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Coronavirus: Guarding your mental health

Article by Nicole Wanjala
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Posted: April 02, 2020  

This coronavirus pandemic has thrown life as we know it into disarray. Most of us are self-isolating at home, and are cut off physically from friends and family. Self-care during this time is crucial. Even if you can’t resume normal activities – such as going to the park, meeting with friends – you should still create time to take care of your physical, mental and emotional health.

Get enough rest
In self-isolation, many of us have thrown out our daily routines. It’s more important than ever to get enough sleep – it helps our immune system, but is also vital for our mental state – and that means going to bed at the right time. Health experts recommend coming up with a new routine to maintain consistency and sleep quality. Although it might be tempting to nap during the day, resist doing so more than once or you risk disrupting your body clock. To develop a routine, prepare for bed by dimming lights, listening to soft music and avoiding gadgets and set a daily morning alarm to make sure you wake the same time every day.

Exercise
Social distancing means many of us don’t even leave the home. A lack of mobility is bad for us in many ways. Exercise not only releases powerful feel-good endorphins, but is critical to reducing stress. Free apps such as Nike Training Club and Google Fit provide home workouts and fitness plans which will help you exercise and stay healthy. Alternatively, you could practise self-massage through foam rolling. This will ensure your muscles are well exercised to avoid the loss of elasticity and fatigue.

Maintaining a healthy diet
Eating well is more important than ever. We need all the ammunition we can get to fight off illness, and coronavirus in particular. Nutritionists recommend a minimum of five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day, although it is generally agreed we should eat a whole lot more than five. Drink lots of water to flush out your system and keep you hydrated, and consider supplements, such as probiotics. As far as possible, avoid junk food, processed food and refined sugars, all loaded with things that will attack your immune system. Now is a great time to try out some healthy recipes from food bloggers and TV shows.

Filtering news
While we all want to stay informed and updated, too much exposure to the coronavirus pandemic can leave you feeling fearful and anxious. More than ever, we’re advised to accept that some things are beyond our control. Take the time to adjust to the new reality and how you react to it. Allocate limited time to inform yourself through a few trusted and reliable resources such as the World Health Organisation and established news media.

Meditation and Yoga
While you may try to maintain a positive mindset, it is very easy to give into feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety and helplessness. There are lots of free (or free for a time) resources that can help alleviate some of this – make use of them. The Calm app can help you meditate and sleep better. Or for yoga, try an app such as Glo or Down Dog, to help develop mindfulness of your thoughts and feelings and learn how to control them.

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