for better mental health

Coronavirus and your wellbeing

This page is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

You might be worried about coronavirus (Covid-19) and how it could affect your life. This may include spending a lot of time at home and keeping a safe distance from others if you go outdoors (known as ‘social distancing’).

This might feel difficult or stressful. But there are lots of things you can try to help your wellbeing. 

This information is to help you cope if:

  • you're feeling anxious or worried about coronavirus
  • you’re following Government advice that we should stay at home as much as possible and keep a safe distance from others outdoors
  • you're self-isolating because you, or someone you live with, has symptoms of coronavirus. Self-isolating means that you stay home and keep away from other people, to avoid spreading coronavirus.

It covers:

You might also find these pages helpful:

Under 18? We're here for you too.

Go to our hub of coronavirus content for young people.

If you're shielding from coronavirus

NHS England and the Welsh Government have written to people who they have identified as being at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. This is because of pre-existing physical health problems.

If this affects you or someone you know, there is specific guidance about how to protect yourself from coronavirus (known as ‘shielding’), and extra support available to help you:

Taking care of your mental wellbeing

Many of us are struggling with maintaining our mental wellbeing during coronavirus. It may feel difficult to take care of your mental wellbeing if you're spending a lot of time at home and away from other people in your life. These are some ideas which may help.

Keep in touch digitally

  • If you can’t meet up with people or groups you’d like to see in person, make plans to video chat instead. You can also arrange phone calls or send instant messages or texts.
  • If you don’t feel very confident making video calls, Age UK has a guide to using video calls which may help.
  • If you're worried that you might run out of things to talk about, make a plan with someone to watch a TV show, live music or theatre together. Or you could take part in a quiz, or read a book separately and then discuss it with each other when you speak.
  • If you're feeling anxious about coronavirus or spending a lot of time at home, you may find it helpful to talk about these worries with someone you trust, especially if they are in a similar situation. 
  • You could join a peer support community. Mind runs an online peer support community where you can share your experiences and hear from others.
  • If you're going online more than usual or seeking peer support on the internet, it's important to look after your online wellbeing. See our pages about online mental health for more information.
  • If you prefer not to use a phone or computer, you could try writing letters or postcards.

Safely meet with others outdoors

If you're worried about loneliness

  • Think about things you can do to connect with people. For example, putting extra pictures up of the people you care about might be a nice reminder of the people in your life.
  • Listen to a chatty radio station or podcast if your home feels too quiet.
  • Think about your diet. Your appetite might have changed since the start of lockdown. This may be because your routine has changed, or you've been less active than usual. If possible, try to eat regular meals and keep a balanced diet, as this can help your mood and energy levels. See our tips on food and mood for more information.
  • If you have a difficult relationship with food and eating, our pages on eating problems have information and tips which may help.
  • Drink water regularly. Drinking enough water is important for your mental and physical health. Changing your routine might affect when you drink or what fluids you drink. It could help to set an alarm or use an app to remind you. The NHS has information about water, drinks and your health.
  • If you’re self-isolating, you can ask someone to drop off essential food items for you. If they do this, ask them to leave food at your doorstep, to avoid face-to-face contact with each other.
  • You may find that supermarkets and online delivery services feel busier than usual at the moment. If you're feeling anxious about going to the supermarket or arranging an online delivery, it might help to try some of our self-care tips for anxiety.

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.

Getting active at home

These are lots of different ideas you could try for getting active around the house, including:

  • cleaning your home 
  • dancing to music
  • going up and down stairs
  • seated exercises
  • online exercise workouts that you can follow
  • sitting less – if you notice you've been sitting down for an hour, just getting up or changing position can help.

Getting active outdoors

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:

Bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and make you feel more relaxed.

Many of us are spending a lot of time indoors at the moment. This may mean we aren’t spending as much time in nature as we would like.

