During these uncertain times following the COVID-19 outbreak, you may feel bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also be low, worried or anxious, or concerned about your finances, your health or those close to you. It’s important to remember that it is OK to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently. Remember, this situation is temporary and, for most of us, these difficult feelings will pass. Staying at home may be difficult, but you are helping to protect yourself and others by doing it.

The tips and advice here are things you can do now to help you keep on top of your mental wellbeing and cope with how you may feel while staying at home. Ensure you get further support if you feel you need it.

Sport and exercise will help boost your immune system and your mood and help you to avoid putting on weight while you’re at home. It can also help you feel more able to do everyday activities and reduce risk of future heart attacks and strokes.

The latest government guidance is that during lock-down people can go out of the house to exercise once a day. A daily walk or jog will mean you get some fresh air and a change of scene. Ensure you stay at least two metres (six feet) away from other people.  You can also exercise indoors.

If you’re at home all day, it can be easy to lose any sense of daily routine. So put exercise times in your diary to give some structure to your day. Why not try some morning exercises indoors, and then a lunchtime or evening walk?

If you have children, get them involved in new indoor and outdoor activities.  Brush up your crafting skills with young children and for the older ones, start teaching them essential life skills such as cooking, washing, ironing, mending and repairing everyday items, learning a new language as a family.  Play board games, connect and re-connect with those that are dear to you.

Helping to boost my mental health while I’m self-isolating

  • Many people find writing a diary helpful. It doesn’t have to be a traditional diary: it could be pictures or poems, whatever style of writing suits you the most.
  • Experts suggest that structuring your day could help – for example, getting dressed each morning and having set mealtimes for each day. You could have tasks for each day. if you are not working, this could be time to finally sort the back of the wardrobe or the weeds in the garden. Being out in the fresh air doing tasks such as gardening are good for the soul and help alleviate low mood, depression and anxiety.
  • Try to reframe your mindset. It’s better if we can accept a lack of control. Try to think about the positives – is it nice not to be commuting to/from work?  Get that book you’ve had your eye on for a while delivered, or there maybe one already on your shelf that you’ve been meaning to read? Make a list of films or boxsets you’ve previously been too busy to watch and enjoy! Is there something you’d like to learn that you could block out in your day? – maybe a new recipe or craft hobby, or why not complete a free online course? What would you enjoy that you can do at home?  Remember, a rest is as good as a change…
  • Stay connected with others. Maintaining healthy relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family while you are all staying at home – by phone, messaging, video calls or social media.  People are coming up with inventive ways to do things, like hosting online pub quizzes and music concerts.  Whether it’s people you usually see often or re-connecting with old friends. Lots of people are finding the current situation difficult, so staying in touch could help them too.
  • If you’re living with people, try to avoid arguments and conflicts as much as you can. These won’t help the situation. Most people find that, if you start getting angry or an argument is starting, take five minutes away from the situation to calm down. People respond differently to challenging situations, and everyone deals with anxiety differently.
  • Set times for news updates. Try to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak, including on social media, and think about turning off breaking-news alerts on your phone.  You could set yourself a specific time to read updates or limit yourself to checking a couple of times a day.  Use trustworthy sources – such as GOV.UK or the NHS website – and fact-check information from the news, social media or other people.

Most importantly, remember the guidance:-

Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives