What strange and worrying times we are living through.  The focus is naturally on our physical health, but we need to look after our mental health too.  What impact is social distancing, and self-isolation going to have on us?  And how can we mitigate the potential negative effects?  What can we do to stay positive? 

There are some useful insights from personality type.  People who are naturally more extraverted – who get their energy from interacting with people and things in the external world – probably need more social interaction than people who are more introverted and get their energy from their own thoughts and feelings.  (No-one is completely one or the other – if they were, they’d be a 24/7 party animal or a hermit – we are all a mixture, but our balance naturally tends towards one more than the other).  Knowing where your balance lies and finding ways to meet your needs for time with people to balance the time alone, can help get you through the next few weeks and months.  It also helps you be understanding of the different needs for social interaction of the people with whom you live. 

Here are some pick ‘n’ mix tips: 

Variety is the spice of life, so plan lots of different things in your day, don’t just sit in front of the TV or computer all day long

  • If you are at the computer (maybe working from home), get up and move around at least once an hour, make yourself a coffee, put the washing on, walk around the garden if you have one, run upstairs, give a friend a call 
  • If you are not working, find a variety of different things to do during the day – do some household chores, sit in a different room, listen to the radio or catch up on podcasts, read a book, play a board game, do a virtual exercise class, try a new hobby, plant some seeds
  • Use online tools to chat to people at certain times – if you know you are going to have a break at a certain time, let your work colleagues or friends know so you can share a virtual coffee break
  • Break up your day with walks if you can – being outside has proven benefits for mental health and it’s especially good now that spring is coming
  • Take the opportunity to learn something new – take an OU course, brush up on your language skills, try out some new recipes

Routines also help us have a sense of normality and a sense of purpose, so plan some things in your diary at regular times just as you normally would.

We all need things to look forward to, so include things that will be a treat eg

  • Arrange a virtual meet-up with friends and family using Skype, WhatsApp, Messenger, Facetime, Zoom etc.  A get together online can be almost as good as one in person
  • Cook a special meal and linger over it, just as you would in a restaurant
  • Watch a film on TV in the same way you would if it was in the cinema

Finally, focus on how great it will feel when you’ve achieved some of those tasks you’ve been meaning to get around to – sorting out the photos, tidying up the garage, doing some gardening, emailing friends, whatever…. – and keep safe.