Looking after your mental health can be a challenge at the best of times. In these circumstances it can become even more difficult. Being isolated from loved ones and being stuck indoors can be detrimental to mental wellbeing and triggering for those who have existing mental health problems. This blog post has some basic tips to start feeling a little better.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
This has been my biggest lesson. With a bombardment of online workouts and posts about using the lockdown to gain new skills or start new hobbies, it’s easy to feel left behind.
The reality is that this is a difficult time. It’s hard to feel secure. Not everyone is using their time to develop their skills and create new things.
If you are motivated and able to start something new, that’s great. If you don’t, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If all you feel up to doing – one day, or most days – is watching Netflix that is absolutely fine. I promise you’re not the only one, I’m probably right there with you.
This situation is not normal. People will respond in vastly different ways. Don‘t beat yourself up if you think others are achieving more than you – it’s almost certainly not the case. All you need to do with this time is look after yourself and stay safe.
For me, picking one thing to focus on at a time really helped. I felt as if I was doing nothing except sleeping and feeling terrible.
I began by trying to get into a more regular sleeping pattern. This small improvement gives me a sense of achievement. I sometimes fall back into old habits for a day or so, but I know I am working towards feeling better
You don’t have to try and tackle every single issue at once. You shouldn’t expect to make improvements every single day. Some days will be tougher than others. But by working towards one thing, however small, things will probably start to improve.
Be kind to yourself
Each day, try and do something that makes you feel safe, calm, comforted, happy or amused. Something that makes your day worth getting up for.
This doesn’t need to be anything too difficult if you’re feeling really low. For me it’s a cuddle with one of my cats, playing a game or watching Friday Night Dinner, but do whatever makes you feel good. Focus on giving yourself the right to do something that you enjoy.
Talk to people
This is absolutely key and there are still lots of ways you can do it. If you’re in a house with other people (who don’t drive you mad) spend time with them. If you are feeling lonely, video calls are the closest you can get without the person being in the same room. My housemates and I did a group call with a quiz which was great fun. Lots of uni societies are running events online that you can take part in.
You can also set up a time with your friends to have a group catch up. I’ve been doing zoom calls with the people I work with, with societies and with friends. I always feel so much better after them, no matter how bad my day has been.
Any form of communication can be a mood booster. Try sending voice notes (I’m super into those), or writing letters if you’ve got some time on your hands and are feeling old fashioned.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re struggling call the Samaritans, the crisis team, text shout or try to arrange some online counselling.
You can get in touch with your supervisor if the situation is affecting your work. They can help you apply for an extension or take a leave of absence if you need to.
Remember that your health comes first. You deserve to feel as happy as possible. Support is available from the university and other services. People are happy to help you.
Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. Call 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shout offers text support to anyone in a crisis. Text ‘Shout’ to 85258.
Crisis and Access Service York is a 24-hour service, offering assessment to people in crisis to identify their needs and find support. Call
+44 (0) 1904 526582.
Open Door is a team of mental health practitioners providing support to York students experiencing psychological or mental health difficulties.