for better mental health

Coronavirus and your wellbeing

This page is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

Many of us are struggling to maintain our mental wellbeing during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. This page has tips to help yourself cope, including ways to support yourself during winter.

It covers:

Christmas and coronavirus

Visit our page on Christmas and coronavirus for tips to support your mental wellbeing over the Christmas period.

You can also visit these pages for the latest government coronavirus guidance:

Under 18? We're here for you too.

Go to our hub of coronavirus content for young people.

Understanding difficult feelings about coronavirus

Many of us are experiencing difficult feelings and emotions about coronavirus. This may be about getting sick, the government restrictions, or feeling hopeless about when the pandemic might end.

Our page on difficult feelings about the coronavirus pandemic has more on what you may be feeling.

Remember: things might feel hard right now, but this situation is unusual. And it won't last forever. 

In the meantime, there are lots of ways to help yourself cope.

Tips for taking care of your mental wellbeing

These are some ideas to help take care of your mental wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic, including during the winter. 

These tips may work for different people at different times. Only try what you feel comfortable with. And try not to put too much pressure on yourself if anything doesn't feel possible right now.

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 low or anxious about coronavirus, it may help to talk about this with someone you trust. This can be especially helpful if they are in a similar situation and share your feelings. 
  • 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. 

"I suggest group activities, perhaps via Zoom. Even if it’s just a round of charades, countdown or number games. I like the structure of being involved in something with a framework, beginning middle and end, makes me feel ‘held’ and contained rather than floundering around on my own." 

Meet safely with others

  • Guidance on how to safely spend time with others indoors or outside is changing frequently. And there are different guidelines across England and Wales. 
  • If you’re able to meet with others, it can be helpful to plan ahead by checking the guidelines where you live.

Find ways of managing loneliness

  • If you are feeling lonely, think about things you can do to feel close to others. For example, putting extra pictures up of 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.
  • See our pages on loneliness for more tips to help yourself cope.

Share your experiences

  • We know that the coronavirus pandemic has been particularly difficult for those of us who have long-term physical and mental health problems. This includes those of us who were, or are, shielding. The charity National Voices is collecting and sharing these experiences of how life has been during the pandemic. You can share your story or read others’ experiences as part of their Our Covid Voices project.
  • If you’ve been spending a lot of time at home during the coronavirus pandemic, you may already have a routine of activities. But it may be helpful to think about how you can adapt this for the winter months. 
  • Trying out a new winter routine might help give you a sense of change if you’re struggling with how long the pandemic is continuing. For example, you could spend time cooking and trying some new winter recipes, or learning a new skill.
  • If you find your mood or energy level drops during a particular season such as winter, you might find our information on seasonal affective disorder (SAD) helpful.
  • If you're working from home, you may find it helpful to read these tips from Mind staff on home working.

"In winter, I love being cosy under a blanket with a big hot chocolate, and watching comedies. Even though the weather can be cold, I still go outside, I have my cuppa in the garden in the morning, and go for walks. Little comforts are important.” 

  • Although the coronavirus pandemic may mean that your choices are more limited, try to focus on the things you can change. It might be helpful to list the things you can change on one piece of paper and all the things you can’t on another.
  • If there are certain times that are especially difficult for you during winter, you could try and plan ahead for these times. For example, this may be around Christmas or in January. If you're worried about having little energy, it might help to make some meals in advance and freeze them ready for when you need them during tough times.
  • Try to plan your day to get the most out of natural light. For example, you could try sitting by a window where you can look at the sky or trees, or watch birds and other animals. This can help give you a sense of space.
  • You could change rooms during the day depending on which rooms get the most light at different times, if this is possible where you live. And when it does get dark, try to keep your living space well lit so that you’re not straining your eyes.
  • If you are able to spend time outside in winter, such as in a garden or on a walk, you could plan to do this during daylight hoursIf the weather’s cold, try to make your time outside as comfortable as possible by wearing warm clothes. It may also help to bring a warm drink with you in a flask, or have a hot drink after your time outdoors to warm yourself up.

"A friend swears by using a lightbox to keep seasonal affective disorder at bay. While I don’t suffer with SAD, even I feel the benefit. While we can’t go out as much, especially during winter, increasing light exposure and vitamin D uptake is beneficial."

  • Look at photos of your favourite places in nature. You could use them as the background on your mobile phone or computer screen. Or you could print photos and put them up on your walls, if you have a space of your own.
  • Listen to natural sounds, like recordings or apps that play birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall.
  • You may be able to buy seeds, flowers or plants online for delivery, to grow and keep indoors.

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

"Winter months for me are doing my astronomy. I like to sit in my back garden looking at the stars. The peace and quiet, the stillness of the cold air, make it really serene - a form of mindfulness. A nice winter walk taking in the cold air and looking at the colours around me always helps."

Find ways to relax and be creative

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

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

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

"In the winter, art is my go to. I love to draw paint and make things - keeps my mind occupied and relaxed. Also, I love listening to audiobooks, guided meditations and cheery music."

Keep your mind stimulated

Try to keep your brain occupied and challenged and set aside time in your routine for this. You could read books, magazines and articles. Or you could listen to podcasts, watch films or do puzzles. 

If you can't visit your local library, some libraries have apps you can use online. These allow you to borrow ebooks, audiobooks or magazines for free, if you're a library member. You can use this tool to find your local library service in England and Wales. 

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.

It may feel difficult to take care of your physical health when you’re feeling anxious or low. But taking small steps to look after your body can have a big effect on your mental health.

