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Looking after yourself during these challenging times

Our Helpline and Information Officer, Stuart Macgee, discusses some coping strategies to keep well in the days and weeks ahead during lockdown.

Lockdown. Who doesn’t dread hearing this, again?

Apart from all the practical implications and impact this will have on families, finances, businesses, relationships, education, basically on every aspect of our lives, many are left worrying about their mental health.

We all feel fragile and jarred by now, we’ve been living with restrictions for so long.

However, there is a sliver of light at the end of this long dark tunnel, ie the vaccine. We just need to hang in there for a bit longer, keep safe and well until life returns to normal.

There is no time like now to start looking after your mental health.

While it’s true that many of our usual coping strategies are not possible at the moment, there are still many ways you can improve and maintain your mental health without breaching lockdown restrictions.


Link between mental and physical health

There is a strong link between mental and physical health. If you don’t look after your body, your mind will be affected too.

Here are some of the things you could consider to look after yourself better:

  • Look at your diet, is it full of junk food? You need to feed your brain and promote good mental health with a healthy balanced diet.


  • Are you drinking too much alcohol? Alcohol is often seen as a quick fix for current issues and problems but makes things worse in the long run.


  • Do you take recreational drugs? These can sometimes interfere with your medication’s effectiveness, and an increase in seizures can lead to more stress.


  • How much coffee or drinks high in caffeine do you consume? Excessive caffeine can lead to irritability, affect your sleep and cause anxiety.


Lack of sleep

  • Are you neglecting your sleep? We all find we can cope better after a good night sleep. Don’t use your mobile devices late into the night, the blue light emitted from them can affect the production of the sleep hormone melatonin which is essential for sleep. Or at least switch your device to night/sleep mode.


  • Have you reduced the amount you move your body? Lack of exercise can make us more stressed and cause us to have low mood. Lockdown rules still allow you to exercise,you don’t need a gym. Take yourself off for a walk, and if you feel unsafe to go out on your own, you are still allowed to meet up, socially distanced, with one person from another household outside.


  • Are you glued to the daily onslaught of news? There is such a thing as news overload. Too much information can make you anxious. Restrict the times when you are on social media or browse news channels.


  • Do you feel disconnected from friends and family? Use video calling if you can, seeing someone rather than just hearing their voices makes you feel more connected.


  • Are you neglecting your own needs? Build in time for self-care and set aside time just for yourself if you can. You don’t have to do anything special. Have a cup of tea, listen to some music, or do nothing. This can be calming and allows you to recharge your batteries.