Sunday 22 March 2020

Coronavirus Outbreak: How to Look after Your Mental Health

Katie shares some advice how to look after your mental wellbeing during these tough times.

- Katie Heyes

It’s somewhat an understatement to say we are living in unusual and uncertain times amidst the current outbreak. With the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus dominating the media- from daily news bulletins to numerous posts social media feeds - it has become hard to avoid. Whilst it’s important to stay informed, the constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless, and the extensive fear and worry across the world can have an adverse effect on people’s mental health. Many people are going through a difficult time at the moment, and protecting your mental wellbeing is just as important as protecting your physical health. 

So how can you look after your mental health? 

• Have a break from the news

Constantly refreshing your news for updates and keeping tabs on the bulletins can quickly become overwhelming. The upsetting statistics alongside how close to home things are for some people can easily stress you out and overthink potential catastrophic outcomes. 

Limiting the amount of time you spend checking the news can help manage stress levels. Although you may want to keep yourselves updated and follow the safety precautions, long periods away from it will help you keep things in perspective and reduce anxiety levels. It’s likely that nothing serious will happen every five minutes you refresh your feed, and it can quickly become overwhelming. Remember to look after yourself and don’t read things that may stress you out. 

• Self- Isolation: find a new routine you’re comfortable with 

Self-isolation is another consequence of the outbreak that many are finding daunting and difficult to adjust to. With the government’s instructions to avoid unnecessary social interaction such as avoiding bars, restaurants and theatres, this will mean more of us will be spending the majority of their time at home. 

For many extroverts, no social interaction may feel like a void in their lifestyle as well as the older generation who may be particularly affected, as for many of them leaving the house is one of their main sources of enjoyment. It means a new rhythm of life but you may choose to can see this as an opportunity to create a new daily routine that can be just as productive as one with a full social calendar. For many, this could be an opportunity to get back into old hobbies like baking, sewing, art and reading. Sometimes it’s good to look at things from another perspective. 

Try and view this as an opportunity to start something new or find new exciting ways to fill your time. A change of routine might prove to have its benefits. 

• Keep checking in on your loved ones 

Having to cancel plans is a disheartening experience on its own, yet now it’s becoming the norm. For many, it feels like all the fun things planned for this year are getting postponed or called off and for a lot of people (myself included)  that has been what’s keeping them going. With many Universities encouraging students to go home and further to the government’s instructions to avoid social interaction, everyone will inevitably miss seeing their friends and loved ones on a regular basis. Yet this doesn’t mean you have to stop contact all together! In stressful times, that’s when you need the support of friends and family the most. So why not send them a message or give them a phone call? Thanks to social media it’s now easier than ever to stay in instant contact with loved ones and even just a little few words of endearment can make all the difference. True friendship doesn’t need constant face-to-face contact with each other to make it work. True friendships are those who make it through thick and thin. Just a little message can go a long way! 

• Don’t believe everything you read online

Check your sources. It’s true that a serious situation brings out the best and worst of social media. With many media outlets sensationalising the current outbreak, it has led to many misconstrued ideas concerning the cause of the disease and the emergence of racist and prejudicial attitudes. So it’s important to stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as the NHS websites. If you have any questions, please contact your GP or 111 for more information. I have also attached some websites below if you have any more queries as to how you can look after your mental health. 

Look after yourselves and your loved ones, follow all the safety precautions but take some time out to unwind and try not stress yourself out. You can all get through it!

For more information on looking after your mental health at this time, click here.

For more information Student Space is here to make it easier for you to find the support you need during the coronavirus pandemic.

I'm Katie, currently a Modern Languages student at Durham University, with a passion and drive to fight against mental stigmas and offer my support to anyone who feels like they can’t reach out.  I hope everybody can get a little something out of my posts. No matter where you look there is always support whichever way you turn!

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