Top tips for staying mentally well during COVID-19

It is important to stay physically well during the coronavirus outbreak, but what about staying mentally and emotionally well?

Public Health England and the NHS have been working overtime to ensure we all know the key factors to staying physically well during the Coronavirus outbreak, but what about staying mentally and emotionally well in difficult times?

Uncertainty and your brain

Uncertainty is a difficult situation for the human brain to manage. We’re hard-wired to crave certainty – so much so that a negative certainty can feel preferable to not knowing.

At times like these, we can’t escape uncertainty but there are positive actions we can take to ensure we’re looking after our mental health as well as our physical health.

Tips for tip-top mental health

1. Connect

Positive social interactions are vital to our wellbeing – the more of them the better.  The good news is, they don’t have to be face-to-face.  A positive phone call, a video call, an email or a good old-fashioned letter all help us to stay connected and can boost our mental health. So whether you’re working flat-out caring for patients, working from home or self-isolating, be sure to reach out regularly and check in with others.  It will help you and it will help the person you connect with!

2. Take a break

No matter how busy you may be, take a few moments for self-care. Hydrate, eat, take a breath and stretch your body. Some great stretches for nurses can be found here and for desk workers here.

Focusing on breathing deeply for two minutes will boost your resilience and enable you to cope with the emotions that arise at times of difficulty. See this YouTube video for a quick, seven minute, stress-busting yoga routine that you can do on the spot.

A woman outside smiling with her eyes closed and hands on her head

3. Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. We all need a helping hand, especially in difficult times. If you’re a patient or the friend or relative of a patient, see our list of practical support services that are available in your area.  If you’re a member of staff, please don’t hesitate to talk to your team or line manager if you need help – and remember that you can also access Health Assured’s Employee Assistance Helpline 24/7.

4. Go outside

Being in nature reduces stress and increase mental and physical health. Sit in the garden, go for a walk (we’re still able to take one every day!), open a window; even browsing pictures of forests is proven to work!

A forest with the sun shining through the trees

5. Get your information from reliable sources

To help stay up to date with accurate information, draw upon reputable resources, like Public Health England, the NHS and the BBC.  Social media can be useful for connecting with people, but the information in social networks is variable at best. Take a break from social media if accessing it is increasing rather than decreasing your anxiety.

6. Be Kind

Go easy on yourself and those around you. Nerves are bound to be frayed. Surround yourselves with things that are familiar and give you comfort. If you find yourself acting out of character, forgive yourself – and extend the same kindness to others.

7. Rest

It’s not easy to rest when we’re needed or to sleep well when we’re worried, but without rest, we can’t stay healthy and help others. See our useful guide for tips on getting a good night’s sleep in trying times.

We’ll be following this blog post with regular tips, tricks and tools for staying well. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for support for shopping, accessing medicines or services, please see our practical support blog or visit our essential updates page for information on Hospiscare’s end-of-life services at this time.