Staying mentally healthy in the face of a pandemic.

Staying mentally healthy in the face of a pandemic.

With mass hysteria around coronavirus (or COVID-19) spreading like wildfire online, it’s important to follow basic protective measures while staying level-headed. We are passionate about the ethos that there is no health without mental health, and recognise that there are many potential triggers for anxiety as a result of the unfolding news stories.

Crisis Text Line is a brilliant resource that offers a free, confidential text message service to support your mental health, 24/7 across the UK, US and Canada. We look at how we can implement their advice.

Take a digital detox

Crisis Text Line recommends that we moderate our news intake in order to limit exposure to mass hysteria online. This could be the perfect opportunity to reduce your screen time, which has already been shown to cause significant stress the more we check our phones.

Although you might find that your screen time is increased if you’re working remotely, you can take measures to protect what you see in your downtime like unsubscribing to any email newsletters that you find regularly triggering, turning off your social media notifications, or picking up a book before bed. Check out The Happy Newspaper for uplifting and positive news stories.

Don’t forget, taking time off social media doesn’t mean being anti-social; you can FaceTime or Skype call friends so that you’re still having daily vocal conversations, or connect to a community that shares a common interest with you. Aaptiv is a fitness app that offers audio-based workouts led by certified personal trainers; ideal for home workouts like yoga and HIIT or outdoor runs. Their in-app community, named ‘Team’, gives you access to expert advice, inspirational posts and the support of other members to encourage you to continue with your at-home workouts while you’re on hiatus from busy studios or the gym.

If you really want to go hands-free, Sky Ting TV is a ‘yoga television’ platform by downtown New York’s eponymous Sky Ting Yoga studio that allows you to stream classes direct to your living room or bedroom for an affordable monthly subscription fee.

Create a calm and productive environment

“If working from home or in self-isolation, arrange your space so it’s calming” advises Crisis Text Line. Two words: Marie Kondo. Since releasing her #1 New York Times bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, Marie has become the poster woman of a tidier, calmer environment with her tried-and-tested methods. She starts each day with a ritual of opening all the windows and burning incense, before dressing in something that makes her feel confident: “I always get dressed, even if I am working from home. Getting into work clothes sets me up to be productive.”

Next stop: plants. According to a NASA study in 1989, houseplants were shown to significantly improve air quality, removing harmful indoor pollutants like formaldehyde, trichloroethane and benzene that can cause symptoms including nausea, irritation to the eyes and nose and drowsiness. The peace lily, chrysanthemum, english ivy and snake plant have been proven to be some of the most popular and effective at purifying the air inside your home; a must to keep your health up.

Establishing new practices or reiterating that existing ones are adhered to with colleagues can also help you feel more organised. In addition to scheduled daily check-ins and agreeing to update shared documents, there’s a host of programmes available designed to increase accountability and enhance productivity such as monday.com, which improves workflow via its project management focus, and communication tool Slack, which reduces excessive internal emails by neatly hosting messages into dedicated channels.

Meditate

Apps like Calm and Headspace are excellent in helping you “practice deep breathing exercises or other methods of meditation”. Headspace even offers specific meditations such as ‘Mindful Tech’ which uses a noting technique to help you be less reactive to pings and notifications, and ‘Productivity’ to help you maintain focus and work more efficiently.

Meditating at a set time every day can also help to create a routine and add structure to your day, which may be something you’re missing if you’re in self-isolation.

Reach out for help

If the current situation is affecting your mental health, please do not be hesitant to seek help. Resources like Crisis Text Line are available for times like these and you can reach out safe in the knowledge that you can do so without judgement.