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.
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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.
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.
"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."
"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.”
"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."
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."
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:
"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."
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.
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.
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:
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.
"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."
See our information on sleep problems for more tips to improve your 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.
See our pages about online mental health for more information.
When you’re feeling low, it can be difficult to feel connected to others or the things you usually enjoy. Some 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.
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 meal, can help you feel good and boost your self-confidence.
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 anxiety and panic attacks for more information.
If you're experiencing mental health problems during the coronavirus pandemic, you may also find the advice on these pages helpful:
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 support. These 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.
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."
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 5 January 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.