You might be worried about coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it could affect your life. This may include having to stay at home and avoid other people.
This might feel difficult or stressful. But there are lots of things you can try that could help your wellbeing.
This information is to help you cope if:
- you’re feeling anxious or worried about coronavirus
- you’re staying at home and avoiding public places, following Government advice that we should stay at home as much as possible
- you are self-isolating because you, or someone you live with, has symptoms of coronavirus. Self-isolating means that you stay home and keep away from other people.
And it covers:
- Practical advice for staying at home
- Taking care of your mental health and wellbeing
- Support for work, benefits and housing
- Checklist for staying at home
You might also find these links helpful:
- NHS guidance about coronavirus and staying at home, in English.
- Welsh Government guidance about coronavirus and staying at home, in English and Welsh.
- NHS guidance about what to do if you, or someone you live with, has symptoms of coronavirus and you need to self-isolate, in English. This guidance is stricter than the general guidance about staying at home.
If you’re staying at home or indoors more than you usually would, this advice may help:
Eat well and stay hydrated
- Think about your diet. Your appetite might change if your routine changes, or if you’re less active than you usually are. Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can help your mood and energy levels. See our tips on food and mood for more information.
- Drink water regularly. Drinking enough water is important for your mental and physical 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. See the NHS website for more information about water, drinks and your health.
- If you are 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.
- You may find that supermarkets and online delivery services feel busier than usual at the moment. If you’re feeling anxious about going to the supermarket or arranging an online delivery, it might help to try some of our self-care tips for anxiety, such as breathing exercises.
Keep taking your medication
- You might be able to order repeat prescriptions by phone. Or you may be able to do this online using an app or website, if your doctor’s surgery offers this.
- Ask your pharmacy about getting your medication delivered, or ask someone else to collect it for you. This will usually be possible, although if it’s a controlled drug the pharmacy might ask for proof of identity.
- Be careful about buying medication online. You should only buy from registered pharmacies.
Continue accessing treatment and support if possible
- Ask about having appointments by phone, text or online. For example, this could be with your counsellor, therapist or support worker.
- Ask your therapist how they can support you, for example if you’re struggling with not seeing them face to face.
Take care of your immediate environment
- If you are spending a lot of time at home, you may find it helpful to keep things clean and tidy, although this is different for different people.
- If you live with other people, keeping things tidy might feel more important if you’re all at home together. But you might have different ideas about what counts as ‘tidy’ or how much it matters. It could help to decide together how you’ll use different spaces. And you could discuss what each person needs to feel comfortable.
- Cleaning your house, doing laundry and washing yourself are important ways to help stop germs spreading, including when there are warnings about particular diseases. The NHS website has advice about how to stop germs from spreading. And the UK Government website has advice about self-isolation which includes information about household cleaning.
- Your energy costs will probably rise if you’re at home more than you usually would be. Think about how you can manage your energy use, or how to cover any higher bills.
Find ways to work or study at home
If you have a job which is possible to do from your home, you may be working from home a lot more than usual. You might find this situation difficult to get used to.
If you have children, you may also need to look after them if they are no longer going to school or college.
These are some ideas which might help:
For adults who can work from home
- If you have an employer who has asked you to work from home, you can ask them about any policies they have for home working.
- You can also ask them to help with setting things up at home, like any technology you might need.
- Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing team has more tips for people working from home, including advice if you manage others while working remotely.
For parents and carers of children and young people
- If you are working from home more than usual, you may find it especially difficult if you are also looking after children would usually be in nursery, school or college while you work.
- Think about how to balance your work with caring for your children. If you have an employer, they may be able to help you balance your work and childcare responsibilities.
- Some employers may ask if there is another adult who can supervise your children while you’re working. It may help to speak to your employer if you are concerned about this.
- Think about being more lenient with your children’s social media and mobile phone use during their time at home. If your children would normally go to school or college, they will be used to being around other children for several hours a day. They might find it difficult to be removed from this, especially if they’re also worried about their health.
- Ask their school or college if any digital learning is available while your children are at home, and what technology they may need. Remember to add time in for breaks and lunch.
- If no digital learning is available, you could encourage your children to select books or podcasts they’d like to explore during their time away from school or college. You can also think about card games, board games and puzzles, and any other ways to stay active or be creative.
- For older teens, there are free online courses they could try out. For example, these could be from FutureLearn and BBC Bitesize.
If you have care needs, or provide care or support to someone else
If you use care services
- You should let your Local Authority and care provider know if you have to self-isolate.
- Make it clear that any support is still needed. Tell them that alternative arrangements are required if any of the usual support can’t continue. This may include things like carers visiting, day centre sessions, or friends and family coming over to help.
- Your Local Authority should have policies for this situation and should tell you how they can meet your needs.
If you provide care or support
The Carers UK website has detailed information about what to do if you provide care to someone else.
This includes guidance on:
- providing care for someone who is staying at home
- what to do if you start to have symptoms of coronavirus
- making a plan for your caring responsibilities during this time, for example in case you become ill.
If you provide care to someone you don’t live with and you need to self-isolate, you should contact your Local Authority.
Taking care of your mental health and wellbeing
If you are staying at home more than you usually would, it might feel more difficult than usual to take care of your mental health and wellbeing.
These are some ideas which may help:
Hand washing and anxiety
Some mental health problems can cause difficult feelings or behaviours to do with washing or hygiene. If you experience this, you might find it hard to hear advice about washing your hands.
