Due to the recent university changes we have decided to create some resources to help you with looking after yourself, looking out for others and working effectively from home. Other tips and articles are available below.
We would also highly recommend checking the government website as advice may have changed since producing these resources.
Due to the recent recommendations we will be spending more of our time at home. This can take a bit of time to adjust to and the following tips might help you to prepare.
Keep a daily routine
It’s tempting when you’re working from home to stay in bed in your pyjamas but this can put the rest of your routine out of sync, and muddies the separation between work and rest. (This article on working from bed tells you more) Even if it’s just at the kitchen table in a baggy jumper and joggers it will help you to shed your sleepy state and move into work mode.
Make sure that you don’t forget about repeat prescriptions and that you have a plan for collecting them. Some surgeries will accept repeat prescription requests over the phone or online, the NHS app will tell you what your local surgery offers. Many surgeries will allow a trusted other to collect your prescription on your behalf, again just check beforehand.
Use social media wisely
Although social media is a great tool to stay in touch and get together remotely there are also many articles online spreading false rumours. Try to avoid reading posts and articles from unreliable sources. If you do want to stay up to date the best place to get correct information is the government website.
Maintain a healthy diet
It can be tempting to comfort eat when you are feeling down but maintaining a healthy diet will help you both mentally and physically. A recent study on the effects of the Mediterranean diet on mental health showed participants feeling a reduction in depressive symptoms. A couple of treats every now and then are fine but try to stick to eating healthy meals throughout the day. If you are struggling to go to the supermarket for supplies see if there is anyone who can support you, or if you can arrange home delivery from your supermarket. Be aware that due to being less active your appetite may change. Mind has a section on food and mood to help you explore the relationship between what you eat and how you feel.
Working from home may mean that you aren’t being as active as normal. Try incorporating an exercise into your morning, lunch or evening routine. Something as simple as a 15-minute yoga exercise can help you feel motivated for the day and release some built up energy. Many personal trainers are now offering online sessions, and some are even giving free lessons during this time! YouTube is also a great place to find tutorials such as HIIT workouts, yoga exercises and offer them no matter what level of fitness you’re at.
- Make sure to wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with hot water and soap. There are some great suggestions of songs to sing to keep yourself entertained.
- When coughing or sneezing use a tissue and dispose of it as soon as you can. If a tissue is not available aim for the crook of your elbow rather than your hands.
- Avoid shaking hands and social contact with large groups of people.
- Try keeping your home clean and tidy. If you are living with others try to create a cleaning schedule but try to agree on the level of tidiness beforehand, as people’s expectations will vary.
- If you feel at all unwell, stay at home.
- You can read updates and further information on the NHS website.
With today’s technology staying in touch with others is incredibly easy. Consider setting up WhatsApp or social media group chats for uni work or simply checking in with one another. It may help to create a specific group where all mention of current news is banned, or where you just post positive articles or uplifting memes.
When checking in with friends and family try to phone them up from time to time where you can as it feels more “life-like” than through the screen. Not everyone will have online access so they may feel particularly lonely and appreciate a call.
Be mindful of your friends when talking to them. Some may be deliberately avoiding the news to manage their mental health, so check they are happy to talk about the subject beforehand. If they aren’t happy to talk about it, think of some distraction topics to talk about. Perhaps some good boxsets or motivational books to get stuck into!
It is okay to distance yourself from certain accounts if they are posting content that is distressing you. Many social media sites will allow you to “snooze” accounts temporarily rather than blocking them. You might find that staying away from social media for a bit will help your wellbeing - try and do what is best for you.
- Download the Netflix Party extension to watch in real time whilst chatting with friends.
Now could be the perfect time to pick up that hobby you’ve been meaning to try. There are many tutorials online from painting to knitting to cooking, Pinterest and YouTube are great starting points, and have perfect starter activities, especially if you have little ones to entertain!
