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Protecting yourself in uncertain times

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At this time of uncertainty, the constant news about the global spread of coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) can feel relentless and generate stress.

This can take its toll on people's mental wellbeing, particularly those already living with conditions like anxiety and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). So how can we best protect ourselves?

Being concerned about the news is understandable but for many people it can make existing mental health problems worse.

Here are some ways to protect yourself in the days and weeks ahead:

Take care with news and information

Minimise watching, reading or listening to news that causes you to feel anxious or distressed. 

The sudden and near-constant stream of reports about the virus can cause anyone to feel worried, especially when different news outlets put out conflicting or even unchecked information.

To keep a sense of perspective, only view your information from sources that you trust and restrict the times when you check for updates to no more than a couple of set times during the same day – maybe once in the morning and again in the evening. 

Official websites to try include:

Although social media can help keep you in touch with friends and family, do watch out for stories that misrepresent or distort the facts. It’s easy for well-meaning people to share something they’ve read but which hasn’t been verified. These types of stories can lead to behaviours like panic-buying in the shops that create their own problems, so approach any social media posts about the virus with caution.

Try and find positives

Find opportunities to read positive and hopeful stories and view positive images of local people who have experienced coronavirus. For example, stories of people who have recovered or who have supported a loved one and are willing to share their experience. 

Protect yourself and be supportive of others

Assisting others in their time of need can benefit the person receiving support as well as the helper. For example, check-in by phone on neighbours or people in your community who may need some extra assistance. Working together as one community can help to create solidarity in addressing coronavirus together.

Keep following hygiene advice

Please continue to follow NHS advice around handwashing to keep you and others well.

Keep abreast of what’s being done to help lighten the financial load

Few of us are in a position not to worry about money and if one of the issues that’s troubling you most is how you’re going to manage, it’s worth seeking sensible advice. 

With a changing situation, the government is putting in place a range of emergency financial measures to support businesses and individuals during the coronavirus disruption. From updates about mortgage and rent arrangements to temporary tax changes, you’ll find announcements on the government’s response at gov.uk.

A special section on the Money Advice Service’s website has also been set up to offer information on what the coronavirus may mean for you and your finances

Ways to protect your mental health during self-isolation

As more people are now needing to self-isolate over the coming weeks, people who are used to working alongside friendly colleagues may find themselves home alone suffering cabin-fever.

However, there are steps you can take to not let the isolation get to you, to keep both mentally and physically in good shape, and still be able to contribute positively to your business.

Think about finding the right place to stay

For some people, staying at home might not be ideal so try to think of other options such as staying with friend or family member. You can also keep up to date with the current government health advice online about whether you need to self-isolate.

Eat well and stay hydrated

It's important to also look after your physical health as this has an impact on your mental health. Make sure you’re eating regularly and drinking enough water. Think about getting food delivered or asking someone to drop food off for you. Being at home might impact on your routine and this can affect your appetite. It can help to create a new routine around when you eat and drink to make sure you’re looking after yourself.

Try and keep active

Try and build physical activity into your daily routine. Exercising at home can be simple and there are options for most ages and abilities.

10-minutes home cardio workout

How to work out at home without equipment

Continue accessing treatment and support

If you are receiving ongoing treatment for a physical or mental health problem and don’t feel you need to be seen face-to-face, some GP services are available via online or telephone consultations. Check with your GP to see what they offer.

If you have a repeat prescription you might be able to order it by phone, online or using an app. Check to see if you can download the free NHS App and search for your surgery. You can also ask your pharmacy about getting your medication delivered or asking someone to collect it for you, the NHS website has information on how to pick up a prescription for someone else.

Keep your mind stimulated

Keep your brain occupied and challenged. Set aside time in your routine for this. Read books, magazines and articles. Listen to podcasts, watch films and do puzzles. If you’ve got access to comedy that you could watch, listen to or read, so much the better as humour can be a great way to escape stress and relieve pressure.

Green space

For many of us we don’t have access to our own green space so this can be difficult. However, even something as simple as sitting by a window and watching the birds, or taking care of a pot plant, can be beneficial and help lighten your mood.

Download a copy of this article Protecting your mental and financial wellbeing in uncertain times as a pdf.

Please note that we are not giving advice by providing this article.