If this is making you feel stressed or anxious, here are some things you could try:
- Don’t keep re-reading the same advice if this is unhelpful for you.
- Let other people know you’re struggling. For example, you could ask them not to remind you to wash your hands.
- Breathing exercises can help you cope and feel more in control. You can find a simple breathing exercise on the NHS website. Our pages on relaxation also have some exercises you can try, and other relaxation tips.
- Set limits, like washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds.
- Plan something to do after washing your hands. This could help distract you and change your focus.
- It could also help to read some of the tips in our information on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Connect with people
Keep in touch digitally
- Make plans to video chat with people or groups you’d normally see in person.
- You can also arrange phone calls or send instant messages or texts.
- If you’re worried that you might run out of stuff to talk about, make a plan with someone to watch a show or read a book separately so that you can discuss it when you contact each other.
- Think of other ways to keep in contact with people while meeting in person is not possible. For example, you could check your phone numbers are up to date, or that you have current email addresses for friends you’ve not seen for a while.
Decide on your routine
- Plan how you’ll spend your time. It might help to write this down on paper and put it on the wall.
- Try to follow your ordinary routine as much as possible. Get up at the same time as normal, follow your usual morning routines, and go to bed at your usual time. Set alarms to remind you of your new schedule if that helps.
- If you aren’t happy with your usual routine, this might be a chance to do things differently. For example, you could go to bed earlier, spend more time cooking or do other things you don’t usually have time for.
- Think about how you’ll spend time by yourself at home. For example, plan activities to do on different days or habits you want to start or keep up.
If you live with other people, it may help to do the following:
- Agree on a household routine. Try to give everyone you live with a say in this agreement.
- Try to respect each other’s privacy and give each other space. For example, some people might want to discuss everything they’re doing while others won’t.
Try to keep active
Build physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. Most of us don’t have exercise equipment like treadmills where we live, but there are still activities you can do. Exercising at home can be simple and there are options for most ages and abilities, such as:
- 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.
Get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as you can
Bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and make you feel more relaxed.
It is possible to get the positive effects of nature while staying indoors at home. You could try the following:
- Spend time with the windows open to let in fresh air.
- Arrange a comfortable space to sit, for example by a window where you can look out over a view of trees or the sky, or watch birds and other animals.
- Look at photos of your favourite places in nature. Use them as the background on your mobile phone or computer screen, or print and put them up on your walls.
- Listen to natural sounds, like recordings or apps that play birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall. Get as much natural light as you can. Spend time in your garden if you have one, or open your front or back door and sit on the doorstep.
- If you have safe access to green space like a garden, you could bring some natural materials in to decorate your living space, or use them in art projects. This could include leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark or seeds.
- You may be able to buy seeds, flowers or plants online for delivery, to grow and keep indoors. If you order items for delivery, ask to have them left at your doorstep, to avoid face-to-face contact.
Find ways to spend your time
- Try having a clear out. You could sort through your possessions and put them away tidily, or have a spring clean.
- You could also have a digital clear out. Delete any old files and apps you don’t use, upgrade your software, update all your passwords or clear out your inboxes.
- Write letters or emails, or make phone calls with people you’ve been meaning to catch up with.
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. These include:
- arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, collage, sewing, craft kits or upcycling
- playing musical instruments, singing or listening to music
Keep your mind stimulated
- Keep your brain occupied and challenged. Set aside time in your routine for this. Read books, magazines and articles. Listen to podcasts, watch films and do puzzles.
- Although high street library branches are closed, some libraries have apps you can use online. These allow you to borrow ebooks, audiobooks or magazines from home for free, if you’re a library member.
- 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.
Take care with news and information
- Stay connected with current events, but be careful where you get news and health information from.
- If news stories make you feel anxious or confused, think about switching off or limiting what you look at for a while.
- Social media could help you stay in touch with people, but might also make you feel anxious including if people are sharing news stories or posting about their worries. 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.
If you’re feeling anxious
- 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.
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has more information on how to cope if you’re feeling anxious about coronavirus.
If you’re feeling claustrophobic or trapped
- Open the windows to let in fresh air. Or you could spend time sitting on your doorstep, or in the garden if you have one.
- Try looking at the sky out of the window or from your doorstep. This can help to give you a sense of space.
- Regularly change the rooms you spend time in.
Checklist for staying at home
- Food: do you have a way to get food delivered if you need to self-isolate?
- Cleaning: do you have cleaning supplies?
- Work: can you carry on working, including working from home? If not, can you find out your rights to payment or benefits?
- Medication: do you have enough medication, or a way to get more?
- Health: can you reorganise any planned therapy or treatments?
- Connectivity: have you got ways to keep in contact with people you see regularly, like their phone numbers, email addresses? Do you need help setting up digital communication, like a video calling app?
- Routine: can you create a routine or timetable for yourself? And if you live with other people, should you create a household schedule? Do you need to agree how the household will run with everyone at home all day?
- Exercise: is there any physical activity you can do inside your home, like going up and down the stairs, using bean tins as weights, or exercises you can do in your chair?
- Nature: have you thought about how you can bring nature into your home? Can you get some seeds and planting equipment delivered, or put up photos of green spaces?
- Entertainment: have you thought about things to do, books to read or TV shows to watch?
- Relax: have you got materials so you can do something creative, such as pencils and paper?