Managing your mood

 

Many of us are still getting used to the disruption of our daily routines caused by the spread of COVID-19 and the measures that have been introduced to help keep us all safe.

It's normal to be worried or to feel stressed during this difficult time, but there are many things we can do to help us mind our mental health and wellbeing and to keep ourselves well.

For support on minding your mental health during COVID-19 go to For more support on minding your mental health during COVID-19, click here.


Making a plan

During challenging times like this, having a plan that helps us stay busy and feel more in control of our time can be very beneficial.

Create a positivity plan for your week – ideas could include:

  • physical activity – even though the days are getting shorter and colder, getting outside and getting active is so important for our physical and mental wellbeing. Being outside helps to lower stress, reduce anxiety, and improve self-esteem
  • connecting with loved ones – staying connected with family and friends is really important for our mental wellbeing. It can be a lifeline for those shielding or isolating, to help ease worries and combat loneliness
  • doing something you enjoy – this could be something simple such as watching a movie or TV show, carving out some time to read or spend time in the garden. Perhaps to call a friend or spend time on a hobby. Whatever it is, having something to look forward to is a great way to help keep spirits up
  • taking time out to care for ourselves- with all that is going on around us, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Having some designated time to relax, or practice some breathing or relaxation techniques can help to keep us focused
  • getting up and getting dressed at your usual time will help to get the day off to a good start
  • try and make sure you and your family get enough sleep. Sleep is really important for your mental health and wellbeing and especially during these unsettling times. SpunOut have some great tips on getting better sleep here
  • eating well – sticking to normal mealtimes as much as possible will help to keep some structure on your day. Keep your meals as healthy as you can. Perhaps designate a day to do some batch cooking to ensure that you always have healthy nutritious meals to hand. You can see more great tips on eating well here
  • keep learning – Learning new things or developing new skills can really help build self confidence and improve self esteem, and depending on what you choose it can also help you get to know others with similar interests. Libraries Ireland have lots of courses that you can do for free
  • do something creative – creativity and pursuing creative interests has been shown to improve mental wellbeing. There are so many ways to be creative, from arts and crafts, to music, gardening, cooking, or writing
  • giving to others – helping others and participating in your community can be hugely beneficial to your own wellbeing, as well as those that you are helping. It can be something simple such as checking in with someone who may be vulnerable at this time, or volunteering in a more formal role. Check out Volunteer Ireland or your Local Authority for more information

Parenting

For some of us, the current situation means we are spending more time with our children than ever before, and this can bring its own challenges. Here are some simple tips that might help:

  • parent positively – praise your child when you notice good behaviours, no matter how small
  • ignore minor misbehaviours, once your child or others are not being put at risk. If minor misbehaviour continues, or is more serious, you will need to act. Try not to shout. If you react calmly your child is more likely to react calmly in future. A firm explanation is usually more effective
  • let them make some of their own decisions. This will increase confidence, independence and let them learn from mistakes
  • pick your battles – Don’t try to change everything. Small changes can make a big difference
  • know there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Be a good enough parent. We all learn through trial and error

Relationships

Being around each other more than normal, combined with worry over illness, children, money, or sick relatives, can increase stress levels and put a strain on relationships.

It is really important that you take care of yourself and your relationships at this time:

  • try and find some quiet time for yourself each day, even if it is just for a few minutes
  • being physically active is important for your physical and mental health. It will also improve the quality of your sleep
  • be aware of your alcohol intake and how it might be affecting you. Go to askaboutalcohol.ie for more information
  • make sure that you get good quality sleep – being tired can make you very irritable
  • if you have a partner, remember they may have the same worries as you. They may be dealing with these feelings in a different way
  • make time to talk alone together about any fears or worries
  • if you and your partner are both at home, try and share household chores and caring for your children. Try and give each other breaks if you can
  • stay connected to other family and friends via phone, or video calls
  • if you are feeling anxious or stressed over financial issues related to COVID-19 there are supports available to help you. Go to DSP's COVID-19 hub for more information on related payments or the Money and Budgeting Service's (MABS) website for advice on how to manage on a reduced income

Getting enough sleep

Sleep is really important for your mental health and wellbeing. Most people need between 5 to 9 hours sleep a night. The ideal amount is 8 hours, but everyone is different.

