Coronavirus: How to look after your mental health if you're 'shielding' and facing uncertainty
The Government has set out its plan for returning life in the UK to ‘as near normal as we can’ following weeks of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
And while there are few immediate changes, the announcement has prompted an outpouring of questions across the board calling for clarity on what will happen next.
I – and around a million others across the nation classed as being in the “extremely vulnerable group” – wanted to know what will happen at the end of my ongoing 12-week isolation.
Due to suffering a rare blood condition, I am one of the people who has been asked to “shield” from the risks of the virus and not to leave home at all, even for essential shopping and exercise.
The bank holiday weekend marked seven weeks since I received my NHS England letter and eight weeks at home.
And according to the Government’s new advice, we are “advised to continue shielding measures to keep themselves safe by staying at home and avoiding all contact with others”.
It is absolutely paramount for my physical health and safety and I am hugely grateful for that. And I take it very seriously.
But not having any idea how long my self-isolation will continue after the initial 12 weeks is quite tough to take, mentally.
This past week has taken a bit of a toll, as rumours began circulating about whether or not the shielded would even be able to leave home at all before a coronavirus vaccine is developed.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned during this pandemic, it’s knowing when to try and switch off and take time away.
For me, stepping away from all of my technology – phone, computer, social media, telly, radio – is the only way to do this.
I’ve been reading, cooking, colouring in; anything that helps to get my head into a coronavirus-free zone, if only for a few minutes.
And that time is valuable in helping me gear up for the next announcement, the next change, the next obstacle.
Treasure whatever helps you step away from the crisis for just a moment, and hold strong to the hope that things will be clearer for all of us soon.