Looking After Your Mental Health During COVID-19

We all know the steps we should take to protect our physical health. Practising social distancing. Washing hands regularly. Wearing a face-mask outdoors. 

But here at RateMyApprenticeship.co.uk, we believe your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical health. Follow these 5 steps to keep your mind healthy during this time.

#1 Get into a daily routine

Getting yourself into a regular routine may sound tricky at this time. After all, the strategy around dealing with COVID-19 is changing day-by-day. And that in itself can affect mental health.

Why is a routine so important for your mental health?

  • It provides predictability to your life, helping you feel that you, and nothing else, is in control.
  • When your day is organised by a routine, you know what to expect.
  • It reduces stress levels by distracting your attention from anxiety-inducing things.

Establishing a daily routine doesn’t mean you need to be doing something every minute of the day. In fact, the best routines are those that include small, simple and meaningful tasks. Washing and getting dressed,  a home workout or cooking dinner. 

Knowing that you have set tasks each day, can help you regain a sense of normality during an abnormal time.

#2 Start a thought journal

We all feel overwhelming emotions at times. The key to preventing your emotions from becoming damaging to your mental wellbeing, is to find a healthy outlet for them.

And that's where a thought journal comes in. All you need is some paper and something to write with. A pen, a crayon, a lipstick - anything that helps you to log your emotions in writing.

A journal is not a diary. Instead it’s a tool to help you process the thoughts circulating your mind and connect these to your emotions and health. So don’t worry about the spelling or neatness. Be as honest and open with yourself as possible. ​

Journaling has loads of benefits. It helps you reflect on the triggers of negative moods, so you can take the steps to avoid them. This can help you prioritise activities that make you happy.

#3 Limit time-spent watching news

Keeping up to date with what’s happening in the world can be beneficial. For example, knowing what the government advice is around COVID-19 can inform your decisions to protect yourself from the virus.

But excessively consuming the wrong type of news can lead to worry, anxiety and stress.

To combat this, the World Health Organisation suggests watching the news only so you can take the practical steps you need, to protect yourself and those around you. Once you have this information you can stop watching.

Another thing to think about is the type of news you watch. Alarmist news coverage (news that focuses on disaster reporting with only negative coverage) is particularly toxic. You should avoid this.

Try to stick with reliable and informative news sources such as BBC, Sky and GOV.UK. If you are seeking medical related advice around COVID-19, visit NHS.UK.

Visit Gov.UK for the latest COVID-19 government guidelines

#4 Stay connected to friends and family

Humans deal better with stress when we work together and share our feelings with others.

If you feel stressed, anxious or experience negative thoughts, reach out to somebody. Modern tech allows you to connect remotely with those in your life, with just the tap of a few buttons. 

Not sure what app to use? Houseparty, Zoom and Skype are some good ones to start with.

It's also important to stay connected to things that will help protect your mental health and not those that cause negative thoughts. So, if there are any social media accounts or people that increase your worry or anxiety, consider muting or disconnecting from them.

There's also a benefit to connecting via your phone or laptop. It's FREE.

#5 Focus on value activities

A value activity is anything that benefits you. In terms of your mental health, this can include:

  • Exercise stimulates the release of cortisol, a chemical that helps to manage stress. It also allows you to focus your attention on the task, rather than worrying about other things.
  • Cleaning for just 10-15 minutes can give you a sense of control over your environment. It also improves your sense of accomplishment.
  • Hobbies are a simple way to improve your mental health. Reading a book, cooking a tasty treat or playing a musical instrument are all ways of turning your attention to something positive.

Ensuring you put some time aside each day for value activities is really important.

Not only are these activities fun and boost your mood, but value activities offer respite from more stress-inducing activities like preparing for an exam, or food shopping during a pandemic.

If you’re looking for inspiration, discover 5 FUN Ways to Survive Social Distancing.

These tips alone won’t transform your mental health. Instead, you should incorporate them in your daily schedule to help relieve and manage anxieties, stresses or worries.

If you are experiencing negative thoughts, then it’s important to seek help. Check out some online NHS Mental Health & Wellbeing resources. If your symptoms are severe, then speak to a trained mental health advisor using the helplines below.