Protecting your mental health during Covid-19

I think most of us can honestly say that the effects of the pandemic really came around much quicker than we anticipated. Even though we knew of the scale it was at in China, the speed it went from hitting Italy to completely changing life in the UK was pretty staggering. Whether you are in lockdown in Spain, Italy or anywhere else in the world, or getting used to semi-lockdown in the UK, it is a terrifying time for so many people and nobody has any sort of understanding of when it could be over and the state we will be in financially when it does.

To all those who have lost their jobs or their income as a result of coronavirus, I am so sorry for you. As you can imagine being in the events industry at a time when people are forced into isolation, isn’t great. The unknown is sometimes even more scary than the reality though, and we all need to work together to protect our mental health through this pandemic, however long it goes on for. I hope you are all receiving the support from the government that has been promised and it helps tide us over in this difficult time.

Below, I have listed some ways you can try to protect yourself during this, and I promise there are no snips about using this time to ‘heal’ or ‘learn new skills/finish novels/change the world’ because right now it’s more about survival in a time of extreme loneliness.

Filter it out

So I’m sure lots of you are checking for regular updates on the news, or have ping alerts to your phone. If you want to keep that on then go ahead, but likewise it might be better for you to switch that off. I for one don’t want a daily update on how many people have died, but I completely understand waiting to hear whether your city is going into lockdown or listening for any sort of good news. One of the best things you can do is filter out key words on your twitter feed, so that it isn’t taking over your entire social media. On your twitter, go to Settings – Notifications – Muted – Muted words, then click the ‘+’ symbol to add words to filter out. A lot of people did this during Love Island or Brexit, but if it’s new to you, then add common terms like ‘Coronavirus’ ‘Covid-19’, ‘Boris Johnson’,’ Lockdown’, ‘Pandemic’ etc. You can also select to do this for a certain period of time, so even if you just want 24 hours of hearing things on twitter about anything else, this is a nice way to do so.

Stay Social

The worst thing you can do right now is totally cut yourself off from loved ones. Everyone is in the same position, so use the time to video call friends, set up virtual coffee mornings with your best friend, call your parents and grandparents. The only way we are going to get through this craziness is together, so interact with as many people as you can. Particularly if you have friends who are freelance, work in theatre, pubs, bars, restaurants or events, they are probably really hard hit right now so need you to check in more than ever. Whether it’s by a quick fb message, reacting to their instagram stories, or picking up the phone, try to stay in touch with people and start new habits. Download ‘house party’ and catch up with your best friends or play drinking games together.

Support Independents

If you are in parts of the world that aren’t on lock down then if you can incorporate picking up a coffee on your morning walk from a local coffee shop, or buying from local suppliers rather than big supermarkets or Amazon, then do so. The financial effect from this is going to be devastating for so many businesses, so if you can do anything to support them at this time then do. Other ways to do this is to buy vouchers for meals in the future at restaurants or drinks from bars, as we will all truly deserve a night out once this is over.

Get out of the house

Again, do this whilst you still can. Make sure you leave the house to go on a walk at some point during the day. You are saving time on what would have been a commute, so take advantage of having free time to go for a walk instead. It’s so important to keep healthy and not be absorbed into our beds and couches.

Stay active

If a daily walk isn’t enough for you, then try to keep your fitness and flexibility up during isolation. So many people have made their work at home apps or fitness guides free as a result of people not being able to go to the gym. Nike Training Club (free app), Freeletics (costs but includes a free period) and Les Mills on demand (costs but comes with a 14 day free period). Also just look up HIIT workouts on Youtube or Instagram. Join Facebook pages like ‘Gymshark Community’ as loads of people are in the same boat and need an alternative to the gym so people are sharing workout ideas and discount codes. If you are an apple user, the Gymshark app for home workouts is also free.

If you love to dance then some brilliant dance teachers have started selling online classes through Patreon. I would personally recommend Tarek Khwiss, you pay per class so it’s really a good way to keep dancing.

Working from home

So a lot of us are forced to work from home right now. Top tips for doing this are:

  1. Get dressed every day. Do not stay in your pyjamas! Get up, get dressed, shower, brush your teeth, all the things you would normally do, otherwise you will feel awful and gross all day
  2. Take a lunch break. You have the opportunity to cook at home rather than meal prepping or eating lunch out, take your hour lunch break to cook and eat a great meal and take a break from your emails.
  3. Use video calls for meetings – zoom or google hangouts – to replace what would have been face-to-face meetings with your colleagues.
  4. Use the time to watch useful webinars for your job and chase older sales/contacts. Lots of people have more time than usual and it’s a really good time to reconcile and check in with people.
  5. Put the tv, radio or a playlist on quietly in the background. This will help replacing office noise that you are super used to.
  6. Be strict about your working hours. If you work 9-5, only work 9-5!! It’s much harder to do this when you aren’t being mandated by travel time, but it’s important to switch off.

Support great initiatives

Slight plugging at this point, but there are so many great ideas out there. My company have started a #donateadinner fundraiser partnering with Age UK Wandsworth to deliver delicious home cooked meals to the most vulnerable in isolation. For just £3 a meal, it keeps our chefs at work and our community looked after. We are also building delicious isolation hampers that you can order to your home in London, whether it’s a fondue evening, a roast dinner or a charcuterie board, we have loads of great ideas for bringing the party to you.

Other ways you can get involved are to sign up to be an NHS volunteer through the GoodSAM scheme.

NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up to support the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak. To do this we need an ‘army’ of volunteers who can support the 1.5m people in England who are at most risk from the virus to stay well. Our doctors, nurses and other professionals will be able to refer people in to NHS Volunteer Responders and be confident that they have been matched with a reliable, named volunteer.

You can help by signing up for one or more of the tasks listed below. Once you have registered and checks are complete you will be provided a log-in to the GoodSAM Responder app. Switch the app to ‘on duty’, and you’ll see live and local volunteer tasks to pick from nearby.

This programme enables volunteers to provide care or to help a vulnerable person, which is permitted under the new rules announced by the Government on 23rd March 2020. Volunteers may be asked to show the active task they are responding to if asked.

Brain dump

Some people find it super helpful to ‘unload’ at the beginning or end of a day, for a lot of people working from home for the first time, or suddenly finding themselves without structure, this might be a really useful exercise. 

Start by writing a long list of everything you ‘want’ to do; whether it’s work related, personal or social, just write everything down. Include if you want to dye your hair, or do a HIIT workout, or buy a 12 pack of Cadbury’s cream eggs. Then divide that list into things you can do TODAY, things you can do THIS WEEK and things you can do THIS MONTH. You can then start to structure your day around all the things you want to achieve and start to organise your own timeline better. There are lots of great books out there for helping you organise your thoughts and achieve your goals better, such as: Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog!: Get More of the Important Things Done – Today!, The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll and Blueprints 4 Success by my dad Steve Drake! 

I personally can’t get through my day without a todo list, and having one is helping me build a structure in my day that would otherwise feel like never ending chaos. 

Please share any other ideas you have below, I would love to hear them! 

Kayleigh x 

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