Five tips to support your mental health during COVID-19
February 23, 2021
This article has not been updated recently
It’s nearly a year since the first lockdown started in the UK and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our lives.
To find out more about how the nation’s mental health has been affected during the pandemic and how, we’re carrying out a survey to find out how you’ve been coping.
Understandably, many of us are finding ourselves feeling anxious and overwhelmed. To help you and your loved ones, here are a few ideas on how to support mental wellbeing:
- Be kind to yourself and others
- Check your sources (but not too often)
- Keep in touch
- Take care of yourself
- Bring some structure to your day
1. Be kind to yourself and others
Research from the Mental Health Foundation shows that helping others has a positive effect on mental health, creating a sense of belonging and reducing feelings of isolation.
Taking a moment to do something kind for someone else may help to brighten your day.
There are hundreds of ways to make others smile without leaving your house. Check out these tips for ideas for random acts of kindness that you can do from the safety of your sofa.
Make sure you extend your kindness to yourself too. It’s a difficult time, so remember to cut yourself and your loved ones some slack!
2. Check your sources (but not too often)
Fake news and misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic are rife on social media, and can easily trigger unnecessary worry. Make sure you get your news from trustworthy sources like the NHS and other public health authorities.
Continuously checking for updates and monitoring the situation can become compulsive and fuel anxiety. It may be a good idea to limit how often you check the news or scroll your social media feeds.
Also remember that spreading alarmist stories and misleading health information about COVID-19 will ramp up anxiety for the people who see them, and could even be harmful.
The BBC has some great advice for how you can play a part in stopping misinformation from going viral.
3. Keep in touch
Keeping connections going with friends and family is important, but right now we need to follow local restrictions and limit in-person contact to help control the pandemic.
Technology like Zoom or Skype is helping many of us keep in touch with loved ones, even if we can’t see them in person.
It’s not quite the same as a hug, but social media chats, video or phone calls, and even writing letters can help you feel connected to people outside your household.
4. Take care of yourself
Taking care of your body is as important as looking after your mind, and the two are closely linked. Here are some ideas to boost your physical as well as your health:
- Nourish your body with healthy meals - we recommend eating more plants!
- Stay active. It doesn’t have to be a hardcore workout - any kind of physical activity will help to build your fitness and boost your mood.
- Take time to unwind. Yoga and meditation are great options if you enjoy them, and there are various meditation and sleep apps that can help to clear your mind and calm down.
- Get outside. Spending time outside getting close to nature is great for your mental health. Any green space will do - check out this handy online tool to find parks, playgrounds, nature reserves and other open spaces near you.
- Take regular screen breaks. Many of us are staring at screens much longer than we used to, so be sure to give your eyes and brain a rest. You could even plan a regular electronics-free day if it helps you to switch off.
5. Bring some structure to your day
Regular routines are important for helping us to feel grounded, even though there’s a lot going on right now.
Build in time for family and friends, work and other activities, relaxation, meals and exercise, and make sure you leave time for things you really enjoy. Reading, crafting, baking, gardening, dancing, music… whatever makes you feel good.
Remember, be kind to yourself and don't try to cram too many things into your day. Give yourself time to do things at a steady pace, and if you don’t manage everything, forgive yourself and move on.
And you can always download the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app and spend just a minute every day logging your health to keep an eye on any potential COVID-19 symptoms and participate in life-saving scientific research.
To find out more about how you can look after your mental health during COVID-19, check out these useful resources from the Mental Health Foundation.