The spread of COVID-19 is a new and challenging event and some people might find it more worrying than others. Given the social distancing requirements and the other restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 alert, most people’s lives will change in some way in the following days weeks or months.

All this can have an impact on your mental health and you may notice some of the following:

  • increased anxiety
  • feeling stressed
  • finding yourself excessively checking for symptoms, in yourself, or others
  • becoming irritable more easily
  • feeling insecure or unsettled
  • fearing that normal aches and pains might be the virus
  • having trouble sleeping
  • feeling helpless or a lack of control
  • having irrational thoughts

But, as HSE advises, there are many things you can do to mind your mental health during times like this:

  • Stay informed but set limits for news and social media;
  • Keep up your healthy routines:
  1. exercise regularly, especially walking
  2. keep regular sleep routines
  3. maintain a healthy, balanced diet
  4. avoid excess alcohol
  5. practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises
  6. read a book
  7. search for online exercise or yoga classes, concerts, religious services or guided tours
  8. improve your mood by doing something creative
  • Stay connected to others online
  • Talk to your children or to young people about coronavirus but try to limit their exposure to news and social media
  • Try to anticipate distress and support each other

You can read further info from HSE on how to mind your mental health here.

Going Outdoors?

Due to overcrowding of public parks, beaches, popular walking sites, playgrounds, many of these are now closed, in line with the new COVID-19 Public Health Measures announced on March 24th (see details here).

It is still important to get out during self isolation, for both physical and mental health, but we must take responsibility for our own safety and the safety of others and maintain the recommended 2 metre distance from others.

Increasing numbers of people will now be seeking to go outdoors in wilder and less populated areas. It is vitally important that collectively, we use the outdoors responsibly, taking care of each other and taking care of our local environments.

Leave No Trace have developed a set of guidelines to help people to get out and enjoy the outdoors while maintaining social distance. These include:

  • Plan Ahead – Check weather, bring proper clothing and footwear, water and food. Park and walk responsibly.
  • Expect Closures –  Before leaving home, consider lack of usual  facilities such as toilets, shops, cafes, restaurants.
  • Stay Home or Local – Unwell? Don’t go! Feeling well? Look for local trails, hidden gems, explore closer to home.
  • Be Considerate: Maintain social distancing throughout the day – at least 2 metres apart. There is plenty of space in the outdoors for everyone!
  • Time and Place: Find those hidden gems, avoid peak times, avoid difficult routes. Adhere to HSE guidelines.
  • Leave No Trace: Don’t rely on or add to already overburdened services. Bring your own rubbish home.
  • Be Dog Responsible: Keep dogs under control. Mind out for young wildlife. Pick up and bring home dog waste.

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Check the HSE mental health services finder