Protecting your mental health while isolated

During these difficult times, it’s important we all look after our mental health and wellbeing, as well as our physical health.

Many of us now need to spend much more time at home, possibly isolated from family, friends and loved ones. It’s crucial that we do what we can to reduce isolation through other means – even a text, phone call or video chat can make a big difference.

Right now it may be harder to do the things you usually do to keep well, but there are things you can do to look after your mental wellbeing during this time.

Tips on protecting your mental health whilst isolating. 

 These tips are drawn from SAMH resources, advice from the World Health Organisation and our partner charity Mind.

  • Establish a routine: bringing structure to your day can give you a better sense of control and can make a difference to your mental health. Work out how you will spend your time each day, write it down and check-in with your schedule regularly.
  • Connect with people: while you may not be able to have physical contact with your loved ones, there are ways you can keep communicating: even a text, phone call or video chat could make a big difference.
  • Keep track of your feelings: be mindful of your changing thoughts and feelings. You could use a mood diary to keep track of what makes you feel better or worse, then take steps to avoid, change or prepare for situations that are within your control. 
  • Try to keep active:  Think about your own abilities and try exercises that suit your own situation. You could try new ways to keep fit within your home or garden, if you are lucky enough to have one – try looking for keep fit videos on YouTube, playing games which involve physical activity, or you could try going up and down the stairs more, dancing to music or cleaning your home. Current government guidance allows the people who are not in a group that is particularly vulnerable to coronavirus to leave their home for exercise. Activities like walking or running can help make a difference to your mental and physical wellbeing
  • Take in as much sun and fresh air as you can:  Being outside, particularly surrounded by nature and greenery, can benefit your mental wellbeing. If you are able to leave your home under current government guidance, try to seek out walks or areas to exercise that are safe but also allow you to be surrounded by nature. If you are unable to be outside, try opening your window and spending time in rooms which get a lot of natural light. You could also try garden planters on your windowsills or placing other plants around your home: perhaps a neighbour could drop some off for you?
  • Find ways to spend your time, relax and be creative: finding ways to fill your day allows you to feel productive and can benefit your mental wellbeing. Think of tasks such as having a spring clean, or doing admin tasks that you hadn’t got around to until now. You could also try new crafts or activities to help you relax such as colouring, mindfulness, gardening, playing musical instruments, singing or yoga. Spend some time researching activities that might interest you.
  • Manage your news and social media intake: try to find a source of news that you can trust during these difficult times to keep you informed and to limit your exposure to false information. Try to also limit your intake of news and social media, which can help you manage your feelings if you find yourself worried or if you are finding news updates upsetting.
  • If you’re feeling anxious: this can be a difficult time if you experience anxiety. You may find our information on anxiety and panic attacks useful. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has also put together information how to cope if you’re feeling anxious about the coronavirus.
  • If you’re feeling depressed: you may find our ‘Understanding Depression’ information useful.
  • If you’re feeling claustrophobic or trapped: our partner charity Mind has this advice:
    • Open the windows to let in fresh air. Or you could spend time sitting on your doorstep, or in the garden if you have one.
    • Try looking at the sky out of the window or from your doorstep. This can help to give you a sense of space.
    • Regularly change the rooms you spend time in.
More information

If you urgently need to speak to someone, please visit samh.org.uk/seekingsupport.

For more ways to help protect your mental health during these difficult times, visit our information hub: samh.org.uk/coronavirus.

If you’re looking for more information about mental health, the SAMH Information Service can help with signposting you to the right information and give details of support through our information phone line and email service, as well as our written information. Call 0344 800 0550 or email info@samh.org.uk. You can also access our written information at samh.org.uk/info. Our information phone line is open 9am-6pm, Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays). Calls charged at local rates.