The world is a tough place to be right now. Most of us have never dealt with a situation like the current coronavirus outbreak, so it’s no surprise that so many people are feeling overwhelmed with everything that’s going on. Sitting inside and watching the news is no longer an activity used to pass the time – with every new headline, notification and announcement comes a new feeling of unease.
Now more than ever, we need to come together to support each other – especially when it comes to our mental wellbeing. While some people will be better at coping with the current situation than others, we all have a responsibility to reach out and ensure the people around us are doing OK.
Of course, with the social distancing recommendations currently in place, the usual things we’d do to support people – such as going round to someone’s house for a cup of tea or giving them a hug – have mostly gone out the window.
But there are still things we can all be doing to ensure that no one feels alone in dealing with the magnitude of such a massive event. So without further ado, here’s some easy ways to support those around you during this difficult time, whether or not you’re physically with them.
1. Maintain connection
“As humans, we need connection in order to stay mentally healthy,” explains Jo Love, a mental health advocate. “While this may be harder to do if you’re self-isolating away from someone, offer to have a Facetime cup of tea together.”
Rebecca Lockwood, a life coach, agrees that connection is essential: “Set up a WhatsApp group chat with your friends and family if you haven’t already got one and check in with them daily.”
2. Talk it out
“The worst thing you can do when someone is suffering mentally and emotionally is to stop them from talking about it and saying ‘it will be OK, be positive’,” Lockwood explains. “No one really knows if it is going to be OK, so saying that will just fall on deaf ears and not be taken in anyway.
“At a time like this it is important to be able to talk it out and have someone there as a listening ear when we feel anxious and uneasy. Talking it out will alone reduce tension and anxiety in someone who is suffering.”
Love agrees. “Encourage the people around you to talk to you or someone else about how they are feeling – it will help enormously. Don’t just ask ‘are you OK?’ – ask them how their day has been, what they’ve been doing, how they feel about the future and whether they feel safe.
“Maybe come up with a code emoji to send to each other quickly to let each other know you’re thinking of one another, or you need to talk.”
“Distraction can be a great tool for calming anxiety levels quickly,” Love explains. “If you are with someone who is worrying find activities that might take their minds off their immediate worries, such as doing an online workout together, or watching a feel-good film.
“If you are apart, maybe play an online game together or send them some ideas for uplifting or funny podcasts or Netflix boxsets and then this gives you a great excuse to check in a little later to see what they thought.”
4. Be mindful of others
“Whether you live with flatmates or your nearest and dearest, suddenly being forced into self-isolation with the people you live with can be enormously stressful and anxiety-inducing on everyone involved,” Love says.
“Sitting down together and chatting about what everyone needs support with over the coming days and months can help enormously.”