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COVID-19 is inevitably regarded above all as a threat to physical health. But it is also a significant threat to our mental health. Social isolation has become a necessary way of life, financial security is scarce, our usual routines are a thing of the past, and we are forced to be constantly concerned for our own health, and that of our family’s.
The key message that is being communicated this Mental Health Awareness Week, is one of ‘kindness’. To be kind to others, and to be kind to ourselves.
Keep in contact with friends and family. A phone call or video chat not only helps you reconnect and allows you the chance to voice your own worries, it also brightens the day of the person on the other end of the phone, who may also be quietly struggling.
Be sure to check in regularly with others, be kind to them, and give them the opportunity to communicate any stress, sadness, or anxiety they may be feeling. There are online resources with easy-to-follow instructions that you can pass on to members of your family who may be having trouble getting set up with any social technology.
Exercise has long been recognised as an effective mood-booster. We are permitted to exercise outdoors for an unlimited time, taking social distancing measures. Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day, even if it is just a gentle walk.
Maintain a healthy diet alongside this and don’t underestimate the power of showing kindness to your own body. Its natural ability to produce those much-needed endorphins can be a wonderful thing.
Maintain some kind of routine. Your usual schedule is likely to be disrupted at this time, and this can be a major trigger for mental distress. It helps to keep some structure to your days. Get up at a normal time, get dressed, eat regular meals, and set small goals around which you can plan your time.
If you are working from home, maintain some distance between work and leisure time. Create a workspace that is separate from your living space if possible and don’t exceed your normal working hours.
Relax and restore. Sure, now is a great time to learn a new skill or take on a personal project, and in many ways, this can help you regain structure and routine. But this is an option, not an expectation.
Don’t become overwhelmed by the pressure to be constantly productive. This is also a great time to hit pause and enjoy therapeutic and restorative activities.
It really is okay not to be okay
and recognising this goes hand in hand with being kind to yourself.
Depression and anxiety are among the most common mental health conditions in the UK, and both can be compounded by the current situation. It is okay to be struggling. It is okay to ask for help.
While these are challenging and often lonely times, there is comfort to be found in the openness, human compassion and sense of togetherness that appears to be blossoming from this space of shared uncertainty.
As a company built upon the initiative of promoting support systems and fostering interpersonal connection, Wiseup holds the subject of mental health close to its heart. We must come together and support each other.
It is our hope that we all find these strained times as an opportunity to shine a light on the prevalence of mental health hardship, overthrow the stigmas, and move forward into the post-pandemic world with newfound compassion, and a fulfilled responsibility to express real kindness to ourselves, and to others.
There are many resources to make use of if you feel that you, or someone you know is finding it difficult to cope. The NHS, as well as mental health charities like Samaritans and Mental Health UK are freely available to offer advice and support to anyone struggling with their mental health.