How to Look After Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak We know that the current Coronavirus outbreak is a worrying time for lots of us. At Swings & Smiles we are working hard behind the scenes to ensure we're always able to support our families, whatever form that may take, and we want families to know we're here to talk to. If you're feeling overwhelmed then start by following the tips below to help protect your mental health during these difficult times. 1. Look at the source With so much information available to us online it's easy to feel overwhelmed and anxieties can go into overdrive. We would suggest to limit the sources from where you seek information to only the most official such as the World Health Organization (WHO), gov.uk or www.nhs.uk. If somebody shares a link with you or you see something worrying online make sure you consider where that information has come from and whether or not it may be completely accurate. 2. Limit your access to the news It's unavoidable - every time you turn on the news or you log onto social media they are talking about the outbreak. Try your best to limit your access to this, choosing perhaps to watch the news only once a day or go for periods without checking social media. Remember, a lot of what is shared may be people's own opinions or predictions and that not everything reported will be true. Protect yourself and try to access positive media if you can - The Happy Broadcast are brilliant for this and have a wonderful Instagram account which we love. 3. Take care of yourself Remember that you still need to take care of yourself. Keep eating a balanced diet (allowing yourself treats when you want to!), get some exercise and prioritise a good night's sleep. Doing something every day to take your mind off things will help you to switch off from current stresses and hopefully lift your mood - you could try yoga, reading a book, doing something creative or getting outside for some fresh air and a walk. Action for Happiness have created a Coping Calendar which gives something simple you can do everyday to help cope. 4. Ask for help One positive thing to come from the outbreak is that communities are pulling together to help each other out and make sure everybody is safe. If you can't leave the house and feel like you need help don't be afraid to contact a friend, a neighbour or us at Swings & Smiles as there will be lots of people willing to help you. People can collect food or prescriptions for you and leave it on your doorstep without any need for contact - just make sure you ask for help if you need it. 5. Acknowledge you anxieties While it's not helpful to dwell on anxious feelings, it is important to acknowledge when we're having them to deal with them and put things in perspective. Talk to somebody if you think it might reassure you, or write your thoughts down in a journal if you just want to get them out of your head. If you're feeling worried, which is perfectly normal, don't bottle your feelings up. 6. Talk to your children Your children are likely to be feeling anxious about Coronavirus too and have their own questions. It's important to talk to them and reassure them and let them know it's OK to feel worried. Try to keep this supportive and positive, let them know what you're doing to make yourself feel better or do an activity together to take both of your minds off of things. However, don't spend too long talking about it - try to talk about normal things too, and have a giggle and be silly together if you can. The following websites may have more resources and advice to help you manage yours and your family's mental health: www.actionforhappiness.org www.anxietyuk.org.uk www.beateatingdisorders.ork.uk www.thecalmzone.net www.childline.org.uk www.mind.org.uk www.nopanic.org.uk www.smaritans.org www.supportline.org.uk www.youngminds.org.uk www.youth2youth.co.uk We hope these tips help to relieve your anxieties a little. We'll be aiming to provide you with even more resources to help with your mental health while the outbreak continues, and are here to support you if you need us. Drop us an email to [email protected] or find us on social media where we'll be helping families with lots of play ideas and fun for children at home.