Social distancing/self-isolation advice and tips:
It is a very uncertain time for a lot of people right now which can cause waves of anxiety and panic, especially now we have been advised to social distance or self-isolate ourselves from others.
What is social distancing and why do we need to do it?
Social distancing means painting distance between you and others. It is different to self-isolation because you can still leave the house, however, you should try to limit contact with others as much as possible.
Social distancing serves several important functions to reduce the impact of COVID-19. By slowing the spread of the infection, it helps protect people who are at higher risk for more severe illness or death, including the elderly and those who are immunocompromised. Even if you’re not sick, you can still carry the disease without knowing it. Social distancing is about protecting not just yourself, but everyone in your community. Social distancing also helps communities “flatten the curve,” a visual way to understand how this strategy can help reduce the impact of the virus. Flattening the curve and slowing the spread allows the health care system to more adequately respond to an influx of patients.
What if I share a house/flat with others and have to self isolate?
If you live in a house or flat share, self-isolating can be incredibly difficult, not just for you, but for the other people you live with. Public Health England recommends you:
separate yourself from other people in your home
if you share facilities like toilets and bathrooms, regular cleaning will be required
stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened, separate from other people in your home
If you share a bathroom or kitchen then they go on to recommend the following:
consideration should be given to drawing up a bathroom rota for washing or bathing, with the isolated person using the facilities last, before thoroughly cleaning the bathroom themselves
the isolated person uses separate towels from other household members, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand hygiene purposes
stay in your room with the door closed, only coming out when necessary, wearing a facemask if one has been issued to you
take your meals back to your room to eat. Use a dishwasher (if available) to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery. If this isn't possible, wash them by hand using detergent and warm water and dry them thoroughly, using a separate tea towel.
There’s a detailed self-isolation advice sheet available from PHE with full details.
Both social distancing and self-isolation may have impacts on our mental health. Why?
Social distancing and self-isolation isolation remove us from habits and actions that we may otherwise take for granted: being out in the world, in contact with a diverse set of others, the freedom to plan, attend and enjoy.
In the absence of these and against the broad context of the serious and unknown nature of the times, it’s important to understand that this may challenge your mental health and require you to develop a creative new set of tools to support your mental health.
The good news is, that, even in these extraordinary times, it is possible to cultivate a different set of tools to support yourself.
Here are some tips:
With all the uncertainty, it is important to have some down time. Mind recommends continuing to access nature and sunlight wherever possible. Do exercise, eat well and stay hydrated.
AnxietyUK suggests practising the "Apple" technique to deal with anxiety and worries.
Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
Pause: Don't react as you normally do. Don't react at all. Pause and breathe.
Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don't have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else - mindfully with your full attention.
Some useful websites to manage anxiety/stress around conroavirus:
Step back from the news/social media:
Keeping yourself informed is fine but ask yourself whether you need to be glued to every single news report or social media platform. These can heighten your sense of fear.
Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren't making you feel better. Perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news.
There is a lot of misinformation swirling around - stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as Public Health England and NHS.
If you find it’s all getting too much, avoid the news and mute words on social media or at least follow some good news accounts to add a bit of light to the dark. It is very important to find positivity amongst the negativity.
The Happy Newspaper
How to stay productive while at home:
Whether you are distancing yourself from others or self-Isolating, here are some tips to remain calm, be productive and/or remain social:
Try and get into a daily routine that prioritises looking after yourself. You may find it helpful to plan out your time in advance and know what you are going to do each day, including something to look forward to. Getting up and going to bed at the same time every day is a massive help as well as getting washed and dressed before working.
Look after your personal environment and create a space that you are able to enjoy and feel comfortable in. As much as possible, try to work and sleep in separate places so your mind understands them as separate environments.
Stay active. It is recommended staying away from the gym but you can still workout from your own home, you can find out how here: https://www.sportengland.org/news/how-stay-active-while-youre-home?fbclid=IwAR08GeJuMReMeHDSEku612M0FHJaEhDLzR6wipcJ62dkL8bxKABvXFjJYiU
How to stay connected to others:
Stay connected with friends and family through technology. Whether this is through Facetime, Skype, or, other apps such as Marco Polo, be intentional, deliberate and regular about being in touch with your loved ones through technology that allows you to see their face. The face-to-face contact is far more supportive and nourishing than simply text or video messages.
Continuing the things that you enjoy or use the time to discover a new hobby. You could try reading that book you’ve been meaning to start, watch that new series or try a new skill, such as learning a language, colouring, drawing, working out or doing a puzzle.
Netflix Party is a new way to watch Netflix with your friends online. Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to your favourite Netflix shows: https://www.netflixparty.com
Play games with friends online. Apps such as Words with Friends or Draw Something can help you hang out online.
Playlists to study to:
Playlists to brighten your mood:
Helpful apps/websites to keep you occupied and calm:
Calm: Calm is a leading app for meditation and sleep. Join the millions experiencing lower stress, less anxiety, and more restful sleep with our guided meditations, Sleep Stories, breathing programs, masterclasses, and relaxing music. Recommended by top psychologists, therapists, and mental health experts
Headspace: Headspace is your guide to everyday mindfulness in just a few minutes. Choose from hundreds of guided meditations on everything from managing stress and anxiety to sleep, productivity, exercise, and physical health.
Flora: Flora is a gamified pomodoro timer, habit tracker, and do-to list app that encourages you and friends to put down the phones and be productive via tree planting.
Duolingo: Want to learn a new language? It’s now fun, entertaining, and efficient to learn, right on your phone!
TalkLife: Are you battling with your mental health, anxiety and depression? If you’re finding life hard TalkLife can help. You’re not alone in this. A community of likeminded supportive people across the globe who understand what it’s like to battle the ups and downs.
Action for Happiness: Action for Happiness helps people take action for a happier and more caring world.
It is crucial that we look after ourselves but also those around us.
Share information from reliable sources.
Check in with those who may be more at risk during this time and offer to help if needed.
Avoid panic buying and buy what you need.
Need someone to talk to:
Nightline email service is open. You can contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org and expect a reply from their listening volunteers within 48 hours. Anything you disclose will remain confidential and will also be anonymous as they can’t see your email address!
Samaritans are open 24/7 everyday throughout the year and are free to call on 116 123.
Shout is a free UK text help service which you can message on 85258.
If you need advice on your physical health, visit here: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19?fbclid=IwAR0TS41nH-8_x9_W-TcOr4z2kI_a_ghjg6uDc7cNJw670VejaXZdFs9KVDU
University's guidance here:
Students' Guild’s Guidance here: