for better mental health

Difficult feelings about the coronavirus pandemic

This page explains difficult feelings and emotions you might be experiencing about the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. It also has tips on managing these feelings and where to get more support.

What might I be feeling about the coronavirus pandemic?

Many of us are experiencing lots of difficult emotions about the coronavirus pandemic. This may include feelings about getting sick, the government restrictions, or struggling to see when the pandemic might end.

These are some of the common feelings that people have told us they are having during coronavirus. You may also experience many other emotions about the pandemic which aren't recognised here.

  • You might feel hopeless about how things are right now. This may be because you feel exhausted from living through the pandemic for several months.
  • You may also be pessimistic about when the coronavirus pandemic might end, and when things may get a little easier again.
  • You may feel even more tired and hopeless if you previously had coronavirus symptoms, and you are still experiencing its effects. If these symptoms last for a long period, it is sometimes known as 'long Covid'.
  • You might find it hard to accept the government restrictions, and how these are affecting your life. Perhaps you feel sad about how your work or social life have been affected by the restrictions. And you may struggle to see when these parts of your life will return to how they used to be.
  • Or you may be grieving for people who have died during the pandemic. This might be more difficult if you don’t feel you like you’ve been able to grieve properly, because of restrictions to attending funerals or seeing loved ones.
  • You may feel anxious, afraid or panicked by the ongoing pandemic. This may be because you live somewhere with rising infection levels, and you’re worried about getting sick. Or you may worry that someone you care about has a higher risk of infection than before.
  • You might also feel stressed or unprepared for more changes to your life, especially when they are hard to predict. For example, it might feel like you only just adapted to living with one set of restrictions, and now they've changed again.
  • The initial lockdown may also have been very difficult for you. You might feel scared about how you will cope with more restrictions.
  • Or you might feel stressed about how coronavirus and the government restrictions will affect your working life. This may include worrying about losing your job. Or you might be concerned about going into work if there are high infection levels around where you work.
  • The government restrictions might leave you feeling confused or uncertain. You may struggle to understand which restrictions apply to you, or find it hard to keep up with any changes. You may also feel unsure about how long the restrictions are going to last.
  • Or the coronavirus pandemic may mean that you’re living with a general sense of unease and anxiety, especially as the situation keeps changing.
  • You may feel worried that coronavirus restrictions will keep you apart from your friends, family and wider community. This might leave you feeling lonely or isolated.
  • If you were used to meeting friends and family outdoors during the spring and summer, the winter weather may mean that this feels more difficult. This might leave you feeling more distant from the people in your life.
  • You might feel angry if you think that the government is dealing with the pandemic the wrong way. Perhaps you feel a lack of trust over the reasons for the rules, or how things are portrayed in the media. For example, you may think the rules are not enough to keep you safe.
  • Or you may feel frustrated that you followed previous restrictions, but the area you live in now has rising infection rates. You may also feel angry at people you feel haven't followed the rules.
  • This may feel very difficult after several months of living with restrictions already, and without knowing when things may get easier. This might make you feel frustrated that things haven’t been dealt with better so far.
  • It may also make you feel powerless, like you don’t have a say in anything that’s happening, and that the situation is beyond your control.

You may feel that there isn’t enough financial and welfare support for you, your family or community to live through the pandemic. 

Perhaps this is because the government restrictions make it difficult for you to keep working, and there isn’t enough support to help you deal with this.

You might feel stigmatised or negatively judged by others. Or you may worry that others will avoid you. 

Perhaps this is because you’ve already had coronavirus. Or if others may think your work makes you more likely to spread the virus. You may also feel like this if you live in an area that has rising infection rates.

  • You might envy people who live in places with different restrictions to where you live. This may be because you feel they have more freedom than you do. Or if you are worried about infection, you might envy their stricter rules.
  • You may also envy people who seem more relaxed about coronavirus and the restrictions, if they seem to be coping with it more easily than you.

If you're worried about the spread of the coronavirus, you may feel relieved when stricter rules are introduced. 

These restrictions may give you a sense of safety from getting sick, for yourself and for others in your life.

If you're experiencing these emotions, try to remind yourself of the following:

  • It is understandable to experience difficult feelings about the coronavirus pandemic, especially after living through it for so long. There is no 'normal' response to a pandemic.
  • Your feelings might change day-to-day, and may be affected by things outside of your control. This might include feeling worse before getting better.

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.

What could help me manage these feelings?

The tips below may help if you’re struggling with difficult feelings during the coronavirus pandemic:

It might feel hard to start talking about how you are feeling. But many people find that sharing their experiences can help them feel better. It may be that just having someone listen to you and show they care can help in itself.

If you aren't able to open up to someone close to you, you can call Samaritans any time on 116 123.

Our coronavirus useful contacts page lists lots of organisations who can help with different needs during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes support for:

  • work and redundancy
  • money, benefits and housing
  • caring for others, including young people.

If you’ve lost someone and you’re experiencing grief, our pages on bereavement have ways to find help and support.

If you're struggling with your mental health, it's ok to ask for help. A good place to start is by speaking to your GP, or your mental health team if you have one.

The NHS and other services have adapted to the coronavirus pandemic. There are video and telephone appointments available, if you need to speak to someone. You may also be able to ask your GP for a face-to-face appointment.

See our page on accessing treatment and support during coronavirus for more information on seeking help during the pandemic.

Peer support brings together people who've had similar experiences to support each other. Many people find it helps them to share ideas about how to stay well, connect with others and feel less alone.

Mind has a supportive online community called Side by Side, where you can share your experiences and hear from others. We welcome people from all backgrounds, whatever you're going through right now.

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.

You might find that it helps to express how you are feeling about changes to lockdown. This could be by writing, drawing, painting or any other creative way that feels helpful to you.

It might feel like the coronavirus pandemic has limited the things you can control in your life. But it can help if you try to focus on the things you can change.

It may help to list the things you can change on one piece of paper and all the things you can’t on another.

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 physical health can have a big effect on your mental health.

Our page on coronavirus and your wellbeing has some tips for taking care of your physical health, including during the winter. The NHS also has information on staying well in winter.

If you are struggling to find the latest guidance on the coronavirus pandemic, including any government restrictions where you live, these links may help:

Our page on coronavirus and your wellbeing has lots more practical ideas for taking care of your mental wellbeing during coronavirus.

This includes tips for coping with the pandemic during the winter.

You can also find lots of advice for coping with difficult feelings, emotions and experiences by searching our A-Z of mental health. You may find these pages especially helpful:

Andy

An ancient expression eased my lockdown anxiety

“I reminded myself that there are things I can control and things that are beyond my control … this too shall pass.”

This information was last updated on 9 November 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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