OCD and anxiety during coronavirus

24th March 2020

During these difficult times, SAMH is committed to making sure you stay informed on the latest information to protect your mental health, as well as sharing the experiences of people experiencing mental health issues.

Our latest blog comes from Jess, also known as Recovery Ninja. She shares her experiences during the coronavirus, and how she’s been protecting her mental wellbeing.

This is a strange time for everyone, so I think it’s even more vital to look after our wellbeing and to cultivate new forms of strength in tackling those unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.

Having OCD and Anxiety, I think this is a challenging time. It’s important to keep things in perspective, to follow guidelines as well as take care of our mental health. In recovery, I’m working out how to continue to combat my OCD rationally, and find helpful new ways to alleviate my anxiety.

I wanted to share what has worked for me recently, in the hope that it might help others.





While continuous hand washing and stringent guidelines are important to keep as all safe, it can also cause a spike of intrusive thoughts. I keep reminding myself, ‘Is this the OCD slug trying to frighten me? Am I getting a bit stuck in its cycle here?’ If the answers to these questions is ‘yes’, then I can acknowledge those intrusive thoughts and sit with it, to then divert my attention to doing something more helpful.


Writing down how you’re feeling and maintaining your awareness is really useful instead of ruminating. Even if you can just scribble down some ideas of nice things you like doing for being indoors, or any worries in the evening before you get to bed. Relaxations are also something I like, especially for panic and anxiety attacks. Taking some time to lie-down while listening to a relaxation app/breathing exercise can really help to alleviate what has perhaps been building up for you.


At times like this, it can sometimes help by trying to remember what the really important things are in life, like our loved ones. It’s important to be safe, and we are in an age with technology to say ‘Hiya’ in so many ways than ever before. Try to stay in touch with people over the phone through messaging, emails and video chats. By just remembering to call that person that you may not have heard from in a while, it can make a big difference.

It’s a mood

Being at home and separated from people can lead to space with a lack of variety which is sometimes not too helpful for our mental health. So it’s important to fill that time with activities that can boost you or you enjoy, it can even just be small things if you aren’t feeling quite up to doing a lot. Such as: watching television, reading, drawing, enjoying a nice hot drink, doing some stretching, even a bit of yoga or progressive muscle relaxation, keeping in touch with friends.


Just as the news outlets have a responsibility to convey the severity of this difficult situation while sharing accurate and helpful guidelines to combat misinformation and panic, I think it’s important on social media to share other types of posts promoting kindness and humour. Also having a limit on how much news and social media you take in, from whatever form of communication outlet, does help.

Being a ‘Ninja’

It is also vital to remember to give yourself permission to look after yourself and to be a ‘Recovery Ninja’ against what I call the ‘mental illness slugs’ - continue your therapy/treatment if you have them, and remind yourself that you are allowed to feel safe and okay. When you have made progress, acknowledge it and know that even at a stressful time like this, you can get through it. We just have to be extra aware of our triggers and do what is good for us, safely.

Thanks so much to Jess aka Recovery Ninja for sharing. If you’d like more information regarding anxiety and other mental health issues, check out our Understanding Anxiety publication, or get in touch with the SAMH Information Service. You can find out the latest information for protecting your mental health during coronavirus via our information hub.