Mental health & coronavirus; helpful tips from reputable sources

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For many, there may be a feeling of anxiety as the coronavirus situation deepens and numbers continue to increase. Some may fear for their loved ones, getting the virus themselves, or their business staying afloat.

These are not irrational thoughts, but thoughts that do not help the situation. Rather than being in fear, we MUST be proactive in what we do to stop these feelings from making us feel worse. I have had these feelings at times. They come in waves when I’m thinking about work, or when somebody close to me says they aren’t feeling well, or particularly when the news pops up to show the growing numbers of cases and deaths.

There are situations in there that I can control, and others that I cannot. I may be able to influence them but not control them. I can keep sticking to government guidelines knowing that I am doing all I can to reduce the spread of the disease, and I can continue to do everything I can to help the business keep moving forward. But it’s hard for any one of us to control what is going on. And that’s where I think we may be struggling; lack of control and fear of the unknown.

“Control the controllables” is a phrase I imagine most of us stick to in normal life, but when in these ‘unprecedented’ (heard that word too many times now!) times, our rational thinking goes out of the window. I’m not a psychologist, but for me this is where we are struggling. Being in lockdown is certainly bringing out the great in us, you only have to see the support the NHS are receiving at the minute to know that we have an impressive community. Over half a million have now applied to help the NHS, plus the heart-warming gesture of clapping our heroes on Thursday night, and I think we need to bear that in mind to keep the positives in our heads, rather than reading clickbait about panic buying and young people dying from the virus.

You will hear us talking about clients having a positive mindset when it comes to pushing towards their fitness goals, well now is the time to put that into real life action. Maybe our main goal should just be to stay positive and not let it weigh us down. That’s the outcome goal, so the process goals to reach that outcome are absolutely in our control. What can we do to stay positive? What can we do to not let this situation affect our futures? Of course, it is affecting all of our present lives, but what we do now will shape the effect it has in the future. I don’t believe in fate, but I do believe that whatever happens, things always work out for the better if we are proactive and stay positive.

Over the coming weeks we will be adding workshops on mindset into our online offering. We feel now more than ever this is what our clients need in order to stay positive. Not just for their health but for how they approach the current situation. 

 

Our intention for this is not to sound like we are preaching and dismissing anybody’s tough situation as easy. As a business we have been hit by this hard, and on personal levels too with so much going on over the next few months that have had to be cancelled. But what we pride ourselves on is the support network we provide our clients, and now more than ever we feel we can help.

On a personal level, I have had my fair share of struggles with mental health in the past, I have been fairly open about that. But one thing is for sure, this would have had a far bigger impact on my life 8 years ago than it is currently. Coping with stress and so called ‘failings’ was something I struggled with (among other things), but I really feel my change in mindset has helped me thus far in this situation. So no, this isn’t professional advice, it is just a little bit of advice from a few guys that truly care about how you, our clients and friends, handle this situation to put you in the best possible position to survive the current, and thrive in the future.

 

I have put together some of the best advice I have found from reputable sources at this time, so you don’t need to fish through it all. For some of you this may be timely as the stress starts to mount, but for others you may be fine. But if you do need it at any point, I hope you find it useful.

 

The best advice I can give is that we all need to accept that it is a stressful time and it is ok to have these thoughts; it is absolutely normal. It’s what we do with those thoughts that’s important. If these feelings become more and more regular, it’s easy for them to slow us down, make us less productive and weigh us down. It can become detrimental to us moving forward, which in turn will make us feel worse; it’s a vicious circle.

 

Once we have accepted these feelings, we need to use them to drive us forward. What can we control, and what can we do to make the situation better? The things we cannot control, we cannot let consume us. Just work hard on the things we can control, such as adapting the business to suit the situation, keeping in contact with family to make sure we are supporting them, staying home and keeping our distance. These are all things we can control to help the situation, if we can’t control it, we can’t let it consume us.