If you can, try and be around nature. This might be sitting in your back garden or potting up some herbs for the kitchen with the window open. Now we are moving into Spring the warmer weather should make this more inviting. Research has shown that connecting with nature can help to reduce anxiety and the outdoors can help with your short-term memory. The smells, fresh air and change in scenery can help boost your productivity and creative thinking.
Give yourself a treat! Self-care is more important than ever so don’t kick yourself if you crack open that chocolate egg early! Spend some time finding out what your self-care treats are and make sure you spoil yourself every once in a while. Examples could be having a movie night (maybe arrange with friends to watch the same film at the same time so it feels like you’re together!), allowing yourself a duvet day, playing a board game or baking a nice indulgent cake to tuck into.
Try to incorporate some mindfulness into your self-care. This doesn’t have to be meditation (although there are some great apps for this) your mindful activity might be exercise, listening to your favourite music or natural sounds in a relaxed space, or colouring in, to name a few. If you’re interested in breathing exercises and meditation, try out popular apps such as Headspace or Calm. At the moment Calm have released some free resources to use on their website.
This might be a great time to create a Mental Health First Aid Kit. Find out what helps keep your mental health elevated and add it to a box or tin. It can be a book, DVD, a trusted friend’s phone number or an inspirational quote scrawled on a piece of paper. This kit can then be taken out to help support you through your down days.
A great way to concentrate on positive areas of your life is to start updating a gratitude journal. You can buy specific journals for this but a notebook is fine, just keep it by your bed and every morning (as you wake up) or evening (before going to sleep) write down three things that you are grateful for. Not only does this help you to focus on what matters to you, it can also help with your self-esteem and allow you to become more self-aware.
Bullet journalling is a way to stay productive whilst adding your own creativity to your schedule! You design it to suit your learning and working style. You can find lots of suggestions online as well as articles on how bullet journalling has helped others.
When facing uncertainty it can be easier to focus on unhelpful thoughts. Try not to concentrate on things that are outside of your control, instead let go of these and focus instead on those that are within your control.
For example, you cannot control how people are reacting to the news, but you can control how you can manage your own stress levels.
Remember there may be many vulnerable people living around you that are having to self-isolated. Try giving them a call to see if they need any support with anything, it might be that they would just appreciate a chat and a bit of (remote) company. Some may not have access to online shopping or to the pharmacy to collect their prescriptions and this could be a way of helping them.
If you don’t know them well, you could post a note or card through your neighbours’ doors to let them know you are there if they need any help.
People in care and residential homes might be feeling lonelier than usual due to restrictions in visitors. See if you can post a care package, card or even a video message that can be played to them to show you’re thinking of them. You could also send some to carers and other key workers to show your appreciation for them!
Remember that some people with underlying mental health issues may be having a tougher time than usual. Check in on them, try not to pass judgement and ask them how you can help. If you haven’t heard from a friend in a while it might be an idea to call or message them to see how they are doing. They may not feel comfortable reaching out for help, but you checking in on them could be just what they need.
We all need our own personal space from time to time so if you live with others try to be mindful of this and allow each other some alone time (if needed!).
Even if you have to stay in the house you can still volunteer to help others:
- The NHS is now recruiting volunteers for NHS Volunteer Responders to support them during the COVID-19 outbreak. This programme enables volunteers to provide care or to help a vulnerable person, which is permitted under the new rules announced by the Government on 23rd March 2020. Volunteers may be asked to show the active task they are responding to if asked.
- Be My Eyes is an app connecting blind and low-vision users with sighted people for visual assistance via live video call. All you have to do is download the app, sign up and wait for a call!
- The Next Door app is a neighbourhood noticeboard. This is a great platform for you to offer your support to neighbours in need or reach out for help yourself.
- Do-it.org is a great volunteering site and, although you will not currently be able to support anyone face to face, there are plenty of online volunteering opportunities to take part in. Just select “do-it from home” under the filters.
