The Hector’s House team share their top tips on taking care of your mental health during self-isolation.
There has been a lot of talk in the news recently about self-isolation due to the breakout of COVID-19. This is where individuals who may have been exposed to the virus stay indoors, alone, for up to 14 days to prevent the spread of the condition to others.
While this is a great solution to prevent further contamination, it can be worrying, as self-isolating may have serious impacts on our mental health.
Here are a few tips we have on keeping your mental health in check during a self-isolation period:
CREATE A CALM SPACE
There is nothing worse than a cluttered, stressful environment when you are indoors alone. Try to create a calm household or area for you to spend your time in. Make sure you have access to natural light, fill the space with things that bring you joy, and light candles for a calming mood when it gets dark. Having a clean, tidy space will be really beneficial to your time alone, so spend a day or so resetting your space to encourage calmness.
Make sure, each day, you are connecting to others. We are lucky that nowadays it’s never been easier to speak to people even if we are alone. Call, FaceTime, text as many people as you can. See it as a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends with a catch-up call. Let close family and friends know you will be in touch most days so they understand how important your call is for your wellbeing.
A BLESSING IN DISGUISE
Having two weeks to yourself, inside, with little to do… when does that ever happen? Try to see the positives of this time. It can be an excuse to catch up on your favourite Netflix show, or to tackle that out of control room in your home, or to just sit and do very little! These two weeks could be your little reset button on a number of life-admin tasks you never find time to do. The possibilities are endless – but find light in however you decide to spend that time.
If you are feeling able to, try to keep active even while indoors. Find a gentle yoga exercise on YouTube, or make sure you are standing every 20 mins or so. Housework is another great way of keeping active! Even if it’s walking up and down the stairs a few times, try to keep moving.
Open your windows whilst exercising so you can get some fresh air, too. If you are able to – and are following government and health professionals’ advice – please try to get outdoors (garden, balcony or even just on a quiet street) as much as you can. Sunshine and fresh air is really important.
START THAT HOBBY
Would you love some free time to draw, or learn a language, or research a potentially bestselling novel you’ve been writing in your head? Now is your chance! Having a hobby has massive benefits to your mental health, but finding the time to start can be tricky. Use this time to start that project, give it your full attention, and see how you feel during and after the exercise. You might find the two weeks absolutely fly by!
FOOD AND DRINK
Although it may be tempting to binge on unhealthy snacks during your time off, it’s arguably more important than ever to sustain a healthy diet and eat lots of fruit and veg. Start a meal plan for your time self-isolating, and make sure you have enough food to keep you going. This is no call to panic buy tinned soup and pasta, but ensure you have enough. If not, ask a friend or neighbour if they can nip to the shops on your behalf, or check your food delivery options. Eating well will not only help your recovery, but will massively impact your mood.
It’s also vital that you drink plenty of water to keep yourself well and hydrated. Keep a note of how many litres you are drinking a day – it will feel like you have achieved something before bed when you can tick it off your to-do list!
HAVE A ROUTINE
Even though you will be indoors without any plans, try to create a routine for each day so that you feel in control. This could start with a healthy breakfast, a light yoga stretch, an hour of housework followed by lunch and some chilled time. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s scheduled in. This could do wonders for your mental health.
It is completely normal to feel a bit frightened during this outbreak. It’s new, unknown and worrying for those with underlying health issues. Don’t beat yourself up about feeling this way. Feel it, then try to let it pass through you. Take deep breaths. Remind yourself that you are safe. Remind yourself of the facts – try to avoid too much news and social media outlets that might be contributing to the sensationalism. You are doing the best you can do right now – for yourself and for others. Feel proud of yourself for being so responsible during this very strange time. Doing daily breathing exercises and meditation will help you if you are feeling panicked.
SPEAK TO PROFESSIONALS
Please don’t suffer in silence during this time. If you are worried about your health, call 111 to speak to an advisor. If your mental health is suffering, there are a number of helplines you can call here.
If you are in counselling and are concerned about missing appointments, see if you therapist is willing to have the session via the phone or facetime.
We are also here if you need us.
If this all feels too much, and you are nearing crisis point with your mental health, text HECTOR to 85258.
You may be alone physically, but you are never truly alone.
You’ve got this.