COVID-19 and your emotional wellbeing

The situation of coronavirus (COVID-19) may be causing you and your family to feel a range of different emotions. For instance, you may be feeling scared, worried, sad, angry, stressed or confused. These feelings are normal.

During this time it is important that you look after your mental health and wellbeing, as well as your physical health. Here are some tips and resources to help you do this.  

Stay connected. If you are self-isolating, carrying out shielding in your household or practising physical distancing, technology allows you to remain in touch with your loved ones and your community. Apps such as Zoom and Houseparty are face-to-face social networks that mean you can spend time with the people you care about in a shared virtual space. There are also lots of activities that can be enjoyed online – Zumba classes, book clubs, quiz groups and choirs to name a few.

Develop a routine. Come up with a routine that will work for you and those around you. Jot down all your usual daily activities (such as taking your medication, exercising and preparing meals) and any new responsibilities placed on you (such as home-schooling your children or working from home). Weave in tasks that will give you a sense of achievement, and set aside time to connect with others and do the things you enjoy.

Continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Try to follow a lifestyle that maximises your health. This means eating a balanced diet, getting a good night’s sleep and taking regular exercise. Be mindful of slipping into unhealthy behaviour as a way of coping with the situation. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, smoking or using recreational drugs.

Limit your exposure to the news. While it is important to stay informed of what is happening, make sure you access information from reputable sources only (e.g. Gov.uk, Health Protection Scotland, Public Health Wales and PID UK). Limit the amount of time you spend watching the news and avoid reading or watching news reports close to bedtime. Think about how you talk to your children about the situation. See our list of resources below.

Seek professional support (if needed). Talk to trusted family members and friends about your worries and concerns. Professional support is also available online - see our list below.  If you are worried about your own emotional health, or that of a loved one, you can call the Samaritans, for free, on 116 123, talk to your GP, contact your local psychology service or, in an emergency, attend your local accident and emergency department.

You can download this information as a leaflet here.

Resources for adults

World Health Organization: Advice for coping with stress during the coronavirus outbreak

Mind: Coronavirus and your wellbeing

Mental Health Foundation: Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

Relate: Maintaining healthy relationships during the coronavirus outbreak

Free online mindfulness sessions:
-    https://oxfordmindfulness.org/online-sessions-podcasts/
-    https://www.headspace.com/

Resources for carers of children and young people

World Health Organization: Helping children cope with stress during the coronavirus outbreak

Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families: Supporting young people’s mental health during periods of disruption

Emerging minds: Supporting children and young people with worries about COVID-19

Emerging minds: How can we best support children and young people with their worries and anxieties?

Emerging minds: How can we best support children and young people with their worries and anxieties? – Recommended resources

This information has developed by Dr Mari Campbell and her team at the Royal Free Hospital and approved by the Chair of our Medical Advisory Panel. 

Posted 3rd April 2020