Looking After Your Mental Wellbeing During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

Last Updated: 18/03/2020 at 15:13

Looking after your mental health is really important, especially in times where there is uncertainty and constant news updates about coronavirus (COVID-19). It's particularly important to consider your mental health as day-to-day lives and routines are changing because of social distancing, changes to working environments, job security and upcoming school closures. 

In March, the First Minister announced that schools will close from Friday 20th March for a currently unknown amount of time. They will not reopen until at least after the Easter break.

We've put together some top tips about looking after your mental health. Remember: it's natural to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, scared or angry when there is lots of worrying news happening and your routine changes.  

Have a routine

Your day-to-day routine will likely change, whether that's because your school has closed or you're working from home. Keeping to regular routines and schedules as much as possible and/or creating new ones that include learning, fun activities and relaxing is really important. Make sure you plan some time for looking after yourself, whether it's reading a book, playing a game or doing some meditation. 

Take a look at our article on ways to help your community if you want to build supporting others into your day-to-day routine. 

Try to stay connected 

Talk to the people who make you feel better. This could be your family or your friends. If you can, try to get some virtual face-to-face time through apps like FaceTime or Skype. Or set up some new group chats on Facebook Messenger, Snapchat or WhatsApp. 

Keep yourself healthy

Getting your basic needs right will help you feel a lot better. Make sure you're eating as healthy as possible, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, and make sure you're drinking enough water. 

Try to get some exercise. If you're self-isolating because you have symptoms, you can still go outside to exercise (yes, going for a walk still counts) as long as you keep away from other people. You can also do lots of workouts from your home - YouTube has a whole bunch of free ones you can try. 

Make sure you're getting enough sleep too. Sleep is really important for our mental and physical health. Take a look at some top tips on how to get a good nights sleep. 

Take some deep breaths

Deep breathing can really help you if you're feeling anxious or worried. You can do this exercise anywhere; you could try standing up, sitting down, or lying on your back. The important thing is that you're comfortable.

Follow this blue ring, inhaling through your nose, holding for just a second, then exhaling through your mouth. Try and take long, slow, deep breaths from your diaphragm (your tummy). Do this for three to five minutes to clear your head, reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, and help you relax.

Breathing exercise animation

Find alternatives

If you're feeling upset because an event you were looking forward to was cancelled, lots of people are now offering virtual ways to enjoy things. Lots of musicians are live-streaming concerts, you can visit museums across the world virtually and you can watch e-sports if you're missing the football or rugby. Take a look at our beginners guide to getting into e-sports. 

Have a plan

It's always good to have a plan in place, even if you're not sure you'll use it. If you think you may a little extra support for either your physical or mental health, know who to get in touch with and how. 

Make sure you've got enough medication if you take any. You can call your GP or some practices will let you order your prescription online. If you are self-isolating, ask a friend or family member to pick it up for you and drop it off outside your house or flat. 

Get expert advice

There are lots of mental health charities that provide really useful advice that can help you if you're struggling. 

The Mental Health Foundation are providing support to address the mental health aspects of the Coronavirus outbreak alongside other official organisations.

See Me Scotland have lots of advice specifically for young people.  

The NHS also has lots of useful tips that can help you look after your mental wellbeing. 

Talk to someone

If you're finding things particularly difficult, there are lots of services that can help. 

Samaritans is open 24/7. You can call them on 116 123 or email them at jo@samaritans.org.

Give us a SHOUT also provide a free text service 24/7 for people feeling anxious, worried or stressed. Just text 85258. 

Breathing Space is open 6pm to 2am Monday - Thursday and 24 hours a day on the weekends (Friday 6pm to Monday 6am). You can call them on 0800 83 85 87. If you are a British Sign Language user you can contact them via their online BSL-interpreting video relay service (VRS).

Childline is open 9am-midnight. You can call them 0800 1111. They also have an online service where you can chat with a counsellor about whatever's worrying you.

Things to avoid

Try not to use alcohol, drugs or tobacco to cope with the way you're feeling. All of these things have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. Find out more over on the Choices for Life site.

Speculation and rumours can swirl online, which can make you feel worried or scared. Stick to getting your information from reliable sources. For COVID-19 information, the World Health Organisation website, the NHS website and the UK Government website will be the most up-to-date and accurate.

Remember that it’s fine to not check the news or scroll through endless updates each day. Take some time out and put your phone down for a while. Have a look at our #PowerPause campaign for ideas on how to take a break from your screen.  

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