Johanna Rumphorst

Isolation, social distancing measures and the closure of schools and workplaces are current challenges that can affect our mental health – many of us can experience symptoms of anxiety like stress, fear and loneliness at this time.

But what do you do without the things that usually help, like seeing friends and family or having a brownie in your favourite coffee shop? Don’t panic, there are many things that will make you feel better and also comply with the rules. The following 5 tips will help to make you feel more relaxed and support your mental wellbeing during these social distancing measures:

1. Make your home feel stress relieving

Naturally a change of scenery can be quite difficult during a lockdown. Embracing our home and making it as comfortable as possible can remove the need to change our view, especially if you don’t have a garden. Try out relaxing music and incense sticks. Let the daylight in as much as possible and replace bright lights with calming candles when it gets dark. Also, choose your favourite flowers and plants – bringing nature inside your home can help to calm you down and add oxygen to your space.

2. Stay connected

Maintaining relationships with the people you love is very important for your mental wellbeing. Due to the lockdown, you may not be able to physically see friends and family you don’t share the household with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected with them! Give someone you trust a call if you feel lonely or anxious, schedule a Friday night wine with your friends and plan a virtual lunch date with your mum.

3. Exercise outside or inside

We all deal differently with stress and anxiety. Getting your blood running can alleviate anxiety, so it can help to go for a run or a long walk (just be aware of social distancing rules). Yoga and Pilates are also great options. If you’re feeling tired and uneasy, exercising will boost your energy and help you feel less anxious. There are many tutorials and guides on YouTube if you’re a beginner. Also, it can help to be more conscious about your breathing. Highly regarded apps such as Headspace can guide you through meditation after exercise.

4. The answer for everything: Food!

As we all know, the way to the heart is through the stomach. Nothing is better than to feed yourself some soul food that not only nourishes your body but also your mind! Now is the perfect time to attempt the recipe you always wanted to try but have always felt too time consuming – you could try to make your own sourdough or bake a cake for no reason, why not! However, this time is about you and if you don’t feel like spending time in the kitchen, you can support local businesses by ordering food from your favourite restaurant or cafe.

5. Don’t feel the need to be productive

Comments like ‘learn a new skill, language or instrument’ and ‘make use of your extra time’ can put extra pressure on most of us. Don’t feel guilted into being chaotically productive during this crazy time. Instead of pressuring each other to make the best out of this situation we should rather be gentle with ourselves. It’s ok to feel anxious and nervous during a pandemic, there’s no need to stress us out even more. We’re going through a lot and we just need to take it easy!

Whatever you do to ensure your mental wellbeing during the lockdown measures, don’t forget to take time to relax and carry on doing things you enjoy by following these tips. Think of this as bonus me-time. Do the things you always felt you couldn’t, be it a new hobby or an extra hour in bed. Look after yourself, look out for loved ones and don’t forget to wash your hands!