19 March 2020
Looking after your mental health during COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
With the current situation surrounding COVID-19 (Coronavirus),
it can be a worrying time for patients, carers and staff alike. It
can be especially stressful for someone living with mental health
problems and for the people around them who provide support. We
have collated some useful information and advice that can ease
worries, as well as providing practical tips that you can follow to
protect yourself and your mental health.
The World Health Organisation has issued some advice
• Avoid watching, reading or listening to news that could cause
you to feel anxious or distressed
• Seek information mainly to take practical steps to prepare
your plans and protect yourself and loved ones
• Seek information updates at specific times during the day once
or twice. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about
an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried.
It is important that the information you read and digest is both
authentic and the truth. You can get up to date information on the
virus as well as government advice at:
Public Health England
Being able to disconnect
Having the ability to step back and take a break from the
constant stream of news and information is a useful skill that
could help your mental health. With news, conversations and social
media controlling the news, it is helpful to control the content
you see. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you could:
• Mute key words which might be overwhelming on Twitter and
other social media platforms. Unfollow and mute groups if it is
helpful for you.
• Mute WhatsApp groups and hide Facebook posts and feeds if you
feel impacted by the topics.
Focus on yourself
With the wider picture often seeming overwhelming, it can be
useful to identify the small steps that you as an individual can do
to help fight the spread, and also to ease any anxieties you may be
• Focus on aspects in your life that you can control and
acknowledge the ones you may not be able to
• Washing your hands for 20 seconds more often than you normally
do and ensuring you follow government instructions, are steps we
can all take to combat the virus together.
• Stay connected to not feel alone. Check that you have correct
contact information for those around you and regularly contact
Preparing for self-isolation may be a worrying time for some,
but being prepared and having a plan may make you feel calmer and
•Mind have a useful checklist here
including preparing work arrangements, cleaning supplies and
commitments to ensure you are ready to stay at home.
Stay well fed and drink water regularly. A plan may be made
around getting groceries delivered for home delivery or getting a
neighbour to drop off some supplies at your door.
• Try to keep active, although this may be difficult, exercising
at home could be as simple as cleaning or walking up and down the
• Make sure your routine includes getting as much sunlight,
fresh air and nature as possible to improve your mood and make you
feel more relaxed.
• If you're self-isolating, strike a balance between having a
routine and making sure each day has some variety. You could be
productive and use your time to learn new skills, read a book or
complete some jobs on your to-do list
AnxietyUK suggests practising the "Apple" technique to deal with
anxiety and worries.
• Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it
comes to mind.
• Pause: Don't react as you normally do. Don't react at all.
Pause and breathe.
• Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and
this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary.
It is only a thought or feeling. Don't believe everything you
think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
• Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You
don't have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away
in a bubble or cloud.
• Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in
this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations
of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and
notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you
can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to
something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing
before you noticed the worry, or do something else - mindfully with
your full attention.