- An easy activity to get started with is origami. There are lots of free tutorials online, you can do it anywhere and all you need is a piece of paper and access to the internet. Two good projects to start with are the crane and the boat.
- Take up a craft such as knitting or cross stitch – Etsy is a great place to find and buy cheap starter kits online.
- Practise yoga or Pilates to relieve aches and pains, and to strengthen muscles (Yoga with Adriene has some great free exercises online).
- Keep learning by looking through free online courses. FutureLearn and LinkedIn learning have some great courses. If you fancy learning a new language apps like Babbel and Duolingo are great starting points.
- If you have a garden, start researching how you can get it ready for the summer. If not, perhaps put together a windowsill garden or create a terrarium.
- If you like to read, perhaps set up a virtual book club for your friends or people in your area.
- Join the free 10 Days of Happiness email-based coaching program.
- Future Learn have put together an article about Nine alternatives to Netflix parties.
Mindful apps and websites
- Mind has a short animation giving 8 relaxation tips for your mental health.
- Listen to or read some guided relaxation tips – Spotify and YouTube have lots to look through.
- Calm is a meditation app, and currently has some free resources available online without needing to sign up.
- Headspace offers daily meditation and mindful exercises and also has some free resources to work through.
- Calm Harm is an app providing tasks to help perople resist or manage the urge to self-harm.
- The Clear Fear app helps to reduce the physical responses to threat from anxiety as well as changing thoughts and behaviours and releasing emotions.
- NHS has a resource on ways to relieve stress.
- Series: Schitts Creek.
- Series: Next in Fashion, Fleabag.
- Book: Jog on by Bella Mackie, The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner, The Elephant Diaries by Laurence Anthony.
- Game: The staple that is Uno!
- Series: Killing Eve.
- Book: Reasons to be alive by Matt Haig.
- Series: Gavin and Stacey.
- Book: Perfume by Patrick Suskind.
- Game: Trivial pursuit (of course)
- Emily Coxhead at The Happy Newspaper has created a free happy news pack to download.
- Wren & Wilson has a free mindful colouring webpage to download.
- The Wellness Society has 22 Healing Trauma Quotes + Free Mindful Colouring Sheets to download.
- Our own Creative and Print Services have produced some fun colouring sheets with some recognisable landmarks and a familiar furry face:
- ThoughtCo. has listed 11 free online drawing classes.
General advice and information
- Gov.uk: Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do.
- NHS: Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Samaritans: If you're worried about your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.
The NHS app allows you to access a range of services including:
- Booking appointments.
- Viewing your medical record.
- Ordering repeat prescriptions.
- Checking symptoms.
- Finding up to date coronavirus advice.
You can find out more about the app on the NHS website.
Advice for returning home after uni
- Brain 4.0: How to smile in times of social isolation.
- Coventry University: How to deal with moving home after uni.
- University of Birmingham: Adjusting to life back home.
- The Guardian: How to handle moving back home.
Supporting your wellbeing
- The Wellness Society: Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook.
- Every Mind Matters: Coronavirus and mental wellbeing
- Mental Health Foundation:
- Anxiety UK: #Coronanxiety support & resources
- Mind: Coronavirus and your wellbeing.
- Student Minds:
- Mental Health First Aid England:
- Action for happiness:
- The Independent: Coronavirus: how to manage your mental health during self-isolation.
- Oxfordshire mind: Coronavirus and your wellbeing.
- Mental Health Europe: Coronavirus: 8 ways to look after your mental health.
- NHS: 5 steps to mental wellbeing.
- Thisthingtheycallrecovery: How To Talk About Coronavirus: A Chronic Perspective.
- Papyrus: Practising self-care during times of uncertainty.
- Safe Hands Thinking Minds: Covid, Anxiety, Stress- Resources & Links.
You can find regular posts about support in the current climate as well as general wellbeing and mental health information on our Lboro Mental Health and Wellbeing Facebook page.