How to look after your mental health in isolation

How to look after your mental health in isolation


Tue 14 April

The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation has put us in unprecedented times. Only being able to leave the house for necessary food, medicine and to exercise once a day has mental health repercussions for everyone, but it can be even harder for those living with conditions like brain tumours.

In today’s article, we’re sharing some tips on how to make sure you’re looking after your mental health in isolation.

 

The benefits if looking after your mental health


First, let’s discuss why you need to prioritise your mental health right now. Poor mental health can impact all areas of your life, from general hygiene and sleep quality to getting good nutrients into your body.

 

According to research carried out by The Brain Tumour Charity, 91% of brain tumour patients say their tumour has affected their emotional or mental health. Add social isolation into the mix, coupled with anxiety about being vulnerable to coronavirus and concerns around getting the same level of medical support as normal, it’s easy to see why your mental health might be taking a hit.

 

But doing what you can to improve how you feel mentally is really important. Improved mental health can bring about a lot of positive feelings that will help us all cope better in isolation.

 


How to look after your mental health in isolation

 

Getting physical exercise 


Although we’re being encouraged to stay at home, the government has stated that everyone can leave the house once a day for physical exercise. We suggest taking advantage of this by going for a brisk walk daily, as long as it’s safe to do so. Fresh air has so many mental health benefits. The colour green – which is abundant in nature – helps our brains work better and vitamin D boosts our mood.

 

If you’re considered high-risk right now and are avoiding leaving the house, that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. YouTube is a great place to go for fitness videos ranging from five to 50 minutes and there’s something to cater to all ability levels. Yoga has great mental and physical benefits, and there’s tonnes of tutorials on YouTube so is a good place to start.


Stay connected

 

We live in a world full of fantastic technology, and there is no better time to start using it to its full advantage than now. If you’re feeling isolated socially, consider video calling your friends and family rather than voice calling them. Seeing someone’s face can completely lift your mood and make you feel less lonely. Group video chats are also great if you have a big family or a large friendship group.

 

It can be easy to box up how we feel in the current circumstances but reaching out to the people who care about us can really help. So use the spare time to catch-up with old friends and call family members you’ve not seen for a while.


Form a routine

 

One of the things that’s probably been disrupted in all of this is your daily routine. This can lead to heightened feelings of stress and anxiety. Creating a new routine will bring back a sense of normality and give your day some structure. We suggest creating a list of all the things you want to do at home – clear the garden borders, sort your wardrobe out, read War and Peace, do a jigsaw – and build time for them into your daily routine. All these activities are good for your mental health and provide a purpose for your day.


Have technology-free days

 

Although harnessing technology to stay connected can have lots of positive impacts on your mental health, stewing over the news and playing the comparison game on social media can have the complete opposite effect.

 

Try limiting how often you’re exposed to the news and curating your social media feed so it feels positive. And for days where it all just feels too much, make the choice to switch off. Picking up a book instead of your phone, or getting lost in a great TV series, are fantastic ways to have a mental health pick-me-up when the world feels a bit too bleak.


Keep a healthy diet

 

It’s tempting right now to sit on the sofa all day eating lots of chocolate and unhealthy food. And that’s ok in moderation. But eating a balanced diet including water and plenty of vegetables helps fuel your brain and is vital for good health.


Practice good hygiene

 

And no, we don’t just mean regular hand washing! Neglecting regular showers and getting properly dressed for the day are two of the first signs of poor mental health, so if you feel up to it, try and get washed every morning or night and avoid spending every day in your pyjamas. It will set you up for the day and put you in a more positive frame of mind.


Keep in touch with Yorkshire's Brain Tumour Charity

 

Our services remain open to anyone living with a brain tumour in Yorkshire and we’re doing all we can to support you during this challenging time.

 

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to join in with the fun activities we’re hosting. From Yorkshire pud competitions to fancy dress challenges, we’re sharing lots to keep you busy while having a giggle along the way. Research has found that creativity and art help to alleviate anxiety and improve poor mental health.

 

Our counsellor Paula Dalton has also been sharing video tips on how to how to manage anxiety and the benefits of hypnotherapy on our website.


Access services

 

Finally, if your mental health is feeling particularly poor at the moment our services are still here for you. We’ve swapped in-person counselling with Paula for telephone calls so you can still receive fully-funded counselling services that are supportive, practical and non-judgemental.

 

We’ve also set-up a new telephone line to help you, run by the people who understand your situation the most; those who have gone through it themselves. Through this line, you’ll be able to speak to other Yorkshire’s Brain Tumour Charity supporters to share coping strategies, tips for handling isolation – or to just have a good natter over a cuppa. Call 0113 511 8111 or email support@yorksbtc.org.uk to get the conversations flowing.

 

And finally, we’ve also decided to take our monthly brain tumour support group virtual by holding it online. This is the same for our Meet Up and Memories group for people who have lost a loved one as a result of their brain tumour. You can find out when the next groups are here.

 

We hope you found our tips on how to look after your mental health in isolation helpful. If you have any more to share, please head over to our Facebook page.
 
Please remember that if you need support you can contact us on 0113 3400111 or by email to support@yorksbtc.org.uk.
  

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