Latest LPC Health Column (June 2020) Taking Care of your mental health and well being
Taking care of your mental health and wellbeing
The coronavirus outbreak has left many of us feeling bored, frustrated or lonely. For some of us that has also meant feeling low, worried and anxious.
As we are now emerging from lock-down, and things around us are very different, some of us are:
- Feeling too overwhelmed by fear, confusion, anger, or panic to know what to do
- Scared to look at what’s going on and not doing anything – which can leave us feeling guilty and ashamed or defensive and angry at those taking action.
- Continuing to throw ourselves into doing something, anything – which may not be the best and can leave us feeling exhausted afterwards and still wondering if that was enough.
In moments of prolonged crisis, reactions like these are very understandable – and very human. They’re a natural reaction to an overwhelming situation.
Each week we receive phone-calls from patients and members of the public who call the pharmacy, simply wanting to talk about their mental health condition and ask for advice relating to their medication.
Our pharmacies across Derbyshire have official accreditation as ‘Healthy Living Pharmacies’ with dedicated Health Champions. They all recognise the need for mental health support right now and so I thought I’d share a few emergency tips in case you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed.
Discuss your fears with someone you trust.
If you are feeling anxious or worried about the coronavirus then it can be good to get someone else’s point of view. Think about who you speak to – speaking to someone else who is struggling might not be best. Find somewhere quiet where you can sit down whilst still maintaining social distancing and chat openly and honestly about your feelings and your concerns. It is easy to get overwhelmed in our own pattern of negative thoughts, so talking these though can help break those cycles.
If you prefer, you can contact an emotional support service such as the Samaritans or if you are worried about your physical health you can call NHS 111.
Turn off news notifications on your phone.
These days we all have mobile phones next to us 24/7 and the temptation to grab the phone at every notification can be overwhelming. Instead, check your settings and turn off notifications for your news apps. Better still, check to see what apps are sending updates and uninstall them. If you want to stay informed, set some time aside each morning and evening to log onto the internet.
Mute people sharing updates or misinformation.
Both Facebook and Twitter have the ability to mute users. If someone you follow is sharing updates that make you feel uneasy or sharing misinformation, then mute them. Muting someone doesn’t mean you have to unfollow them, but it does mean you don’t see their posts for a while – and they won’t be notified that you have done this.
Equip yourself with information from trusted sources.
If you want to equip yourself with the latest information about the Coronavirus, then make sure you turn to a source of information that you can trust. While the temptation is to turn to social media for the latest breaking news, getting information from a reliable source is important. Both the World Health Organisation (WHO), The UK Government and the NHS have pages set up to report the latest stats and guidance.
Distract yourself with the things you enjoy.
Making time in your day to do the things you enjoy is a good way to distract yourself from the news cycle. Take an hour out of your day to go for a walk or maybe find somewhere quiet to sit with a book. Turn off the TV and enjoy crossing off a few books from your reading list.
You might even want to take a look to see if there are any free courses on the Open University Open Learn website that you could take part in. Learning something new is a great way to stimulate the brain and tune out those anxious thoughts.
Eat well, Sleep well.
It is very easy to forget to have a well-balanced meal when we are stressed or anxious – but cooking can help detract from negative thoughts and ensure that you eat well. If you are not into cooking, then maybe ask a loved one or friend if they will help you. Sharing the task and talking about what you are cooking can help take your mind off your worries.
There are a lot of good websites that have simple recipes that you can follow. If you are looking for inspiration then maybe visit the website of Jack Monroe, who offers simple low-cost recipes that are easy to follow.
And after a good meal, don’t forget to wind down ready for bed. Spend at least an hour winding down from your day with the television or the internet turned off and unwind with a warm bath or maybe a book. If you are tempted to check the internet – be bold… turn off your router so you won’t be able to or leave your phone in another room.
Talk to your GP or mental health team
Finally, if you find yourself trying to cope with extended periods of anxiety or stress then speak to your doctor. GPs are open and many are consulting with patients by telephone or video.
If you would like to chat to a pharmacist about whether your feelings are something which would require a medical appointment, then please ring or come to the pharmacy and ask to speak to the pharmacist or to the health champion. You don’t need an appointment and we are here to help you through this difficult time.
Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has coronavirus symptoms but you can still ring the pharmacy.
In the meantime, stay safe, stay alert and continue to wash your hands when necessary.