My area has been put under Tier 3 restrictions. I’m worried about how this is going to affect my mental health. I’ve been feeling really down as a result of ongoing lockdowns. Is there anything you can suggest that will help over the Xmas period as the weather gets worse? I live alone and struggle to find the motivation to go outside and see people.
Thanks for telling us how you’re feeling. The pandemic is affecting all of us in different ways. Add to that the shorter days, darker mornings and evenings, and the weather outside, it’s hard to stay upbeat. We hope you can find some comfort in knowing that you aren’t alone.
There is lots of help available to help us. The government has set out a winter plan for staying ‘mentally well’ during the pandemic. You can find it here on their website. The information is specific to where we live, so if we are in Wales, NI or Scotland, click on the separate link.
Public Health England has published lots of online resources as part of its Every Mind Matters campaign. There are loads of articles, videos and contacts on there. There’s also a short quiz (just 5 questions!) which will give us tailored tips and advice. And there are ten general steps for staying at home during the pandemic here.
There are also lots of mental health helplines you could call or text to have a chat with someone. The NHS recommended ones are listed here. These include charities (some are specific to men) such as Men’s Health Forum.
If you’re struggling to get outside to see people, there are lots of ways you can stay in touch digitally. How about joining a peer support community? The charity Mind runs an online community where you can share your experiences and hear from others. Mind also has information pages on how to keep busy in winter, how to adapt your routine in winter, and how to connect with others.
Finally, the NHS guidelines for help with low mood suggests these key steps:
- Try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you need someone to talk to
- Try the 6 ways to feel happier, which are simple lifestyle changes to help you feel more in control and able to cope
- Find out how to raise your self-esteem
- Consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website
- Try mindfulness, where you focus on the present moment
- Listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides
- Search and download relaxation and mindfulness apps or online community apps from the NHS apps library
Hopefully some of these suggestions will help you. Maybe try giving one a go and if it doesn’t work for you, move on to something else. If you’re still struggling, contact your GP who will be able to help you.