Staying Physically and Mentally Healthy During Lockdown

Lucy Simpson, VP Welfare & Diversity

It’s a scary time for us all, no one is really sure of what is going on or what we’ll be dealing with in the coming weeks/months. All we can do now is take things day by day and do our best to stay healthy and sane.

With that in mind, I’ve come up with a number of things that can help keep us physically and mentally healthy during this stressful time.

Keep an eye on your diet

As students, it can sometimes be hard to follow a healthy and balanced diet. But, it is super important to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fluids and to incorporate fruit and vegetables within your diet. This helps to keep your body and mind healthy and will help you get enough of essential vitamins such as vitamin D, that we may find we are able to get less of in the coming months due to self-isolation.

Not sure where to start? My top tip is to have at least three smaller meals per day, even if you’re not hungry at that time, as this helps to prevent snacking on less healthy things, like crisps and chocolate (something I’m particularly guilty of).

Stay connected

Fortunately, we’ve grown up with technology and social media, so staying in touch with people comes naturally. And now, more than ever, it is really important to stay in touch with friends, family, lecturers, bosses, and anyone else in our lives.

Not only will staying connected with each other help us to keep on top of what is happening and help each other out, speaking to friends and family will keep us in good spirits; connection with other people helps to keep our mental health in a good place. Try setting up games, like FIFA, Animal Crossing, or even a card game where you can play online with other people.

Set up a routine

Having an everyday routine is really helpful when it comes to maintaining positive mental health. We all love our pyjama days, but if they turn into our everyday routine then that can become quite detrimental.

So setting an alarm and then having a list of things you are going to do that day can really help keep you mentally active and look after your wellbeing. Even if it is texting friends and family, gardening, baking, or reading - it all counts!

Exercise

I usually try and incorporate some form of exercise into my daily routine, like walking to work, although that has obviously come to a stanstill at the moment.

Exercise helps us to build up endorphins and maintain a healthy balance of neurotransmitters in our brain, which helps to keep us mentally healthy. So think about new ways to keep up that basic level of exercise. It could be as simple as yoga in your living room, using a skipping rope in your garden, or if you can, dig out that old Wii sports game (like you may have seen me do in my Four Tips with Lucy Simpson vlog on the Students’ Union Instagram page.

Don’t forget that for now, you can still leave the house to do one form of exercise outside. So think about taking a walk or going for a bike ride or a run. Getting some good sunlight, fresh air, and being around nature are all proven ways to maintain good mental health – but be conscious to follow government guidance and keep two metres away from other people, and don't go to places that are likely to be crowded.

Some final tips

If news about the virus is making you more anxious, then it may be best to limit your use of social media. This doesn’t mean distancing yourself from friends, you can simply avoid things like Twitter or Facebook newsfeeds.

Keep up to date with the Coronavirus news by checking once a day or less a reputable source of information, such as GOV.UK.

There are a lot of other sources of support that you can access as well. Below are just a few examples, but keep an eye out on mental health charities to see what they’re doing to support people:

  • Mental health services and support can be found on the NHS website.
  • BEAT has set up an online support group for people dealing with eating disorders.
  • Mind has tips for dealing with mental health and isolation.
  • Young Minds and Student Minds have also got some advice on coping with isolation too.
  • Anxiety UK has compiled a bunch of resources to use during the outbreak and help you to stay calm and well informed.