9 ways to stay calm and relaxed when self-isolating or working from home

18 March 2020, 16:12 | Updated: 18 March 2020, 16:32

Working from home
Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

With the coronavirus pandemic having an affect on our everyday lives, it's important to stay calm and stay on top of our mental health.

For many of us during this difficult time, we may have to self-isolate, or work from home for a large period of time.

Not only might this be totally out of the norm, depending on our personal situation it could lead to certain impacts on our mental wellbeing.

As Smooth Radio is the home of relaxing music - and our sister station Smooth Chill is the place for nothing but calming moods - we've put together a list of simple ways to stay focused and calm during this period of uncertainty.

  1. Stay in touch

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    If you're at home, particularly if you live by yourself, you might find yourself having feelings of being lonely.

    This doesn't mean you need to cut yourself from people, so take the time to call a friend or family member.

    Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind, told Smooth: "Not being able to see colleagues or loved ones can be challenging, so find ways to connect. Try to video chat, call, text or send a letter."

    If you don’t have anyone you can speak to right now, you can also call for emotional support with the Samaritans or SANEline.

    Even if it's just keeping up the usual routine of chatting to certain friends on WhatsApp or Instagram, it's important to have contact with loved ones. They'll want to hear from you, too.

  2. Get into some form of routine

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    It might feel novelty and fun being lazy in the first few days at home, but this won't be good for you mentally in the long term.

    You should get yourself a routine for your day, in the same way you usually would if you were commuting to work.

    Mind's Stephen Buckley said: "Your regular routine may well be disrupted, so try to create a new plan, while sticking to your ordinary routine as much as possible."

    Even if it's just to make sure you get up at a certain time and do your usual bathroom routine in the morning. If you're working from home, try and put together a desk area of some description instead of lying down on the bed or sofa all day.

    However, at the same time, try not to fall into a cycle of just sleeping, working and eating. Try and add some fun in your day, whether it's exercise, watching a movie or playing Scrabble.

  3. Enjoy nature

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    Now that many of our favourite venues or events are postponed or cancelled, instead of focusing all our energy on our screens, this could be the time to embrace nature.

    If you're able to leave your home, it's important to still get out and go for walks or runs to keep up our physical health, which will in turn improve our mental health.

    "Your physical and mental health are connected, so try to find a time each day to do some exercise," said Mind's Stephen Buckley.

    "Exercising produces endorphins and reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, so will help calm you down. There are many options for getting active at home, so find something that works for you."

    If not, at least try looking out of the window to watch the birds, or even look after some houseplants to feel connected with nature. Plus, fresh air is always a bonus if you're able to open a window.

  4. Find positive mini-wins

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    We might not realise it, but every day we exerpience little lifts that keep our mood up, even if it feels like we're having a dreadful day.

    This could be as small as someone saying 'hi' at work or a cashier being helpful, or grabbing your favourite sandwich at lunch.

    If we're at home all day, this might not happen. So, make sure to do something in your day that makes you feel good. This could be a little bit of exercise, talking to someone online, watching your favourite sitcom on Netflix or listening to your favourite artist.

  5. Eat healthy

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    It's incredibly tempting (and easy) to binge eat our favourite snacks if we're at home, particularly as the fridge and crisp cupboard are RIGHT THERE.

    But after a while, you're likely to feel even more groggy and sluggish as a result. So, it's important to keep up a healthy diet.

    With shops not running to their usual capacity, this might be the time to grab those healthy meals or ingredients that you've been meaning to try for ages.

    "Your routine may change, but try to make sure you are eating regularly and drinking enough water," said Mind's Stephen Buckley. "If you can’t leave the house, make a plan for getting food delivered, or dropped off by a neighbour or loved one."

  6. Have time away from screens

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    If you're at home for long periods, chances are you'll be in front of a computer screen, whether it's for work or pleasure.

    However, if you were at work you'd at least break up this time by commuting or heading out to lunch. It's important to have time away from the blue light from devices, as this will disrupt your sleep and general mental health.

    Mind's Stephen Buckley explained: "Use the free time to learn a new language, read some books, listen to some e-books or podcasts, or tackle the tasks you’ve been putting off.

    "If you are feeling stressed out, crafts, writing, music, and meditation can all be good ways to manage your feelings, and start relaxing."

  7. Limit your amount of news

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    You might be finding that the constant coverage of coronavirus is bad for your mental health alone.

    This is particularly true if your main news source is Twitter or other social media platforms, which can not only be a negative place at the best of times, but often struggle to combat fake news.

    It's important to keep up to date with the latest information about the pandemic, but perhaps limit your news intake to certain points of the day, rather than constantly scrolling several times an hour.

  8. Listen to what makes you happy

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    As well as watching great TV, audio can be the perfect thing when you're needing to switch off the noise and stay calm.

    Whether it's a favourite podcast that always makes you laugh or think, or that one album that you will never get bored of, having a lie down and listening in your headphones or smart speaker is a great way to relax.

    We're obviously biased, but you can't go wrong with Smooth Radio for Your Relaxing Music Mix, or if you're looking for something extra calming, then Smooth Chill is what you need, with chillout tunes from a wide variety of artists and genres.

    Head over here to listen to Smooth Radio and Smooth Chill via Global Player.

  9. Finally sort out your house admin

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    If you're finding yourself with lots of time on your hands, then make the most of it and do all those oddjobs around the house you never have time for.

    This could be clearing out the 'messy cupboard', culling your old clothes or giving the kitchen a deep clean.

    Not only will it make you feel awesome once the job is done, but you know you'll be annoyed with yourself if this rare period of time at home goes by and you didn't get it done!

For more information on how to manage your mental health and wellbeing during this time, visit Mind’s page on coronavirus here.