Below are some tips you could try. The NHS also has some information on staying well in winter. 

Eat regularly and stay hydrated 

  • Think about your diet. 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 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. The NHS has a page about coronavirus and self-isolation, including ways to get help if you're self-isolating. 
  • You may feel anxious about going to the supermarket. For example, you might be worried about wearing a face mask or being around strangers. It might help to try some of our self-care tips for anxiety. Our information on mask anxiety, face coverings and mental health may also help.

Keep active if you can 

Build physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. There are options for most ages and abilities. This includes things you can try indoors, if you're spending lots of time at home. For example: 

  • 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.

If you’re managing a long-term health condition, the We Are Undefeatable campaign offers a range of tips and advice for getting active at your own pace.

This includes ideas for getting moving around the home, and a customisable 5-minute mini-workoutThe NHS also has some seated exercises you could try.  

"During the year I have been saving indoor ‘Housey Projects’ as I had a feeling the virus wouldn’t have gone by winter … projects can be anything from DIY to cataloguing my record collection, to sorting stuff out to let go of either by donation or for selling."

Try things to improve your sleep 

  • If you can, try to wake up and go to bed at regular times each day. 
  • Give yourself some tech-free time before sleep, avoiding bright screens.  
  • Practise a relaxation exercise before you go to sleep.

See our information on sleep problems for more tips to improve your sleep.  

Read Rhiannon's story about coronavirus anxiety and how to get a good night's sleep.

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

Useful sources of information 

Finding an online/offline balance

  • If news stories make you feel anxious or confused, think about switching off or limiting what you look at for a while. You may want to try only looking at the news at a certain time of day, for a limited amount of time, and then doing something relaxing or creative afterwards.
  • 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 how they feel 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.  

Try mindfulness

When you’re feeling low, it can be difficult to feel connected to others or the things you usually enjoySome studies show that practising mindfulness, where you give full attention to the present moment, can help to manage depression. See our mindfulness pages for more information, including exercises to try 

Set realistic goals

If you’re struggling with low mood, your self-esteem may drop, and it can feel as if you’re failing at everything. But starting out with some achievable goals, like getting dressed every day or cooking yourself a mealcan help you feel good and boost your self-confidence.

Try keeping a mood diary

Feeling low can seem constant and unending. But using a mood diary to check in with yourself and keep track of changes can be useful. It can help you to notice if there are times or activities that make you feel better or worse. There are many freely available online, including diaries from Bipolar UK and MoodPanda.

See our pages on depression and self-esteem for more information. 

  • If you have panic attacks or flashbacks, it might help to plan a 'safe space' in your home that you'll go to.
  • You can also find ways to comfort yourself if you're feeling anxious. For example, there are games and puzzles you can use to distract yourself, and breathing exercises which may help.
  • Try to make choices to control the things that you can. Although the pandemic means your choices may be limited, try to focus on the things you can change. It might be helpful to list the things you can change on one piece of paper and all the things you can’t on another.

See our pages on anxiety and panic attacks for more information.

  • Open the windows to let in fresh air. This can help even for a short time, if it's too cold to open them for a long period.
  • Try spending time sitting on your doorstep, balcony or in the garden if you have one. Remember to wrap up if it's cold outside.
  • If you don't have any of these places to sit, try spending time sitting at a window and looking at the sky. This can help to give you a sense of space and help with feelings of claustrophobia.
  • Regularly change which room you spend time in, if this is possible. Or if this isn't possible and you live in a very small space, try creating different sections of the same room that you use for different things, as this can give you a sense of variety.

Support for mental health problems during coronavirus

If you're experiencing mental health problems during the coronavirus pandemic, you may also find the advice on these pages helpful:

Looking after your practical needs 

You may have practical needs while living through the coronavirus pandemic, especially during the winter. These might feel difficult to deal with sometimes, but there are ways to get help.

Our coronavirus useful contacts page lists organisations that can offer practical guidance and supportThese tips may also help:

If you’re spending more time at home than usual, especially during the winter, you may find that your energy costs rise. Think about how you can manage your energy use, or how to cover any higher bills.

You could:

See our pages on money and mental health for more tips to help manage your money.

If you're spending lots of time at home, this could make any existing housing problems feel worse.

This may include your relationships with anyone you live with. Or you may be struggling to afford rent, mortgage payments or other household bills.

If you don't have a permanent home, you may be very worried about living through winter during the pandemic.

Our page on housing and mental health has information on how to get help for different housing situations, and ways to take care of yourself.

And our coronavirus useful contacts page has links to organisations who can help with housing problems and homelessness during the pandemic. 

Our coronavirus useful contacts page lists organisations who can help with accessing food and medicines. This includes ways to find local volunteer and support groups, and links to information and advice from the NHS.

If you take medication, our page on accessing treatment and support during coronavirus has information on continuing to get the medication you need during the coronavirus pandemic.

It can feel difficult to find the energy to look after yourself and your environment when you're struggling with difficult feelings.

But taking small steps, such as doing some cleaning, laundry and washing, can help us feel more comfortable. This can be especially helpful if we’re spending lots of time at home.

"I find making my home nice and cosy really helps me relax. My friend has raided his Christmas decorations early and strung up fairy lights around the house to add twinkly, calming light on dark evenings."

Further advice and support

We have lots more pages of advice and support for your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, which are all available from our coronavirus information hub. 

You may find these pages especially helpful:  

This information was last updated on 2 December 2020.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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