How to support positive mental wellbeing
It’s completely normal to feel more anxious or stressed during this time. Big changes to our routines and way of living can be scary and affect our mental health.
According to mental health charity YoungMinds, more than 80% of young people say the Coronavirus pandemic has made their mental health worse.
It’s important to acknowledge how you feel and know there are resources and strategies available to support you. Read how we suggest you nurture positive wellbeing.
Create your own structure
Structure can be really helpful for our mental health in uncertain times. Having a routine or doing the same activities each day, where there’s lots of uncertainty, can help create a comfortable and familiar space if you feel anxious. Here are some ways to build structure into your day:
- Try to eat a balanced diet with healthy foods
- Aim to go to sleep before midnight
- Explore new topics of interest, you could do this by reading or watching movies
- Try to fit some exercise into your daily routine, at a level that works for you, for example a daily walk or jog.
- Try new relaxation techniques like these breathing techniques
- Keep active
Even a small amount of activity will have a positive impact on your mental health. Here are some activities to try:
While we’ve been asked to spend more time indoors, we are able to leave the house to exercise. If you are able to do this, try to make the most of sunlight, fresh air and nature each day.
Keep active around the house, for example, helping with the hoovering, cooking or cleaning.
Break up long periods of sitting down by getting up for at least five minutes each hour.
Take regular breaks and spend them doing something you enjoy, for example reading or putting on your favourite music.
Find ways to spend your spare time
With so many events and activities cancelled, you might find you have more free time, which can be difficult to occupy. Read our suggestions on new ways to keep yourself busy.
Play a video game either individually or invite your friends to play online. Our Youth Network has found the game Animal Crossing a great way to keep busy and support their mental health.
You might try to learn a new skill like a foreign language or crafting, there are lots of free online resources to support this.
Practice mindfulness and meditation to help relieve stress and help focus your mind.
Keep in contact
Social distancing means that many people will be feeling more isolated and lonelier. Staying in touch with people digitally is the fastest and safest way to feel more connected at the moment. Here are some ways to do this:
- Video chat your friends and family
- Join online forums and talk to people with similar interests and experiences. If you are an autistic young person you can sign up to our Youth Network. Remember to stay safe online.
- If you live with others, take part in an online quiz together. Or arrange a time to play with friends remotely.
Take care with news and information
Speculation or inflammatory news articles can fuel anxiety and worry. Having access to limited and quality information about the virus can help you feel more in control. It also prevents ‘fake news’ from spreading. Here are our tips:
- Read news from reputable sources, like GOV.UK, the NHS and the BBC.
- Limit the time you spend checking the news.
- Follow positive social media accounts that share more upbeat news and stories. For example, accounts like @the_happy_broadcast on Instagram only post good news.
If staying inside is making you feel anxious or claustrophobic, you may start to notice a change in your mood and behaviour. Everyone has different ways of expressing these feelings. By being aware of your own, and others’ stress clues, you can help to be proactive in using your unique coping strategies. Here are some stress clues to look out for:
- Mental clues: This could include memory problems, inability to concentrate, constant worrying and anxious or racing thoughts.
- Emotional clues: Moodiness, feeling overwhelmed, a sense of loneliness and agitation or an inability to relax.
- Physical clues: Diarrhoea, dizziness, rapid heartbeat or nausea.
- Behavioural clues: Eating more or less, an increase in behaviour that challenges like snapping or shouting.
Know your normal
Everyone reacts differently to new situations and the pandemic may have caused new behaviours or low moods. Knowing your own version of ‘normal’ helps you understand what behaviours, moods and activities are normal for you. By understanding how these might of changed recently, you and those around you, will recognise when you don’t feel yourself.
Our Know Your Normal toolkit, helps young people identify their version of ‘normal’.
Read more about techniques to support self-regulation during challenging situations.
Read this blog on support for autistic young people during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Download our top tips for young people on managing anxiety.
Download our top tips for family members on managing anxiety.