Try This One Thing to Protect Your Mental Health During Lock-Down

Roisin Dervish-O'Kane
Photo credit: Westend61 - Getty Images

From Women's Health

Each week, we’ll be bringing you the best advice from the WH team’s brand-new podcast, Going for Goal. The show is focused on helping you achieve the health and happiness goals that matter to you, and each week Senior Editor Roisín Dervish-O'Kane interviews leading experts about their secrets to success. This week: here's the nugget taken from episode 3: How to Build a Healthy Social Life.

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The UK is, officially, in lockdown. Birthday parties? Cancelled. Weddings? Cancelled. Holidays? Marathons? Pub sessions...? You get the picture.

That heart-filling sensation that we're accustomed to experiencing each year, as summer flickers into view, is seriously constricted. Now that the coronavirus lockdown is in full force, there's a real sense that life is on hold for the time being.

So, how do you keep your spirits up - or simply stay emotionally healthy - in these uncertain times, without the usual punctuation of the juicy, life-enhancing stuff?

That was one of the topics raised on this week's Going for Goal podcast, featuring Clinical Psychologist and author of The Imposter Cure, Dr Jessamy Hibberd, all about how you can protect your mental health during this pandemic, something that hundreds of you got in touch to ask us about.

The one thing a psychologist wants you to do

One point that Dr Jessamy couldn't emphasise enough, when it comes to protecting your mental health at this time, was the importance of creating - and sticking to - a routine. One that you should adhere to as you would when taking a doctor-dispensed medication.

'This structure and routine is key to maintaining your mental health, so see it within those parameters,' she advises. Whether it's committing to a specific number of home workouts every day or simply sticking to that virtual group hang with your pals - work out which habits help you feel good, and stick to them.

'You might not feel like doing it, but do it anyway,' says Dr Jessamy. 'Just give yourself a chance to feel better.'

Because, if you are feeling brighter and more motivated, you'll be far better placed to show up - not just for yourself during these scary, unsettling times - but for others, too.

Why Your Mental Health Matters

Its also totally okay to feel gutted about all the festivals, parties and dinners out that you're going to miss. 'Having events and moments that are special and meaningful, those things to look forward to, helps many of us manage our wellbeing,' Dr Jessamy explains. And now that a lot of these have had to be put on ice - or cancelled completely - it's a lot to take.


So, first thing: don't be harsh on yourself if you're upset. Yes, people may be going through far worse things than you right now (here are 9 ways that you can help) - but it's okay to be sad for the disruptions in your own little world.

'These are not silly worries or frivolous fears; this is a very reasonable response. You are feeling down and upset and it’s important to not deny those feelings in order to move forward,' says Dr Jessamy. 'It's not about saying: "I’m so silly" or dismissing your feelings by saying "it's so much worse for everyone else",' she explains.

'It's [about] saying [to yourself]: of course I’m upset by this. I was really looking forward to doing that and now I don’t know what’s going to happen, so its alright [that I feel this way].'

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