Currently, the vast majority of the county is staying at home because of coronavirus (COVID-19) with only essential workers permitted to travel to their work base. Staying at home for a long period of time can lead to frustration, boredom or loneliness. It is important to take care of your mind as well as your body.
Dr Peter Bagshaw, GP and Associate Clinical Director for Mental Health and Learning Disability at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We all need to recognise that it’s okay to feel worried, anxious or frustrated. We are living through a very challenging situation which is causing everyone lots of uncertainty and stress.
“While some people may find staying at home difficult, by doing so we are all helping to protect not only ourselves but our families, neighbours and everyone else.
“It is completely normal to be concerned about your family, your health and even your finances and your job.
“How we feel can change from day to day and sometimes from hour to hour. The usual advice to support our mental wellbeing often focuses on getting out and about and socialising with friends or family but obviously this is something none of us should be doing at the moment.
“But there are still lots of things we can do to help ourselves feel better.
“We can take one form of exercise outside every day and I heartily encourage you do take advantage of this, whether it’s a walk around your neighbourhood, a bike ride or even a run, getting out in the fresh air even for a short time will boost your mood.
“And if you can’t leave your house dancing around the living room to your favourite music or being active in the garden can improve your mental wellbeing and your physical health.
“Spending time with the people who are important to you can support your mental wellbeing and make you feel better. At the current time we can’t meet up face to face, but there are lots of ways to stay connected from the old fashioned letter, to telephone calls, video calls, text messages and online chats. Try to check in with your friends and family regularly.”
Peter also suggests, “rediscovering an old hobby or learning something new. Whether it’s model making, knitting, singing or writing stories, why not give it a go? Challenging yourself to learn a new skill can kick your brain out of unhelpful thought patterns.”
Supporting others is another way we can all help each other feel better.
Peter said: “Volunteering can help improve your wellbeing as well as making a difference to others.
“In Somerset, we are very proud to have more than 400 volunteers and 40 groups already signed up to support people through the COVID-19 outbreak via the website https://www.corona-helpers.co.uk/.
“Corona helpers is supported by all the NHS organisations in Somerset as well as Somerset County Council. Managed by Spark Somerset, the website matches volunteers to local COVID-19 support groups in their area. You can join in and support your local community via the website.”
Everyone’s mental wellbeing changes throughout their life, but it’s important never to just put up with poor mental health. The Every Mind Matters website has a dedicated section on Coronavirus and has lots of simple steps you can follow to look after your mental health and wellbeing. Find out more at: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/
The Somerset Mental Health Alliance has expanded its services to support adults and older people who may be struggling with their mental health as the county responds to the coronavirus outbreak.
Somerset Mindline, which provides people with a safe space to talk, has increased the opening hours of its phone line. If you are concerned about how you are feeling, please contact Somerset Mindline – 01823 276 892 (Monday-Friday 9am-11pm and Saturday-Sunday 8pm-11pm).