Hii, So I was questioning whether to bother doing a blog post concerning mental health during quarantine or not, if I’m honest. As I feel there is only so much to say and suggest concerning mental health, as it will inevitably be affected during quarantine, and there isn’t exactly a solution. I like to avoid regurgitating common content, which already features on hundreds of blogs, you-tube videos etc around the world. However I believe that mental health is so important, especially during these terrifying times. And considering how patronising some content related to mental health can appear, especially that which has probably been shown to us in year 8 at secondary school telling us that if we do yoga and eat broccoli then everything will be ok, I don’t think I can do a much worse job!
I decided to do what I personally find helpful and I will try to broaden it out…
So lets get started
1. Keep in touch with friends and relitives
So being at home all day either alone or with the same people obviously being unable to see other friends and relatives, can feel extremely lonely and isolation, especially when there’s fewer distractions. Especially for those, like myself, in education who are currently experiencing the Easter holidays, so don’t have as much work to focus on and would usually be out socialising (unless you’re an introvert- High five!). But regardless, I think even a quick conversation online, or quick phone call can boost our own and each others mental health so much. Because apart from anything else, I feel it is a reminder to ourselves and our friends, that we are still surrounded by support and by people, even if physical contact isn’t possible. And at times, I think sharing concerns is so important, as we remember that we are not alone going through this. However it is also beneficial to talk about other topics, as leading on from this, hearing about this all day everyday can be so overwhelming, and obviously depressing. Therefore I think it is definitely good to remind each other about what else is in the world, and what we can continue to appreciate and look forward to,
2. After a while- Switch the news off
So I agree that it is important to know what is going on in the world, especially at this moment in time as we need to know what to do in order to stay safe and protect others and to have a rough idea what may happen within the next few weeks. Nonetheless, when bombarded with it all day long, where access is unlimited due to updates online, being close to the radio and whatever else, it can be and is overwhelming. And I feel that spending too much time listening to it can just make us too focused on it, and can make us even start to forget the amount of positive the world also has on hand. Meanwhile inspite of the increasing numbers of people this is having catastrophic effects on, I also think that we shouldn’t feel too upset about it or worry about it excessively. That’s as there’s nothing we can DIRECTLY do. And with regards to missing important snippets of the news, I actually think that is very unlikely. A you can access highlights say once a day, whether on TV, or internet.
3. Try not to get too bogged down about when the lockdown will end
I feel this can be quite difficult, especially as we are hearing so much about this. However there are so many different rumours about it, some being absolutely ridiculous. I feel that if we try to make predictions too often then it can lead to us either becoming increasingly fearful about time spent in lockdown, or even defeated if the reality differs to the initial prediction.
As although I feel it can be good to be hopeful about it, and hopeful that things might soon slowly start getting better, making actual predictions is not as good. Whilst having a pessimistic attitude isn’t going to help anyone, especially not yourself!
4. Try to limit time spent on social media
So I know this can be very tricky, especially at the moment where most of us are at home with Wifi all day long. But I know for myself, too much time spent scrolling through Instagram or snapchat isn’t good at the best of times! Whilst now these effects are only to be exaggerated. As if seeing someone who you think is much better looking than yourself posting a selfie captioning it “quaritine” isn’t bad enough (trust me I’ve been there), seeing people out and about can make one more angry whilst a seemingly happy family having a picnic in a huge garden can feel almost emotionally draining, if you are alone or in a less happy family, or if you don’t happen to live in a mansion. Meanwhile once I am finished scrolling through (though to be honest I have been purposely cutting back hugely on time spent on there; long before lockdown), it is time to begin on Facebook. And yawn, yawn, yawn. It is all bloody rants about Coronavirus, sharing of news stories and memes; related to the coronavirus. And I don’t have a problem with this in the least way. I perfectly understand why people choose to do it, I do it and obviously it is so apparient in everyone’s lives, it is bound to leak over in that way on social media. But although it is not that harmful to take a quick look, don’t spend too much time on there.
4. find more positive things online
So like I said, it is very hard to drastically cut back on screen time, during a time like now. Therefore I feel that if we take efforts to spend more time looking at more positive content online, the state of being online can almost have the opposite effect to what it has on a lot of us. And although we are almost consistently being bombarded with unhealthy content, if we seek for it, a lot more positive content can be found too!
