Stay on top of your mental health at home

Stay on top of your mental health at home

Keeping calm at home

COVID-19 is a concern to all of us, but particularly for those looking after people with serious health conditions, and older carers.

It can be hard to remain calm.

Here are a few tips of what you might try, to help keep your mental health in check:
  • When you are feeling extremely stressed and over-whelmed, stop. Park those thoughts, and take several deep breaths to stop the rush of stress hormones. Feelings are part of our being human, but we can choose how we react. Let go of the thoughts. Instead notice your breathing, and notice what you see around you – what you can see, hear, touch, smell. That will help calm your feelings.
  • Try not to worry about what you can’t change. There are things you can do to protect yourself and your family. But worrying about things that may never happen doesn’t help, and will make no difference, it simply adds to your stress.
  • Calm your mind and take charge of your thoughts. Tell yourself you will handle it, and you will get through it. You have enormous resources. You don’t want an emergency to happen, but if you have to cope with it, you will. Being anxious about the ‘what if’s doesn’t help.
Besides all the obvious guidance on staying safe, social distancing, self-isolation, hand washing etc, there are other things you can practically do:
  • Complete our ‘Emergency Care Plan’, this is a single document where you write down all you do for the person you care for, and all their needs. Having this plan means that should you become unwell yourself, anyone taking over is fully informed. It also gives you some peace of mind.
  • Try not to constantly access the news. Absolutely check in with a trusted source like the BBC every couple of days, but don’t facilitate the spiralling of emotion that would be caused by reading and listening to everything. Shut down, turn off, and avoid social media.
  • Look after yourself physically, as much as you can within your caring role. That means get as much rest as you can, keep a well-ventilated house, have as good a diet as you can manage, get fresh air when possible – and make some time for yourself, if possible, even if that’s just a few moments. Have a look at our Wellbeing pages for more tips.
  • If you do have time, try and encourage positivity and enjoy creativity. Put on music. Cook something new and delicious. Paint, draw, knit or sew. Activities like these can boost your mood.
  • If you’re having to self-isolate, it might help to give yourself some kind of routine, but also try and vary your days – maybe trying something new every day or two. Perhaps start that book you’ve always been meaning to read, even consider writing your memoirs. (Shakespeare wrote several of his most famous plays while self-isolating!)
  • And finally, stay in touch with loved ones – make sure you have the phone numbers and emails of all those you care about, and consider setting up regular phone chats or other communications. Human contact makes a big difference to how we feel.

If you’ve any suggestions to share, please drop us a line on digital@actionforcarers.org.uk