Coping with isolation & mental health

When Boris Johnson announced the lockdown back in March, I initially didn’t think it would be such a big deal and felt confident I’d be able to cope without any problems. The thought of staying indoors in my bijoux flat and maxing out on box sets for a few weeks even sounded a little bit appealing. That was until I found myself stuck in a loop of doing the same thing over and over again without being able to escape.

It’s also been really tough as I live away from my parents so miss not being able to see them every week and with the weather being so amazing, of course I’ll be upset as I am not able to enjoy it.

As 22-year old who suffers from multiple mental health issues, I fully appreciate that being locked indoors for weeks on end is likely to be an absolute nightmare for some. The majority of people who suffer from poor mental health rely on keeping constantly busy to distract them from their bad thoughts. This includes venturing outside, going to work, visiting friends and family, but with the lockdown restricting people from doing these things it’s become increasingly difficult to stay busy and keep the bad thoughts out of mind.

I believe it’s really important for me to share some of the things I’ve been doing, which will hopefully help others who currently find themselves in similar situations.

Here are few suggestions that I have been following to help me deal with isolation:

  1. Call friends and family. Being able to keep in touch with them has helped me quite considerably as the lack of interaction with other people just leaves me and my mind racing for hours on end. For my family ZOOM has been a real life saver, I know it sounds strange but we have been holding regular video conferences which has meant that we can all see each other. Having people to talk to allows me to open about how I’ve been feeling and can also put my mind at ease knowing that my close relatives are doing fine despite the lockdown. This has made me really happy to see people coming together all for a common cause which of course is stopping the spread of the virus.
  2. Limit the amount of news you consume during the day, more often than not it is repetitive and can lead to feelings of worry and anxiety.
  3. Try doing something you enjoy like reading of cooking. Now is a great time to enhance your culinary skills and when you do eventually see your friends and family again you can impress them with your fabulous creations.
  4. Try to doing some sort of physical activity even if it’s running on the spot or doing star jumps (and if you really want, crank up the music and throw some shapes around your living room). Physical activity is good for your overall health and can also brighten up your mood as well.
  5. Try to stay positive. As I said above, look for the positives too like your family and communities coming and the feeling of ‘we are all in this together’. Call that friend who you haven’t spoken to for ages and ask them how they’re coping. The simple act of trying to help others can massively boost your mood as it will give you a sense of purpose.

I hope some of the above suggestions will help, my last words will be these: please speak up if you are feeling anxious or down. Its super important, don’t suffer in silence.

Aleesah is a health care assistant and mental health advocate