There are numerous YouTube channels, Instagram accounts and websites (like mine;) ) which aim to bring positivity to people. I won’t list any, as there are so so many with various targets lets say. Though I would say look out for ones relating to mental health for tips, or for a space to vent, and to photography accounts, craft accounts, fashion, food or anything you are interested in for an effective distraction.
5. Have some form of productive routine- but include some down time!
So it sounds rather difficult. And it depends on what your interests or targets are anyway. Though I think that there is some productive things anyone can do at home. For me having this blog, plus A-level mocks to revise for (which chances are I will have them at some point, whether this be at the usual time, or in September no one knows) helps. As I don’t stick to a strict routine at all. However I aim to spend about 8 hours or so a day doing something productive. As this way I feel better about myself, and I am obviously carrying on along the path to achieving something. Furthermore, I know for a fact that if I was home watching films all day, I would feel absolutely terrible for doing so. And I’m not saying there is anything wrong with doing so, it is completely natural to be wanting to use this time to rest etc. But if you know you are the sort of person who gets quite easily upset with themselves for doing little, or not leaving the house then I genuinely think that focusing on a routine, and putting a bit of work in is probably far better than not doing so. Even if it isn’t 100% ideal, I know many of us tend to feel this way, therefore it is better than triggering more anxiety.
However saying this- like it is the Easter holidays at the moment- and it is a time to be taking time out anyway. Therefore allow yourself some time to engage in self care as well. Whether that’s just watching you-tube, listening to music or talking to friends (obviously online). And there are many activities too which are productive, and are relaxing. Like so far I have only spend about 50 minutes revising to be specific, whilst I have been doing more blogging and other hobbies which are productive but are certainly a break from school work.
6. Consider starting up a new hobby
Now I know this can be expensive and time consuming, but it does not have to be. And I feel there is definitely something out there for everyone. Maybe it is literally getting into a new TV series, or maybe its baking more or even bloody yoga. But it can be so rewarding not only now but in the future, and will obviously take your mind off other things during this period of quaritine.
Another thing, especially is you are in education… especially 6th form aha is to try an online course. Some of these may cost a little (support small business aha) and others I know are free. These can range from improving at a musical instrument, improving at a sport (a little limited) and cooking. However completion of a course looks so good on the CV, or if considering Uni then on a UCAS application. I know there’sa broad range of “MOOCS” which are generally aimed at people considering various courses at university.. And although I haven’t started one, I am considering it- especially now due to lockdown. And I think what ever you are interested in studying, you will find a good range of choices of moocs relevant.
7. Don’t be too harsh on yourself
So I know this is almost contradicting with what I said about keeping busy, but at the same time, it is obviously not super easy to be doing “productive” stuff all the time. It is completely natural to feel more worn out than usual due to the worries we are facing, and to feel more “on edge”. Obviously making it more difficult to focus. Therefore although it is good to keep distracted, its even more vital to be forgiving and understanding towards yourself, and to not punish yourself for “not being productive” or whatever. I think this can be particularly difficult for people who get more anxious about things, who are also anxious about achieving the best. But I guess the best thing to do is try to recognise the fact that this is an extremely difficult situation for everyone, and that there’s millions of people who are doing less than usual. Many probably feel just as guilty. However I would say just keep telling yourself that it is completely normal to not be so busy during these times. And while you may feel bombarded with people thinking that they’re bloody Mary Poppins, saying to learn this and do that, there is a huge gap between having healthy distractions and feeling bad about not “getting enough done”.
God. I’ve explained this so badly, I’m sorry…
8. Create something, and watch it grow
My word. I really am starting to sound cheesy now… But if you like drawing, or making things or if you are wanting to try something new, then give it a go. It can honestly be so rewarding, engaging in creative activity. And I feel especially during times like these, where often there’s a sense of release through art, crafts or music.
Yet it does not have to be art related. Something else, which I like doing, is growing plants. And repotting them. Although I have been known to kill one or two, but I think I’m not quite as bad as I was.
9. Eat healthy(ISH!), drink water and excersise
Yawn, Yawn, Yawn!!!
