Keeping healthy when you have self-isolate
Keep in touch!
It is against human nature to be isolated from others as we have an innate need to be sociable, so although we may need to be physically isolated it is important that we still communicate. Feelings of loneliness are greater and social network size is smaller among mental health service users than in the general population. Studies have identified an association between loneliness and depression, suicidal behaviour, personality disorders and psychoses. Among people with severe mental illness, social isolation has been linked to higher levels of delusions, lack of insight and high hospital usage. To put this in simple terms loneliness significantly affects our mental health. Conversely, people who report greater informal social support have been found more likely to recover from psychotic symptoms. It might sound obvious but although you are physically separated from friends and family make sure you keep in touch, the wonders of modern technology mean that we now have access to video calling which is a great way to keep in touch with loved ones.1
Write it down!
Another lovely thing to do, which has been lost in recent times, is letter writing. If you have an older family member sending them a letter is a nice way of letting them know you are thinking about them. It’s also a good activity to get the kids to do, writing a letter or drawing a picture for grandparents. It has also been shown that diary writing is a great way of supporting mental health. In a study looking at 89 participants with previous mental health disorders individuals who completed a positive writing resource diary had significantly lower depression scores than controls.2
Gratitude journals are less intensive than diary writing as they can be done each day in a couple of minutes. Research shows that practising gratitude can help improve measures of stress and depression. It may seem like there is little to be grateful for at the moment but when you start journaling you will be surprised at how many things there actually are. One study showed that people asked to journal five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week were 25% happier than those who didn’t or journaled negative emotions.2
It is also useful to keep in touch with your wider community either from a professional capacity or a subject that you are passionate about. Find a great podcast that catches you interest, helps you improve your knowledge or simply makes you laugh. This keeps your mind active, engaged, entertained and also keeps you in contact with the wider world.