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Sammy's top tips for managing mental health problems during self-isolation

Mental health during self-isolation

"Remember you're not alone."

Brain injury survivor Sammy Johns knows how hard self-isolation is for people experiencing problems with their mental health.

We spoke to Sammy about the impact self-isolation is having on her own mental health, and what advice she’d give to others:

“Being forced to self-isolate is very different from choosing to stay at home because you’re having mental health issues. Having any kind of control/choice taken away can be extremely upsetting and frustrating, even when you know it’s absolutely the right thing to do,” said Sammy.

“I live alone so while I'm used to a certain amount of time alone, as the days go by it gets more difficult to cope with the constant negative thoughts running around my head. Trying not to be mad at myself because I can't do much at home is not an easy task.”

As a way of coping Sammy has written up a list of ways that help. She hopes that by sharing her list, she will help others who may be struggling:

1. Remember you're not alone

Reach out to your family and friends, not just by telephone but by video chat. Just seeing another friendly face can have a massive impact on how you feel about yourself. Just knowing someone is there for you can really help squish those negative thoughts.

If, like me, you sometimes feel you can't talk to your family or friends then there are several helplines out there - such as the Headway Helpline - with people who will understand what you’re feeling and are ready to listen and support you.

2. Don't beat yourself up if your other health issues are worse right now

With all this change, your fatigue and other symptoms can go into overdrive. This is just temporary - your body and mind will hopefully adjust in time but please don't punish yourself for it.

3. Pamper yourself

Take a long bath or shower. Try those fancy face masks/body lotions you got for presents that you've never had time to use, take some time just for you.

4. Arrange an online video chat with a group of your family or friends

You could even turn it into a watch party. Pick your favourite movie or TV show episode and all watch it together with a big bowl of popcorn if you have any… or ice cream for that matter. Whatever is your favourite go to movie food.

5. Throw yourself a dance party

Go to YouTube and create a playlist of all your favourite party songs - they can be golden oldies or the latest top hits - as long as it gets you off the sofa, singing and dancing away just go for it. You'll find yourself laughing in no time.

6. Remember about nutrition

We often forget about nutrition in times like these, sometimes we even lose our appetites completely, like myself. Try looking in your kitchen for supplies and plan out a nice healthy meal for yourself - something that might take a bit of effort for just one person, a roast dinner, tacos or a curry for example. You can find taking the effort to do this can make you enjoy the idea of eating it more and don't forget if you don't eat much you can freeze the leftovers for another time.

7. Be kind to others

This doesn't have to be a big thing. Send a tweet or text to someone you miss, or even to everyone on your list. Tell them they aren't alone either, that you love/care for them and are thinking of them.

People will so appreciate this right now because, as alone and isolated you feel, they will be feeling some of that too. Some small words of love and affection can go such a long way and giving back to others can really make a difference to yourself too.

Stay safe out there and know you are cared for!

Sammy is sharing her words of advice and comfort throughout the coronavirus pandemic on her Instagram account @sammyjohns75

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