COVID-19 – Self-isolation and taking care of your mental health
Public Health England have advised those who show symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) to stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days.
Staying at home can help stop Coronavirus spreading.
Symptoms of Coronavirus include:
- A new, contagious cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours and / or
- A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
Looking after your mental health while self-isolating
You might be asking yourself, ‘what will I do if I have to self-isolate?’, but there is plenty you can do to ensure you are taking care of yourself.
Just because you are distancing yourself physically that doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch with family and friends by phone. You can call, FaceTime, WhatsApp video or Skype call your loved ones. And you don’t have to talk about the virus, talk about other things that you usually would and that make you happy.
There is plenty you can do to help release tension and anxiety.
- Light a candle and put on a 10-minute meditation video on YouTube.
- Practice Yoga – which is a mind-body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing, meditation or relaxation. It can help to reduce stress.
- Download a meditation sleep app to help you sleep better – there are lots of apps out there for you to download and listen to – be in the moment while you listen.
- Play a board game or do things that you’ve not had a chance to do for a while such as cooking, baking, painting or even knitting! Keeping your mind occupied with things that interest you, can really help boost your mood.
Take a break from social media and the news
Of course it’s good to be aware of what’s going on in the news, but take a break and read that book that’s been on your ‘to read’ list for a while.
Decide on your daily routine
When you’re used to having a daily routine, all of a sudden not having one can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Decide on what you’d like to do each day and write it down. Whether that’s having breakfast, meditating, reading a good book, watching a movie and spending time with family and friends or something else.
Write a list of household chores
If you feel up to it, then now is the time to get all of your household chores done, whether that’s having a Spring clean, cleaning out the shed, organising your garage, gardening or, getting old clothes and shoes ready to throw out – you’ll feel very productive!
Organising your emails is another one of those things we don’t always get around to doing, clear out unnecessary emails and organise them into folders.
Play online games
There are apps that you can download and play with friends such as Word with Friends. Or, play a game by yourself such as Slither or Solitaire.
Exercising releases chemicals called endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body. There is a lot you can do at home if you are feeling up to it, such as stomach exercises, squats, skipping in the garden and watching YouTube exercise class videos, one of our favourites is Zumba!
Watch your favourite films and TV shows
Usually, we’re so caught up in day-to-day life we don’t always have time to watch films and programmes that we want to, well now’s the best time to do this! There are lots of great streaming services that you can purchase to watch the latest shows such; as Netflix, Now TV and Amazon Prime (as a student you can get this for half price).
Take a step back
Being cooped up with family members or friends for a long period of time can be frustrating, but if you find yourself in a tense situation, take a step back, let the situation calm down and then have a chat with them. If there are lots of you in the house, creating a rota of who does the household chores on what days can help.
Talk to someone
If you’re finding self-isolation difficult, talk to someone. Either a person you live with or a close relative or friend. After all, we are all in a similar situation.
Guidance for those with ongoing mental health issues
If you are concerned about your mental health, contact your mental health crisis team (if you have one). If you are not with a team then please contact your GP as soon as possible. You should call the paramedics on 999 if you think you are at high risk of harming yourself.
Papyrus run a helpline for anyone who may be feeling suicidal, the helpline is free and runs from 10am to 10pm weekdays and 2pm to 10pm on weekends. You can call them on 0800 0684141 or SMS: 07786 209697.
You can also use a crisis text service called Shout who offer advice and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, via texting. Just send a text message to 85258 and you will be connected to a support worker.
If you are currently seeing a counsellor or therapist and have had to cancel appointments, ask them if they can offer you online sessions until you are well.
Student Minds also has information and guidance for coping with symptoms.
What to do if you need medical help and need to stay at home
- If you have symptoms not related to Coronavirus call the NHS online service – 111
- If it is an emergency call 999