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The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything we’ve seen in this lifetime. Hundreds of thousands of people have already been affected, and the knock-on effects will undoubtedly be long-lasting. As unsettling as these facts may be, it is important to remember that there is something we can all do to limit the impact of this virus. Social distancing and self-isolation are drastic yet highly effective ways of ‘flattening the curve’, or slowing the spread of coronavirus so as not to overwhelm the NHS, which crucially will save lives. It is therefore vital that we all play our part by adhering to the government advice to stay at home over the coming weeks.
The current government advice is that you should only leave the house for very limited purposes:
Of course, spending weeks at home, unable to visit friends, family or colleagues has the potential to negatively affects one’s health. The healthcare professionals at YourGP have therefore compiled some top tips to protect your physical and mental health during these testing times.
1. Create a new routine
Most of us will have to adjust to a temporary new way of living, and whilst it may take some getting used to, it is important to structure your day by creating a daily routine. You might find it tempting to hide away in bed all day, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything that’s happening, but you’ll be amazed what a difference it can make to the way you feel when you get up, get dressed and prepare a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner.
2. Exercise daily
All gyms and leisure centres are now closed but there are still plenty of opportunities to exercise and stay in shape. Individuals or members of the same household may exercise for 30 minutes outside once a day. Public parks remain open for people to do so but it is essential that people continue to practice social distancing and remain at least 2m away from each other at all times. A daily brisk walk and a change of scene can do wonders for the mind and body. Alternatively, try working out in the comfort of your own home – there are plenty of free fitness videos available online to inspire you to get moving.
3. Keep busy
Given the sheer scale and seriousness of the current situation, it’s understandable that many people might feel anxious. However, ruminating unnecessarily for prolonged periods of time may prove detrimental to your mental well-being so you may find it beneficial to find a distraction and keep busy. Lose yourself in a book, learn a new skill, potter around in the garden – anything to take your mind off things. It may also help to set yourself a goal for the day or make a to-do list for a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of a day well spent.
4. Get some fresh air
It’s important to note that spending time outside in your own garden is allowed, in fact we would actively encourage people to head out to their garden for fresh air and Vitamin D.
5. Step away from the screen
It’s easy to get sucked into watching rolling news and endlessly scrolling through social media, but this has the potential to trigger or heighten anxiety. By all means, keep up to date with the latest news, but ensure your information comes from trusted sources. It may also help to set yourself a time limit on how long you’re spending on social media.
6. Go easy on yourself
If you’re currently having to juggle working from home and simultaneously home-school your child for example, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Your child’s school may have provided homework suggestions but it is important to remember that children don’t necessarily need to be sitting at a desk to learn. Giving them the freedom to play in the garden and using their imagination to create stories and games can be even more conducive to learning, so don’t feel guilty if you can’t perform the role of a full-time teacher, full-time worker and full-time parent all at the same time – it’s impossible!
7. Reach out
Although you can’t meet with friends in a café and chat over a coffee whilst social distancing or self-isolating, you can still keep in touch with a phone call or text. In fact, many people are now going one step further and arranging lunch dates with friends via Skype and FaceTime for example!
8. Take care of yourself
Do something each day that you enjoy to help you relax. Whether it’s having a soak in the bath, or listening to music, set aside time for yourself.
9. Look after each other
Make an extra effort to check in on others – even just a simple text message to let someone know you’re thinking of them could make all the difference. It is also more important than ever to check in on elderly relatives and neighbours, and leave food and medication on their doorstep if required.
For further information on the importance of social distancing and self-isolation, head to the government website. From all of us here at YourGP, stay home and stay safe.
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