Melanie Costas, founder of Rural Mental Health Matters shared some tips and ideas with Carer Support Dorset on looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Looking after your own mental health, whether you are a carer or not, is really important, especially if you are unable to get out due to the current circumstances re. coronavirus.

Mental health illness is an invisible illness, made even more invisible by living in rural and remote communities. There is nothing weak or inadequate about feeling low, anxious or depressed. You are not on your own.

Talk about your worries

It is important that you talk about your worries to someone you trust, be that a friend, relative, neighbour or even an organisation.

Set up a buddy system

Setting up a buddy system is a good idea. Arrange to text or call someone daily at a set time. Looking out for each other is a way of supporting one another as well as giving you both a sense of well-being – helping other people can make you both feel better!

Looking after yourself mentally and physically

If you’re stuck at home, there are still ways in which you can look after yourself physically and mentally. You can make a timetable to do gentle exercises throughout the day, such as a ‘brisk stair walk’, making sure you hold onto the rails, of course. Or, simply get up and walk around your home whilst singing or humming your favourite songs, maybe even dance a little! Music can have a very positive impact on your wellbeing.

Start a journal

Starting a journal is another way you can take some time for yourself. Writing your thoughts down on paper can help to reduce stress and anxiety. There are no rules to writing a journal or writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper; you might even want to record a voice memo/journal or use a note taking app on your phone.