 

And the big one for me is we need to talk about our concerns, with people who you feel will support you. Just writing this information has made me feel better and eased any anxiety a little. Others will have similar concerns, the important thing is we have rational conversations about how we feel, and what we can do to help each other. If any of you have read the book “Sapiens”, Yuval Noah Harari writes about how we are used to small communities of usually 100-150 people. Everybody knew everybody and they used to help each other as a community. With social media these days we are connected to thousands or millions with one click, which is incredible for so many reasons. But in times of need, the smaller community of family, close friends and neighbours is so much more valuable, and there is a large element of trust with those people to help us through.

 

There’s my amateur advice, this may have been helpful, it may not. But your best interests are always at the heart of the information we give out. Below is the best advice I have found from the professionals. Most of which we have discussed over the last few weeks in our videos and blogs (we’ve got your back!).

 

 

 

NHS RECOMMENDATIONS

 

Find out about your employment and benefits rights;

You may be worried about work and money if you have to stay home – these issues can have a big effect on your mental health.

If you have not already, talk with your employer about staying at home, and learn about your sick pay and benefits rights. Knowing the details about what the coronavirus outbreak means for you for you can reduce worry and help you feel more in control.

 

Connect with others;

Maintaining healthy relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family while you are at home – by phone, messaging, video calls or online – whether it’s people you usually see often, or reconnecting with old friends or neighbours.

Lots of people are finding the current situation difficult, so staying in touch could help them too.

 

Look after your body;

Our physical health really affects how we feel. Try to make sure you and your family eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly.

Avoid smoking or drugs, and try not to drink too much alcohol. It can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that end up making you feel worse.

Get outside for a walk or a run if you can, or try one of our follow-along home-workout videos.

 

Stay on top of difficult feelings;

Concern about the coronavirus outbreak is perfectly normal. However, some people may experience intense anxiety that can affect their day-to-day life.

Try to focus on the things you can control, such as how you act, who you speak to and where you get information from.

It’s fine to acknowledge that some things are outside of your control, but if constant thoughts about the situation are making you feel anxious or overwhelmed, there are some things you can try to help manage your anxiety, like listen to a mental wellbeing audio guide.

 

Do not stay glued to the news;

Try to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak, including on social media, and think about turning off breaking-news alerts on your phone.

You could set yourself a specific time to read updates or limit yourself to checking a couple of times a day.

Use trustworthy sources – such as GOV.UK or the NHS website – and fact-check information from the news, social media or other people.

 

Carry on doing the things you enjoy;

If we are feeling worried, anxious, lonely or low, we may stop doing things we usually enjoy.

Make an effort to focus on your favourite hobby if it is something you can still do at home. If not, picking something new to learn at home might help – there are lots of ideas online.

 

Take time to relax;

This can help with difficult emotions and worries, and improve our wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help deal with feelings of anxiety.

 

 

Create a daily routine;

Life is changing for a while and whether you are staying at home or social distancing, you are likely to see some disruption to your normal routine. Think about how you can adapt and create positive new routines and set yourself goals.

You might find it helpful to write a plan for your day or your week. If you are working from home, try to get up and get ready in the same way as normal, keep to the same hours you would normally work and stick to the same sleeping schedule.

You could set a new time for a daily home workout, and pick a regular time to clean, read, watch a TV programme or film, or cook.

 

Look after your sleep;

Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how we feel, so it’s important to get enough.

Try to maintain your regular sleeping pattern and stick to good sleep practices.

 

 

 

MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATION RECOMMENDATIONS

 

Try to avoid speculation and look up reputable sources on the outbreak;

Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about the virus can help you feel more in control.

 

Try to stay connected;

At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family, by telephone, email or social media, or contact a helpline for emotional support.  

 

You may like to focus on the things you can do if you feel able to:

stress management

keep active

eat a balanced diet

Stay in touch with friends on social media but try not to sensationalise things. If you are sharing content, use this from trusted sources, and remember that your friends might be worried too.

Also remember to regularly assess your social media activity. Tune in with yourself and ask if they need to be adjusted. Are there particular accounts or people that are increasing your worry or anxiety? Consider muting or unfollowing accounts or hashtags that cause you to feel anxious.

 

Try to anticipate distress;

It is OK to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we read news about the outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past, or if you have a long-term physical health condition that makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus.

It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health. We should also be aware of and avoid increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term, like smoking and drinking. 

Try and reassure people you know who may be worried and check in with people who you know are living alone.

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