Great Britain

As celebs admit they’re struggling with mental health during lockdown, experts share top tips for coping

HE'S the cheerful fitness coach who's been keeping the nation buoyed up with his daily PE classes - but yesterday Joe Wicks admitted that he has been feeling "stressed" and "down" during the coronavirus lockdown.

And The Body Coach is not the only cooped-up celebrity to open up about the toll lockdown is taking on people's mental health.

Malin Andersson posted about how being alone "hurts [her] soul" and Idris Elba recorded a video saying "this is going to be a tough time for everyone. Keep your head up".

Medical professionals and parents who lost children to suicide have also warned about the potentially devastating impact of coronavirus on our wellbeing.

It's why The Sun's suicide prevention campaign, You're Not Alone has launched a series to raise awareness of the pandemic's effect on mental health.

Here, experts share their tips to stay sane:

'If you need to cry, that's OK'

By Scarlett Curtis, mental health activist and author of 'It’s Not OK to Feel Blue & Other Lies'

"My tip for looking after your mental health right now is to NOT put any pressure on yourself.

You’re going to be seeing a lot of videos of people exercising and working and all of that is great but if you’re struggling it’s OK to just take some time out and protect your brain.

If you need to stay in bed for a bit, that’s OK. If you need to cry, that’s OK. If you need a few hours where you do nothing except take a shower and watch TV, that’s also OK!

Release yourself from expectations and just protect yourself when you need to."

'Reward yourself for your achievements and connect with others'

By Brendan Kelly, Professor of Psychiatry and author of Coping With Coronavirus (Merion Press, 99p)

"Don’t fill in knowledge gaps with speculation or random musings on social media. Stay informed about coronavirus but do not obsess about it.

Social media is especially pernicious because so much of it is driven not by facts but by emotion, bias, prejudice and lies. Take active steps to limit your consumption.

Listening is just as important as speaking. If you want to be heard, listen.

Do reward yourself for your achievements. Focus on daily activities, short-term plans and cultivating compassion for everyone, including yourself. 

Do find time to rediscover the value of being with other people. We all have public and private worries. If we can connect with others – using whatever technology is necessary – we remind ourselves that we are not alone. Considering the needs of others also reinforces the point that we can only manage this situation together.

Instead of thinking that you are burdening someone else with your worries, you should know that, deep down, other people share your concerns and have an equal need to connect."

'Support those around you - build an unbeatable team'

By Mick Dawson, former Royal Marine, experienced ocean rower and author of upcoming book, Never Leave A Man Behind (Robinson, £14.99)

"I have spent over 520 days at sea on numerous voyages across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans alone or with just
one other person. My longest voyage was 7,000 miles from Japan to San Francisco with Chris Martin; it took 189 days 10 hours and 55 minutes to complete, not that we were counting...
I’ve learned many coping techniques to deal with isolation during those voyages which could not be more relevant for people coming to terms with the effects of the current pandemic.

They are:

'It's fine to argue and butt heads'

By Michaela Thomas, a Clinical Psychologist and author of the upcoming book The Lasting Connection.

"It is hard enough to keep a relationship on track at the best of times, it takes effort and dedication.

Couples living together are now under pressure from being cooped up together, potentially also having to do childcare, and couples living apart are maybe under the strain of not being able to physically see each other.

It is okay to have arguments and butt heads right now, you’re under a lot of pressure. Remind yourself that this too shall pass, and in the meantime, you need to turn towards each other with compassion and let go of criticising each other."

How your relationship can survive lockdown

'Quality not quantity of sleep is what counts'

By Kathryn Pinkham, an NHS insomnia specialist and founder of The Insomnia Clinic

“At this time of uncertainty it is normal for sleep to suffer.

For some people, the threat of illness is a particular trigger for sleep anxiety, as the belief that we need to get more sleep to fight illness kicks in.

Good quality sleep can help us to develop a stronger immune system. However, what is important to note is it is quality of sleep and not quantity of sleep which counts.

So, how can you improve sleep quality even if you’re feeling anxious?

  • Don't spend too long in bed. Reduce the amount of time you spend in bed awake, go to bed later and get up earlier, this will encourage your body’s natural sleep drive to kick in.
  • Keep to routine. Set your alarm and get up at your usual time. If you are self-isolating, then try to stick with a normal routine. Don’t spend lots of time in your pyjamas or watching TV in your bedroom.
  • Stop clock watching. It is very tempting to look at the clock every time we wake up to monitor how little sleep we are getting. However, this then increases the pressure to fall back to sleep and makes it less likely.
  • Don't lie in bed awake. If you can't get to sleep or have woken up in the middle of night, get out of bed. The longer we lie in bed trying to fall back to sleep the more frustrated we get. This, in turn, means we begin to subconsciously relate bed to feeling stressed and being awake rather than asleep.
  • Manage your thoughts. A busy mind is one of the most common culprits in keeping us awake at night, so start by writing things down. When you write down your worries in black and white, you can make a plan about what you are in control of.
  • Get outdoors. Following government guidelines, get outside when you can. If you have a private garden or open space nearby, get outside every day. You also need the daylight to regulate and keep your body clock in sync."

You're Not Alone

EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.

It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society - from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.

And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others... You're Not Alone.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

  • CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
  • Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
  • Movember, www.uk.movember.com
  • Anxiety UK www.anxietyuk.org.uk, 03444 775 774 Monday-Friday 9.30am-10pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-8pm

Read how experts and parents who lost children to suicide warn about the effect of coronavirus on people’s mental health here.

See our experts’ exercise guide to beat coronavirus lockdown gloom – from living room workouts to yoga, here.

Check out our simple and cheap recipes to boost your mood here.

And here are all the ways you can stay connected with other people during these strange times.

Joe Wicks reveals he’s already donated £76k to NHS this week from ad revenue off his free PE lessons on YouTube

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