If you have to stay at home because of Coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s important to take care of your mind as well as your body.
You may feel bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also be low, worried or anxious, or concerned about your finances, your health or those close to you.
It is OK to feel like this – everyone reacts in their own way to challenging events and uncertainty. It’s important to remember that staying at home may be difficult, but you are helping to protect yourself and others by doing it.
The tips and advice here are things you can do now to help you keep on top of your mental wellbeing and cope with how you may feel while staying at home. Make sure you get further support if you feel you need it.
1. Find out about your employment and benefits rights
You may be worried about work and money if you have to stay home – these issues can have a big effect on your mental health. If you have not already, talk with your employer about staying at home, and learn about your sick pay and benefits rights. Knowing the details about what the coronavirus outbreak means for you can reduce worry and help you feel more in control.
GOV.UK: Coronavirus support
2. Think about where to stay
If you would prefer not to stay where you usually do, consider whether there are other options available, like staying with family or friends. If you live with other people, think about or discuss with them what challenges you might all face if you all need to stay at home or one of you gets Coronavirus. If there are problems with your housing conditions, there is help and support out there. Remember, it’s really important to follow the social distancing and stay at home guidance when it comes to seeing and being around others.
3. Plan practical things
Work out how you can get any household supplies you need. You could try asking neighbours or family friends, or find a delivery service. Continue accessing treatment and support for any existing physical or mental health problems where possible. Let services know you are staying at home, and discuss how to continue receiving support. If you need regular medication, you might be able to order repeat prescriptions by phone, or online via a website or app. Contact your GP and ask if they offer this. You can also ask your pharmacy about getting your medicine delivered, or ask someone else to collect it for you. If you support or care for others, either in your home or by visiting them regularly, think about who can help out while you are staying at home. Carers UK has further advice on creating a contingency plan if you care for others.
4. Connect with others
Maintaining healthy relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family while you are at home – by phone, messaging, video calls or online – whether it’s people you usually see often or reconnecting with old friends or neighbours. We have produced information on using technology to interact with family and friends during this situation in this issue.
5. Talk about your worries
It is quite common to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember, it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust – doing so could help them too. Or you could try a charity helpline or webchat. Please see the Mental Health Helplines article in this edition.
6. Look after your body
Our physical health really affects how we feel. Try to make sure you and your family eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly. Avoid smoking or drugs, and try not to drink too much alcohol. It can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that end up making you feel worse. Get outside for a walk or a run if you can.
7. Stay on top of difficult feelings
Concern about the Coronavirus outbreak is perfectly normal. However, some people may experience intense anxiety that can affect their day-to-day life.Try to focus on the things you can control, such as how you act, who you speak to and where you get information from. It’s fine to acknowledge that some things are outside of your control, but if constant thoughts about the situation are making you feel anxious or overwhelmed, there are some things you can try to help manage your anxiety, like listen to a mental wellbeing audio guide.
Watch: Re-framing unhelpful thoughts
8. Do not stay glued to the news
Try to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak, including on social media, and think about turning off breaking-news alerts on your phone. You could set yourself a specific time to read updates or limit yourself to checking a couple of times a day. Use trustworthy sources – such as https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus or the https://www.nhs.uk/coronavirus – and fact-check information from the news, social media or other people.
9. Carry on doing things you enjoy
If we are feeling worried, anxious, lonely or low, we may stop doing things we usually enjoy. Make an effort to focus on your favourite hobby if it is something you can still do at home. If not, picking something new to learn at home might help – there are lots of ideas online.
10. Take time to relax
This can help with difficult emotions and worries, and improve our wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help deal with feelings of anxiety.
11. Stick to daily routines as far as possible
Think about how you can carry on your normal routines, and try to do things that are useful or meaningful. For example, if you are working from home, try to get up and get ready in the same way as normal, keep to the same hours you would normally work and stick to the same sleeping schedule. If you cannot do this, think about how you can create new routines and set yourself goals. You could set a new alarm for the morning, do a daily home workout, and pick a regular time to clean, read, watch a TV programme or film, or cook.
12. Look after your sleep
Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how we feel, so it’s important to get enough. Try to maintain your regular sleeping pattern and stick to good sleep practices. Watch: Sleep tips https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/#
13. Keep your mind active
Read, write, play games, do crosswords, complete sudoku puzzles, finish jigsaws, or try drawing and painting. Whatever it is, find something that works for you.