I don’t think there’s many of us who haven’t been affected in some way by the Covid-19 pandemic. With many people are struggling with stress and anxiety, it’s more important than ever that we take care of ourselves and each other.
Here’s six things you might find helpful in ensuring your mood doesn’t plummet during this time:
1. Remain in contact with your mental health providers
If you’re struggling, please reach out to your support people. Don’t leave it until your depression is so bad you can’t get out of bed, or your mania is escalating out of control. If you can’t visit in person, most doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists are providing telehealth appointments. This isn’t a good time to choose to go it alone.
2. Try to ensure you have an adequate supply of medication
Now is a good time to check that you’ve got enough medication, or an up-to-date prescription. I found myself caught out at the pharmacy with a prescription that was just past its use-by-date and had to wait a week for a new one. Most mood stabilisers or anti-psychotics shouldn’t be stopped abruptly, so it’s important to have enough.
3. Maintain regular structure within your daily routine
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on most people’s daily routines. I am now working from home and cannot go out except to grocery shop or exercise (within a 5km radius) or get medical help.
If you’re working from home, it’s a little easier to maintain structure, with zoom meetings and deadlines. But for those who’ve found themselves out of work, or trying to home school kids, the lack of structure can really influence your mood.
It can help to break up the day into ‘chunks’ – for work, exercising, talking with friends, housework, craft, reading etc. I find having some structure to the day helpful for both me and my kids. Knowing we all have to be up, fed, dressed and ready for the day by 9am helps to stop that one-off PJ day lasting all week…
4. Get enough sleep
We all probably know that healthy sleep habits are an important way of managing our mental health, but how many of us actually take this advice? I know I’m guilty of staying up too late!
During this pandemic, not having the deadline of making your morning train to work, or getting the kids to school (if you’re in an area where schools have closed) can make it tempting to stay up later watching Netflix and sleep in.
But research does show that setting a regular time to go to bed and wake up is especially helpful for people with bipolar disorder.
5. Don’t set high expectations for yourself
While it’s fun to take up a project or set yourself a goal to learn something new, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s ok just to ensure you and your family survive this difficult period.
If you do take up a new project – don’t do it at full speed until you collapse in exhaustion. The idea is to have fun while you do it!
6. Focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t
It’s easy to focus on what we can’t control – which can contribute to feelings of anxiety. I find it helpful to instead focus on the things I can control – like being able to choose when an how I exercise, what meals our family eats or what leisure activities I do. This short video on dealing with loss of control during the pandemic may be helpful to watch.