Supporting your mental health through coronavirus and beyond

By Raspberry Jim,

Life has changed pretty dramatically in the past two months, hasn’t it.

We’ve gone from enjoying unlimited socialising, trips away, holidays, walks, eating out and shopping, to living behind closed doors, shut away from loved ones, and limited to a few walks a day.

That drastic change is inevitably going to have an impact on anyone’s mental health.

Whether it’s moments of frustration, anxiety, stress, or just sadness for the distance between you and your family, I’m sure we’ve all felt it in our own way.

But with lockdown in Wales in this capacity ongoing for at least the next two weeks, and life beyond that predicted to be changed irreversibly due to coronavirus, how can we support our mental health to adapt to this change?

Here’s a few things our Communications Manager Gemma has been practicing over the last few weeks to support her mental health.

Be thankful

It sounds like an illogical concept when you feel like you’ve lost so much, but taking two minutes to be grateful for what you have really does go a long way.

Your health, access to food, a loving family, a garden, a safe home – whatever you are thankful for, it’s important to take a minute to remember it.

In this time of intense pressure and stress, it can be all too easy to give in to the negativity. But it’s hugely beneficial for your mental health to remember the positives.

Everyone will have moments of upset, worry, and frustration – and that’s perfectly fine. But when those creep up, just remind yourself that this too shall pass.

Take time for you

Whether you’re working from home, or juggling parenting and working, it can be easy to fall into a stressful Groundhog Day-style routine which leaves no time for you.

Creating time for yourself can be challenging when you have responsibilities, as a working parent I can totally appreciate the constant balancing act of childcare and work.

With all that in mind it can be easy to forget to recharge and relax.

That is more important than ever now, with this pandemic blurring the lines between our home and work life.

If you’re working from home create a designated workspace that you can leave behind at the end of the day and switch off from the office when your shift is done. Don’t get stuck in front of the TV for hours (although if that’s how you relax go for it), read a book, go for a walk, take a bath – enjoy some quality you time. 

If you’ve got children, ‘me’ time is rare. Ensure you work with your partner to get the time you need to unwind and reinvigorate yourself. 

Getting outdoors

Hands up, who’s currently loving their time outside? 

One of the positives to emerge from this extremely challenging time, is that we’ve all developed a greater appreciation for the outdoors. 

Daily walks, runs, cycles, (whatever your preference) have provided an escape in more ways than one. 

Not only does this enable you to get some essential exercise, it breaks up the potential monotony of the daily routine and provides some much-needed mental relief. 

Getting out in the fresh air and stretching your legs can promote a greater sense of wellbeing, boost energy, and promote positivity and relaxation. 

And even a little bit can go a long way! 

Research shows that just two 15 minute sessions can significantly help mental wellbeing. 

Stay connected

Now more than ever it’s crucial we stay in touch with our family and friends.

With millions of people unable to see their loved ones this could lead to feelings of upset, frustration and anxiety.

Thankfully, social distancing has led to an explosion in the popularity of online video technology and apps like Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp, and House Party.

Staying connected with your family and friends in this way is vital to supporting your mental health during this time when you can’t physically be together.

A reassuring chat, a family quiz, or a quick catch up are certain to enhance your mood and help support you in the weeks to come.

Be Kind

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week’s theme is kindness and it couldn’t be more appropriate given the situation we find ourselves in. Take a moment to be kind to yourself, your loved ones and those in your wider community.

As Mark Rowland, CEO of Mental Health Foundation, says of the theme: “We have chosen kindness because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive.”

Kindness costs nothing, but to someone else it means everything. If you’re feeling low, doing one kind gesture can instantly lift your mood.

Tying in with this year’s theme jamjar has launched its Seven Day Kindness Challenge, with a different kindness-focussed task each day. We hope it’ll provide you with inspiration for some small acts of kindness that will go a long way.

We know it’s tough, at times challenging, and stressful right now, but don’t forget, you’re not alone. Being thankful for the small things, taking time for you, getting outdoors, staying connected and being kind can really go a long way.

Gemma Gwilym is  our communications manager here at jamjar. With over 10 years’ experience throughout the media industry as a journalist, production journalist, copywriter, and now a PR, Gemma is ideally placed to identify a great news angle, add a dash of creativity, and get your story published. At jamjar she oversees clients including Sony UK Technology Centre,  Cardiff Bus, ScoutsCymru, Loteri Cymru, Traveline Cymru, Oil 4 Wales, and Life Science Hub Wales. To find out more about Gemma’s jam visit https://jamjar.agency/inside/