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Taking care of your mental health and wellbeing during isolation (part 1)


If you are staying at home more than you usually would, it might feel more difficult than usual to take care of your mental health and wellbeing.


These are some ideas and pointers which may help during this time:



Hand washing and anxiety


Some mental health problems can cause difficult feelings or behaviours to do with washing or hygiene. If you experience this, you might find it hard to hear advice about washing your hands. If this is making you feel stressed or anxious, here are some things you could try:

  • Don’t keep re-reading the same advice if this is unhelpful for you.

  • Let other people know you’re struggling. For example, you could ask them not to remind you to wash your hands.

  • Breathing exercises can help you cope and feel more in control. You can find a simple breathing exercise on the NHS website. National Mind's pages on relaxation also have some exercises you can try, and other relaxation tips.

  • Set limits, like washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds.

  • Plan something to do after washing your hands. This could help distract you and change your focus.

  • It could also help to read some of national Mind's tips and information on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).


Connect with people


Keep in touch digitally

  • Make plans to video chat with people or groups you’d normally see in person.

  • You can also arrange phone calls or send instant messages or texts.

  • If you’re worried that you might run out of stuff to talk about, make a plan with someone to watch a show or read a book separately so that you can discuss it when you contact each other. 

  • Think of other ways to keep in contact with people while meeting in person is not possible. For example, you could check your phone numbers are up to date, or that you have current email addresses for friends you've not seen for a while. 

Connect with others in similar situations

  • Speak with someone you trust. If you are feeling anxious about coronavirus or staying at home more than usual, you may find it helpful to talk about these worries with someone you trust, especially if they are in a similar situation. 

  • You could join a peer support community. National Mind runs an online peer support community called Elefriends, where you can share your experiences and hear from others.

  • If you're going online more than usual or seeking peer support on the internet, it's important to look after your online wellbeing. See National Mind's pages about online mental health for more information. 

If you're worried about loneliness

  • Think about things you can do to connect with people. For example, putting extra pictures up of the people you care about might be a nice reminder of the people in your life.

  • Listen to a chatty radio station or podcast if your home feels too quiet.


Decide on your routine


  • Plan how you’ll spend your time. It might help to write this down on paper and put it on the wall. 

  • Try to follow your ordinary routine as much as possible. Get up at the same time as normal, follow your usual morning routines, and go to bed at your usual time. Set alarms to remind you of your new schedule if that helps.

  • If you aren’t happy with your usual routine, this might be a chance to do things differently. For example, you could go to bed earlier, spend more time cooking or do other things you don’t usually have time for.

  • Think about how you’ll spend time by yourself at home. For example, plan activities to do on different days or habits you want to start or keep up.


If you live with other people, it may help to do the following:

  • Agree on a household routine. Try to give everyone you live with a say in this agreement.

  • Try to respect each other's privacy and give each other space. For example, some people might want to discuss everything they’re doing while others won’t.

Try to keep active


Build physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. Most of us don’t have exercise equipment like treadmills where we live, but there are still activities you can do. Exercising at home can be simple and there are options for most ages and abilities, such as:

  • cleaning your home 

  • dancing to music

  • going up and down stairs

  • seated exercises

  • online exercise workouts that you can follow

  • sitting less – if you notice you’ve been sitting down for an hour, just getting up or changing position can help.



Get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as you can


Bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and make you feel more relaxed. It is possible to get the positive effects of nature while staying indoors at home. You could try the following:

  • Spend time with the windows open to let in fresh air. 

  • Arrange a comfortable space to sit, for example by a window where you can look out over a view of trees or the sky, or watch birds and other animals.

  • Look at photos of your favourite places in nature. Use them as the background on your mobile phone or computer screen, or print and put them up on your walls.

  • Listen to natural sounds, like recordings or apps that play birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall. Get as much natural light as you can. Spend time in your garden if you have one, or open your front or back door and sit on the doorstep.

  • If you have safe access to green space like a garden, you could bring some natural materials in to decorate your living space, or use them in art projects. This could include leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark or seeds.

  • You may be able to buy seeds, flowers or plants online for delivery, to grow and keep indoors. If you order items for delivery, ask to have them left at your doorstep, to avoid face-to-face contact.


Continue reading Part 2 here


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Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 2LX

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