Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (Covid 19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is essential to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during such times.
Here are some tips we hope will help you, your friends and your family to look after your mental health at a time when there is much discussion of potential threats to our physical health.
The government is now advising us to avoid all but necessary social contact. This will mean that more of us will be spending a lot of time at home and many of our regular social activities will no longer be available to us. It will help to try and see it as a different period of time in your life, and not necessarily a bad one, even if you didn’t choose it.
It will mean a different rhythm of life, a chance to be in touch with others in different ways than usual. Be in touch with other people commonly on social media, e-mail or on the phone, as they are still good ways of being close to the people who matter to you.
Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about the virus can help you feel more in control.
Follow hygiene advice such as washing your hands more often than common, for 20 seconds with soap and hot water.
You should do this whenever you get home or into work, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food. If you can’t wash your hands straight away, use hand sanitizer and then wash them at the next opportunity.
Try to stay connected
At times of stress, we work better in the company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family, by telephone, email or social media, or contact a helpline for emotional support.
You may like to focus on the things you can do if you feel able to:
- stress management
- keep active
- eat a balanced diet
Talk to your children
Involving our family and children in our plans for good health is essential. We require to be alert to and ask children what they have heard about the outbreak and support them, without causing them alarm.
We require minimizing the negative impact it has on our children and explains the facts to them. Discuss the news with them but try and avoid over-exposure to coverage of the virus. Be as truthful as possible.