We all need to look at our sleep pattern and habits. If you’re regularly struggling to get a good night’s sleep, there are a number of things you can do to improve it.

  • don’t have any drinks with caffeine in the afternoon
  • don’t smoke or drink alcohol before bed
  • go to bed and get up at the same time every day
  • avoid looking at any laptops, phones and other screens for an hour before bed
  • make sure your bedroom is completely dark

SpunOut have some great advice on sleep and looking after your mental health.


Working from home

Working from home means having to create a new routine and a new way to balance all the demands of your life. This will need careful planning and sometimes creative solutions.

Plan your days in advance to make sure everyone knows what they will be doing and when:

  • stick to your normal work routine as much as possible
  • keep times for breakfast, lunch, dinner as close to normal as you can
  • give your eyes a break from screens for a few minutes every hour
  • exercise, stretch and go out for a walk if possible
  • try and make sure you rest and get a good night’s sleep
  • stay in touch with family and friends

Virtual social activities

Engage in some virtual social activities with your work colleagues. These could include:

  • a movie or book club
  • fitness challenges
  • having a designated wellness day or a wellbeing whiteboard to share ideas on how to stay well
  • mindfulness sessions
  • virtual coffee breaks – this is a great way to check in with your colleagues to make sure that everyone is doing ok

Anxiety around COVID-19

During this time it is normal to feel stressed and anxious about what is going on around us. Taking some time to stop and acknowledge your feelings and the affect that they are having on your life, can help you cope.

  • sometimes accepting that what's happening is not only tough, but also outside of your control can help ease the pressure and allow you to see more clearly
  • take notice and be aware – take some time everyday to check in with how you’re feeling. Pay attention to the present moment. Take notice of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and the world around you. Being able to recognise and name how you feel can help you to deal with it. You can find some great tips here.
  • give yourself some credit – sometimes we are our own worst critics. Taking a moment to stop and think of what we have done to get through the past few months can help us see that we are probably doing better than we think we are
  • write it down – sometimes writing things down can really help. It can be a good way of getting our anxious thoughts out. Writing a gratitude journal can also help us to see the positive things in our lives which can help us to get through these tougher times
  • take a break from the news - We are bombarded with information through TV, radio and social media, and this can be really overwhelming. While it is important to keep up to date with the latest messages, it is also important to step away. Schedule a time every day to check your social media, and the latest news and make sure to you rely on trusted sources such as the HSE and the Department of Health, as misinformation and rumour can cause extra stress and anxiety
  • a problem shared is not necessarily a problem halved, but it does help. Friends and families can be a good source of support and talking to someone can really help you to realise you’re not alone. Sometimes a different perspective can make things seem much better and easier to cope with
  • remember - if you feel you need additional help, there are supports available. You don't have to appear to be strong or to try to cope with things by yourself. There are a number of service providers that offer online and phone mental health supports and services. These include online counselling, phone and text services as well as online supports which can be found on www.yourmentalhealth.ie

Supports

50808

50808 is a first of its kind for Ireland: a free 24/7 text service, providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support for people going through a mental health or emotional crisis - big or small. From breakups or bullying, to anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings, crisis volunteers are available 24/7 for anonymous text conversations.

Start a conversation by free-texting the word HELLO to 50808 any time, day or night.

Pieta

Pieta provide professional one-to-one therapeutic services to people who are in suicidal distress, those who engage in self-harm, and those bereaved by suicide. All services are provided free of charge and no referral is needed.

Call free 1800 247 247

Text HELP to 51444

Barnardos

Barnardos provide a national telephone support service for parents, in response to the challenges they are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Freephone 1800 910 123 (from 10am to 2pm, Monday to Friday).

They also provide a children’s bereavement helpline service, for all members of the public telephone 01 473 2110 (from 10am to 12pm, Monday to Thursday). Referrals will be accepted for children up to the age of 18 who have parental/carer’s consent.

Jigsaw

Jigsaw is a mental health charity focused on providing expert advice and support, online and in person, to young people across Ireland aged 12 - 25 years-old.

Find a Jigsaw near you by visiting jigsaw.ie/services.

Talk to one of the team through 1:1 Live Chat by visiting jigsaw.ie/livechat. Contact our support line on freefone 1800 JIGSAW (544729) (1pm to 5pm Mon to Fri).

Text CALL ME to 086 180 3880 and one of the team can call you back when it suits you.

