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Coronavirus Kent: Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind offer tips to protect your mental health in lockdown

As we enter the second week of nationwide lockdown, many are realising that this unique moment requires a focus on mental health as well as physical.

People across Kent are now staying at home for long periods without the contact with friends, family and colleagues which would normally be part of everyday life. Some people may find the change easy to adapt to, but for others this will be a very difficult adjustment to make.

Arts and crafts are one way to help your mental wellbeing when spending long periods at home
Arts and crafts are one way to help your mental wellbeing when spending long periods at home

The Maidstone and Mid-Kent branch of Mind (MMKM), a national mental health charity, has explained some of the ways in which people can make this time of social distancing and self-isolation more bearable.

Much of their advice starts with the question of routine. School, work, social events and community activities provide a structure to our lives, but now diaries are emptying as people heed government advice to stay at home.

So the key tip is to try to maintain a regular pattern to life at home. Wake up at a set time each day, plan when you are going to take your permitted daily exercise, and consider scheduling other specific activities to ensure that boredom does not have a negative impact on your mental health and wellbeing.

Cooking, arts and crafts, or gardening if have outdoor space, are all ideas for activities that can be enjoyed alone or with the family.

Maintaining social bonds from afar will also be important when physical contact with those who live outside your home is being restricted. Technology means there are lots of ways to stay in contact with family and friends, and we are all being encouraged to keep in touch, especially with those who might otherwise be isolated and lonely at home.

Julie Blackmore is the CEO of Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind
Julie Blackmore is the CEO of Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind

Julie Blackmore, chief executive of Mind in Maidstone and Mid-Kent, said: "It's important to follow government guidelines during this difficult period, as we need to ensure that we are keeping people safe and that we are all doing what we can to preserve a good level of health and wellbeing across the board in Kent. It is important, however, to also take steps to maintain a positive and proactive level of wellbeing during these difficult times.

"It’s no secret that isolation can be difficult for many of us. The sudden culture shock which comes from busy weekly routines to a more restricted lifestyle can have a detrimental impact on our mental health if we do not take appropriate steps to manage our overall wellbeing.

"We would encourage anyone out there who may be struggling in the current climate to take advantage of the tools and technology which they have at their fingertips. Tools like Skype and Facebook Messenger can be a great way of maintaining contact with our friends and loved ones – allowing us to not only express how we are feeling, but also to seek support and company during a time which may otherwise be isolating."

MMKM has also developed a package of online courses and groups to support their users' mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

The organisation usually offers face-to-face mental health support, but government guidance on reducing social interaction means they will now provide these services by using online tools. The hope is that these activities will not only continue to provide people with the support they need, but will also encourage people to think about how technology can positively benefit their mental health during periods of isolation.

Further details of MMKM’s continued services and contact details can be found online at maidstonemind.org.

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time

If you want to talk to someone confidentially, click here

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here

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