Looking after your mental health during social distancing
Recovering from a crime can be difficult at the best of times but with the removal of support networks due to social distancing, it can become even harder to cope and return to feelings of normality.
The removal of routine and socialising due to social isolation measures can affect our mental health, which in turn lessens our ability to cope and recover.
Thankfully, there are a number of things we can do to help protect our mental health during this period. To help you recover from crime while in social isolation, we’ve rounded up some top tips from mental health experts.
Turn off the news
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories about COVID-19 and turn off push notifications for news on your phone or tablet.
Listening to calming music such as classical/low-fi pieces or watching light-hearted TV shows and films can help you remove yourself from the negative news cycle and give you a sense of escape.
Reflect on your thoughts and feelings
Set aside half an hour to reflect and journal your thoughts and feelings each day.
This could be through writing, creating voice memos, poetry or drawing – whatever works for you.
Creativity and self-reflection are shown to boost productivity and reduce anxiety, depression and stress as well as create self-awareness which helps you gain a better understanding of your emotions, strengths, weaknesses and driving factors.
Take care of your mind and body
Try to do some light exercises at least once a day such as walking up and down the stairs ten times if you have them, or mild stretching of your arms and legs – exercise releases feel-good chemicals into the brain such as endorphins and serotonin and helps pump blood around your body, which has been shown to aid brain functions such as concentration.
Breathing exercises are said to be the meditation for those who can’t meditate.
A great example to experiment with is ‘4-7-8 breathing’. To start, put one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Take a deep, slow breath from your stomach and silently count to four as you breathe in. Hold your breath, and silently count from one to seven.
Breathe out completely as you silently count from one to eight. Try to get all the air out of your lungs by the time you count to eight. Repeat three to seven times or until you feel calm.
Pay attention to how you feel at the end of the exercise. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes a state of calmness.
Get some fresh air
If you feel claustrophobic or trapped being in a house where a crime has taken place, psychologists recommend opening windows to let in natural light and fresh air. The more fresh air you get, the more oxygen you breathe in which increases the amount of serotonin (the happy hormone) you inhale, making you happier.
If you canner go out due to social distancing, spend time sitting on your doorstep or in the garden if you have one or try looking at the sky out of the window – this can help to give you a sense of space. You could also change the rooms you spend time in regularly to break the monotony of being in one room.
Tidy house, tidy mind
Studies show those who have homes that are ‘restful’ and ‘restorative’ have higher levels of happiness and mental wellbeing than those who have ‘cluttered’ homes – using your usual commute time to rearrange and organise the space around you in to a more comfortable setting is a great way to aid your mental relaxation.
Keep in contact
We may be living in times when physical contact is strongly discouraged, but you can still call, video chat and message, friends and family – so make sure that your isolation is more physical than social, which will help aid your recovery from crime and general mental wellbeing.
Contact us at Voice
If you’re struggling with the effects of crime, we’re still here for you during these times.
Our staff and volunteers continue to provide support via the telephone – call us on 0300 303 1965 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.