Meningitis Now staff - Bev Corbett

Meningitis Now's self-care strategies for mental health

Bev Corbett | 16th August 2020

Back in May, we wrote about the impact that serious and life-threatening illnesses like meningitis can have on our mental health and emotional well-being

Meningitis Now supporting mental health

Not surprisingly, our recent coronavirus impact survey showed that for 53% of people, the pandemic is having a negative impact on their mental health and emotional well-being including high levels of stress and anxiety.

Accessing treatment and support options remains challenging due to the coronavirus. But there are many different self-care strategies you can try that may help reduce levels of stress and anxiety and lift your mood.

Self-care really is an essential part of our mental health and overall well-being. Here are a six top tips:

1. Eat and drink healthily

Try to eat a healthy balanced diet. See if you can reduce your caffeine intake e.g. tea, coffee, chocolate and energy drinks - the effects of caffeine on the body can be similar to the effects of stress and anxiety. Caffeine can also affect your ability to sleep. Many people try to overcome tiredness by drinking more caffeinated drinks, creating a vicious circle.

Too much sugar may also lead to peaks and troughs in energy levels.

2. Increase your physical activity

Physical activity can be very effective in relieving stress and lifting our mood. Even moderate physical activity, like walking to the shops and mowing the lawn, can help. Physical activity also helps the body release hormones (endorphins) that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy.

3. Get enough rest

Sleeping problems are common when you are suffering from stress, anxiety or low mood. Try to ensure you get enough sleep during the night to enable you to function well during the day. We all need different amounts of sleep to function well during the day. Sometimes taking time just to rest can help you manage your energy better.

4. Treat yourself

Try to bring some fun into your life by treating yourself and doing enjoyable things. Even simple pleasures like a pleasant walk or reading a good book can help you deal with stress and emotional difficulties. You may find that doing one small thing each day can make you feel more positive and improve your mood.

5. Take time to relax

Find time for relaxation. The important thing is to find something that works for you and fits easily into your daily routine. This may include listening to music, spending time in nature and relaxation exercises. Relaxation and breathing exercises can help you to control muscular tension, which can be a problem for people experiencing stress and anxiety.

6. Connect with people

If your mood is low, it’s easy to become isolated. Make sure you prioritise spending time with people that support you, meeting up to enjoy an interest, or simply for a cup of tea and a chat. Social distancing can make this challenging, but why not arrange a catch-up over FaceTime or Zoom?

For more helpful information on self-care strategies take a look at the following links:

If you’re finding it hard to cope right now, you can call our nurse-led Helpline on 0808 80 10 388, or email helpline@meningitisnow.org. If you’d like to talk through your worries and concerns or discuss ways to improve your self-care, we are here to listen and help.