As rules around social distancing and mask wearing begin to ease, it’s natural that these changes may affect our mental health and wellbeing in different ways.
Here we've gathered some tips that might be helpful.
⚠️ We're updating the information on this page in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. The advice on this page may change significantly as the situation continues to develop.
Page last updated: 19 July 2021
Lockdown restrictions are coming to an end in the United Kingdom. As guidance changes, it is clear that coronavirus will continue to have an impact on our lives. Many of us have faced difficult personal, financial or physical challenges during the pandemic, and it's natural that this can have an impact on our mental health.
As restrictions are lifted, it's normal that we will all have different reactions. You may be looking forward to the new changes or feel nervous about the rules being relaxed. You could be feeling uncertain about what you should or shouldn’t be doing, or worried about what new pressures will come with restrictions easing. Whatever you are feeling is OK. There is no right or wrong way to react. It’s natural that many of us are feeling the effects of a year of social distancing.
This summer, it’s important to be kind to yourself and take things at your own pace. We’ve all faced challenges over the past year and many of us will need time to readjust. If you’re finding things tough, try to talk about how you are feeling with others. You’re not alone. At Samaritans, we’re committed to helping you if you’re struggling to cope, however we can.
Samaritans is a critical service, needed now more than ever. Our volunteers are always here to listen and won’t judge or tell you what to do. While it may take us longer to answer the phone or respond to emails, we're still here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In case it’s helpful, we have gathered some tips and resources to help you look after your wellbeing.
Tips for taking care of your mental health
Go at your own pace
- Take time to plan. As workplaces and business open up again, it’s natural that any changes to our routine may feel overwhelming. Planning ahead of time can help you manage your time and feel more in control. If you’re feeling uncertain about meeting with other people in person, whether for work or socially, try to talk about how you are feeling and what you are comfortable with beforehand.
- Set achievable goals. If you’re feeling anxious about doing something, try breaking it down to a list of smaller tasks. For example, if you haven’t been to the shops in a while, you might want to try walking in that part of town before going inside. Focus on what you want to achieve and try not to compare yourself to what you think others are doing.
- Try a relaxation exercise. Sometimes something simple like controlled breathing can help us feel calmer. Muscle relaxation exercises can also help reduce feelings of stress or anxiety. If you can, find a quiet space and try out the exercises we’ve linked to. They’re easy to memorise and can be used while you are out.
Find your balance
- Pay attention to how you are feeling. Our self-help web app can help you track your mood and includes practical tips and techniques to help you look after your emotional health.
- Make time for yourself. It could be something creative, playing sports or taking a copy of the paper to a park for half an hour in the sun. Even stepping away and taking a five-minute break over a cup of tea can help you relax and recharge.
- Take a break from the news and social media. If you find it hard to stay offline, prioritising other activities can help you switch it off. Try turning off your notifications or leaving your phone in another room for a few hours. If your job involves lots of screen time, taking a break away from your devices after work might help you relax.
Spend time outdoors
- Enjoy nature. Whatever way you can, taking some time to enjoy the outdoors can have a positive effect on your mood. Our nature and mental health page has lots of tips for different ways to enjoy nature both inside and outside.
- Get active. Exercise can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and other difficult feelings. There are lots of different ways to be active. You could start off with a brisk walk or join a free online exercise class indoors. Setting goals with others is a great way to stay motivated. Try teaming up with friends and family, or taking part in an online challenge.
- Talk about how you’re feeling. Talking can help put things into perspective and help us feel less isolated. It can be hard to reach out but talking to a trusted friend, colleague or family member is something we’d encourage you to try, however you can.
- You are never alone. If you don’t feel like there’s anyone you can talk to, Samaritans volunteers are here for you. Call free, day or night, on 116 123 or email [email protected] For more information see our contact a Samaritan page.
If you're worried about your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic
If you’re feeling anxious about lockdown easing
- Every Mind Matters have published 11 tips to cope with anxiety about coming out of lockdown
- YoungMinds also have advice if you’re feeling anxious about the easing of restrictions
- If you are unsure about the rule now restrictions are easing, the British Hearth Foundation have shared tips for staying safe and managing anxiety as we prepare for lockdown restrictions to end across the UK
- Healthline also have tips for coping with reopening anxiety when you’re living with a chronic condition
If you have lost a friend or family member
- Cruse Bereavement Care have put together some advice on coping with changing restrictions if you have been bereaved
If you're worried about someone else
- We've put together some advice on how to support someone you're worried about during the pandemic
- If you’re worried about someone because of the way they’re acting online, we have advice for supporting someone online who might be a risk of self-harm or suicide
- Our How to support someone you're worried about pages also include guidance on signs that someone may not be OK
Looking after your mental health at home
- Huffington Post has some tips on looking after your mental health during self-isolation
- Mental Health at Work has put together a toolkit for coping with the challenges of working from home
- Age UK has some advice on looking after your wellbeing while spending more time indoors
Working during coronavirus
- Mental Health Foundation have advice for going back to the work environment
- Stylist also have some tips for dealing with social anxiety if you’re heading back to the office
- Our Through Our Frontline we offer resources to help look after your mental health as a key worker
If you're a key worker
Through Our Frontline, we offer round-the-clock one-to-one support, by call or text, from trained volunteers. Find out more about our keyworker support service here.
Advice for students
- YoungMinds has some advice on looking after yourself at uni during the coronavirus pandemic
- Student Minds also has some advice for looking after your mental health during the pandemic
Coronavirus symptoms and recovery
The NHS has a dedicated website with information and advice to support your recovery after coronavirus
- You can read the official NHS guidance on coronavirus here (UK)
- Public Health Agency has its information here (Northern Ireland)
- The HSE has some information on symptoms here (ROI)
- Public Health Wales has its coronavirus information here (Wales)
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