Being in a state of lockdown brings new challenges for our mental health and wellbeing. We asked members of the BU alumni community for their tips and advice on managing wellbeing during challenging circumstances.
To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May), we are sharing their advice below.
As per government advice, we are being told to stay home. This will take some adjustment and the new, strange way of life can be a risk to our mental health and emotional wellbeing. However, there are things we can do to maintain our good health whilst staying at home.
Abbie Barnes - Assistant Psychologist
1) Have a routine
Whilst staying at home and working from your new and improved dining room/office, it can be tempting to roll out of bed and head straight to your desk in your pyjamas. But, sticking to a regular routine is essential for our mood, confidence and our ability to manage the difficult times we are facing.
- Try and start your day at the same time as you normally would
- Shower and get dressed
- Have breakfast
- Set and maintain scheduled breaks.
2) Keep moving
Physical activity reduces stress and anxiety, makes us feel more awake and improves our sleep pattern. Although you may not be able to engage in the activity you usually do, there are an array of activities you can do in your home:
- Play with children in the household
- Utilise your garden space
- Follow exercise videos online
- Remember, as per government guidelines, we are able to leave home once a day to exercise. If you're happy to do this, make the most of it. Go for a walk, cycle or run. Maintaining the 2m distance from other people may even mean you end up going faster than usual!
3) Take time to relax
With so much uncertainty around at the moment, it can be difficult to relax, but engaging in a relaxation technique which helps to focus the mind on the present moment can have a significant positive impact on your mental health. Consider:
- Breathing exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Listening to your favourite music or podcast.
4) Stay connected
Staying at home can feel lonely and isolating. However, just because you may be physically distant from loved ones, it doesn't mean you can't remain connected. Connecting with others is critical in maintaining our mental health and the support we receive and give can make us more resilient.
- Maintain discussions with colleagues by phone or email
- Call a loved one at least once a day
- Continue interacting via social media
- Arrange group video calls with friends
- Play games together online
- Send a supportive message to someone you know who may be struggling themselves.
5) Be kind to yourself
We have not experienced something like the COVID-19 outbreak in our lifetime and therefore, it is completely normal for it to provoke feelings of worry, sadness, frustration and more. So, above all else be kind to yourself.
- Talk about your worries
- Limit your media intake to reputable sites only
- Continue to do things you enjoy
- Do something creative
- Take each day as it comes and remind yourself that this is not forever.
Shauna Shanks - Mental Health Nurse
- Set a task each day to make you feel like you have accomplished something
- If you live at home with a partner, have a date night. Get ready separately, have one knock on the door to pick the other up, cook a meal together and listen to some music
- Stay connected through phone calls, texts and video chats
- Listen to the important information and take it seriously, but also distract yourself with TV, movies and puzzles, knowing that the majority of people will be okay
Karen Maselino - Secondary School Vice Principal
- Use Google Hangouts, Skype or Microsoft Teams to have a staff coffee break. Grab a cuppa and log in at the same for a chat, as you would in the office
- Instead of dress down Friday, have a dress up Friday.
- Post pictures of staff looking uber-smart at home on a virtual staff noticeboard
- Run virtual quiz events using sites such as Kahoot. Send the code to staff to join and offer an e-voucher that can be used in online shops as a prize.