An event like the current coronavirus outbreak is very worrying and can affect your mental health. But there are many things you can do to mind your mental health to help you get through this. The main things to remember are – it won’t last forever, and you can do a great deal to keep yourself safe from the virus by observing the advice on hand washing, coughing and social distancing.

You may notice some of the following:

  • fear
  • increased anxiety and stress
  • finding yourself excessively checking for symptoms, wondering if normal aches and pains might be the virus
  • irritability
  • disturbed sleep
  • loneliness

You can do a great deal to mind your mental health at this time. These suggestions below are all tried and tested ingredients for maintaining a healthy mind:

  • Keep in touch with family and friends, so easy now with our smartphones and computers. If you don’t have access to those, use the phone
  • Control the amount of information you take in. Limit your social media intake. Don’t pay attention to rumours but get updates from a reliable source, such as the nightly television news
  • Structure your day by organising a schedule and keeping busy
  • Get regular exercise and fresh air where possible
  • Eat well – there’s probably more time to cook
  • Sleep well – go to bed and get up at the same time every day to maintain your body clock
  • Tempting as it might be, avoid excess alcohol, which is a depressant, increases anxiety and disturbs sleep
  • Practise relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises or meditation – there’s plenty of help online
  • Avoid excessive screen watching – break it up by reading a book and listening to music or a podcast
  • Do something creative, like writing, drawing, cooking, making bread…
  • Look online for yoga or educational classes, concerts, religious services, singalongs.
  • If you are taking any prescription medications, make sure you have enough

If there are children in the family, give them time and space to ask questions about what’s happening and involve them in choosing and scheduling activities that they will enjoy.

Most face-to-face therapy that is normally accessible is not available just now, but Lumina therapists are offering phone and/or video counselling sessions if you feel you need to talk to a professional.

You are not alone. Pick up the phone or send that email.