Coronavirus and your Wellbeing

You might be worried about coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) and how it could affect your life. This may include staying at home and avoiding other people, as well as lockdown easing.

This might feel difficult or stressful. But there are lots of things you can try that could help your wellbeing.

This information is to help you cope:

Planning for staying at home
  • If yourself, or someone you have had close contact with, experiences symptoms you might have stay at home, also known as self-isolating.
  • See the government website for the latest information around self-isolating including how long you need to isolate for.
  • A few things to check in case you have to self-isolate include; making sure you have a way of getting food delivered, do you have enough medication or ways to get more delivered, are you able to work from home and if not what are your rights to payments or benefits.
  • The rest of this article details lots of information around how to maintain good wellbeing and practical support during the coronavirus period.

Get the facts

How to manage your feelings about lockdown easing

There are many different things you might be feeling about lockdown easing. You might feel relieved or excited when lockdown is eased where you live. But you might also find yourself feeling less positive about the changes such as stressed or anxious about changes causing an increase in infections. You may move through a range of difficult feelings and thoughts.

Remember:

  • There’s no ‘normal’ response to lockdown or lockdown easing.
  • Your feelings might change. You might feel one way one day, and another way the next. It might not feel logical.

Your feelings might be influenced by:

  • Your personal situation
  • What lockdown has been like for you
  • Your own views about what’s happened so far, and what should happen next
  • Lots of things that are out of your control.

What could help you manage these feelings?

  • Get practical support from organisations who can help. National Mind have a coronavirus useful contacts page which lists which lots of organisations who can help with different aspects of the coronavirus pandemic, including bereavement, work and parenting.
  • Talk to someone you trust. It might feel hard to start talking about how you are feeling. But many people find that sharing their experiences can help them feel better. It may be that just having someone listen to you and show they care can help in itself. If you aren’t able to open up to someone close to you, you can call Samaritans any time on 116 123.
  • Express your feelings creatively. You might find that it helps to express how you are feeling about the easing of lockdown by writing, drawing, painting or any other creative way that feels helpful to you. 
  • Make choices to control the things that you can. Although the coronavirus outbreak means that your choices are limited, try to focus on the things you can change. It might be helpful to list the things you can change on one piece of paper and all the things you can’t on another.
  • Seek help. If you are struggling with your mental health, it is ok to ask for help. A good place to start is by speaking to your GP, or your mental health team if you have one. The NHS and other services have adapted to the coronavirus outbreak. There are video and telephone appointments available, if you need to speak to someone. 
Looking after your mental health

Keep taking your medication

Continue accessing treatment and support if possible

  • Ask about having appointments by phone, text or online. For example, this could be with your counsellor, therapist or support worker.
  • Ask your therapist how they can support you, for example if you’re struggling with not seeing them face to face.

Talk about your worries

  • If you are concerned about your mental health, you can speak to your GP about getting treatment and support. You can contact your GP surgery online or over the phone. NHS has more information about accessing health services during coronavirus.
  • You can also call the Oxfordshire 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to find out when and where to get mental health support for any concerns you might have. The phone numbers are as follows:
    Adults: 0800 783 0119 or 01865 904 997
    Children and young people: 0800 783 0121 or 01865 904 998
  • You could join a peer support community. Mind runs an online peer support community called Elefriends where you can share your experiences and hear from others.

Try to manage difficult feelings

Benefits
  1. What has changed: If you are receiving benefits you do not have to attend jobcentre appointments or medical assessments during the coronavirus outbreak.
    How will this affect you: You will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended. If you already have an assessment appointment arranged, you do not need to attend. Your assessment provider will contact you to discuss your appointment and explain the next steps to you.
  2. What has changed: The standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit are being increased by £20 a week on top of the planned increase.
    How will this affect you: This means that for a single Universal Credit customer (aged 25 or over), the standard allowance will increase from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.
  3. What has changed: You can still make applications for benefits online if you are eligible.
    How will this affect you: If you have made a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Universal Credit or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) but do not have a date for an assessment appointment, you do not need to do anything. You will be contacted shortly by telephone or letter to let you know what will happen next.
  4. What has changed: If you have a pre payment energy meters, you are able to able to speak to your suppliers about options how to top up payments if you are unable to.
    How will this affect you: This could involve having a friend or family member topping it up for you, a discretionary fund added to your credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top up card so that your supply is not interrupted.
  5. What has changed: There is a complete ban on evictions and other renter protections.
    How will this affect you: With these in force, if you are renting in either social (including supported housing) or private accommodation you cannot be forced out of their home.

If you have any queries on any of this or how it might affect you, get in touch with the Benefits for Better Mental Health team by calling 01865 247788 (Monday to Thursday 9:30am-4:30pm – Friday 9:30am-4:00pm) or emailing info@oxfordshiremind.org.uk

Looking after your physical wellbeing

General physical health

  • Find out about getting food delivered. For example, you might be able to order food online for home delivery. Or you could ask someone else to drop food off for you. Think about your diet. Your appetite might change if your routine changes, or if you’re less active than you usually are. Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can help your mood and energy levels. See our tips on food and mood for more information.
  • Drink water regularly. Drinking enough water is important for your mental and physical health. Changing your routine might affect when you drink or what fluids you drink. It could help to set an alarm or use and app to remind you. See the NHS website for more information about water, drinks and your health.
  • Check out our physical activity page for all the virtual walks the Walking for Wellbeing team have taken us on over the course over the last couple of months. There is also information here about the different clubs we offer discounted or even free sessions at.
  • If you can, try and get outside at least once a day. Even if it just as far as sitting on your front doorstep.
  • We also have information around on different physical wellbeing resources, how you can workout from home and how to be active and healthy whilst working from home.

