From establishing routines to eating healthily and having a daily five-minute dance with yourself, Vari offers her top tips.
Vari works in the media team here at Mind. She lives in Surrey and enjoys paddleboarding.
None of us could have predicted that in 2020 the world would be paralysed by a pandemic. These unprecedented times have brought about significant challenges both for people and society. But it is the elderly, vulnerable and those of us with mental health problems that may be struck the hardest.
I was furloughed for four weeks. I was able to work from home. But my workload had decreased, and I wasn’t alone. Other people in my team were furloughed too, so I knew it wasn’t personal or a reflection of my capabilities.
I decided to embrace the time off and take the opportunity to focus on my mental health
I decided to try to embrace the time off and take the opportunity to focus on my mental health – I was diagnosed with bipolar 18 months ago and I’m still struggling and learning how best to manage my condition. I alternate between extreme highs (hypomania) and lows (depression) every few weeks otherwise known as rapid cycling. The pandemic contributed to a dip in my mental health, my episodes of rapid cycling have become shorter and I now have depressive spells every week as opposed to every couple of weeks.
I have learnt along the way and my advice on how to cope with furlough and a mental health problem is to have a routine and try your utmost to stick to it. I do understand, first hand, how difficult this is, but trust me it does help.
Communicating with friends and family is key in these testing times. Arrange FaceTime , WhatsApp calls, Zoom etc
Personally, I found the most useful CBT model for sticking to a routine and adding structure to your day is BACE.
B – bodycare: sleeping, healthy eating, exercising, getting out of your pyjamas, showering etc.
A – achievement: chores, learning a new language, DIY projects, study, work projects (when not on furlough) etc.
C – connect: communicating with friends and family is key in these testing times. Arrange FaceTime, WhatsApp calls, Zoom etc. You can organise virtual quizzes, drinks, games etc – whatever your bag is it’s just important to stay connected to people.
E – enjoyment: hobbies, sport if that’s your thing, socialising, volunteering etc.
Please don’t feel like you have to achieve all of the above. On some difficult days one or two are enough.
My top tips - these have helped me, so pick and choose any:
Eat healthily and drink regularly – it’s all too easy to eat too much or skip meals while on lockdown
Hopefully you’ll find some of this useful. Wishing you all the best and sending positive vibes for this turbulent time.
Read about Information and support
When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information - about a condition, treatment options, or practical issues - is vital. Visit our information pages to find out more.
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.