Visit jigsaw.ie for more information or email help@jigsaw.ie

MyMind

MyMind provides free online and phone supports, psychotherapy services for children, adolescents and adults under the COVID-19 project. Clients of age 16 and above can use free-of-charge online counselling.

If you would like to book an appointment you can do so by contacting MyMind through email at hq@mymind.org or calling the office at 0766 80 10 60 (9am - 5pm).

For more information, please visit www.mymind.org.

BeLonG To

BeLonG To Youth Services provide support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI+) young people in Ireland between the ages of 14 – 23 years.

Text LGBTI+ to 086 1800 280 to chat in confidence with a trained crisis volunteer (anytime day or night, standard SMS rates may apply).

Visit www.belongto.org for more information.

SpunOut.ie

SpunOut.ie provides a wide range of articles and information for young people aged 16 – 25 years, on many different topics, including mental health.

Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to chat anonymously to a trained volunteer 24/7.

Visit www.spunout.ie  for more information.

Aware

Aware undertakes to create a society where people affected by stress, depression, bipolar disorder and mood-related conditions are understood, supported, free from stigma, and are encouraged to access appropriate therapies.

Free phone 1800 804848 or email supportmail@aware.ie

Aware also offers free online mental health education programmes that you can do from home. These programmes provide tools to help cope with anxiety, unhelpful thoughts and common life challenges. Log on to https://www.aware.ie/education/#adult-programmes.

Shine

Shine provides information and support through regional offices and offers counselling and support to individuals living with mental illness and their families and carers.

If you are in distress or seeking information you can contact Shine at any time for confidential support at phil@shineonline.ie

Childline

Childline (ISPCC) is Ireland’s 24-hour national listening service for young people up to the age of 18.

Freephone 1800 666 666 (any time, day or night).

Text 50101 (from 10am to 4pm every day).

Chat online at www.childline.ie (from 10am to 4pm everyday).

Samaritans

Samaritans telephone service is available 24 hours a day.

Freephone 116 123.

For confidential, non-judgmental support email jo@samaritans.ie

Visit www.samaritans.ie  for details of the nearest branch.

Turn2Me

Turn2Me is a community of fully qualified and accredited mental health professionals working online to provide a high quality, safe, anonymous and confidential space for you to gain support - wherever you are, whenever you need it, for whatever you are going through.

Counselling options for individuals, couples and young people aged 12-17 offered. Log on to www.turn2me.ie.


GP and Emergency Supports

For Hospital emergency services go to or call the emergency department of your local general hospital.

Telephone emergency services on 999 or 112.


GP and health centres

A GP can offer support and advice around a range of mental health issues including feelings of sadness, anxiety, self-harm and psychosis. A GP can tell you about supports in your community and also refer you to counselling or to a mental health service.

Find a service near you on the HSE website: www2.hse.ie/services/find-a-gp.

Contact the Out of Hours service by searching here: www2.hse.ie/Apps/Services/GpOutOfHours.aspx

Stress Control is an accredited free programme that teaches you life skills to deal with stress. The programme helps us recognise the signs of stress and covers topics including how stress affects our bodies and thoughts. It teaches skills to overcome panicky feelings and tips to getting a good night’s sleep.


Mobile apps to support your mental health

These mobile apps can help you manage anxiety. They have been reviewed and approved for listing here, by a group in the HSE (Mental Health Apps Review Sub Group).


Mindshift (by Anxiety Canada)

A user-friendly self-help tool based on proven scientific strategies, MindShift CBT teaches about anxiety, helping users to engage in healthy thinking and to take action. Users check in each day to track their anxiety and work with tools in the app.


Clear Fear

Clear Fear is an app developed for teenage mental health charity Stem4 which uses the evidence-based treatment CBT to focus on learning to reduce the physical responses to threat by learning to breathe, relax and be mindful as well as changing thoughts and behaviours and releasing emotions. You can personalise the app if you so wish and you will be able to track your progress and notice change.

Get it in the App Store or on Google Play.


Headspace

Headspace is a well-known mobile app that teaches meditation and easy to use mindfulness skills. Map your journey, track your progress, and reap rewards in your overall health and wellbeing. You can even ‘buddy up’ with friends and motivate each other along the way.

 

Week planner

Try this week planner to help you with some of the tips mentioned in the page above: Download