Bringing the outside in

It’s possible to still get these positive effects from nature while staying indoors at home. You could try the following:

  • Spend time with the windows open to let in fresh air.
  • Have flowers or potted plants in your home.
  • Use natural materials to decorate your living space, or use them in art projects. This could include leaves, flowers feathers, tree bark or seeds.
  • 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.
  • Grow plants of flowers on windowsills. For example, you could buy seeds online or look for any community groups that give away or swap them.
  • 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.

Look after your sleep

  • Try to follow your ordinary routines 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.
  • The Sleepio app is currently being offered for free to Oxfordshire residents. By answering a few questions about your sleeping pattern, the app gives you a series of online sessions to complete in order to improve your sleeping schedule.
Working or studying at home

You might be working from home if this is possible for your job. If not, it might be difficult to keep working. If you have children, you may also need to look after them as they are asked to stay away from school or college. The following ideas might help you with this.
For parents of children and young people in school or college:

  • Think about being more lenient with your children’s social media and mobile phone use during their time away from school. Children and young people who go to school will be used to being around other children for several hours a day. They might find it difficult to be removed from this, especially if they’re also worried about their health.
  • Find out from their school what homework and digital learning will be available as they need to stay at home, and what technology they might need. Remember to add time in for breaks and lunch.
  • If their school has not supplied homework or digital learning, you could encourage your children to select books or podcasts they’d like to explore during their time away from school. You can also think about card games, board games and puzzles, and any other ways to stay active or be creative.
  • For older teens, there are free online courses they could try out. For example, these could be from FutureLearn and BBC Bitesize. Your local library might also have online activities or resources you can use. 
  • If you are working from home, think about how to balance this with caring for your children. Some employers may ask if there is another adult who can supervise your children while you’re working.

For adults in work

  • Talk to your employer about any policies they have for working from home, if that is possible for your job.
  • See our tips for keeping healthy whilst working from home including taking regular breaks and how to exercise at your desk.

For Keyworkers

  • For those who are keyworkers or unable to work from home, you might have had to continue going into work during the coronavirus period.
  • If you had to continue to go into work during the coronavirus period, you might have felt a variety of emotions including stress about coming into contact with lots of people or having to work longer hours; anxiety about catching coronavirus or passing it onto others; guilt if your response to the situation is different to that of your co-workers and anger maybe because you are working when others aren’t or you don’t feel supported enough within your job.
  • For those who work in healthcare or emergency services, coronavirus could have caused extra pressure, longer hours and anxiety about getting coronavirus or passing it onto others.
  • National Mind offers lots of information around these different feeling and emotions and where those that work in healthcare or emergency services can get tailored support.
Think about your new routine
  • You might be spending more time at home than usual, 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 routines 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 to 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 whilst others won’t.
Consider how to connect with others
  • Make plans to video with people or groups you’d normally see in person.
  • You can also arrange phone or video calls or send instant messages or texts.
  • If you don’t feel very confident making video calls, Age UK has a guide to using video calls, which may help.
  • If you’re worried that you might run out of stuff to talk about, make a plan with someone to watch a show separately so that you can discuss it when you contact each other.
  • Think of other ways to keep in contact with people. 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.
  • If you’re part of a group of people, you may be part of group communications to receive updates on your situation. This group could act as an informal support network.
  • 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.

Manage your media and information

  • If you’re going online more than usual or seeking peer support on the internet, it is important to look after your online wellbeing. See our pages about online mental health. for or more information.
  • If news stories make you feel anxious or confused, think about switching off or limiting what you look at for a while.
  • Social media could help you stay in touch with people, but might also make you feel anxious including if people are sharing news stories or posting about their worries. Consider taking a break or limiting how you use social media. You might decide to view particular groups or pages but not scroll through timelines or newsfeeds.
Do things you enjoy

There are lots of different ways  that you can relax, take notice of the present moment and use your creative side. These include:

  • arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, collage, sewing, craft kits or upcycling
  • DIY
  • colouring
  • mindfulness 
  • playing musical instruments, singing or listening to music
  • writing
  • yoga
  • meditation.

See our pages on relaxation and mindfulness for more information and ideas.

Keep your mind stimulated

  • Keep your brain occupied and challenged. Set aside time in your routine for this. Read books, magazines and articles. Listen to podcasts, watch films and do puzzles.
  • Some libraries have apps you can use to borrow ebooks, audiobooks or magazines from home for free, if you’re a library member.
  • FutureLearn and OpenLearn have free online courses you could try.
  • There are lots of apps that can help you learn things, such as a foreign language or other new skills
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