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5 ways to help maintain good mental health throughout the Covid-19 pandemic

Racing Welfare offers comprehensive support and advice to those who work in the world of horseracing. While we grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, the registered charity has provided some advice on how to help maintain good mental health through tough and uncertain times as we mark Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May 2020).

These points are relevant across the wider equestrian community, and indeed those outside of horses too, so here are five tips to help maintain or improve your mental well-being duing these challenging times…

Connect with people

Stay in touch with your loved ones safely. There are a many number of ways to connect with those you might currently be unable to visit in person. For those of you unable to work due to the shutdown, can you schedule a time every day to speak to your friends or family members? Video calls, texts and emails help you to feel more connected and less isolated and this contact will be appreciated by your friends and family too. If you are working from home, turn on your video calling when speaking to colleagues, this can make you feel more connected. For riders and grooms, try using the time between your split shifts to contact loved ones.

Look after your physical health

While many equestrian jobs involve physical activity, you can also consider additional exercise as a way of relaxing, rejuvenating and switching off from work and the Covid-19 outbreak. Current government guidelines allow for unlimited daily exercise outside while sticking to social distancing advice, but look out for exercise videos being streamed over social media to complement this too. Eating healthily and drinking plenty of water will make you feel better and maintaining your usual sleep routine can make all the difference to your mental well-being.

Take time out from the news and social media

While it is useful to stay informed and up to date with the news, it is easy to spend hours reading reports on Covid-19 on various apps and on social media. This can lead to increased stress and anxiety so it is worth sticking to one trusted news outlet and consider limiting your time on social media apps, where opinions from others can add to your anxiety.

Do things you enjoy and relax

Staying at home doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t continue doing what you enjoy. Try new hobbies, cook new recipes, enjoy a film or a TV series you have been meaning to watch for a while, learn a new skill, do some DIY, take up a new exercise such as yoga to relax, or even meditation.

Research your employment and benefit rights

If you are worried or confused about money or your employment situation research your contract and government advice to help you with the next steps.

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Ways to seek help

You may wish to speak to an expert in confidence. The new Riders Minds hotline is available, as is the BGA’s Grooms Minds and EEA’s Employers Minds. Racing Welfare also offers an extensive range of services for those seeking help and advice. PJA members can call the Cognacity helpline (www.thepja.co.uk). Other riders can access resources and a confidential helpline at mind.org.uk or samaritans.org.

We continue to publish Horse & Hound magazine weekly during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as keeping horseandhound.co.uk up to date with all the breaking news, features and more. Click here for info about magazine subscriptions (six issues for £6) and access to our premium H&H Plus content online.

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