The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having an impact on everyone’s lives. During this time, you may be bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also feel low, worried, anxious, or be concerned about your health or the health of those close to you. You may also feel concerned about the economic impact of the pandemic and how this could affect your job or finances. These are all common reactions to the difficult situation we face. Everyone reacts differently to events and changes in the way that we think, feel and behave vary between different people and over time. It’s important that you take care of your mind as well as your body.
Most people will find strategies that work for them and for the difficult feelings associated with the pandemic. Some people, especially those with pre-existing mental health problems, may need extra support. The NHS recommends various mental health helplines.
What can help your mental health and wellbeing
The following advice is given to help you with your mental health and wellbeing.
- Think about your daily routine
- Consider how to connect with others, for example, the NHS Volunteer Responders can provide a free telephone ‘check in and chat’ if you are feeling isolated. Call 0808 196 3646 to register for this service. Speak to someone on one of the NHS recommended helplines or join a specific support group, such as the Action Kidney Cancer Community Forum
- Help and support others
- Talk about your worries. Sharing with family and friends how you are feeling and the things you are doing to cope can help. If you don’t feel able to do that, there are people you can speak to via NHS recommended helplines
- Look after your physical wellbeing. Visit NHS Better Health for advice on improving your health and wellbeing, including ideas for healthy meals you can cook at home. Doing exercise and other physical activity can have a positive impact on your mood, improve your sleep, and reduce stress and anxiety. You can find free, easy 10-minute workouts from the NHS or other exercise videos to try at home on the NHS Fitness Studio. Sport England also has tips for keeping active at home.
- Seek advice and support if you smoke or use drugs or alcohol. NHS Better Health provides information and advice on quitting smoking and helps you find a package of support that’s right for you. You can also talk to an adviser on the National Smokefree Helpline on 0300 123 1044 (call charges may apply). NHS Better Health also provides advice and resources to help with cutting back on alcohol. You can also call Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 (call charges may apply) for advice and support and Down Your Drink provides interactive web-based support to help people to drink more safely. If you are concerned about drug use, FRANK offers information and advice, including where to get help, and provides an advice line on 0300 123 6600 (call charges may apply)
- Look after your sleep. Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns and good sleep practices, such as creating a restful environment and avoiding caffeine close to bedtime. The NHS Better Health page provides practical advice on how to improve your sleep
- Try to manage difficult feelings. The NHS Better Health Every Mind Matters page on anxiety and NHS mental wellbeing audio guides provide further information on how to manage anxiety
- Get the facts. Gather high-quality information that will help you to accurately determine your own or other people’s risk of contracting COVID-19 so that you can take reasonable precautions. Find a credible source you can trust such as GOV.UK, or the NHS website, and fact-check information you get from newsfeeds, social media or other people
- Do things you enjoy
- Set goals to give a sense of purpose
- Keep your mind active to help you feel in control and less worried, e.g., read, write, play games, do crossword puzzles, sudokus, jigsaws or drawing and painting
- Take time to relax and focus on the present to help with difficult emotions, worries about the future and generally make you feel better. Relaxation techniques can also help some people to deal with feelings of anxiety. For useful resources, see NHS Better Health Every Mind Matters and the NHS mindfulness page
- If you can, get outside. If you can’t, bring nature in
- The National Council on Aging (NCOA) created a resource on Meditation and Sleep Apnea to help readers understand their symptoms and how meditation can be a helpful addition to their routines.