Day one of social distancing I stayed in my pyjamas the entire day. Day two I ate an entire bag of Kettle Chips for lunch. Day three I decided to get my shit together.
At the minute, it kind of feels like that weird period between Christmas and New Year when you don’t know what day or time it is. Except that instead of drinking wine and eating cheese, we are all hiding from a potentially life-threatening virus.
I fall into two of the groups considered by the UK government to be more at risk of serious illness from Covid-19. And that means I am pretty much confined to the house for the foreseeable future.
I realised pretty quickly that I needed to be proactive in managing my mental health while social distancing. Otherwise, my depression would come rushing back in. So I came up with a plan to keep myself sane.
Establish a Routine
Without structure to your day, it’s easy to fall into a rut and spend all day lounging in pyjamas binge watching Netflix. Fun for a day or two, but no good for your mental health in the long term.
The morning after the Kettle Chips incident, I sat down and created a schedule for myself. I set aside time for work and lunch the same way I would if I was in the office and I made sure to include time for exercise and self care.
You don’t need to create a strict to-do list of all the things you want to ‘achieve’ during this time. That will just put unnecessary pressure on you. Let’s face it, none of us needs any extra pressure at the moment. But having a schedule will give your day structure and help make everything feel a bit more normal.
Take Care of the Basics
This might seem an obvious point, but I know from experience how easy it is to let the basics slip when your mental health isn’t great.
Make sure you continue to eat regular meals (particularly important if, like me, you suffer from an eating disorder), drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, shower and brush your teeth.
Exercise is an essential part of my mental health toolkit. I know that it is for many other people too. We may all be stuck at home and the gyms may have closed, but there are still plenty of ways you can fit a little exercise into your day.
If you’re able to get outside to a space where there aren’t many people then head out for a walk or run. Failing that, try an online fitness class. My favourite is Glo, which is especially good now when I need a bit more calm in my life.
READ MORE: How CBT Got Me Exercising Again
Set Aside Time for Self Care
It’s important to continue doing the things that make you feel good. The good news is, you’ve likely got a lot more time on your hands than usual. Time that can be spent looking after yourself.
Use this as an opportunity to read some of those books you’ve been planning for a while. Perhaps have a DIY spa day or simply spend some time in the garden. Anything that makes you feel physically or mentally better.
Stay in Contact
We may not feel very lucky at the moment, but we are fortunate to live in a time when it is easier to communicate than ever before.
Just because you’re avoiding physical contact, it doesn’t mean that you can’t keep in touch with people in different ways. Catch up with family and friends over the phone, Facetime or simply drop people a message every now and then.
Get a New Hobby
Over the years, I have accumulated a giant list of things that I want to learn but just never got round to. I want to learn a language, learn to paint and perhaps start growing my own vegetables. And there’s never going to be a more perfect time for it than now.
So if there’s something you’ve been wanting to try for ages, use this time to make a start.
READ MORE: 15 Lockdown Friendly Hobbies to Do at Home
Put Down Your Phone
The news is particularly anxiety-inducing at the moment and scrolling through various newsfeeds can sometimes be overwhelming and bad for your mental health. Try spending less time on your phone and instead focus on your own self care.