If you have to leave your house to go into work during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, it might feel like a difficult and stressful time.
This page gives tips for taking care of your mental health and wellbeing, help with understanding difficult feelings, and ways to find support.
You may need to go into work during the coronavirus pandemic because you're on the Government's list of key workers (also known as critical workers). Or it may not be possible to do your job at home, and your employer has asked you to go into work.
When you're busy with work and trying to cope with new, unusual circumstances, it might not feel possible to take care of yourself. But even doing small things for yourself can make a big difference to your mental wellbeing, and there are lots of ideas you can try.
This information is to help you cope if:
If you are going into work during coronavirus, you might experience some difficult feelings. These may be new feelings, or things you've experienced in the past.
There is no right or wrong way to feel or react to your situation. But these are some common feelings that you might experience during this time:
You might feel stressed about going into work during coronavirus, for example if you:
You might feel some of the effects of stress right away. But other effects could take longer to notice, including after the stressful event has ended.
You may experience anxiety if you are going into work during coronavirus. This might be because you are worried about your own health or the health of those around you, including those who you care for or live with.
You might feel even more anxious if your job involves working with people who have coronavirus or coming into contact with people who may be ill. And you may be concerned about accessing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), if you need this to do your job safely.
This anxiety may be on top of other worries related to coronavirus, such as losing your job or problems with money.
"We're worried about being more likely to catch the virus as we are having to expose ourselves a lot more… Everyone is worried about spreading the virus unintentionally to people they work with."
You may feel guilty about going into work during coronavirus, especially if you're worried about spreading coronavirus to the people around you.
You may also feel guilty if your response to the situation feels different to those around you. For example, if working under a lot of pressure might make you feel stressed, while your colleagues seem motivated.
But we all react to difficult situations in different ways, so it's important to be kind to yourself. See our tips on taking care of your mental wellbeing for ways to help yourself cope.
You may also feel guilty about seeking help for a a mental health problem, at a time when it may seem like many others also need medical help.
Remember: it’s always ok to ask for help for your mental health. The NHS still wants you to do this during coronavirus. You are not wasting anyone’s time.
See our page on accessing treatment and support during coronavirus for more information.
Going into work during coronavirus might make you feel angry. This may be because:
When most of us experience anger, it doesn't have a big effect on our lives. Anger only becomes a problem when it gets out of control and harms you or the people around you.
If you struggle with anger, learning healthy ways to deal with it can help your mental and physical health.
If you are going into work during coronavirus, you may find it hard to take care of your mental wellbeing. This may feel even more difficult if you are working long hours or under a lot of pressure.
But even doing small things for yourself can make a big difference to your mental wellbeing. These are some ideas you can try:
If you are struggling with your mental health, it is ok to ask for help. There is often support available inside and outside work. We have listed some of the common support options below.
If you work in healthcare or emergency services, we also have information about specific support options for your area of work.
Some employers offer support to their employees for their mental health. If you have an employer, try to find out if they offer any specialist support services, such as:
You could talk to a helpline or listening service about your mental health:
Our page of coronavirus useful contacts lists organisations, services and other sources of support and guidance for things like:
If you’re struggling with your mental health and you’d like to seek professional help, or continue using treatment and support, our page on accessing treatment and support during coronavirus may help.
Stay connected with current events, but be careful where you get news and health information from.
It may feel very difficult to make time for yourself while you are working, particularly if you are working more than usual or if you are under a lot of pressure. You may feel guilty about relaxing while your colleagues are working.
But making time for yourself is important for your physical and mental health. Try to use the time when you're not working to take care of yourself, as this can help you keep going when you are at work.
Here are some ideas you could try:
If you're finding it difficult to switch off from work, you might find our page on relaxation helpful. This includes tips and exercises to help you relax, which you can try at home or if you are taking a break at work.
It may feel unrealistic to make time to do something you enjoy. But having something else to focus on outside work can help you stay well. This could be something small, like having a video chat with a friend, having a bath or listening to music.
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and yoga. It has been shown to help people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings. This means that instead of being overwhelmed by your feelings, it becomes easier to manage them.
See our pages on mindfulness for more information, including some mindfulness exercises that you could try.
"I'm trying to make time to try new things that I've always wanted to do but never had time for. And spending more time on things I enjoy. It gives me…something to focus on and forget about everything else, even just for a short while."
Try to build physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. There are options for most ages and abilities. This includes things you can do in your home, as well as activities to try outdoors.
These are lots of different ideas you could try for getting active around the house, including:
If you are getting active outdoors, the current Government guidance for most of us is to stay a safe distance (at least 2 metres) from any people you don’t live with.
If you are self-isolating, the guidance is that you should not leave your house, even for exercise. But you can exercise in your garden, if you have one.
These pages have more information about how to stay safe when doing exercise outdoors:
It may feel difficult to take care of your physical health if you're feeling busy or stressed. But looking after your physical health can have a big effect on your mental health. And there are many small changes you can try to take care of your overall wellbeing:
If you work in healthcare or the emergency services, for example:
you may be experiencing a lot of pressure during coronavirus and working longer hours than you normally would. You may also be very anxious about getting coronavirus or passing it on to others around you.
But there are some difficult experiences and emotions specific to this area of work that may also affect your mental wellbeing:
If you are working in healthcare or the emergency services during coronavirus, you may have experiences that cause some very difficult emotions. For example, you may experience:
See our information below about where to get help for these experiences and emotions.
Your job may involve being around or caring for people who are very unwell. This may include providing end-of-life care. You might lose people you are caring for, or lose colleagues or others in your life.
Working in this environment may be distressing or traumatic, and it is natural to feel lots of difficult emotions. For example:
It might feel difficult to focus on your mental health when you're dealing with so many other things. But you can ask for help whenever you need it. This could be right now or in the future, or both.
See our information below about where to get help for these experiences and emotions.
"I feel that we have to be stoic, and that because we're working in healthcare we should be willing and able to put ourselves at risk and deal with the pressure."
There are also lots of ways to find support and guidance if you are working in healthcare and the emergency services during coronavirus. These are some options which may help:
This information was last updated on 18 June 2020.
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The coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on our mental health. Help us be there for everyone who needs us at this crucial time.