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Mental wellness guide: how to cope with social distancing

01 Apr 2020 - Fiona Raleigh

The world may feel a little upside-down at the moment and that might be unsettling for you, especially if you’re living far away from your friends and family.

Social distancing can have an impact on your mental health, so it’s important to take care of your mind during these challenging times. Take a look at our guide on how to cope with social distancing, and look after your mental wellbeing.

1. Stay connected

This is probably the most important tip for how to cope with social distancing, especially if you live alone. We’re lucky that we live in a time where video calls and instant messaging are the norm, so it’s easier than ever to stay connected.

A young man sits alone with a laptop and headphones
Seeing a friendly face, even if it is just on Skype, can help boost your mood and remind you that the important people in your life care about you. So, if you’re feeling lonely, text a friend or call a family member and catch up. Or, you could use our tips for things to do with friends even when you can’t be there in person for inspiration on how to stay in touch with others.

Remember that you’re not alone and we’re all in this together.

2. Don’t look at the news too much

It’s certainly important to stay up to date with what is happening in your country and around the world, but don’t let scrolling through news articles take over your life.

A young woman walks through a field while looking at her phone

Reading too much news can have a negative effect on your mental health, especially if the stories are scary and disheartening. It can become overwhelming and spark anxiety, so make sure you impose a time limit. For example, you could set an alarm and allow yourself 10 minutes of reading the news every few hours, but no more than that.

3. Maintain a routine

It can be hard to get into a routine when you’re not physically going very far, but it's an important part of learning how to cope with social distancing. Giving your day structure can really help you to stay focused and motivated.

You could start each morning by writing out a list of things you want to achieve that day, and schedule in regular activities that you can repeat throughout the week. For example, you might have an 11am tea break, or you might call your parents every evening at 7pm. Knowing that you will do these things each day will give your brain some level of certainty in these uncertain times.

4. Practise mindfulness

Mindfulness is a term that has become increasingly common in recent years as people have started to focus much more on mental health. Essentially, practising mindfulness means being aware of the world around you, and reconnecting with your body and the sensations it experiences.

A young man looks out of a window pensively

It can help you understand yourself better and, as a result, help you deal with your thoughts and feelings in the present moment. If you can understand why you are feeling a certain way then you’re already one step closer to solving any problems you might be facing, and seeing things in a positive light.

There are plenty of free apps that can help you do this: from Calm and Headspace to Mindfulness Daily, you can be practising mindfulness by the time you finish reading this blog!

5. Focus on the positive

With all the negative messaging we see every day, it can be hard to remember that there are good things happening in the world, too! You could try regularly visiting news sites like Positive News or the Good News Network, which focus on the positive news stories happening every day.

Or, you could try starting a gratitude journal: simply write down 3 things that you’re grateful for every day and take a moment to reflect on the good aspects of your life.

6. Stay active

A young woman cycles through a park
Exercising is essential for your mental wellbeing. When you exercise, your brain produces chemicals called endorphins, which help to reduce stress and pain, and boost your mood. This means that exercise can make you feel happier and improve your sense of wellbeing. So, grab your trainers and get active!*

*Remember to stay 2 metres apart from others.

7. Treat yourself

Now is the time to indulge your guilty pleasures occasionally. It doesn’t matter whether that means a bit of online shopping, watching more of your favourite TV show, or eating a little more chocolate than usual — all that matters is that you make time for yourself and do something that makes you feel good.

8. Try something new

A young woman in her kitchen stirs a mixture in a bowl
If you find that you have more time on your hands than before, then you could try something new. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn Spanish —so why not download the Duolingo app and give it a go? If you want to start baking, you can order the ingredients online and try it out.

Bored.solutions has a great range of activities that you could try to keep yourself from getting bored. You may find that you’ve had a hidden talent for something all along!

In this together

Finally, don’t forget that while you may be physically distant from people right now, that doesn’t have to mean that you’re socially or emotionally distant from them. There are lots of people who want to see you succeed and who are there to help you.

At Kaplan, our College Services teams are always around to listen to your problems and give you advice and guidance, so don’t be afraid to speak to them whenever you need to. At all of our colleges, we're still providing a range of social activities online so you can get to know your classmates, and stay connected — watch this space for more details about our colleges' digital events!

 
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