Covid continues to pose challenges to our community both here in the South-West and across the UK, making it as important as ever that we look after our mental health, as well as our physical health.
Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health, said: “It is normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we read news about the covid-19 pandemic. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and remind each other that staying healthy is as much about your mind as it is about your body. Somerset County Council’s webpages have a lot of information to help signpost people to support services – just visit somerset.gov.uk.
“Christmas can be a time of anxiety and pressure and the emergence of Omicron will have done nothing to dimmish general levels of anxiety. Despite these challenges, patience and kindness throughout our county is in ample supply; with volunteers stepping forward to help deliver the vaccination programme and residents waiting patiently in line to roll up their sleeves.”
Councillor Clare Paul, the Council’s member responsible for Health and Wellbeing said: “We are about to move into another difficult time with the more infectious Omicron variant becoming dominant in this country. It is highly likely, like other parts of England, that we will see a significant increase in infections over the next few weeks.
“It is more important than ever that everyone continues to take sensible precautions and follow the national measures that are in place. That means washing hands regularly, wearing well-fitting face coverings when required, taking lateral flow tests immediately before a period of high risk such as visiting a family member or attending an event, getting both doses of your vaccine, and booking your booster when you are able. If you have any symptoms of Covid, you should self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test.”
Having to self-isolate, or quarantine, may seem like a daunting prospect. Seeing this as a different period, but not necessarily a bad one, can help us cope with a period of self-isolation:
Stay Connected: Join a peer support group community, for example Mind side by side online community. Check your phone numbers are up to date, or that you have current email addresses for friends you’ve not seen for a while. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community, can be incredibly rewarding and creates new connections. Spark Somerset have a range of volunteer opportunities available that can be done from home.
Keep Learning: Some libraries have apps you can use to borrow ebooks, audiobooks or magazines from home for free, if you’re a library member. There are lots of apps that can help you learn things, such as a foreign language or other new skills.
Stay Active: Try and build physical activity into your daily routine. Exercising at home doesn’t have to involve equipment; cleaning your home, dancing to music, going up and down stairs all count!
Take Notice of Nature: Bringing nature into your everyday life can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and make you feel more relaxed. Look at photos of your favourite places in nature and listen to natural sounds, if it’s not too chilly open a window or door.
Take Notice of Yourself: Take notice of the present moment and get in touch with your creative side. Drawing, painting, collage, sewing, DIY, colouring or even playing computer games can help our minds relax.
If you’re on a low income and you’re asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, you may be able to get a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment. Contact your district council for information on eligibility.
The Somerset Coronavirus helpline, 0300 790 6275, is available seven days a week from 8am to 6pm. The contact centre staff can give advice on financial support, personal care, food and prescription deliveries, housing, social care and medical transport – including transportation to vaccine centres for eligible groups.
Mindline Somerset is a confidential listening service, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the festive period. Their volunteers offer a friendly ear, and can provide help or support with emotional health and wellbeing. The number to call is 01823 276 892.
Everyone’s mental wellbeing changes throughout their life, but it’s important not to just put up with poor mental health. If you’re concerned about how you are feeling, please speak to your GP or visit Every Mind Matters – NHS (www.nhs.uk)