We've been told to stay at home. And it's natural to feel worried, anxious or low. Andrew Paget and Jennifer Foley are clinical neuropsychologists at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London and co-leads for the Excellence Network for Mental Health. Here, they share their tips and ideas for looking after your mental wellbeing while you're staying at home. These are useful for you if you have Parkinson's.
If you're living with someone who has Parkinson's, many of these tips will be handy for you. You can also try Mind – the mental health charity, and their advice on coronavirus and your wellbeing.
Keep in touch with people any way you can
It’s important to stay connected with family, friends and essential services as much as you can.
Try to schedule contact with others into your daily routine, so you speak to at least one person each day. You can speak to people on the phone, or use text messages and voice notes.
Online forums can help keep you connected with other people. You can join the Parkinson’s UK forum and start chatting to people who know what you're going through. You might also like to join our Facebook community group, which is a place to talk to people while spending less time together. This community group is as much for friends and family as it is for those of you who live with Parkinson's.
Think about your normal daily routine and stick to it as much as possible. This can help you keep busy and distract you from thinking too much about other things.
Plan a routine
Think about your normal daily routine and stick to it as much as possible. For example, try to get up and dressed, eat and exercise at the same time each day. Keeping to a routine maintains a sense of normality. It can also help you keep busy and distract you from thinking too much about other things.
A daily planner can be helpful. Break the day up into morning, afternoon and evening and try to schedule at least one activity in each part of the day. Remember to schedule in your usual times for medication, getting up and going to bed. You can also include mealtimes, and time to contact or speak to other people.
Try to vary your activities during the week. Aim to have a mix of something essential (a task you can't put off), something goal-orientated (like exercise or doing an online course) and something pleasurable (such as reading or self-care). You might also want to include time each week to try something new.
Be aware of where you're getting your information from and how much you're checking news
We can now get continuous news and information from lots of different places. You might find some content worrying, overwhelming or in some cases misleading, so it is important to be mindful of this.
If the news is making you feel anxious, consider limiting what you watch, read or listen to for a while. Or agree only to check in with the news once a day, for example.
Keeping active is important for mental and physical wellbeing. Concentrating on activities can also be a helpful distraction.
Spend time on hobbies or learn a new skill and choose a range of activities to keep you stimulated in different ways. You could try:
- listening to an audio book or a podcast
- doing a crossword, word search or sudoku puzzle
- watching box sets or have a movie night
- doing something creative such as photography (in the garden or around the house), writing a blog, or an arts and crafts project
- taking part in some online research
Exercise is an important part of looking after your physical and mental health and can help to manage your Parkinson’s symptoms. The Government has introduced a strict stay at home policy, but you're allowed to leave your house for one form of exercise a day, such as for a walk. If you're not self-isolating. Try to get out as it can help you mentally and physically. When you do leave the house, you should avoid busy spaces and keep a distance of around 2 metres (6 feet) between you and other people. If you're not comfortable going out, try to get out into your garden if you have one.
By sharing your concerns with friends and family, you may feel reassured that you're not alone.
Look after your mental health
It's really important to look after your mental health as well as your physical health at the moment.
Talk to people about how you're feeling. It's natural to feel worried at this time. By sharing your concerns with friends and family, you may feel reassured that you are not alone. The NHS also has a directory of charity helplines that can help you specifically with your mental health.
Relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness, can help you manage your mood. Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment and not being judgmental about what's happening or how you are feeling. Read more about mindfulness and take part in a 15-minute session.
If you feel very anxious or think you are depressed, you should contact your GP or Parkinson’s nurse by phone. They may be able to arrange counselling sessions that you can do over the phone or online. They may also suggest medication to help you.
We're here for you
We have a range of information and support for you during this challenging time.
Help us be here when people need us most
Right now, over a million people with Parkinson’s, their families, friends, and carers in the UK need us more than ever.
There are critical health concerns and questions – and these are changing every day.
You can help us be here for people when they need us most.