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How to take care of your mental health during the coronavirus lockdown

Posted by
Lauren Geall
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A girl washing her hands and organising her house

As the country adapts to life under the coronavirus lockdown, here’s how to keep on top of your mental health.

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to grow and countries across the world head into lockdown, the threat this pandemic poses to our mental health grows even bigger.

Besides the fact that this is an anxiety inducing time for everyone, we’re now being asked to stay home to curb the spread of the virus, meaning we’re only allowed to leave our house for four reasons: to shop for necessities, to exercise once a day, to meet medical needs or provide care, or to travel to and from work (if we can’t work from home). These unprecedented restrictions are necessary if we’re going to beat the virus – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about the impact these restrictions are likely to have on our mental wellbeing.

Indeed, staying inside for long periods of time and being isolated from your social support structures in a time of such uncertainty is inevitably going to leave many of us feeling worried and low.  

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With that in mind, we asked mental health advocate and director of the Speakers Collective Jo Love for some easy ways to boost our mental health if we find ourselves stuck inside. Here’s what she had to say.

1. Organise your space

“You know what they say: ‘tidy home, tidy mind!’ But let’s be honest – decluttering can feel daunting and overwhelming,” Love says. 

“There’s no need to Marie Kondo your entire home, maybe just pick a small area of your home and give it a spruce. Organising our homes helps relieve stress and boosts our mood – plus the sense of smug satisfaction afterwards is second to none.”

Bedroom
Decluttering your whole living space can feel overwhelming – focus on one area of your room to get started.

If you have plants, this may also be a great time to spend some time tending to them, whether that’s giving them a good water or repotting them completely. After all, looking after plants is a fantastic form of self-care.

2. Seek comfort from others

Being able to communicate and engage with our loved ones is an important part of everyday life that many of us take for granted, as Stylist’s editor-in-chief Lisa Smosarski found during her recent week in self-isolation.

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“Connecting with friends and family may have to be via technology if you’re in isolation, but there is a growing body of research suggesting that social health is just as, if not more, important to overall well-being as physical health,” Love says.

If you have a pet, you could also spend some time with them as they can be really great mood-boosters (if you’re in self-isolation you’re advised against being near pets, so check the latest NHS advice).

3. Move your body

You may be limited in the amount of exercise you can do if you’re stuck inside self-isolating or working from home, but it’s still important to get your body moving.

“Moving can really help bust through those stress levels and give an instant shot of happy,” Love explains.

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“Whether you whack on a hard-core HIIT DVD, get bendy with some yoga or simply have a big stretch, they will all help to get your blood flow pumping and shift your mood quickly.”

4. Breathe

“Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective, and this is definitely the case with taking some big deep breaths,” Love says. “Deep breathing floods our systems with happy hormones, aka endorphins, tricking our brains into making us feel instantly more chill.”

A woman breathing
Take a deep breath to calm yourself down and boost your mood.

5. Netflix and chill (responsibly)

While watching Netflix may seem like a great way to relax and rewind, we should also remember to watch something that won’t make our mental health even worse.

“Bust out those box sets, get the duvet out and hunker down. But just as TV can boost our mood, equally it can make us feel crappy too,” Love says. “So be careful with what you watch, maybe leave the dark apocalyptic thrillers for another time and choose something more joyful, uplifting, or funny instead.”

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However, when sales of the apocalyptic novel Station Eleven are rising, it seems like some of us may not be heeding Love’s advice – each to their own!

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