Looking after your health during the coronavirus pandemic

It's more important than ever to look after your health, so we've picked out some top tips from mental health charity Mind and Dr Naomi Middleton, for looking after yourself.

We’ve found ourselves in strange and uncertain times at the moment which could be making you feel anxious or stressed. We’ve sourced information from the mental health charity Mind, and from Doctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy, Oxford), Dr Naomi Middleton, who recently appeared on BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio Berkshire discussing how to look after your health during the coronavirus pandemic.

We’ve found the below information to be particularly helpful for looking after your mental and physical wellbeing at this time.

Eat well and stay hydrated

Whilst often easier said than done, following a healthy diet allows your body to receive all the nutrients it needs. Consider if you’re able to get to the shops - and if not, look into ways you might be able to get food delivered, including reaching out to family, friends and neighbours who can drop food at your door. Many restaurants are now offering takeaway services instead of their usual operation, so be sure to take advantage of this where you can. 

You should also try and regularly drink water as this is important for both your mental and physical wellbeing.

Connect with people

There are plenty of ways to keep in touch with others, especially digitally. Make plans to video chat with people who you see regularly to try and maintain face-to-face socialisation. Of course, you can always pick up the phone or send a text message too. If you’re worried about running out of things to talk about, Mind suggest watching a TV show or reading a book separately so that you can discuss it when you contact each other.

If people you would usually speak to are busy during the day, either going out to work or working from home, consider listening to the radio or a podcast.

> Read our advice on keeping in touch in isolation

Try to keep active

Mind recommend building physical activity into your daily routine where possible. Most people won’t have traditional exercise equipment in their homes, but these simple activities can raise your heart rate:

  • Cleaning
  • Going up and down stairs
  • Dancing to music

You can also find 10-minute workouts on the NHS website as well as videos to follow on YouTube, like Joe Wicks’ home workouts for seniors, or Yoga with Adriene.

Keep your mind stimulated

It’s key to keep your brain occupied and challenged. Set aside time in your routine for reading, doing puzzles or watching films. Equally, this could be a great time to pick up a new skill, or return to an old skill you may not always have time for. Why not try knitting or crochet, or learning a new language. There are plenty of apps available to you for such learning, and there are a wealth of 'how to' videos on YouTube for all kinds of skills and hobbies.

What to do when you’re feeling anxious

Doctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy, Oxford), Dr Naomi Middleton, suggests a few key things to do when feeling anxious.

  • Breathe deeply - Place your hands on your belly and breathe into them. Do this for as long and as often as you need.
  • Focus your mind on the present moment - Observe your breath or notice 5 things you can see or hear in your environment.
  • Bring to mind things in your life that you are grateful for - You could talk about this with someone, write a list or just sit and think.
  • Connect with others - Speak to family and friends, or consider calling a helpline if you are struggling. Do things to benefit your community, like dropping off some shopping for a neighbour.
  • Limit any unhelpful media interactions about coronavirus - A constant barrage of information can be overwhelming, so if you do want to stay up to date, make sure you are using reputable sources of information such as:
  • WHO - https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
  • NHS - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19
  • Gov.uk - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
Following these suggestions will help you to balance out the stress and anxiety response and activate your rest and digest response which promotes healing and recovery. ⁣

If you are in crisis or concerned about your mental health call your GP and seek professional help as you need it. ⁣

Find more tips from Dr Naomi Middleton on Instagram. You can also read the post from Mind on their website. For more information relating to health and wellbeing, visit the NHS website or WHO.

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