You may already be working from home due to COVID-19, or you’ve been told that you will need to in the near future. At any rate, you are already likely to be avoiding unnecessary travel, social events and public gatherings.
Human beings are social animals and isolation for extended periods of time can naturally cause us to feel anxious or low. If we have an existing mental health issue, we may find that our symptoms become worse during periods of disconnection from the outside world.
Caring for yourself and others while self-isolating
The World Health Organisation has highlighted that during this time of uncertainty, anyone’s mental health can suffer and they have published a handy guide to self-care which you might find helpful. We've also listed 3 top tips below for staying as mentally well as possible during periods of self-isolation:
1. Avoid the internet, social media and newspapers
The internet, social media and newspapers can be a trigger that makes you feel anxious. There is a lot of misinformation in the public domain concerning the virus and it’s important to look at information from trusted resources only (not just someone’s personal opinion). The following offer unbiased, up-to-the-minute information:
- NHS Choices: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19
- UK Government: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
- Public Health England: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
- World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
Although the situation with COVID-19 is changing day by day, and what you hear today might not be the case tomorrow, don’t become obsessed with updates. Spend a certain amount of time on gaining updates and then go and do something else.
2. Stay fit
- Even if you’re not able to get outside, do your best to stay physically active – it keeps you fit while boosting your mood and promoting good sleep. Try some simple stretching exercises throughout the day, go for a walk on your own (staying at least two metres away from other people), climb the stairs at home, or do a set number of push-ups or stretching exercises. You’ll also find exercises that are simple to do at home, and designed for all fitness levels at the NHS Fitness Studio.
- Cut back on, or avoid alcohol. It can be tempting to have a glass of something when you’re bored or frustrated, but alcohol is a depressant and will only make you feel low when the high wears off. Alcohol also disrupts your sleep – the very thing that can help you to maintain good immunity.
- Eat as healthily as possible. At a time when some foods seem to be in short supply, it can be easy to rely on foods that aren’t good for you. But taking into account that you may be less active when self-isolating, you might find that you start to gain unwanted weight. Be mindful of what you’re eating and try and get your five-a-day during this time.
- Good quality sleep is one of the bedrocks of wellbeing. Not only does it help us emotionally and mentally, but it’s also key in helping us to keep our immune system in good condition.
- Reduce your caffeine and sugar intake – these two substances can cause you to feel anxious at a time when this is the last thing you need.
3. Stay connected
Whilst it’s advised that you stay at least two metres away from other people when self-isolating, it’s imperative that you avoid people who are considered ‘high risk’ such as the elderly or someone who has an existing physical health condition. But out of sight should not be out of mind. A daily check-in by phone, online, email or social media can ease the distress associated with isolation.
This article was produced by retailTRUST, the registered trade charity for the 4.5 million people working in retail and the supporting service industries.
The complete article includes further information on:
- When is self-isolation advised?
- What is meant by self-isolation
- Additional tips for staying connected