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Mental Health & COVID-19: Top 5 tips for staying well 

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week has been all about kindness. Charities, community groups and residents have marked the week online with the Mental Health Foundation’s #KindnessMatters.  

But in addition to being kind to others, it’s important to remember to be kind to yourself (something which is easier said than done for many of us!) 

Now, more than ever, it is so important to check in with yourself and look after your mental wellbeing. Whether you are working from home, furloughed, on the frontline, self-isolating, or juggling little ones and home schooling, our five top tips can help you to stay well.

1. Connect with friends and family  

From staying at home to social distancing, the current circumstances can feel especially isolating at times, but for many of us, friends and family are only a phone call or video-chat away. Having a good natter with someone who cares won’t just cheer you up but could help whoever you are speaking to as well, so make sure you schedule in some catchups.  

If you are living with family or friends, setting aside some quality time to spend together could really help to lift everyone’s spirits. Why not get competitive with a boardgame, set up a home cinema, or even just have a themed cooking night? And don’t forget you can now meet up with one other person outside your household if you need a breath of fresh air to your social circle! 

2. Be physically active 

Exercising can boost your mood and provide a sense of accomplishment. While it may be a bit outside of the comfort zone for some, getting out for a walk, run or cycle can make a real difference to your physical and mental health. There are currently no limits on the amount of exercise or open-air recreation you can enjoy, but please be sure you continue to social distance and avoid close contact with people outside of your household. If you are staying at home and/or shielding, there are still plenty of ways to stay fit from relaxing yoga to higher intensity home workouts so give them a go and see what works for you. 

3. Eating well and drinking sensibly  

Our physical health has a big impact on how we feel so it is important not to lose sight of the basics during these strange times. Eating healthy and well-balanced meals, drinking enough water, and not drinking too much alcohol can help you to stay well mentally, physically and emotionally. It can be easy to indulge a little more, especially in times of stress, but maintaining a balance is key. If you are finding it hard to eat your weekly shop’s worth of fresh fruit and veg before they go past their best, a great tip is to stock up on the frozen versions and use them as you need them! 

4. Carry on doing things you enjoy or learn a new skill 

If you are feeling worried, lonely or a little low, maintaining some normality and turning to things you usually enjoy can really help. If your favourite hobby is something you can do at home, then make an effort to carry on with it. If not, then you could pick up a new skill, gardeningyoga and cooking are some at-home options that might be worth a try!  

But while learning something new could be a great boost, it’s important to remember,   that this is a public health crisis not a public holiday - so there should be no pressure to be ultra-productive, become a baking prodigy, set up a new business, or learn ten languages! Focus on a few small things which will make you smile and build them into your routine. And if getting the basics done is all you’re managing right now, that’s okay too and you are definitely not the only one. 

5. Being mindful or taking time out 

Paying attention to your thoughts and feelings, your body, and your immediate environment can improve your mental wellbeing. Concerns about coronavirus are perfectly normal but it is important to focus on things you can control such as your daily routine and where you get your information from. Try to limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to coverage on coronavirus if it is making you anxious and consider setting aside a specific time to look at updates instead. Although it may be easier said than done, do your best to stay positive and most importantly go easy on yourself at this tricky time. 

Looking for support? 

  • In an emergency, always dial 999. 
  • In a non-emergency, you can call 111 or, if you’re under 18, dial the CAMHS Central Advice and Duty Line 0151 488 8453. 

The following advice lines and opening times may also be of use: 

  • Samaritans, open 24/7: 116 123. 
  • CALM helpline (support for men), 5pm – midnight every day: 0800 58 58 58. 
  • Silver Line (support for over 65s), open 24/7: 0800 470 8090. 
  • Anxiety UK Helpline, weekdays 9.30am - 5.30pm: 0344 477 5774. 
  • Papyrus (specialist organisation for preventing Young People's suicide), weekdays 10am-10pm, weekends 2pm-10pm: 0800 068 4141. 
  • For support following suicide by a loved one, visit listening-ear.co.uk/amparo