I'm a worrier, an over-thinker and usually just about function with raised anxiety day to day.
I spend a disproportionate amount of my time thinking about how I can stop myself from feeling anxious and lonely and then today happened.
Today, all my 'disasters' came true. From tomorrow I, like most of the country if not the world, will be working from home for an indefinite period of time. I am going to be putting myself into the one position I have fought so many mental battles to avoid.
Before the panic could take hold I was ushered into a meeting to talk about mental health and homeworking which leads me onto my first tip for looking after your mental wellbeing; communication - Keep in touch with friends, family, colleagues via social media, messaging, telephone and if possible get as much face to face communication as possible.
It is important to note that you are not the only person who feels this way. After talking with colleagues I quickly realised that thoughts I was trying to dismiss as irrational must be rational as other people were having them too!
If you are working from home, make sure you have clear boundaries between work and home. I know myself I am tempted to use work as my 'thing' to keep busy which has always been fine in the past. Now working from home is a full time occurrence it is vital to know when work stops and downtime begins.
During downtime, try not to dwell. On a positive note being at home is an opportunity to spend more time with family, have a spring clean, read more books, learn a new hobby or binge watch the next big series.
Try and challenge yourself and keep your brain active. Why not learn a new hobby, take up yoga or teach yourself to do some DIY.
It is said that gardening is good for the mind and soul and with spring around the corner we may have the chance to get outside and absorb some much needed vitamin D! If you are working from home make sure you take regular breaks and get outside as often as you can.
Remember, we are still being encouraged to exercise. Even a stroll outdoors could do wonders for your wellbeing and mood.
Avoid 24 hour news and checking your phone or social media too often . Nothing will have changed that much since you last checked and it's important to try and clear your mind to give other thoughts a chance to surface.
Create a new routine. For many a lack of routine is cause for a decline in mental health. We can manage this by being prepared and creating a new routine. Get up, washed and dressed every day and have a morning, lunchtime, afternoon and evening routine in there. This is especially important if, like me, you are working from home. Treat work days as you usually would in the morning and sit down to your work station. Make sure you do something different on weekends and, this is a big thing for me to remember; open the curtains every day and welcome in a new day. You are in self isolation not hiding away, try and keep some perspective and challenge any negative thoughts before they may overwhelm you.
Finally and to go back to my first tip, communicate. Keep in touch, chat, reach out for help if needed and try not to shut the world out. If you feel you need professional help, there are plenty of websites or helplines you can call, don't leave it too long to make the call for help.
We are all in this together. Most of us are not used to staying home and for some people this may be their first ever feelings of anxiety or stress. Know you're not alone, none of us are and this situation, though unknown, will not last forever.
I'm a worrier, but I'm not on my own, I know a lot of people who are just the same and we will be fine. Take care of yourself and support one another as best you can.
Useful Contacts and Further Information:
samaritans.org - or call 116 123 (free)