At the moment we are in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic. Life as we know it has been shut down. Disabled people have been told to self-isolate for twelve weeks due to the severity of the virus. It can be difficult to see positives in these circumstances, but it is the only way to slow the spread of Covid-19 and save lives. However, it’s important to take care of our mental health and wellbeing during this time. Here are a few ways to manage your mental health when self-isolating.
1. Limit your news intake
It is easy to get caught up in the media coverage surrounding this virus pandemic. We are hearing and reading about it 24/7 and with that, there is a lot of false and misguided information floating about. Try to focus only on getting information from official sources like NHS, Public Health England or the World Health Organization.
Limiting how much news we read or watch each day can be helpful too. Otherwise, it may feel like it is consuming our entire day. A brief update for 15 minutes around breakfast time and then again for 30 minutes to an hour in the evening may be the perfect dose. Find a balance that works best for you and allows you to stay updated but in control.
2. Give your social media a spring clean
It’s not only news channels that can affect our mental health, but social media also plays a massive part. Particularly in these uncertain times, the people we follow may be sharing lots of updates or unofficial information that make us feel worried. Unfollow or mute these accounts from appearing on your social media feeds. It’s important to focus on following accounts/people that promote positivity and make you feel comfortable and in control. We can all be doing with some kind, lighthearted and entertaining content to help us through the difficult times. Personally, I have limited my social media use and already I’ve noticed a difference.
3. Create a daily routine
Like myself, many disabled people are used to managing set daily routines. Having carers or any type of assistance requires some degree of planning and routine. Everyone will have different routines depending on their own circumstances. Motivation and mood levels can vary during self-isolation but creating a structure for your day with key and fun tasks can help. Set regular times for getting up, going to bed and mealtimes. This will help keep your day on track and help maintain focus. Try stick to the structure but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. We can’t be productive all the time, but remember resting when you are disabled is productive too. That’s something I’m slowly learning to do.
4. Focus on self-care
Taking care of both your mental and physical health is key. Do things that make you feel good. Sometimes the little things are the best and bring the most comfort in difficult times. To wind down and relax, I enjoy slapping on a facial sheet mask, doing my nails or putting my headphones on and listening to some music or watching YouTube videos/Netflix. Anything that takes me away from work or social media/news. For our physical health, it’s important to maintain any type of exercise we would usually do and eat as healthy as possible. I’m going to ensure I continue with my daily stretches and exercises, eat healthily, drink lots of water and get enough vitamin. These all help me feel good.
5. Get fresh air
The thought of self-isolating for twelve weeks can seem daunting, and it is. For many disabled people being at home all day is their normal, but it is still nice to get some fresh air every now and then. Sitting indoors at an open window can break up the monotony of the day. I love sitting at the window and watching the birds playing and feeding at the trees in our garden. Listening to bird song is so calming and instantly lifts my mood.
6. Immerse yourself in the things you love
Whether it’s a hobby/interest, work, learning, a movie marathon or a good old pamper sesh, if you love it, do it. Doing the things we love the most will help us as well as our mental health to get through the tough days. That won’t be the case every day, and that’s okay. Take each day as it comes. Try not to get too caught up overthinking things (easier said than done, I know!), but instead concentrate on the now and go with the flow.
7. Stay connected
Nowadays it’s very easy to stay connected with friends and family. There are so many different platforms and apps to do this including Skype, Messenger, WhatsApp and Zoom just to name a few. Even though we can’t see our loved ones in person, a video call can be a good alternative to get us through this tough period of self-isolation. Share how you are feeling and be there for each other. I haven’t been able to see my nephew for weeks and I’m missing him like crazy, so we have been video calling instead. It has been lovely receiving his calls to ask me questions for his home school work or to share what he is up to.
I really hope you are all safe and feeling okay. Even if you’re not feeling okay, that’s understandable. It can feel overwhelming, but be gentle with yourself. There is another side to all this and we’ll see it soon. Let’s connect on social media (links below) if you’d like to chat or contact me.
How do you manage your mental health when self-isolating? Please share your tips and advice below.