Shutting ourselves away from others is essential to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but it is unnatural and very difficult for most of us. Government experts have expressed concern about the effects on our mental health, particularly for those who are looking after older people, or those with dementia. Here’s a summary of the best advice being given:-

  1. Deal with anxiety. It’s not unusual to be anxious in a crisis. Our blog on dealing with it the biblical way is helping many – see it here -(https://www.pilgrimsfriend.org.uk/blog/tackling-anxiety-and-fear-in-challenging-times)

2. Focus on things you can control. That means eating properly, having a daily routine, getting a good night sleep, and in general looking after yourself. A daily routine includes getting up at the usual time, and getting dressed as you would normally. If you can, give yourself a daily treat – it will be different for each person.

3. Follow public health guidelines, but don’t overload on news or social media, as that can increase anxiety.

4. If possible, take advantage of your one chance to exercise outside each day – walking is the ideal exercise and is free and accessible to everyone. If you are a caregiver and can’t take advantage of this, there are sensible online exercises, such as those by the Royal Voluntary Society,  (https://www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/our-services/advice-and-support/easy-exercises-to-do-at-home).

5. Stay connected! There’s been a great upsurge in the use of Skype and Zoom, but the old-fashioned telephone is also very good. Sometimes it helps to arrange a time to talk that suits everybody.  Neighbourhood groups are being set up on WhatsApp, and also church home-groups, to help people stay in touch.

6. Stay occupied, and even learn new things! There are hundreds of short, online courses on every topic under the sun.. Google ‘online courses’ and thousands of choices come up in less than a minute.

7.  Go sightseeing! Google ‘virtual tours of museums’ or any other topic, and up come hundreds.

8. Listen to music that you like. There’s a great selection of Christian music on Youtube, all free of charge.

9. Reading is more of a full-brain activity than is generally realised, involving your neural circuits in drawing on memory, visualising and anticipating. If you don’t have books at home you can download from Amazon for Kindle, or even from Audible, for easy listening. Also – knitting has surprising benefits!  It is incredibly soothing, for a start.

10. Above all, remember that ‘this too, will pass’, and that God is not taken by surprise. A good verse to say to yourself is Proverbs 3: 5,6. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (NIV)

 

 

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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