With the UK's total number of COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases still on the rise, many people are currently 'self-isolating' in order to help slow the disease down. And the number of people staying at home will only increase over the coming days and weeks; in particular, people aged 70 and over are advised to "be particularly stringent" in following the government's recommended social distancing measures.
But self-isolation, while necessary, can take a real toll on your mental health - especially if you've already been experiencing frequent periods of extended isolation for some time, as is the case for half a million older people in the UK.
With that in mind, here are 3 tips to help you stay as happy and healthy as possible while you're limiting your contact with the world outside your home.
1. Establish a routine.
Ensuring that your days and nights have a consistent structure will help you to safeguard your mental health during this stressful time. Good sleep hygiene is essential - try to wake up at the same time every morning and go to bed at the same time every evening.
During the day, try to stick to a routine so that you're never unsure of what to do with yourself. Eat three meals a day; tune in to your favourite television programmes; schedule regular telephone calls with your loved ones; and assign different activities to different parts of the day. For example, you could garden after lunch and read in the evening.
2. Keep yourself entertained.
Sustained boredom can be very damaging, so it's important to find a variety of ways to occupy yourself during periods of isolation. You probably already have your own hobbies and interests - perhaps even a project or two that you can work on - but if you're not used to staying at home for long stretches of time, you may need to branch out and find new sources of entertainment now.
This may be a good time to sign up for a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime; there's also the BBC iPlayer, which allows you to watch all kinds of programmes you might have missed. Elsewhere on the Internet, there are countless communities on websites like Facebook and Reddit - have a look and you're sure to find a group of people with the same interests as you.
But not all entertainment has to revolve around screens. Self-isolation could also be a great opportunity to catch up on those books you've been meaning to read, or take up gardening, or even learn something new - if you've ever want to speak French or learn how to knit, now is the perfect time to start!
3. Go outside if you can.
Staying at home doesn't necessarily have to mean staying indoors. If you have a garden, you should definitely be making use of it while isolated. Fresh air and outdoor activity can bolster your mental health, and it's important to go out in the sun when you can and top up your vitamin D levels.
Alternatively, relaxing in your conservatory or garden room can be a great way to take a break from it all and give yourself a chance to breathe.
However you do it, please be sure to look after yourself during this stressful and potentially lonely time. If you have elderly and/or vulnerable relatives who are self-isolating at the moment, be sure to stay in touch with them - you may not be able to visit them, but you can still speak to them on the phone or chat online.
If you are considering adding a SunSpace to your home this spring, please bear in mind that our products require very little installation time. Our verandas typically take 1-2 days to install, while our sunrooms take just 2-3 days. This means that disruption to your schedule - and contact with our installers - will be minimal.
Image from Pixabay