Who can be asked to drink water, eat healthy and exercise during a time like this? What is even the point, no one is even going to see you…
But for me that is not the point of staying healthy. It is about doing it for yourself. Although I am not exactly a role model. However I feel just a small amount of exercise, can boost your mood by so much in the long and short run, and relieve some nervous energy and anxiety. Athough this obviously varies depending on the person. Furthermore by combining this with healthy eating, and drinking enough you are taking better care of yourself, and are likely to feel less bedraggled. Although there is no harm in staying in bed for one day, and eating only chocolate, I think it is important to be healthy(ish) most days. Especially considering that lock-down may be for quite a bit longer. This way, I think basic self care is a good way of not letting yourself down further. And iIm sure than for many of us, self care does genuinely boost mental health. Obviously not removing illness.
Nonetheless with rregards to eating healthy, the “ish” is in capitals for very good reasons. Yes, consume the good nutrients from vegetables and that, which your body requires. Andtry to have a balanced diet.
HOWEVER- don’t obsess too much. For a start it is Easter so allow yourself to eat more chocolate than what you would usually. Meanwhile don’t get so anxious about gaining weight due to being at home where the snacks are all day. Chances are, if you’re eating a balanced diet as it is, you aren’t going to crave tonnes and tonnes, and if you are eating a little more thenso be it. Might as well get some enjoyment out of lockdown.
It is just sad really how many people, especially teenage girls, are so worried about gaining weight anyway, especially during this period. Surly it is more important to be safe and happy!
10. Don’t be ashamed to open up about how you are feeling
So as effective as these distractions can be, there is nothing worse than keeping everything bottled up. Especially people suffering with mental illness can have the tendency to do so, then all of a sudden it will have detrimental effects on them. But who can you talk to? I think the best thing to do is to talk to family members or friends who you trust, even about the slightest concern- simply to get it out of your system. Worrying about the effect it may have on them is unnecessary I think, because everyone knows that it will cause worries for everyone, and someone who you are close to would much rather listen to what you are feeling, than seeing your health deteriorate. And somethimes they may be more worried if you aren’t saying anything anyway! And only 2 minutes of venting a day really can make the difference of getting some of it out of your system to “stay sane”.
However I know that not everyone is fortunate enough to have people close to them that they trust, or feel comfortable enough to open up to them about any concerns. And this is unfortunate, but if this is the case with you- then you don’t have to “suffer in silence”. For a start I know there are many support networks online; where you can ring up and someone is there for support, however there are also many Mental health help accounts on networks like Instagram. You may feel that people who run these accounts may be suffering with illness already, and won’t want an increased weight on their shoulders, however I am sure that many people would feel more than happy to listen etc. And I think this often provides benefits to these people too!
11. Make use of your “permitted outdoor exercise” or use your garden
Ok, I personally think that getting outdoors can be so beneficial. I know that for some people, spending all day indoors at home can trigger depression.
So first of all, if you have a garden,, now is the time to get outside and use it! Especially if you are living in the UK, as we have happened to have such nice weather so far, which is very unusual for Easter! So now is the time to appreciate the garden and the outdoors.
Whereas if you don’t have a garden, or if the space in it is very limited, then this is a little controversial…but I personally think it is ok to go for a walk. At least it is legal. Now some of you may legitimately argue that if there’s more people milling about on the streets, then there’s more people who are going to be at rick from catching this virus. But I feel, although this is true, if we stick to more quiet areas, preferably during times where there would be fewer people out, then it is perfectly ok. Also preferably close to home.
It is very possible to distance responsibly in most public open spaces. And although often it can feel like you are being bombarded with opinions hostile to people who 2dont stay at home”, I think it is looking at health in general. And if not going outside can trigger worse mental health, you have every right to go outside. Or even if it is to have a breather and take care of yourself. Plus the majority of people who advoke “stay at home” are referring to large gatherings rather than someone alone, with a dog, or family members having a walk in the forest where barely anyone goes. Or round the streets.
12. Allow yourself to have a laugh
Although we are all too aware on how serious this situation is, I genuinely think it is ok to still have a laugh. Whether related to the virus (hopefully indirectly though), or otherwise. It will just help to keep more positive spirits up, and I mean there’s nothing wrong with finding the fact that there are goats wandering around the streets in Wales, funny.