Minding your mental health while social distancing and self-isolating

It is very important that we look after our own mental health during what is a strange and strssful time. Here are some tips:-

 Self Care

  • Keep a healthy sleep routine– avoid sleeping for too long during the day. .
  • Pick an activity a day that makes you feel good – e.g. a long hot soak in the bath, putting feet up while reading a good book, skin care, gardening , a walk
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • If you smoke, access supports to help you quit at www.quit.ie/freephone 1800201203/freetext Quit to 50100
  • Remember to take medications on time
  • Practice proper hand- washing
  • Mindfulness – pay attention to the present and appreciate things as they are.
  • If you are attending a mental health service, contact your team if you need to.


  • Watch a good programme or documentary, browse the web
  • To relax – e.g. listen to music or watch music videos, relaxation CDs
  • To keep mind active – e.g. crosswords, puzzles
  • To connect with others – ring , text, email or Facetime family and friends or write a .
  • To be creative – e.g. sewing, art, drawing/ painting, knitting, crochet..
  • To keep fit – take a walk, garden, online exercise sessions, dance…

Daily Routine

  • Take the current situation one day at a time
  • Maintain and establish a good structure of your day
  • Get up and go to bed at your usual times
  • If you’re studying at home, maintain the same pattern as the usual college or university tasks
  • If you’re working from home, work during the same hours that you would usually.
  • Write up a timetable including self-care, productivity and/or leisure activities.
  • Wear day clothes to get you motivated for the day


  • Think about the roles you identify with – friend, family member, forum member
  • Try to maintain and enhance identified roles by keeping in touch
  • Online tools can help you stay in touch with friends and family – e.g. play a web-based board game, review a book you have read, Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have access to online resources, text, phone, send a letter
  • Try relating to people by phoning them and having a chat

The Environment

  • Get some fresh air while keeping social distance of 2m (6 feet) and staying within a 2km radius of your home
  • Look after your home environment – keep up with the household chores so that it is a good place to be
  • Open your curtains and let some light and fresh air into your home
  • If you have a garden think of things you could do there
  • If you don’t have a garden you could plant some seeds on a window sill
  • Keep contact information for your supports in a place you can find it easily – local community supports, family, friends, GP etc

Useful supports and information

HSE information about Covid19 https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/coronavirus.html

¨Virtual Activities: – A range of international top-class museums offer virtual tours of their collections, which may help pass a few hours: https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours

¨Irish Film Festival London will host their St. Patrick’s Day film festival online, giving access to new Irish films for free. https://www.irishfilmfestivallondon.com/

¨Yoga Practice @ Home: – Down Dog has a range of apps to help people practice yoga in their own home environment (beginner -> advanced). Apps are all free to download until April 1st.  https://www.downdogapp.com/

¨General Resources: https://www.rte.ie/brainstorm/2020/0316/1123492-mental-health-tips-coronavirus/

¨Communication: – available to download for free at Google Play or Apple Store – SKYPE, WhatsApp, Viber, Facetime, Facebook Messenger

¨Mindfulness and Relaxation: http://www.beaumont.ie/marc

¨Leisure: YouTube – British Heart foundation 10 minute living room workouts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5YX5xg8Seg

¨Library online: https://www.librariesireland.ie/elibrary/emagazines

¨Aware’s Life Skills Online programme: https://www.aware.ie/education/life-skills-online-programme/ – Registration open.

¨Mood Tracking: – Daylio is a useful app where you can record your mood as well as what occupations you engaged in that day, allowing you to see links between your mood and activity levels: https://daylio.webflow.io/

Time Management: https://www.forestapp.cc/  and   https://pomodoro-tracker.com/

A list of free online services to get us through these difficult times is available at: https://covid19.shanehastings.eu/giveback/

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Safer Internet Day takes place next Tuesday, 7th February 2023. Sadly more than 1 in 4 young people in Ireland have experienced cyberbullying, yet only 60% of victims tell their parents. As teenagers and children spend more time on the internet, ensuring it's a safe space is ever more important. To encourage conversation about life online and help parents keep their children safe, I'd like to share a free resource created by Switcher.ie. It's a comprehensive guide which includes things like:
  • How to reduce the risks online
  • How to recognise cyber bullying and grooming
  • How to educate children on cyber safety
  • How to set up parental controls on devices
I thought it may be useful to share the link to the guide - https://switcher.ie/broadband/guides/how-to-keep-your-children-safe-online/ - which you can include on your website ahead of Safer Internet Day, to help parents and children who may need some extra support. We've also put together some handy top tips you can use on your website: 10 tips to keep your children safe online
  1. Talk about it:Make time to chat about online risks and how to use the internet safelyas soon as they're old enough to go online. Encourage your children to speak to you about what they view online and empower them to act if they're worried about anything.
  2. Recognise the risks: Educate yourself about the potential dangers children could face online so  it’s easier to spot warning signs. Get to know what platforms your children use, and learn about dangers such as phishing, grooming and cyberbullying.
  3. Teach the do's and don'ts: Be clear about the non-negotiables.  For example, teach your child not to share personal details or photos with strangers and instruct them not to click on links to unknown websites or texts. Do encourage your child to question what they see and only accept friend requests from people they know.
  4. Spot the signs: Pay attention to your children's behaviour whilst on and off their devices. Being alert to changes in your child can help prevent problems from escalating. Some warning signs are withdrawing from friends or family, sleeping and eating problems or losing interest in previously loved hobbies or interests.
  5. Set boundaries:Let your children know what they can and can't do on the internet from the get-go. Agree on what devices they can use, when, and how long they can spend online. As they get older, explaining and negotiating boundaries may be more effective.
  6. Take 'parental' control: These ready-made boundaries put parents in control of what children can see online. They can be set up through your internet provider at device level to block specific websites and filter out inappropriate content.
  7. Be social media savvy:  The popularity of social media apps like TikTok and Snapchat makes it harder to keep track of what your child is accessing online.  Fortunately, each social media platform has its own privacy settings and safety tips for parents. Check them out before you let children have their own accounts.
  8. Protect from harm:Install antivirus software on family devices to minimise the risk of cyber attacks or scams. Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for extra security on your online accounts. This can also stop children from signing into services they're not allowed to use.
  9. Set a great example:  You're the greatest 'influencer' in your children's lives when they're young.  Limiting your time online, discussing dangers you've come across, and questioning what you view can help reinforce the rules you are setting for your children and, in turn, influence their online behaviour.
  10. Seek support:The more you learn about online dangers, the better equipped you'll be to handle them. There are some great resources like  webwise.ieinternetmatters.organd cybersafekids.ie to help you recognise and reduce online dangers and seek advice if you think your child is experiencing cyberbullying or is at risk online.
        Short videos on the Importance of Play have recently launched which was a collaboration between North Central CFSN and Lifestart Services.   Volume 1 https://youtu.be/xl2F2vZXhbg Volume 2 https://youtu.be/OOy4lmWggtM Volume 3 https://youtu.be/tmv40--l7fA Volume 4 https://youtu.be/Wr9bfTWddts Volume 5 https://youtu.be/7HLkBXvVTFE Volume 6 https://youtu.be/NuUXb51qZY0

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.


The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.


In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  


Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  


In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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