With so much uncertainty around at the moment, it’s not at all surprising you might feel confused, worried or overwhelmed. You are not alone! Living with an underlying condition may make you feel even more vulnerable than usual. This is completely understandable.
When daily life changes suddenly like this, it can feel unsettling. As well as the potential impact on your own health, you may feel just as worried about how this will impact someone you care about. Nevertheless, now more than ever, it is really important to be thoughtful about how you look after yourself emotionally through this unusual period of time too.
This webpage contains plenty of advice about looking after yourself in practical ways, but we’ve also put together some tips and ideas for looking after your emotional health below.
Remember: Self-Care is NOT selfish!
Support for your Emotional Wellbeing
Feeling prepared and in control of whatever you can be will help to ward off becoming overwhelmed by anxiety. Although you can’t entirely control whether or not you or someone you care about becomes unwell, you can:
- Follow the practical COVID-19 advice from trusted sources like AMEND, and make sensible decisions around life, work and social contact. Practice social distancing and prepare for social isolation or quarantine as outlined above
- Practice ‘mindful exposure’ to news and information. Hearing about latest government or local area advice a couple of times a day is important. If you find yourself scrolling endlessly through social media, news channels, TV or radio all day it might actually be ‘fuelling’ your anxiety about COVID-19 rather than reducing it. Consider distractions, and ‘time off’ from constant exposure. Maybe check 2-3 times a day instead. Search the web for other distractions such as the free streaming and sharing from worldwide museums, art galleries and zoos – everyone is doing their bit!
- Keep in touch with loved ones and family via telephone, or Apps like FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, etc. If you are not sure how apps work, telephone someone you know to help (the younger the better!). Even if physical isolation is important for you at any point, social isolation is good to avoid.
- Keep up some exercise. Exercise will help your mood, and keep you in better physical shape. Even if you can’t go out, set up a short exercise routine in your home. There are lots of suggestions and resources online and apps for exactly this purpose. Always wanted to try Pilates or Yoga? Perhaps now is a good time to do it! Even Joe Wicks is giving PE lessons on his YouTube channel!
- Watch your food and drink intake. It’s all too easy to ‘overdo it’ when the fridge beckons and you’re bored! If you are worried about going out to buy food, check the internet for Coronavirus community support. Many areas have volunteers who have signed up to help those in isolation. Also don’t be afraid to ask friends, neighbours or family for help.
- Use time at home productively. I It can be an opportunity to do some of the things you don’t usually have time for, like household jobs, DIY, organising photos, spring cleaning, cooking together as a family in your home (or over Skype/Facetime), practising an instrument, gardening and reading.
- If you have children/teenagers at home try to keep to some usual routines but accept too that things will be a bit different for now. Encourage them keep in touch with friends via social media, skype, WhatsApp, etc., but schedule time away too. It can be a good opportunity to do things together that there often isn’t time for such as watching films or cooking together, playing board or online games.
- Develop a routine that takes in work (if you can work from home or your child has online school work), exercise, relaxation and entertainment. Divide your day into chunks and try to plan some rewards for your efforts!
There is advice on talking to young children about COVID-19 here: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51734855
Still Feeling Anxious?
It’s important to be kind to yourself over the next few weeks and months. You might already know that you feel anxious. Other people may not be aware that feeling irritable, jumpy, ‘nervy’, restless, lacking concentration, sleeping problems or tummy upsets can all be signs of anxiety.
What can help……….
- Get some fresh air – take some slow, calming deep breaths and remind yourself that, right now, you are ok. If you aren’t self-isolating or in quarantine, go for a walk outside (follow the government guidelines)
- Remind yourself that this time will pass eventually, and that you are doing your best
- Remind yourself that most people recover from the virus; 90% in fact
- Know the ways to calm or distract yourself be it with warm baths, a comforting jumper or blanket, calming music, a soothing cup of tea, a nap, or a spot of Mindfulness (see below) [we like all of the above!]
- Talk to someone you know Why not organise a virtual coffee morning with friends? Use free video conferencing by Facebook, Facetime, Skype, etc.
- Acknowledge the anxiety – notice it, don’t dwell on it and just decide how to be kind to yourself until it eases
- Give yourself permission to laugh – we’ve pulled together some giggle material on our website for a bit of light relief (there is obviously a surfeit of loo roll jokes!). amend.org.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19/its-okay-to-laugh-coronavirus-edition/
Did you know….the word ‘Panic’ has its origins in the God Pan? Pan was a mischievous Greek God who used to jump out at unsuspecting passers-by and terrify them! He was also allegedly the inventor of ‘Pan- pipes’, which ironically now often feature as part of calming music tracks for anxiety!
Self-help for anxiety:
Anxiety UK (www.anxietyuk.org.uk) has lots of advice and information on coping with all different types of anxiety
Reading Well (www.reading-well.org.uk) has a list of books to borrow from libraries or buy
MIND (www.mind.org.uk) also have a range of leaflet sand podcasts on managing worry, anxiety and panic attacks
The NHS website (www.nhs.uk) also has useful tips, videos and ideas on managing anxiety
Mindfulness Relaxation Techniques
At AMEND, we often encourage learning a technique like Mindfulness to help cope with the uncertainty and challenges of living with a rare endocrine disorder. Now could be a really good time to give this a go.
- Headspace headspace is a great introduction to Mindfulness with short exercises for your smartphone or computer to practice everyday
- Buddhify buddhify is similar , but has exercises to ‘click on’ for health worries, not sleeping, worry etc
- CALM calm.com is an app to help practice relaxation techniques, particularly for sleep problems
- AMEND’s own Resources: we have more information on Mindfulness and a link to a series of short, free-access podcasts and videos amend.org.uk/mindfulness/
If you’re thinking about learning Mindfulness to help support your emotional well-being, and to practice living with uncertainty during the pandemic, Oxford Mindfulness Centre are now offering FREE weekly course with trained teacher, including podcasts and post-session Q&A. Click here for more information.
Counselling and Crisis Support
AMENDs free Counselling Service is currently running as normal. Kym and David offer sessions over telephone, and via online platforms.
If you feel that it would be helpful to talk to us, contact Kym on 01727 752147 / email@example.com.
There is more about us at www.amend.org.uk/patients/support/counselling-service/
If you feel very isolated, alone or suicidal at any point, there are also a number of organisations to contact:
Samaritans www.samaritans.org 116 123 contact by phone, text or email 24 hours
CALM www.thecalmzone.net (for men) 0800 585858 5pm – midnight everyday
Silverline www.thesilverline.org.uk 0800 470 8090 Support for older people 24 hours
Whether you are a patient, a carer, parent or medic, there is a lot of room for guilt at the moment given we are living through unusually stressful times. Guilt can be heathy and helpful as a guide to making good choices, but sometimes it can be unhealthy or disproportionate.
If you find yourself thinking ‘I should have done more’ or “I wish I could do better ’ this could be a sign of unhealthy guilt. Try to focus on the fact that you are doing the best you can under difficult conditions.
Being good enough is more important than being perfect.
There’s more about understanding and managing guilt here.
When you are at home all day, keeping relationships steady, avoiding arguments and negotiating everyone’s different needs and wants is a big ask. Below we have brought together some resources that may be useful in the weeks and months ahead.
Relationship advice organisation, Relate, has produced a helpful guide to managing relationships during the lock-down. Click here for more information.
Debt and Mental Health
Many places of worship are streaming online content such as religious ceremonies and services: