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Managing your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

30 March 2020

With many people staying at home and many self-isolating Bay Health and Care Partners want to share a few tips on how to look after your mental health through these trying times.

Dr Andy Knox, the Director of Population Health at Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group recommends the ABC approach, which stands for Active, Breathing and Connect.

He said: “At times like this many of us can struggle with anxiety and being isolated can make that feel worse so one of the things we’re trying to encourage is for people to stay active, there are loads of online exercise classes at the moment and it’s a great way to get some of that nervous energy out which help calm us down. If you don’t like doing exercise, then try doing something you enjoy, like singing.”

Dr Knox also explained that when we’re anxious we tend to over-breathe so slowing our breathing down can massively help when dealing with anxiety or worry.

He said: “To slow your breathing down I recommend Box Breathing, which is used by the Royal Marines. You start by breathing in slowly for 4, holding your breathe for 4, breathing out slowly for 4 and holding your breathe out for 4. Do this a few times and it begins to change the carbon dioxide levels in your blood and naturally brings your heart rate down, making you feel calmer.”

Connecting with other people is also a really important factor in managing your mental health.

Dr Knox added: “We’re trying to encourage communities to look out for each other. Even though, currently, this can’t be face-to-face, there are lots of other ways we can stay in contact now, such as over the telephone, letter writing, notes being dropped through each other’s doors, social media and using video platforms, such as Skype and Zoom.”

For further information on how to manage your mental health, visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak

Remember if you start showing symptoms of having coronavirus (COVID-19) which include a high temperature and/or a new, continuous cough, you need to stay at home and self-isolate for 7 days. If you live with someone else, you need to self-isolate for 14 days.

You do not need to contact NHS 111 if you are self-isolating, only if your symptoms worsen after 7 days.