How to deal with mental health if you're feeling overwhelmed during lockdown, according to experts

27 May 2020, 09:41

It's important to look after your mental health, especially during lockdown
It's important to look after your mental health, especially during lockdown. Picture: Getty

Lockdown's undoubtedly made us all feel a little down at best, but for some it can have a severe impact on their mental health.

The coronavirus has had a huge impact on everyone's emotions, but for a lot it's severely affecting their mental wellbeing.

Heart.co.uk spoke to a number of medical professionals, who gave their advice on how to best deal with feeling overwhelmed during lockdown.

Pharmacist Sultan Dajani and GP, Dr Gill Jenkins gave us their top tips for looking after mental health:

Being bound indoors isn't great for our mental health
Being bound indoors isn't great for our mental health. Picture: Getty

Get outside (within reason and 2m social distancing)

Exercise and getting some time once a day outdoors has been recognised by the Government as important, with advice to take once a day exercise.

This goes someway to helping us stay physically fit, but it also does our mental health a world of good. Just being outside for even 10 minutes is beneficial.

It gets us outside and away from our four walls, it gives us some breathing space.

And now we are spending the majority of our time indoors it allows us to reconnect with life, to remember that the word is bigger than our living rooms.

Talking those steps outdoors helps with our endorphin levels, the happy hormones and if we can be around nature then even better.

Home exercise

There are no restrictions on what exercise you can do at home. So, think of introducing some Pilates, yoga or stretching into your day.

Stretching is a good way to start the day and Pilates and yoga are good for calming the mind and relaxing the body, so maybe try these in the evening.

And let’s face it, we are all going to be working from home in our gym gear, so check out the free online workout classes taking place, schedule a few in for the week and it will help give you some energy and get rid of any pent-up frustrations. 

Routine

Life as we know it may have changed for a little while and we may feel all over the place, not sure what to do.

Another way to help our mental health is to stick to a routine.

So, get up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, schedule exercise and plan meals. It might even be a good idea to sketch out a timetable for the week – one less thing to think about and we know exactly what we are doing if we start frittering time away (which also isn’t a bad thing).

Recognise what you can and cannot control

Perhaps the biggest one to keep our mind calm is to recognise what we can and cannot control.

Shift your focus on what we can control; our work, things we want to do during the day, how we choose to spend our time, what we want to do once we are back to normal everyday life.

If you find your mind worrying about things that are outside of your control, don’t berate yourself, either shift your focus away or give yourself a worry period then distract yourself with something you love doing.

Many are struggling during lockdown
Many are struggling during lockdown. Picture: Getty

Mindfulness

Everybody is talking about the importance of taking time out and just being.

And it is important. You don’t need to sit in a yoga pose in the middle of the room to do this.

It could be done from bed before you get out of it in the morning, or while you are sat on the sofa wondering what to do next.

Just make the room silent and be still, it will help calm the mind.

Take 5 to 10 minutes to do this when you feel you need a break. Or at the end of the day to draw a line under it.

CBD Oil

If you need some extra support you could always try DragonflyCBD oil, which has been shown to reduce conditioned fear and anxiety.

The World Health Organization recognised that CBD may have the potential to help health issues such as anxiety and insomnia.

Cheryl Lythgoe, Society Matron at not-for-profit healthcare provider, Benenden Health also added her comments:

Drink sensibly

Some people drink alcohol to help deal with negative feelings including fear and loneliness, however it is important to recognise that any change in mood is only temporary.

Recent advice suggests there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, so it’s important to choose a healthier way to cope with stress and other mental health issues, such as trying a new hobby or confiding in loved ones.

Give your brain a workout

Word games and puzzles not only provide a good form of distraction when life may feel like it is getting too much, they also help boost brain power, which in turn helps reduce the impact of age-related cognitive decline.

Everything from Sudoku and word searches to computer-based puzzle games can help, and they are also great fun and a good alternative to watching TV on an evening.

Why not set up a family word game or puzzle night? You could even do this virtually or by posting puzzles to each other if you can’t be together in person.

Ailsa Frank, a hypnotherapist with a range of hypnosis recordings, and author of the book Cut The Crap & Feel Amazing has given her top tips to deal with this changing world:

Remember it is all a phase

It is important to see any situation as a phase that you and everyone else is passing through.

By imagining it as a moving situation it can help you to go forward and avoid feeling stuck.

Our lives are a series of journeys some more challenging than others but you do have the skills and life experience to come through everything somehow.

Visualise a paper boat floating downstream following the easiest route down the river, imagine yourself flowing like the paper boat.

Imagine each family member has their own paper boat and is making their own way through life just fine, and you are all flowing with the changes.

You are doing well

You are probably doing very well under the circumstances, if you are feeling down, sad or worried try to remind yourself that you are doing well.

It is okay to have a bad moment but accept it and then blow it away to let it go.

We tend to emotionally drag ourselves down rather than boosting ourselves - everyday write a list of 10 things that are AMAZING about yourself and the way you are coping.

Say to yourself 'Well done me'.

Imagine it is all behind you

There can be good and bad things that come from the coronavirus situation including people making positive changes to improve their personal lives and authorities and governments making better decisions in the wider world.

To alleviate worries, imagine it is ten years from now, it is 2030, and you are looking back on having had a great life.

Imagine you have embraced the changes with things having worked out amazingly well and many positives coming out of 2020. By looking back at the past, it will stop your mind worrying about the uncertainty which will help you to actually create a better life.

List 10 things that you would have achieved during this time to focus your mind on how you would like it to be. This will help you create a positive bright future.

Make the right decisions

During the Coronavirus lockdown many people have been reassessing their lives and how they can change things for the better.

Be careful not to flip from one extreme to the other for instance someone who has been living a fast-paced career may want to give up everything and do nothing when it would be better to improve the way they run their life rather than run from it.

When we have more time on our hands people tend to notice all the decorating or garden improvements that need doing and it can be easy to blow the budget and just go for it all.

But instead, be sensible with making short- and long-term changes, try writing a list of all your goals and then schedule to slowly incorporate them into your life over the next 1, 3, 5 and 10 years.

It is always good to have a plan for the future otherwise years easily roll by with no direction. e.g. You want to be mortgage-free by retirement then make a plan of how you could achieve this.

Or you want to get on better with a partner then discuss how you could both improve your relationship.