Health Tips

Coronavirus: How to protect your mental health

Reconsider the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren't making you feel better. Perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news.

Coronavirus has plunged the world into uncertainty and the constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless.

All of this is taking its toll on people’s mental wellbeing, particularly those already living with conditions like anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – so how can we protect our mental health?

The World Health Organization recently shared a comprehensive list of steps we can all take to protect our mental health.

Here’s a quick list the BBC compiled in consultation with mental health experts:

Limit the news and be careful what you read:

  • Reconsider the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren’t making you feel better. Perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news.
  • There is a lot of misinformation swirling around – stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as government websites and national health authorities.

Have breaks from social media and mute things which trigger anxiety:

  • Mute WhatsApp groups and hide Facebook posts and feeds if you find them too overwhelming.
  • Also mute key words which might be triggering on Twitter and unfollow or mute accounts.

Wash your hands – but not excessively:

  • For people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and some types of anxiety, being constantly told to wash your hands can be especially difficult to hear. For Lily Bailey, author of Because We Are Bad, a book about living with OCD, fear of contamination was something she struggled with. “I’m sticking to the advice really rigidly but it’s hard, considering that for me, soap and sanitiser used to be something comparable to an addiction.”

Stay connected with people:

  • Now might be a good time to make sure you have the right phone numbers and email addresses of the people you care about.
  • If you’re self-isolating, strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety. It might end up actually feeling like quite a productive two weeks.
  • You could work through your to-do list or read a book you’d been meaning to get to.

Avoid burnout:

  • With weeks and months of the coronavirus pandemic ahead, it is important to have down time.
  • UK mental health charity Mind recommends continuing to access nature and sunlight wherever possible.
  • Exercise, eat well and stay hydrated.

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