Look after yourself while you isolate

Now more than ever, looking after your mental health is something to be thinking about. It’s really normal to have the odd wobble, but there are things you can do to help keep those good vibes coming.

Through our partnership with BBC Children in Need and their national programme around children and young people's mental health, A Million and Me, we’ve worked with the experts at Shout – a free UK text service for people in crisis – to bring you five great tips for looking after your mental health during isolation.

Take the pressure off

When we go through change, there’s often a difference between how we expect things will pan out, and what actually happens.

With many of us spending more time at home, perhaps you thought you’d pick up a new hobby, learn a new language or read a book a week. Don’t worry if you’re yet to do any of those things.

We’re all dealing with a lot of stress during this time and it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re achieving much right now. Take the pressure off yourself to be doing more. Instead give yourself some credit for how well you’re handling things right now.

Take a break from the news

It’s normal to feel like you’ve lost control during a global pandemic. You might instinctively be searching social media or watching the news for information, to help you try and feel more in control.

Sometimes though, this can be more exhausting than helpful. Try to work out what amount of information helps you feel in control and informed, and what makes you feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Find what amount is most helpful for you, and set yourself a limit.

Have a happy moment

Consider listening to or creating music. A new study from the British Academy of Sound Therapy found that nine minutes of music is all you need to inspire joy. Take that up to 13 minutes and it’s enough to relax you and help shake off sadness. Try putting on some music while doing the hoovering or washing the pots, and notice how different music impacts your mood.

Move your body

Find yourself flitting from one emotion to another without warning? Exercise can help balance your body and your mind. Try an online workout, or go outside for runs or walks – you might just enjoy it!

If that doesn’t sound like you, start small – it’ll still do you good. Stretch for five minutes, do five star jumps when you wash your hands, walk around your home, or take two-minute dance breaks during the day. No matter how small, movement can be a real positive for your mental wellbeing.

Do something for someone else

Doing things for others can also have a positive impact on our own mental wellbeing. Volunteering in your community can give you a real feeling of wellbeing and purpose. There are loads of ways you can volunteer online, as well as many things you can do from your own home, so you’re sure to find something to suit you.

If volunteering isn’t for you, you can still give to others. Offer support to friends, family and neighbours through texts, calls, video chatting, and letter writing. It’s amazing how good it feels to do something for someone else.

If you feel a bit blue, grab your phone and reach out to a friend or relative. Chances are, they’ll have felt the same at some point.

If you want to talk to someone anonymously, Shout operates a free 24/7 text service for anyone who’s feeling anxious, worried or stressed. Just text 'CIN' to 85258. We’re all in this together.