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Tips for looking after yourself

24th March 2020

Many of our care and support services have gone virtual  for the moment – with support given  by video calls, over the phone, at virtual clinics etc.  We thought you might also find these top tips helpful during such unprecedented times.

In these uncertain and stressful times we know that our mental health needs extra attention, as our normal way of life is disrupted and our plans are put on hold. Unfortunately, some of the things we all do to look after our mental wellbeing are being affected too, because we cannot join in with things we usually enjoy, and it is harder to keep in touch with others. We may also have worries about our loved ones or our own health.

It is completely normal for us all to be experiencing difficulties with our mood and emotions at this time, such as, feelings of boredom, low motivation, stress, difficulty sleeping, low mood, irritability and anger. If you are struggling with these feelings, please be assured this is a normal response to this extraordinary situation we find ourselves in.

We know that managing anxiety if you are home alone or with others who are worried or poorly is hard and we want to support you with some ideas of what to do to look after your emotional wellbeing.

Tips for looking after ourselves

If you have been given any relaxation ideas such as visualisations, mindful breathing techniques or anxiety management resources in the past, now is the time to use them.

If you can, try to focus on the most important, achievable, and immediate tasks; what CAN be done over the next hour or next day rather than weeks into the future.

Where possible, try not to stay in the same room for too long without getting some fresh air or a change of scene to a different space in your home.

You may find it helpful to watch or listen to the briefings from the government but to avoid other news programmes on the radio, TV or internet so as not to become overwhelmed with too much or conflicting information.

It is really important to try and keep some structure to our lives when times get tough, so that we adapt and a make a ‘new normal’. Can you try and make up a rough timetable for yourself for every day, so that you have some routine? For instance, have lunch at the same time, try to go for a walk at the same time, phone a friend every evening around the same time etc. We know that it won’t be like your normal routine, but research tells us some routine is better for us than none and after a few days in your new routine you will feel more in control again.

Having a sense of purpose may help. Is there anything you feel passionate about that you can do from home? Is there anything you have been meaning to sort through or a project to complete that is possible from home? If you belong to a spiritual or religious institution, they may have support available or you may be able to become a telephone buddy or penpal for someone else. Try to fill your time with something creative that your mind can get into as a positive and enjoyable distraction, such as painting, card making, gardening, reading or listening to audio books, doing puzzles, listening to music, playing Scrabble or games on the internet.

Some people find keeping a journal helpful, as a way of processing your thoughts and feelings during difficult times.

You may find it helpful to chat to someone over the phone:

SANEline mental health support charity: email support@sane.org.uk

The Silver Line Helpline older people’s telephone support charity: 0800 4 70 80 90 – open 24 hours for support

The Mind website has a page dedicated to advice about looking after your mental health during this period, with lots of useful tips and information about free things to do on the internet.

The Age UK website also has information about your physical and mental health, including ideas of how to get supplies and shopping at quieter periods.

You might want to try online support groups such as this one Elefriends, moderated by Mind the mental health charity.

There are free videos and talks you can access if you search YouTube or Ted, available on a range of subjects, with lots of free meditation or relaxation activities too. Lots of international organisations are offering free activities and resources for adults and children, for instance NASA has free audio books about space you can download from their website.

Your local area may have a Facebook support group for people at home at the moment.

We are going to providing a dedicated page for advice and guidance in the coming weeks too.

Lastly, please remember it is normal to have good and bad days as we go through this difficult time.

We are thinking of you.

All at St Richard’s Hospice