People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their emotions and their behaviour are more able to handle life’s challenges, build strong relationships, and recover from setbacks. But just as it requires effort to build or maintain physical health, so it is with mental and emotional health.

Looking after your mental health during COVID-19

Coronavirus (Covid-19) has had such a big impact on our mental health and emotional wellbeing. Things are changing fast, and with so much uncertainty right now, many of us worry about what it means for ourselves and our loved ones. It’s especially difficult if you are already living with mental health problems.

Whether you are self-isolating, or worrying about starting to go out and about again can be stressful. It is important that we stay physically and emotionally well during this time.

Promote your wellbeing

Here are ten things you can do to promote your wellbeing:

Be aware

Self-isolating for long periods can cause strong feelings and difficult experiences such as anxiety, depression and loneliness. Some of the ways that may normally help aren’t available right now, and it can be hard knowing who, and where, to go for help. For some people, each day can be overwhelming. You are not alone. Reach out for help if you need it.

Be kind to yourself

Try to do something nice for yourself every day and celebrate small wins – even if it’s as simple as washing your hair, cooking a meal or catching up with a friend. You are doing the best you can in these difficult times.

Get connected

Know who you need to stay in contact with for help with getting things done or just a general chat. Explore ways of connecting that work for you, whether that’s by post, over the phone, social media, or video chat. If you’re not tech savvy, regular phone calls, messages or even writing letters are lovely ways to show someone that you’re thinking of them.

Stay active

Great for mind and body. Find ways to keep physically active that are suitable to your ability and circumstances e.g. gardening. Even at home, there will be lots of ways to exercise and keep your body moving.

Keep a routine

Eating, sleeping, moving (either inside or outside) and making sure we keep hydrated are important to our mental health but they can seem overwhelming at a time like this. Develop a daily routine that works for you. This could include regular waking up and bedtimes, getting some fresh air and planned mealtimes.

Find ways to relax

Many of us worry about how things in the future will pan out. While coronavirus restrictions are in place, it may be helpful to try and take one day at a time if you can. Try a relaxation or meditation exercise that works for you and practice it once a day for at least 10 minutes.

Be positive

Try to look for the positives in situations e.g. having some extra me time or having the opportunity to catch up with something you have been meaning to do.

Keep occupied

When you are anxious, lonely or low you may do things that you usually enjoy less often, or not at all. If you can’t do the things you normally enjoy because you are staying at home, try to think about how you could adapt them, or try something new.

Make yourself heard

Talk to friends, family or community and faith groups about how you are feeling. Writing things down can help to organise your thoughts. Living through a piece of global history could be a great time to start a diary!

Keep up-to-date

The news is all about coronavirus and this may create stress and worries. If this is an issue for you, then try and listen or read one news bulletin a day, then switch off and do other things.

Where you can find support

If you're finding things hard emotionally right now, you're not alone. For reliable information and tips to help you cope during this time, visit www.mind.org.uk where you will find practical advice on coping with staying at home, advice and support for working during the coronavirus outbreak, managing feelings about lockdown easing as well as information on a broad range of issues including bereavement and grief, anxiety, stress and loneliness.

If you are at all worried about your mental health talk to your GP. The Mental Health Matters Devon Helpline provides free 24/7, 365 days mental health help on 0800 4700317.

TALKWORKS is a free NHS talking therapy service for people over 18 for people who are struggling to cope, feeling low, anxious or overwhelmed by their thoughts and feelings. Access Talkworks by calling 0300 555 3344 or via an online self-referral form.

Checkpoint offers free and confidential information, advice and support services for children and young people aged 8 to 17yrs. Visit the website or call 01803 200100.

The Silver Line provides free 24/7 information, friendship and advice to older people. Call 0800 470 8090 or visit: www.thesilverline.org.uk, for online support and lots of self-care resources and tools.

Visit www.healthwatchtorbay.org.uk to find out more about local services for issues such as anxiety, depression, grief and bereavement, financial difficulties, drug and alcohol use and relationship problems.

More information and resources are available on the Healthy Lifestyles Opens in a new window website.

In an emergency

Call 999 or go to A&E now if someone's life is at risk – for example, they have seriously injured themselves or taken an overdose OR you do not feel you can keep yourself or someone else safe.

Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans or if you've already been given a crisis line number to use in an emergency, it's best to call it.

Call Devon Partnership NHS Trust for urgent concerns about mental health and/or learning disability. This helpline is available 24/7 for all ages on 0300 555 5000.

The Moorings offer out-of-hours mental health support to anyone aged 16+ on 07483 991 848 (6pm until midnight, 7 days a week) or email devontorquay.mhm@nhs.net.