But it is possible to get the positive effects of nature while staying indoors. You could try the following:

  • Spend time with the windows open to let in fresh air. 
  • Arrange a comfortable space to sit, for example by a window where you can look out over a view of trees or the sky, or watch birds and other animals.
  • Look at photos of your favourite places in nature. Use them as the background on your mobile phone or computer screen, or print and put them up on your walls.
  • Listen to natural sounds, like recordings or apps that play birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall. Get as much natural light as you can. Spend time in your garden if you have one, or open your front or back door and sit on the doorstep.
  • If you have access to green space like a garden, you could bring some natural materials in to decorate your living space, or use them in art projects. This could include leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark or seeds.
  • You may be able to buy seeds, flowers or plants online for delivery, to grow and keep indoors. If you order items for delivery, ask to have them left at your doorstep, to avoid face-to-face contact.

See our pages on nature and mental health for more information about the benefits of spending time in nature.

Stay connected with current events, but take care with where you find your news and health information. Try to use trusted sources to find reliable updates.

Useful pages

Managing your wellbeing

  • If news stories make you feel anxious or confused, think about switching off or limiting what you look at for a while.
  • Social media could help you stay in touch with people but might also make you feel anxious. This may include people sharing news stories that you want to avoid, or posting their worries about coronavirus. Consider taking a break or limiting how you use social media. You might decide to view particular groups or pages but not scroll through timelines or newsfeeds.
  • See our pages about online mental health for more information. 

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has more information on how to cope if you're feeling anxious about coronavirus

  • Open the windows to let in fresh air. Or you could spend time sitting on your doorstep, or in the garden if you have one.
  • Try looking at the sky out of the window or from your doorstep. This can help to give you a sense of space.
  • Regularly change the rooms you spend time in.

Spending time at home

It may feel difficult to keep occupied and fill your days if you are spending a lot more time at home than you used to. These are some ideas for adding structure to your days and making the most of your free time. 

  • Plan a routine for your time, and try to follow it as much as possible. It might help to write this down on paper and put it on the wall. If you're working, your plan can include how you’ll spend your free time as well as working hours.
  • If you can, try to wake up and go to bed at regular times each day.
  • If you weren’t happy with your routine before coronavirus, this might be a chance to do things differently. For example, you could go to bed earlier than you used to, spend more time cooking, or do other things you didn’t used to have time for.
  • If you live with other people, it might help to create a household routine, especially if several of you will be at home most of the time. But try to also respect each other's privacy and give each other space. Some people might want to discuss everything they're doing while others won't.
  • Try having a clear out. You could sort through your possessions and put them away tidily, or have a spring clean.
  • You could also have a digital clear out. Delete any old files and apps you don't use, upgrade your software, update all your passwords or clear out your inboxes.
  • Write letters or emails, or make phone or video calls with people you've been meaning to catch up with.

There are lots of different ways that you can relax, take notice of the present moment and use your creative side. These include:

  • arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, collage, sewing, craft kits or upcycling
  • DIY
  • colouring
  • mindfulness 
  • playing musical instruments, singing or listening to music
  • writing
  • yoga
  • meditation.

See our pages on relaxation and mindfulness for more information and ideas.

  • Keep your brain occupied and challenged. Set aside time in your routine for this. Read books, magazines and articles. Listen to podcasts, watch films and do puzzles.
  • Although high street library branches are closed, some libraries have apps you can use online. These allow you to borrow ebooks, audiobooks or magazines from home for free, if you're a library member.
  • FutureLearn and OpenLearn have free online courses you could try.
  • There are lots of apps that can help you learn things, such as a foreign language or other new skills.

Practical advice and support

This information is to help with any practical concerns you may have about staying at home during coronavirus. 

