How to stay positive and improve your mental health during lockdown

Credit: Beth Rees

A woman from Cardiff has been sharing advice on how to stay positive during lockdown.

Beth Rees has lived with anxiety and depression for many years. She said she has experienced mood swings and there were times when she even struggled to get out of bed.

Beth has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder - a condition that affects how you think, feel and interact with other people.

She said the coronavirus pandemic has meant that she is unable to use some of her regular coping techniques to help improve her mental health so she has had to come up with new ways to stay positive. These have included having counselling sessions over the phone and exercising outdoors and at home.

Beth said: "During lockdown it's been quite difficult like so many other people at the moment when your life has to take a turn and you have to live it a different way.

"It's important for me to have structure in my day which has been helped by being able to work from home and having regular catch ups with colleagues.

"Things like making sure I get up around the same time every day, having lunch at a certain time and planning my exercise into the mix too."

Beth has been going on walks with her fiancé. Credit: Beth Rees

Beth was meant to be getting married in June but now the wedding date is uncertain. But she said during this period, she has been spending more quality time with her fiancé. They have been going for long walks together with their dog.

Beth also said her relatives have been very supportive, although it has been hard not seeing them in person. Several of them are key workers. Her mother and mother-in-law both work for the NHS and her sister is a police officer. Beth said speaking to them on the phone, as well as to her counsellor, has helped.

"I've been able to speak with my counsellor over the phone which has helped me express how I'm feeling in a non-judgemental environment."

Beth has been taking part in dance classes online. Credit: Beth Rees

Before the pandemic, Beth would usually go to a local dance class twice a week but now she has joined in with online classes instead so she still feels connected to the community.

Beth has found a routine while working from home. Credit: Beth Rees

Beth recommends looking out for support services through Mind Cymru and other mental health charities.

Sara Moseley, the director of Mind Cymru, said the organisation has seen a spike in people accessing its services.

She said: "We're finding that for a significant minority of people their mental health has gotten worse over this lockdown period and that is especially the case for people who were already experiencing mental health problems. Their routines and support systems are completely disrupted.

"We're also seeing a spike in people who are losing their jobs or are insecure in terms of money. That link between financial security and poor mental health is going to be really obvious over the next few months."

Sara added: "It's perfectly normal to feel a bit stressed in circumstances like this. But if you feel it's affecting your day-to-day life, your behaviour and your ability to cope then it's incredibly important that really early on that you ask for help."

A Welsh Government has announced a further £3.75m this Mental Health Awareness Week to extend the mental and emotional support to children younger than year six in schools and to support the school workforce.

It said if people need help with their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic they can visit the Public Health Wales website or contact the CALL helpline on 0800 132 737.

Support is also available from Mind Cymru.