Adjusting to the impact of COVID-19 on daily living
The five ways to wellbeing are to our mental health what eating five greens a day are for our physical health. Development officer with Mental Health Ireland Finola Colgan outlines why.

Life is not very constant now. Unlike the rewind button on our Sky TV remote, we are unable to pause the moment in time, rewind or fast forward.

We must live in the present and be positive and energetic in our responses to the current stress and threat to regularity brought on by the impact of COVID-19.

We need to be honest and mindful that it is quite normal to feel vulnerable and overawed as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more embedded in our daily lives.

Take care of yourself

As so many out-of-home activities and after-school and work activities are cancelled, both for children and adults, it is important to take care of yourself, your family and your loved ones. As a first step, don’t neglect your physical and mental health.

The five ways to wellbeing are to our mental health what eating five greens a day are for our physical health. They can support the resilience that is needed as we work our way through these unprecedented times.

Do whatever works for you. Have a plan and do what it takes to care for your body and mind.

I would encourage that you try to incorporate all the five ways on a daily basis.

The five ways to wellbeing

1. Connect

It is important to stay connected and share concerns with family members, neighbours and friends.

At times of stress, we will always thrive and feel better when talking and keeping in touch.

There are a number of free national helplines that can be contacted that provide emotional support including the HSE at 1800 341 900. Although there is a strict health warning and guidance about social distance adherence to which is essential, we can still be in touch with others through social media, texting, direct phone calls, WhatsApp groups and e-mail.

You're not alone; talk to someone you trust. Sharing a problem is often the first step to recovery.

2. Be active

Like never before, it is important to keep our minds and body active and distract ourselves from the constant news reporting on COVID-19.

This can be achieved by going for a walk in adherence with Government guidelines. Alternatively, consider some gardening, finding a place for a bird box or taking out a board game.

3. Take notice

It is very important to be aware and know what is happening around us. It can also be helpful for peace of mind to limit our engagement with the constant media flow.

Switch this off and tune into your favourite music, TV programmes and documentaries on national and local radio stations. It is also helpful to tune into TV or radio to inform yourself, through trustworthy sources, on the current pandemic.

It can support you and your family to feel more in control and accepting of the situation on hand. Rumour and speculation are a very poor combination for wellbeing.

Five ways to wellbeing.

4. Keep learning

This is a timely chance to explore online free learning opportunities. If you are not already a library member, you can join online for free and get access to many educational resources for yourself and your family.

Download the app Borrow Box to explore their huge range of free resources. RTE has many podcasts and documentaries freely available.

5. Give

Give yourself the space and time to look after yourself. This is not a selfish sentiment.

This includes ensuring you maintain a healthy diet building in exercise and sticking to your daily work routine as best you can.

We can also watch out and try to reassure others that may be worried and check in on people that are living alone.

It is also important to have open and helpful conversations with younger family members who may be worried and concerned.

It will be helpful as well to reassure older members of our community who may be experiencing a degree of confusion about current matters.

Let TEAM be your mantra - Together Everyone Achieves More - and remember the recent supportive words of our President Michael D Higgins “take care and watch out for each other”.

We all must adjust for the short term and be optimistic for the immediate future.

It is true to say “every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day”.

Fiona Colgan, Mental Health Ireland development officer.

The challenge is identifying this positive moment, savouring it and using the five ways to wellbeing.

If you identify some creative ways of implementing them with your family and friends, please share your ideas at www.mentalhealthireland.ie so that we can share them with our followers.

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