March 18, 2020
Top tips for positive wellbeing when you’re self-isolating
Our Wellbeing Centres support people experiencing low mood and poor mental health using a range of group therapy sessions that work for them. This constructive social interaction can have a massive impact on their wellbeing and gives them tools to use in their daily lives that can help. It’s not just structured socialising that can support more positive mental health and wellbeing. Feeling part of something and amongst other people who are there for you can really help manage any distressing or confusing emotions. This could be as simple as meeting a friend for a coffee or checking out the latest blockbuster flick at the pictures.
So, in the midst of a the coronavirus outbreak during a time when we’re seeing recommendations to limit any social interactions and in more serious cases completely self-isolate, there are ways that we can and should be looking after our mental health too. In the same way that we need to be more mindful of the risks to our physical health during these uncertain times, we also need to take our mental health seriously. These two go hand in hand and being more kind to our mind can make us feel so much more resilient and healthy all round.
This week, our Wellbeing Centres have been working closely with the people that they support to ensure that, whilst they may be feeling a little more isolated, they’re doing all the right things to stay mentally well. With the usual group gatherings being advised against there are different ways that they can be managing their mental health alongside over the phone support from our specialist teams. This is advice that applies to everyone. We all have mental health and it’s important that we recognise how what’s being reported and the lack of certainty about the future can affect us. As well as backing the BBC recommendations to reduce the amount of time we spend on social media, wash our hands regularly and mute certain news sources that may cause unnecessary panic, our specialist teams have set up a unique plan of action for each and every person that they support. These plans take into consideration some simple but effective steps to coping with social isolation. Nikki, one of our dedicated therapists, wrote a guest blog this week, telling us what this plan looks like for Chris and how you can manage your own mental health and wellbeing.
Chris has been coming to PSS Wellbeing Centres for 12 months, getting support for anxiety and depression. He has completed courses in lifting mood, anxiety management and mindfulness and was currently attending sessions for relaxation and yoga until news of the pandemic.
Due to underlying health conditions and heightened anxiety brought about by the coronavirus situation, Chris had decided to self-isolate for two weeks. Mental health issues can be heightened by periods of social isolation and Chris was feeling vulnerable. A member of our Wellbeing Centres was there to offer support with his wellbeing online and over the phone. Together they made a plan, based on four tips that could be replicated by anyone…
Tip one: devise a daily planner
Adding some routine into your day can support your mind to feel more ordered and help you feel more in control of things. In unusual circumstances, like being stuck at home, we might forget to order our life in the same ways that we might during a normal working day or a day out and about. Things like listening to a podcast during your morning commute or a new release, having a stroll to buy some lunch or taking time out for a gab with friends at certain times in the day can support more positive mental health. So, with his therapists support, Chris created a plan for his day from home too including helpful strategies and activities.
Here’s what it looks like:
Tip two: rest and revive
Anyone who finds themselves stuck inside is encouraged to practice mindfulness, meditation and relaxation techniques. These can be a really useful tool especially during times of uncertainty. Doing something as simple as setting some time aside to sit with your breath, listen to some nice chill out music, light some candles and incense and just enjoy some calm can really help.
For Chris, the team advised for him to use the elastic band technique whenever he was experiencing distressing thoughts. This approach can really help to interrupt and challenge negative repetitive thinking. Chris has also been reminded about the square breathing technique to help manage any symptoms of anxiety that have increased for him since being exposed to distressing news stories and uncertainty about the future. Here’s Paddy from our Wellbeing Centres, walking us through the square breathing technique:
Tip three: reconnect with the self
Taking time to reflect and understand yourself can really support more positive mental health and wellbeing during times of crisis. Writing down how you’re feeling in a journal, looking over old photos, practising the attitude of gratitude, taking a long bath, listening to music, downloading an audio book or podcast, doodling and colouring in, putting on your favourite comedy series or even dancing in the kitchen like no one is watching can really help lots.
For Chris who often struggles with negative thoughts, he’s started a gratitude journal to help him to redirect any negative focus. He uses this to acknowledge the important things in life and the stuff that he appreciates. Physically writing these down can help him to see them more clearly and recognise them for the good that they do. This is a great practice during times when the negative energy seems to take over. There are aspects of everyone’s life that they can be thankful for, however small they may be. It may be as simple as enjoying your breakfast that morning or feeling comfy in a new pair of fluffy socks. This is something we can all be more mindful of and take it to the next level by recording this feeling or moment. Here’s Paddy walking us through the attitude of gratitude technique:
Tip four: stay connected (at arms length):
The wonders of technology mean we don’t have to feel completely alone even when we do isolate. You needn’t stop chatting to pals and seeing how they’re coping indoors. Grab a cuppa, give them a video call and catch up. And that goes for your nearest and dearest too, especially older relatives who may be feeling the strain of isolation. Pick up the phone and have a chin-wag. Make their day (and yours) a bit brighter!
Before you do make the choice to self isolate be sure to let people know and ask for help if you think you might need it now or in the future. Everyone is feeling the same worries and it’s best if we’re all in it together. A list of helpful services can be found on www.thelivewelldirectory.com.