Looking after your mental health and wellbeing during self-isolation

A long period of self-isolation may be necessary to protect the public from the spread of coronavirus, leading to the COVID-19 illness. This booklet contains some useful tips to help keep your mental health in check during this difficult time.

Publication date:
01 March 2020
Date range:
March 2020 - March 2021

Information and advice

Do keep a healthy diet

When you’re at home it is easy to eat unhealthy meals and snacks as a way to pass the time. It is vital you eat a balanced healthy diet as this is an important part of maintaining good health and wellbeing, giving yourself the energy to fight infection.

If you haven’t got anyone who can drop off supplies to you, see if you can sign up to home deliveries from your local supermarket or maybe your local shop might be able to help. Find out if there are any community support groups in your local area which could also provide support with shopping. With stocks running low, some shops are opening early - check your local store. Can any of your support networks help with your shopping?

Engage with nature

Try and get exposure to the outside world and exercise as much as possible within the guidelines. Try using any outdoor private space you have, such as a garden or balcony.

Physical health and mental health are closely linked so it is vitally-important to keep to a routine that includes some physical exercise. If you don’t have any outdoor space then you could try some yoga or exercise classes on YouTube.

Embracing nature can help our wellbeing. Try looking out of the window, observing the birds and other animals you might see, or tend to houseplants to keep your mind stimulated. It is also good to open the window regularly and let fresh air into your room.

Maintain a sense of routine

Keep to a good routine and add structure to your day, not spending most of the time in your nightwear, forgetting to clean your teeth because you knew you wouldn’t be seeing anyone. Although in the short term it can feel good to laze around, in  the long term it isn’t going to be good for your health and mental wellbeing.

While trying to maintain as much of a routine as you can, remember to wake up and go to bed at appropriate times to ensure you
get enough rest and sleep. Find some time to add value to your day; life is not just about eating and sleeping. Engage in some fun activities for yourself. It is natural for people who are self-isolating to lose their positivity for the future; they use this time for reflection and pull apart everything that is wrong with their life including their job, relationship or friendships.

When overwhelmed by a lack of activity in our life, it can quickly impact on what we enjoy; so we must make time to have fun within our daily routine.

Vary your activities

Sitting in front of a TV, phone screen or computer all day is not the best way to spend long periods of time. Below are some productive activity ideas to help fill your time…

  1. Download and listen to podcasts
  2. Do some arts and crafts, the results of which you could share with your friends on Facebook
  3. Try knitting or crochet. The hospitals need small baby hats
  4. Try learning meditation techniques to help you stay focused
  5. Bake cakes or try new recipes
  6. Learn a new hobby like origami
  7. Skype friends and family and make video calls to stay in touch
  8. Try creative writing, scrap booking or making a self-soothe box
  9. Read a book. Choose a title you and your friends can all read (you could all order from Amazon) and set up a video call book club so you can discuss it and share your thoughts
  10. Engage in some DIY or gardening
  11. Pamper yourself with a face mask or foot spa.

Do stay connected to people

Just because you’re self-isolating, it doesn’t mean you have to cut yourself off from the world completely. If you feel you’re beginning to struggle, take some time to call a friend or family member and let them know how you’re feeling. If your friends or family are not available, you can call emotional support lines, such as the Samaritans or Mental Health Matters.

During periods of self-isolation, try your best to maintain personal daily routines or create new positive routines. If health authorities have recommended limiting your physical social contact, you can stay connected via email, social media, video conferencing and telephone.

Remember, you don’t have to be alone!

Limit your news intake

If you are finding the constant 24/7 coverage of coronavirus on the TV and social media is impacting your mental health then give yourself a break. The World Health Organisation says: “A near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel anxious or distressed“.

Only seek information, updates and practical guidance at specific times during the day from health professionals, gov.uk and the WHO website. It is also important to try and avoid listening to or following rumours that make you feel uncomfortable.