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Harnessing positive mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

In addition to physical strength, part of a healthy lifestyle includes attending to your mental health. The fortitude of everyone’s mental health, both in the UK and overseas, is currently being tested by the coronavirus pandemic. 


Recently, the UK was forced into lockdown in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, this means that we don’t have ready access to our usual activities that boost our mental health. 


Anxiety surrounding our jobs, finances and the health of our loved ones are additional battles we have to fight, thanks to coronavirus. Needless to say, mental strength is going to be essential in the coming weeks and perhaps longer.


Whether coronavirus is exacerbating known mental illness or you feel that your mental health is declining, you are not alone, and there are things you can do to help.


Limit your use of social media and news during the coronavirus pandemic


A lot of us will have much more time on our hands now that we aren’t going out as often. While social media can be a means to while away the hours and keep in touch with those around us, you must monitor the amount of time spent on these platforms as well as measuring the impact on your mental health.


The same can be said about the news. It is vital to keep up to speed with the latest events so that we can continue to fight to slow down the spread of this virus. However, constantly hearing about it is highly likely to increase any anxiety you already feel. Limit your access to the news to a specific time of day, with a designated timeframe so that you can remain informed without triggering high levels of anxiety.


Listening to the news and scrolling through your newsfeed for hours on end can be counterproductive to your mental health. Keep asking yourself how you feel and actively work to limit your access to an amount of time that keeps your mental health on the positive side.


Keep your mind active


Whether you use this time to learn something new that keeps you active, like a specific type of dance or a different form of exercise; it is crucial to continue challenging your mind as well as finding time to relax. 


In addition to keeping active, use this time to read the books you’ve been meaning to, working through your to-watch list or even invest in an online course; this is the perfect opportunity to challenge your mind with the additional time you have on your hands.


Be mindful on the impact your diet has on mental health


Being stuck in your house, with the exception of outdoor exercise once a day, will inevitably lead to boredom. Many of us will succumb to boredom eating or comfort eating as our anxiety or frustration increases. While there is nothing wrong with a treat now and then, letting the odd treat grow into choosing junk food over nutritious meals can negatively impact your mental state. 


The increase in panic buying also makes it challenging to access our usual healthy and fresh foods, and many of us will have to alter our mindset regarding our approach to food until panic buying calms down. 


Research shows a connection between the food we eat and our mental health, so it is worth considering the types of food you have been eating as well as your mood to see if there is a connection. 


As well as ensuring we are eating the right foods, we must remain hydrated with six-eight glasses of water, tea, coffee, sugar-free drinks or lower-fat milk every day.


The NHS eat well guide is a fantastic source of understanding what types of food we should be eating and the quantity, as well as providing recipes and advice on digestive health.


Additionally, check in with our nutrition hub for relevant articles. 


Keep your surroundings clean and tidy


Not only will maintaining a clean home keep germs at bay, but it will also help keep your mental health in check. Not only will your mind benefit from not being surrounded by clutter, it will help maintain a level of normalcy which is more than welcome right now. 


Individuals who have been diagnosed with OCD may be particularly struggling. While it is important to maintain a good level of hygiene both in your home and in your person, you must continue to keep your compulsions under control; as difficult as that may be. It is crucial to follow public health advice but also to notice if you start to go beyond the instruction. OCD-UK has some excellent guidance on how to follow public health guidelines while keeping your OCD in check. 


Try to get some sun


Whether you use your daily exercise to go for a run or ride your bike, try to get out of the house. Sunlight, fresh air, and being around nature is a great way to improve your outlook as well as reduce levels of stress and anxiety.


When at home, open the windows and sit by them when you can, taking time to enjoy any views. If you have a garden, use it every day when weather permits. Maybe even try your hand at gardening? You can order seeds online and request no face-to-face contact during delivery.


Times are complicated, and the nation as a whole are having their mental health tested. But try to bear in mind that the pandemic will not last forever, and there are steps you can take to maintain a positive mental state in the meantime.