COVID-19 and your mental wellbeing

The latest Welsh Government guidance has lifted some of the COVID 19 restrictions on our lives ;  people from two different households are now able to meet outdoors if they stay in their local area and remain two meters apart. Those who have been shielding at home can also leave their homes but this is optional (further guidance on shielding can be accessed at https://gov.wales/cmo-letter-extremely-vulnerable-people-support-explained

Protecting your mental health and wellbeing is vitally important during this period. You may find that during this time your feelings and mood are affected and you may feel anxious or have problems sleeping. At times like this, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which, in turn, can make you feel worse.

The “Five Ways to Wellbeing” are a set of evidence-based messages aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole population. They were developed by the New Economics Foundation from evidence gathered in the Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing project (2008).

These have been modified for the COVID-19 time we find ourselves in.

Take Notice

Be curious. Catch sight of something different or beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

Keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into the garden.

Spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include cooking, reading, other indoor hobbies, watching TV or listening to the radio.

Care for yourself by eating healthy, well-balanced meals, drinking enough water and avoiding smoking, alcohol and drugs. Wales Drug and Alcohol Helpline is available on Freephone 0808 808 2234 if you need help.

Connect

Connect, build, broaden and strengthen relationships and social networks. (within the guidelines)

Draw on support you might have through your friends, family and other networks. (within the guidelines)

Due to the restrictions placed on our lives we can stay in touch with those around us over the phone, by post, or online.

Let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine.

You may find it helpful to talk to them about how you are feeling. Remember it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust and in doing so you may end up providing support to them too. Or alternatively you can call the Mental Health Helpline for Wales which is on Freephone 0800 132 737.

Be active

Evidence suggests that physical exercise changes your brain chemistry and releases “happy” hormones which in turn can make you feel more positive.

Discover a physical activity you enjoy and one that suits your level of mobility and fitness. Under the guidelines going out to exercise is a valid reason to leave home and is encouraged, exercise should be local, involve minimal risk and be done in accordance with advice on social distancing (this can be viewed at https://gov.wales/leaving-home-exercise-guidance)

“Let’s Get Moving North Wales” aims to support everyone in North Wales to move more, and by doing so support their physical and mental wellbeing. Go to facebook.com/BethAmSymudLetsGetMoving for ideas on what physical activity you can do within restrictions around the COVID-19 outbreak.

Keep learning

Set a goal. Try something new. Try something fun. Learning can involve any manner of subjects, not just structured educational courses.

Sign up for that online course. Online learning can be social; you may make new friends as well as new skills. Just make sure you keep safe online.

Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Have you ever thought you’d like to write, learn a language, pick up again on something you used to enjoy, or spend time trying out a new craft? Now’s your time!

Give

Helping others can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with other people.

You can volunteer to support your local authority or a local charity that is responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Why not make contact with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) where you will find opportunities near to where you live?

BCUHB Public Health Team, 1st June 2020