Jean Daisley works in Support in Mind Scotland’s (SiMS) Fife Hearing Voices Network. Jean normally provides one to one and group support to those experiencing psychosis across Fife. In these challenging times she has moved to providing remote support via the telephone, text or internet.

After many discussions over the last week with people I support as well as family and friends - the main topic has been CovId-19 and how to cope. I decided to consolidate my advice and make a wee list of tips that I hope is helpful...

  1. Try to establish a routine and go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time. Write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care - but keep it simple.

  2. Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Put on some bright colours – it’s amazing how our dress can impact our mood.

  3. Get out at least once a day, for at least 30 minutes. If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning or later in the evening. If you have a garden spend time in it and notice the wee differences each day makes to plants and weeds. Listen to the birds and bees. If you are high risk, or living with those who are high risk, open the windows. It’s amazing how much fresh air can do for the spirits.

  4. Make time to move each day – 30 minutes is good to aim for. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside there are many videos that offer free movement and exercise classes and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party! Singalong too!

  5. Reach out to others – you guessed it, at least daily for 30 minutes. Try to do Face Time, Whats App, phone calls, texting depending on what technology is available to you. Don’t forget the weans – set up virtual play dates, they miss their pals too!

  6. Stay hydrated and eat well. This might seem obvious, but stress and eating don’t often mix well, we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat and avoiding food. Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to cook something new!

  7. Develop or re-visit your self-care toolkit. This can look different for everyone. A lot of successful self-care strategies involve a sensory component (seven senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell and movement) and proprioceptive (comforting pressure). An idea for each: a soft blanket or stuffed animal, a hot chocolate, photos of holidays or friends and family, comforting music, lavender oil. A journal, an inspirational book, a mandala colouring book is wonderful, bubbles to blow or blowing watercolour on paper through a straw are visually appealing. Chewing gum or fruit flavoured sweets and ice packs are also good for anxiety regulation. These tips can also help with controlled breath – and tap into breathing exercises. Take time to focus on breathing.

  8. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt and a wide berth. A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone. Each person will have moments when they are not at their best. This is when you take that deep breath and not show up to every argument you are invited to! Try not to hold grudges and continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through.

  9. Everyone needs to find their own retreat space. Space may be at a premium but it’s important people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation. We are going to be living for a bit with the unprecedented demand of meeting work deadlines, home schooling children, running a sterile household and making entertainment. So lower expectations and practice self-acceptance. We are doing too many things in this moment, under fear and stress. This does not make a formula for excellence so keep it real! Develop a wee mantra – I’m doing the best I can – forgive yourself.

  10. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around the bairns. You can find loads of information on COVID-19 to consume, but it changes minute to minute. The information is often sensationalised, negatively skewed and alarmist. Find a few trusted sources you can check in with consistently and set a time limit for yourself on any given day. (Again 30 minutes tops, 2 or 3 times daily). Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot of children and remember many people have recovered from the virus and many are getting better!

  11. Notice the good in the world, the helpers. Tune in to the stories of people sacrificing donating and supporting one another in miraculous ways. It’s important to counter-balance the heavy information with helpful information.

  12. Find something you can control and control the heck out of it! In moments of big uncertainty and feeling overwhelmed, control your little corner of the world. Organise your books and C.D.s, purge your closet and re-organise that kitchen drawer which is full of broken things - we’ve all got one! It helps to anchor and ground us when the things are chaotic.

  13. Find a long term project. Now’s the time to start that big jigsaw, read the Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Harry Potter series, binge watch an 8 season show, crochet a blanket, solve a Rubik Cube or get to a new level on whatever computer game you’re playing or do a big Lego build. Find things to keep you busy, distracted and engaged so you take breaks from what is going on in the outside world.

  14. Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements. Research has shown that repetitive movement e.g. knitting, colouring, painting, skipping, and especially left-right movements e.g. running, drumming, hopping, can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.

  15. Try to find lightness and humour in each day – cat videos on YouTube or a funny film, virtual tours of Edinburgh Zoo or Blair Drummond Safari Park - “Chunk” your quarantine – take it moment by moment. We don’t know what this will look like in 1 week or 1 month from now. Focus on whatever bite sized chunk feel manageable, whether that’s 5 minutes, a day of a week. Find what feels doable for you and try to set a time stamp for how far ahead in time you will let yourself worry. Take each chunk one at a time and move through stress in smaller pieces.

  16. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary. Be kind to yourself and others. It can sometimes feel that it will never end. Please take time to remind yourself that although this is scary and difficult time, and no-one knows how long it will last - it will pass.