New Routines 

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all having to adapt to ever-changing circumstances in a way and at a speed that we’ve never had to before. At the best of times it can be very difficult to develop and maintain a healthy set of habits, incorporating healthy eating, a solid sleep pattern, exercise levels and time for relaxation. 

I suspect that most us appreciate now more than ever the value of social connection. Given that we are built for relationships, I can imagine that for many people it feels that one of the core aspects of their very being feels under threat at present. This can be very destabilising and cause distress. 

A lot of people I am supporting professionally are finding that their daily structure has been significantly disrupted and things that they would normally do without much thought, such as engaging in exercise and meeting friends or family cannot take place in the way that they’re used to. 

We are limited by some of the physical restraints that have rightly been put in place to restrict our movement at this time and I fully endorse the public health approach that has been taken in that regard. However, physical and emotional isolation is a big challenge, not just for the vulnerable categories that have been identified, but potentially for anyone. There is a need – in my opinion – for anyone struggling in this area to make a concerted effort to build their mental resilience and thus reduce their vulnerability to mental distress. 

I’m encouraged to see the range of support that is available online, with a plethora of tips to help people to develop a sense of structure and stay connected. There is a real passion amongst many people to ensure that vulnerable or marginalised members of our community do not become disconnected, including those that do have to self-isolate. We are also blessed with amazing technology that allows us to connect with other people across geographical boundaries. 

For several years I’ve been working with a start-up Hello Tomo, who have spent years developing and refining a behavioural health app designed to help people establish and maintain healthy habits within an online community.  It takes simple, everyday activities and turns them into healthy habits with a personalised programme. Users share photos of their achievements with the Tomo community to motivate and inspire each other.

Tomo was not designed with a global pandemic in mind but certainly is one of a number of useful tools that can help people to better manage their mental health and also to stay connected to people around them in the current climate.  It was pleasing to hear that the team have made the generous offer of making this app available for the next 150 days completely free of charge. 

You can find the Tomo app at

Dr Chi-Chi Obuaya, 27/03/2020
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