With recent changes in the world meaning that we’re spending more time in our homes it is important to think about how you will be looking after your emotional health. Here’s some ideas to consider:
Look after your physical health
There is a wealth of evidence to support the idea that physical health and mental health are positively linked. With this in mind it’s really important to think about how you look after yourself. Whilst the tempting way to see through this period is to hibernate with box sets and junk food (and whilst a little of both is totally fine and understandable) we would suggest trying to ensure a reasonable amount of fruit and veg gets eaten as well as some level of physical movement.
Maintain social contact
Whilst the key theme of isolation is “social distancing” that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be talking to people. We as human beings are social animals and if we lose that contact our moods take a dive. Think about how you and your friends and family can connect whether that be social media, WhatsApp, video calling, email, text or phone calls.
Take time out
Whilst it’s important to stay connected to people, if you begin to feel overwhelmed with the situation then consider whether you need to take some time out from the constant stream of news. Do you need to mute certain people/pages on social media? Consider where you get your news from as well and make sure it’s a reliable source. Perhaps just pick one news channel you can rely on and wait for their updates rather than comparing all the available streams out there.
Try and keep some structure in your day
Try and stick to a regular bed and wake up time, eat three meals and try and keep some sort of focus to your day. That might be some reading time, some TV time, some social time but it’s a lot easier to keep in control of your mental health when you have other areas of control in life.
Reflect on how you already look after yourself
What keeps you resilient? Do you rely on yourself, on others? Does Yoga or meditation help keep you calm or is it going for a run or a certain place you visit daily? What of your helpful hobbies can you do from home and what are you going to need to adapt or replace? What negative habits might creep back if you’re stuck at home? Are there any foods/drinks/drugs you should ensure aren’t in at home before a period of isolation begins?
Ask for help?
Whatever the situation at University our Mental Health & Wellbeing service will be available via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We can offer an assessment whether face to face or via Skype/Phone and we can offer links to online routes for support. Other Student Services are also still available via email and phone; The Learning Hub, Disability Support, Finance and the Student Union so just get in touch with us all.
Toby Chelms is a cognitive behavioural psychotherapist and Student Mental health and Wellbeing Manager at Leeds Trinity University.
“Coronavirus: How to Protect Your Mental Health” (BBC Online)
“If Coronavirus scares you, read this to take control of your Health Anxiety” (The Guardian)
Big White Wall (you can sign in for free with your University login)
Omnitherapy – free online self-help video courses from Leeds NHS
Headspace – Online Mindfulness course. Free for Students using the Spotify Student account (other subscriptions are available):
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