NHS England’s National Advisor For LGBT Health shares their advice for staying well while staying home
BY LIZZIE STREETER/DR MICHAEL BRADY. PHOTO ANNA SHVETS
It’s really important that everyone follows the government’s guidance on the social distancing measures we should all now be taking to reduce social interaction.
These measures have been put in place in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus/COVID-19. But it’s only if we all follow the guidance, that we stand the best chance of reducing the number of people who will get infected with COVID-19, reduce the pressure on the NHS and reduce the number of people who will die.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between yourself and other people. This will help reduce the transmission of the coronavirus. These steps include:
1️⃣ Avoiding contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or a new and continuous cough
2️⃣ Avoid non-essential use of public transport
3️⃣ Work from home, wherever possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information
4️⃣ Avoid both large and small gatherings in public spaces – noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together
5️⃣ Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as over the phone, via the internet, and on social media
6️⃣ Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services rather than going to your GP surgery in person
Simply put: stay at home. Do not socialise, only go out if absolutely necessary and, if you do go out, stay at least two metres away from other people.
We strongly advise everyone to follow the above measures and to significantly limit face-to-face interaction with both friends and family. This is particularly important if you:
- are over 70 years old
- have an underlying health condition
- are pregnant
Looking after your mental wellbeing
Understandably, many people may find that social distancing can be boring, frustrating or anxiety-provoking. You may find your mood and feelings are affected and you may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping, as well as missing being outside with other people.
At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which, in turn, can make you feel worse. There are, however, simple things we can all do that may help to stay mentally and physically well during this time, some ideas include:
🔹 Looking for exercises you can do at home on the NHS website
🔹 Spending time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking and other indoor hobbies, or perhaps just listening to the radio or watching TV
🔹 Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink plenty of water and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs
🔹 Keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into a garden if you have one
You can also go for a walk, cycle or exercise outdoors if you stay more than two metres from others and don’t meet in groups of more than two people (of those living outside of your household).
What steps can you take to stay connected with family and friends during this time?
Draw on support you might have through your friends, family and other social networks during this time. Try to stay in touch with those around you over the phone, by post, or online. Let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine.
This is also important in looking after your mental wellbeing and you may find it helpful to talk to them about how you are feeling.
Remember, it is ok to share your concerns with others you trust and in doing so you may end up providing support to them too. You could use also an NHS recommended helpline or look out for a local or national LGBTQI+ charity – such as Switchboard (0300 330 0630, 10am-10pm) or the LGBT Foundation (0345 3 30 30 30) – many of whom are providing advice and support to the LGBTQI+ community.
Most importantly, take care of yourselves and of each other – we’re all going through this together.
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