by Luka White

This week the UK government announced even tighter restrictions on people’s movements, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

We recognise that this is a difficult time for many of our TNBI community. We would like to let you know that The Clare Project is here for you, whenever you are ready to reach out. For 1-1 emotional support, you can call our helpline (details at the bottom of this page/Facebook page)

In addition, here is a list of tips and resources that you may find helpful whilst self-isolating:

Daily Routine

· Try to eat three meals a day, including two with vegetables. If you run out of food, friends or online community support groups might be able to drop you a delivery.

· Try to leave your bed as a place for sleeping and if possible, do your work or hobbies elsewhere in the house. Try and wake up at a normal time, wash and get dressed as normal.

· If you are working from home, consider doing a short walk before you start your working day in place of a commute. Have scheduled lunch breaks and stop working at a normal time.

· Don’t underestimate fresh air and sunlight. You are allowed to leave the house for a short walk or run as long as you maintain 2-meter distance from others. If you can’t get out, consider opening a window or sitting in a patch of sunlight on your sofa.

· Exercise can still happen indoors. Maybe you could put on Beyoncé and bop around the kitchen or find online chair-based yoga tutorials.

Take care of your wellbeing

· If you are finding the constant stream of information about COVID-19 to be anxiety-provoking, try turning off automatic notifications from news apps or social media for a while. Leave any online groups or forums where there is misinformation being shared.

· It’s okay if you feel stressed, anxious, lonely, bored, tearful, or angry. These are normal reactions in our abnormal circumstances. Try sharing how you feel to a helpline or friend, expressing yourself through art or poetry, or taking short “brain breaks” throughout the day where you stick on cartoons and ignore the world. Remember that you will get through this, and you are not alone.

· Some websites are recommending that you ‘make the most’ of quarantine by taking up a new hobby, learning a language or cleaning the house. Whilst many people find it helpful to have a project, others actually need to scale down their productivity in times of stress. Do what is right for you.

Underlying health issues

· Trans and non-binary people are likely to be affected by elective surgeries being cancelled and GPs and therapists increasingly moving to phone or video appointments. However, your essential care will still be available. If you are worried about getting your testosterone injection, or you can’t leave the house to pick up your prescription, call your GP practice, pharmacy, or NHS 111.

· If you wear a binder, this might be a good time to take a short binder holiday, or at least stick to the recommended 8 hours a day maximum. COVID-19 is a respiratory condition, and you want your lungs to be in peak health should you become unwell.

· For specific advice on managing the impact of COVID-19 if you have a pre-existing mental health problem, the following national charities have put together some advice: o For people with mental health problems, o Their friends/family/carers, o And specifically for those with anxiety, OCD and eating disorders.

Keep connecting

· Do you usually attend a support group? Maybe you could ask if there is 1-1 or online support available instead. For example, check out the changes being made by local organisations The Clare Project , MindOUT , Allsorts , and Switchboard.

· Do you attend a sports, theatre, or musical group? Maybe see if you could organise a virtual meet-up instead. Look up Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Facetime, WhatsApp, and Messenger video.

· Are you isolating yourself away from partners and friends? Maybe you could try virtual date nights, write each other cute postcards, try out the new ‘Netflix Party’ feature, or get into group online gaming together.

· Being isolated together can be a good opportunity to spend time with any family/chosen family that you live with. Or the opposite, if you are isolated with

friends or family you don’t get along with, make sure you spend time on the phone or online with those that you do.

· You could also use this time to make new connections. Reach out to someone you’ve lost contact with or send a friendly message to someone in an “at-risk” group who might be anxious or isolated.

· One “silver lining” of the pandemic seems to be that communities are coming together more to support one another. You might be able to help your community by delivering food parcels, moderating a community support group, or sharing videos of your adorable pets!

Please be assured this difficult time will pass, in the mean time, take care of yourself and others, where you can. Its okay to find things challenging at the moment, but we are here for you – get in touch whenever you are ready <3