Coronavirus has plunged the world into uncertainty and the constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless. All of this is taking its toll on people's mental health, particularly those already living with conditions like anxiety and OCD. So how can we protect our mental health? Here are my six top tips.
1. Limit the news and be careful what you read
- Perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news.
- Stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as NHS websites.
2. Have breaks from social media and ‘mute’ things that you know might trigger anxiety
- Mute key words which might be triggering on Twitter and unfollow or mute accounts.
- Mute WhatsApp groups and hide Facebook posts and feeds if you find them too overwhelming.
3. Wash your hands – but not excessively
- If you’re forced to stay at home, you will have lots of time on your hands…. but that doesn’t mean you have to wash them all the time. Dry and chapped hands may be a source of infection.
4. Stay connected with people
- Check you have the right numbers for people and call them to feel connected with the outside world.
5. Build balance into your days
- Strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety. Do something, anything different so you have something to look forward to.
6. Avoid burnout with an APPLE!
- Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
- Pause: Don't react as you normally do. Don't react at all. Pause and breathe.
- Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
- Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don't have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
- Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see.