The coronavirus pandemic is affecting the way many of us live our lives, and it's normal that this will affect people's mental health. We've gathered some tips and resources 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: Friday 19 March 2021
Many of us have faced difficult circumstances over the past year. It’s natural that these challenges can affect our mental health and wellbeing. You may be feeling more tired than usual, or worried about what's going on in the world. It might seem like a lot is happening outside of our control, and this can feel overwhelming. 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 working hard to minimise disruption to our services and support the people who need us. While it may take us longer to answer the phone or respond to emails, we're still here 24 hours a day.
Over the next few months, it’s will be as important to look after ourselves as it was at the start of the pandemic. You might be finding it harder to stay motivated after the past few months of lockdown, and that’s OK. There are a lot of things happening in our lives that we may be balancing. If there were activities that helped you cope before, try focusing on these.
As guidance changes, we may be able to see family or friends more. For many of us, these changes may be welcome, but they may also affect our mental health. You may be feeling uncertain about taking part in some activities or worried about what new pressures will come with lockdown easing. It’s normal to feel this way. We’ve all faced challenges over the past year and many of us will need time to readjust to the new rules. It’s important to be kind to yourself and to take things at your own pace. If you’re finding things tough, try to talk about how you are feeling with others.
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
Take time for yourself
- 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 something you enjoy. It could be doing something creative, watching a favourite movie or visiting your local park or garden for half an hour in the sun. Even stepping away and taking a five-minute break over a cup of tea could 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 to give you some head-space to relax.
Find your balance
- Set realistic goals. If you are struggling to stay motivated, planning your day or week ahead may help you stay focused. Breaking up the things you need to do into a list of smaller tasks can help. Focus on what you think is achievable for you 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 practiced almost anywhere.
Spend time outdoors
- Enjoy nature. Whatever way you can, taking some time to enjoy the outdoors can have a positive effect on your mood. If you can, leave your phone at home and use your daily outdoor exercise time to observe the changing seasons. If you aren't able to leave the house right now, make sure your curtains or blinds are open to let the natural light in. Bringing nature indoors, through cut flowers or a new house plant, can also be helpful.
- 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 others in your household or bubble, 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 may help you feel more positive about the future. It can be hard to reach out but talking to a trusted friend or family member is something we’d encourage you to try, however you can.
- You are never alone. If you don’t have family or friends close by or 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] More information can be found on our contact a Samaritan page.
If you're worried about your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic
Looking after your mental health
- Clear Your Head has some tips and ideas to help you look after yourself and get through these uncertain times
- Mental Health Foundation has some top tips on how to manage your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
- Huffington Post has some advice for looking after your mental health during self-isolation
- Age UK, the charity for older people, has some advice on looking after your wellbeing while spending more time at home
- Huffington Post has some tips for maintaining a work-life balance if you’re working from home
- Mental Health at Work has put together a toolkit for coping with the challenges of working from home
- Stylist has some advice for taking care of your mental health while you’re looking for work
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
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
- Our How to support someone you're worried about pages also include guidance on signs that someone may not be OK
- If you’re worried about someone because of the way they’re acting or the things that they’re posting online, we have advice for supporting someone online who might be a risk of self-harm or suicide
If you have lost a friend or family member
Cruse Bereavement Care have put together some advice on coping with grief in isolation
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, plus resources, tips and ideas to look after your mental health. Find out more about our key worker support service here.
- 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)
- Coronavirus information from Health Protection Scotland (Scotland)
- Public Health Wales has its coronavirus information here (Wales)
- If you're worried that you have coronavirus, please use the online NHS 111 service
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