Coronavirus: How to Protect your Mental Health

Ellie Crowther our HR Advisor at Breathing Space HR and Mental Health First Aider, offers some sound advice and practical ideas to help you and your family and colleagues during this challenging time.

Mental health is widely recognised within the UK however, how do we protect it when a global crisis
hits? You may have had your daily routine destroyed, you may have had to cancel big plans, you may
also have never suffered with your mental health however now you seem to be struggling with your
heightened stress levels. BSHR believe it is vital that you protect your mental health just as much as
your physical health especially during this uncertain time.

You may benefit from the ideas of:
●Staying connected with people – this is essential to ensure you don’t feel isolated and
alone. Regular catch ups with work colleagues, friends, and family are recommended. If
you’re working from home it’s also an idea for your team to have a catch up regularly to
discuss company updates, any shout outs etc. Use this for positive chats.
●Eat and drink well – we are what we eat, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet can improve
our mental well-being and has the “feel good” factor. Eating healthy foods that are made up
of nutrients and vitamins will also help our bodies fight off illnesses.
●Sleep well – Sleep enables our bodies to recover and most healthy adults need between 7 to
9 hours per night to function at their best. Not only is sleep good for our mental health, poor
sleep is linked to a weakened immune system therefore it is essential to get the sleep you
require.
●Move more – as most of us know, exercise keeps us fit and releases endorphins. Exercise is a
great reliever of stress and can also make you sleep better, improve your memory and boost
your overall mood. Even light exercise such as taking an evening stroll can have a huge effect
on your body.
●Have breaks from social media – social media can often be quite negative, block any words
you associate as negative from your accounts and don’t forget to not get too drawn in to
what others say relating to the virus as sometimes this is can be misleading and incorrect.
●Try encourage an act of kindness into your daily routine – in Italy, the public have been
seen singing on balconies to boost morale. This can be done in various ways, anything from
food donations in your local shop, helping elderly and vulnerable people, donating to charity,
to sending a motivational text to someone who you know may be struggling.
●Take regular breaks if working from home – most home workers find themselves guilty of
losing track of time, their routine and snacking instead of making proper meals. It is essential
to take breaks from your screen, stick to your normal working hours, and to not work over
when avoidable all to stop the risk of “burnout”. Go make a cup of tea for 5 minutes, have a
walk around, and just take a break from your screen when possible.

We’re all different, therefore we all have different things that we get a sense of achievement
from doing. However, in the situation we’re in it can be quite hard to think of some positive
activities to take part in. BSHR have put together a list of ideas of a few positive things you can
do from home:

●Read a book or magazine
●Draw a picture, colour or paint
●Watch the TV show you’ve been meaning to catch up on
●Workout – Yoga, run, walk, home workout etc
●Take a bath
●Do some gardening
●Video call your friends or family
●Send a motivational text to a friend you know who may be struggling
●Spend time playing with your pet
●Donate to a charity
●Listen to music or a podcast
●Cooking or baking
●Get some fresh air

What to do if you feel anxious or stressed?
Each of us have different triggers that may cause increased levels of stress or anxiety. Some of us
may not usually feel anxious, so this feeling of anxiety may be new to us. Using these techniques
should help these feelings subside temporarily:

●Take a breather, take a break – it will pass
●Accept that you’re anxious or stressed
●Acknowledge your thoughts
●If you can’t do anything about it don’t let it take over
●Use positive self-talk
●Remember thoughts are not facts
●Remember it’s OK to talk
●Use meditation techniques

We understand that each person will have their own struggles and anxieties in these uncertain
times. We understand that this is a challenging time for employers, employees, friends, and family,
however we must support each other in any way we can and try stay as positive as possible.
Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.