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With COVID-19 establishing itself across the globe, we’re all now living the reality of social distancing measures and self-isolation to help stop the spread. Here are our top tips for taking care of your mental wellbeing while self-isolating or working from home.

Put the ‘social’ back into ‘social distancing’

Just because you’re physically isolated doesn’t mean you have to cut contact with the people you’d usually see every day. Use video chat to get in touch with your colleagues wherever possible, whether that be for team meetings or a simple coffee break. This is a great way to instil a sense of normality into your work-from-home setup, and to keep yourself feeling involved and connected.

You could also use video chat to maintain extracurricular activities, or even start new ones. For example, Hollis has a regular book club which is now being hosted over video chat so that people aren’t missing out while practicing social distancing.

Schedule a ‘worry period’

Worrying or feeling anxious is a natural response in unfamiliar scenarios like this. Unfortunately for many of us, worrying about the situation can create a huge distraction from work. To help combat this, the Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) recommends allowing yourself an allotted half-hour ‘worry period’ every day (same time, same place) to pay attention to your concerns and distinguish the ones you can control from the ones you can’t. Try to be strict with yourself and reject any anxious thoughts that might pop up outside your ‘worry period’. This can help you to remain present and focussed for the rest of the day.

Get creative with your free time

There’s a raft of research pointing to the positive impact of creative activities on our mental health. So instead of heading straight from your work emails to Netflix when the day is done, why not turn your hand to a new creative pursuit? If you’re looking for something simple and cheap, try painting, writing or baking. Or you could get stuck into a longer-term project like learning a new language, teaching yourself to sew, or finally mastering that instrument that you reached Grade 3 on in secondary school…

Draw the line between work and home

It’s easy to let work/life balance slip away when working from home, so it’s important to set clear boundaries between the two. Establishing a routine with fixed working hours and regular breaks is a good first step. It’s also a good idea to set up a dedicated working area, be that in a separate room or even just a space on your kitchen table, and get away from that area while you’re not working. When the day is done, close your laptop and resist the temptation to go back to it until the next morning.

Don’t neglect self-care

Finally, but perhaps most crucially, it’s important to keep looking after yourself while self-isolating. Think about using the commute time you’re saving in the morning to sneak in some ‘you time’. For some that might be running or reading, for others it’s yoga or a face mask… whatever suits you. Oh, and don’t sit in your pyjamas all day (we know it’s tempting)!

If you’d like some more advice on protecting your mental wellbeing while self-isolating, head to the Mind website and the Mental Health Foundation’s website.