and anxiety.”
My family fight all the time, how can I keep the peace?
“It’s not surprising to experience more conflict during this time. Losing our normal contact with some people and being thrown into much closer contact with others can feel stressful. Try to be extra patient and understanding. Be present and really pay attention to family members, trying not to be distracted by your phone or work. Listen to what they’re saying and try to understand it while also sharing how you’re feeling, allowing yourself to be heard and supported by them, too.”
I’m not sleeping well — do you have any tips?
“Feelings of uncertainty and changes to daily life can disrupt sleep. Aim to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even at weekends, and try to get some sunlight in the morning by opening your curtains — this helps to regulate your body clock. Wind down before bed by avoiding using your phone or watching TV for an hour.”
Why are my dreams so vivid?
“One theory about dreams is that they reflect our emotional concerns. If we accept this theory, then we would expect the feelings or emotions that we have about the pandemic to be reflected in our dreams. That might mean having dreams that are more disturbing or frightening than usual. It isn’t cause for alarm.”
What if there is no end in sight?
“This time will end but the uncertainty about when is hard for us all. Try to take each day as it comes and follow a daily routine to help you feel some control over your life. As well as necessary activities, do something you enjoy every day.”