  • If you are concerned about your mental health, you can speak to your GP about getting treatment and support. You can contact your GP surgery online or over the phone. They may arrange an appointment with you over the phone or through a video call, to avoid you having to go to the surgery in person. The NHS has more information about accessing health services during coronavirus.
  • If possible, continue with any treatment and support you were having before coronavirus. This could be with your counsellor, therapist or support worker. Ask how they can support you, for example if you're struggling because you’re not able to see them face-to-face.
  • You should also continue taking any medication you were taking before coronavirus, and attend any blood tests to make sure you’re taking your medication safely.
  • If you can’t safely travel to your pharmacy, you might be able to order repeat prescriptions by phone. Or you may be able to do this online using an app or website, if your doctor's surgery offers this. The NHS has information about ordering repeat prescriptions online.
  • Ask your pharmacy about getting your medication delivered, or ask someone else to collect it for you. This will usually be possible, although if it's a controlled drug the pharmacy might ask for proof of identity. Make sure anyone collecting medication knows if they have to pay for it. The NHS has more information about getting prescriptions for someone else and checking if you have to pay for prescriptions.
  • Be careful about buying medication online. You should only buy from registered pharmacies. You can check if a pharmacy is registered on the General Pharmaceutical Council website. See our page on buying medication online for more information.
  • You can also contact NHS 111 in England or NHS 111 Wales if you have questions or concerns about accessing medication.
  • If you are spending a lot of time at home, you may find it helpful to keep things clean and tidy, although this is different for different people.
  • If you live with other people, keeping things tidy might feel more important if you're spending more time at home together. But you might have different ideas about what counts as 'tidy' or how much it matters. It could help to decide together how you'll use different spaces. And you could discuss what each person needs to feel comfortable.
  • Cleaning your house, doing laundry and washing yourself are important ways to help stop germs spreading. The NHS has advice about how to stop germs from spreading, and the UK Government has advice about self-isolation which includes information about household cleaning.
  • Your energy costs will probably rise if you're at home more than you usually would be. Think about how you can manage your energy use, or how to cover any higher bills. You could also ask your energy provider about any support they offer, for example if you can sign up to their priority services register. If you're worried about money, our page of useful contacts for money has details of organisations who may be able to help. 
  • Spending more time indoors could also make any existing housing problems feel worse. This may include the relationships with anyone you live with. See our page of coronavirus useful contacts to find organisations which may be able to help, or see our page on housing and mental health for more information.

If you use care services

  • You should let your Local Authority and care provider know if you have to self-isolate.
  • Make it clear that any support is still needed. Tell them that alternative arrangements are required if any of the usual support can't continue. This may include things like carers visiting, day centre sessions, or friends and family coming over to help.
  • Your Local Authority should have policies for this situation and should tell you how they can meet your needs.

If you receive direct payments

Carers UK has detailed information about what to do if you provide care to someone else.

This includes guidance on:

  • providing care for someone who is staying at home
  • what to do if you start to have symptoms of coronavirus
  • making a plan for your caring responsibilities during this time, for example in case you become ill.

If you provide care to someone you don't live with and you need to self-isolate, you should contact your Local Authority.

See our page about changes to your social care rights during coronavirus for information about your legal rights during this time. 

Our page of coronavirus useful contacts lists organisations, services and other sources of support and guidance for things like:

  • benefits
  • housing
  • disability
  • bereavement
  • local support options
  • NHS and Government guidance.

You can also see our mental health A-Z for all of the topics covered in our mental health information.

 

Wellbeing checklist

  • Connectivity: have you got ways to keep in contact with people in your life? Do you need help with using digital communication, like video calls?
  • Routine: can you create a routine or timetable for yourself? If you live with other people, should you create a household schedule?
  • Food: do you have a way to get food delivered if you need to self-isolate?
  • Cleaning: do you have enough cleaning supplies?
  • Medication: do you have enough medication, or a way to get more?
  • Therapy: Can you reorganise any therapy or counselling to phone or online sessions?
  • Exercise: is there any physical activity you can do inside your home, like going up and down the stairs, using bean tins as weights, or exercises you can do in your chair?
  • Nature: have you thought about how you can bring nature into your home? Can you get some seeds and planting equipment delivered, or put up photos of green spaces?
  • Entertainment: have you thought about things to do, books to read or TV shows to watch?
  • Relax: have you got materials so you can do something creative, such as pencils and paper?

This information was last updated on 8 June 2020. The content reflects the best advice we have at this time. We will update it as necessary, particularly if there are changes to public health guidance.

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