During times of crisis, connection with other people is incredibly important, and evidence shows that our physical and mental health can suffer without social support. Many people will have to manage caring responsibilities as well as having to support themselves. Here is some useful information to consider when you are supporting friends and family members.
- Don’t panic buy. It’s common to feel anxious about running out of essentials, but rest assured, the nation’s food retailers are going above and beyond to ensure continued deliveries to stores. Panic buying only causes shortages for others and can have a drastic effect on the wellbeing of older people and those less mobile than yourself. Bulk purchasing items also means that you are most likely to spend more money than you usually would and this can potentially lead to financial anxiety. As tempting as it might be, buy only what you need when you need it. Human beings tend to stockpile when we feel under threat, but the reality is that this only causes more problems for everyone, especially those who are vulnerable.
- Apart from your friends, family members and colleagues, check on people in your neighbourhood who might need help with basic items such as groceries or prescriptions. Pharmacies will allow you to collect prescriptions on other people’s behalf if they have the recipient’s permission by telephone (note that you’ll need to have your own photo identification with you at the time of collection). Be sure to heed public health advice and stay at least two metres away from others. If the person is categorised as vulnerable you may want to consider leaving the shopping outside the person’s door to avoid close contact.
- At a time when you might not be able to get out and shop as often as you usually would, you might like to learn how to maximise the food you do have. Love Food Hate Waste is a great resource with tips on maximising food storage times, using up leftovers and cooking with what you have.
- Think about joining a local network such as Next Door. This online community links you to people living in your neighbourhood and helps connect people who have common interests, needs and goals. Please note that registration is required.
- Your children will look to you as a role model during this stressful time. It’s important to be honest with them in an age-appropriate way, but do be aware of how you might be projecting your own worries on to them. Your reactions to the COVID-19 outbreak have the power to calm and reassure them at a time when they need it most. Check out our tips on how to keep yourself well so you can support your loved ones in the most positive way possible.
- Do something that brings you and your family together. Grandparents and less-mobile family members might enjoy a video call with your children to chat about their own childhoods and what it was like when they were the same age. Older people are likely to be feeling isolated so whatever you can do as a virtual family will help to ease any distress caused by separation. You might also consider a virtual dinner party to bring people together to share a meal and catch up. Whatever your situation, try and speak to at least one friend or family member a day. It will help to relieve stress and brighten your outlook.
- Take this opportunity to teach your children valuable life-skills. Learning new things alleviates boredom, boosts confidence and leaves a lasting impression. Teaching your teen to change a car tyre or check the oil doesn’t take long but will keep them safe on the road for years to come. Basic first aid, cooking skills, and relaxation techniques will come in handy over their lifetimes.
- You might be stuck inside but exercise is still important. You and your family might want to have a go at some of the routines available at NHS Fitness Studio. There is a range of exercises for all levels of fitness.