Looking after your Emotional Wellbeing through the COVID-19 Pandemic

With so much uncertainty around at the moment, it’s not at all surprising you might feel confused, worried or overwhelmed. You are not alone! Living with an underlying condition may make you feel even more vulnerable than usual.  This is completely understandable. 

When daily life changes suddenly like this, it can feel unsettling.  As well as the potential impact on your own health, you may feel just as worried about how this will impact someone you care about. Nevertheless, now more than e
ver, it is really important to be thoughtful about how you look after yourself emotionally through this unusual period of time too.  

This webpage contains plenty of advice about looking after yourself in practical ways, but we’ve also put together some tips and ideas for looking after your emotional health below.


Support for your Emotional Wellbeing

Feeling prepared and in control of whatever you can be will help to ward off becoming overwhelmed by anxiety. Although you can’t entirely control whether or not you or someone you care about becomes unwell, you can:

  • Follow the practical COVID-19 advice from trusted sources like NCUK, and make sensible decisions around life, work and social contact. Practice social distancing and prepare for social isolation
  • Practice ‘mindful exposure’ to news and information. Hearing about latest government or local area advice a couple of times a day is important. If you find yourself scrolling endlessly through social media, news channels, TV or radio all day it might actually  be ‘fuelling’ your anxiety about COVID-19 rather than reducing it. Consider distractions, and ‘time off’ from constant exposure. Maybe check 2-3 times a day instead.  
  • Keep in touch with loved ones and family via telephone, or Apps like FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, etc. If you are not sure how apps, telephone someone you know to help. Even if physical isolation is important for you at any point, social isolation is good to avoid.
  • Keep up some exercise. Exercise will help your mood, and keep you in better physical shape. Even if you can’t go out, set up a short exercise routine in your home.  There are lots of suggestions online and apps for exactly this purpose. Always wanted to try Pilates or Yoga?  Perhaps now is a good time to do it!
  • Watch your food and drink intake.  It’s all too easy to ‘overdo it’ when the fridge beckons and you’re bored! If you are worried about going out to buy food, check out community groups here , who can help , and also don’t be afraid to ask friends, neighbours or family too
  • Use time at home productively. I It can be an opportunity to do some of the things you don’t usually have time for, like household jobs, DIY, organising photos, spring cleaning, cooking together as a family in your home (or over Skype/Facetime), practising an instrument, gardening and reading.
  • If you have children/teenagers at home try to keep to some usual routines but accept too that things will be a bit different for now. Encourage them keep in touch with friends via social media, Apps etc, but schedule time away too. It can be a good opportunity to do things together that there often isn’t time for such as watching films or cooking together, playing board or online games.
  • Develop a routine that takes in work (if you can work from home or your child has online school work), exercise, relaxation and entertainment.  Divide your day into chunks and try to plan some rewards for your efforts! 

Dealing with Uncertainty 

‘If you live With neuroendocrine cancer, you’ll know a lot about uncertainty already. Here are some helpful thoughts on dealing with uncertainty in the midst of coronavirus.’

Finance 

“We know some of you have been very worried about money as a result of CoronaVirus. The organisation below has lots of tips and advice if you are worried about your rent, mortgage or income and help in working out if there are any benefits or support you (and your family) might be able to claim.” 

www.turn2us.org.uk

Please also check GOV.UK ‘Employment and Financial Support’ – as this has up to date information on what is available especially in terms of:

  • Check if you can get statutory sick pay (SSP)
  • Check if you’re eligible for Universal Credit
  • Check if you’re eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Employers can apply for staff to get up to 80% pay if they can’t work
  • Get an isolation note to give to your employer
  • Your rights if your hours are cut or you’re laid off
  • What to do if you cannot pay your tax bill on time

Relationships 

“When you are at home all day, keeping relationships steady, avoiding arguments and negotiating everyone’s different needs and wants is a big ask. 

Relationship advice people “Relate’ have reduced a helpful guide to managing relationships during the lockdown.”

Working from Home 

As you know, all of our team are now working remotely and staying at home. Some of us have children, and other distractions going on around us while we try to work and go about our day.

“Teenagers tend to respond better to asking , not telling. Over the next few months, some of you will be managing not just your own health and work issues, but have teenagers or returning students at home full time too. This site provides useful suggestions to help you avoid conflict,  and manage effectively the time at home together”

Advice for helping out stressed parents.

People with Children 

There is advice on talking to young children about Covid-19 here. 

Managing Anxiety and Meditation techniques 

NHS Every Mind Matters (Mental wellbeing while staying at home).


Still feeling anxious?

It’s important to be kind to yourself over the next few weeks and months. You might already know that you feel anxious.  Other people may not be aware that feeling irritable, jumpy, ‘nervy’, restless, lacking concentration, sleeping problems or tummy upsets can all be signs of anxiety.

What can help……….

  • Get some fresh air – take some slow, calming deep breaths and remind yourself that, right now, you are ok. If you aren’t self-isolating, go for a walk outside and away from crowds (National Trust Gardens are currently open free to the public for this reason)
  • Remind yourself that this time will pass eventually, and that you are doing your best
  • Remind yourself that most people recover from the virus; 90% in fact
  • Know the ways to calm or distract yourself be it with warm baths, a comforting jumper or blanket, calming music, a soothing cup of tea, a nap, or a spot of Mindfulness (see below) [we like all of the above!]
  • Talk to someone you know Why not organise a virtual coffee morning with friends?  Use free video conferencing by Facebook, Facetime, Skype, etc.
  • Acknowledge the anxiety – notice it, don’t dwell on it and just decide how to be kind to yourself until it eases
  • Give yourself permission to laugh – sometimes we have to laugh at the tough times to make them easier to handle!

Mindfulness Techniques 

At NCUK, we often encourage learning a technique like Mindfulness to help cope with the uncertainty and help manage challenges . Now could be a really good time to give this a go.

  • Headspace www.headspace is a great introduction to Mindfulness with short exercises for your smartphone or computer to practice everyday 
  • Buddhify www.buddhify is similar , but has exercises to ‘click on’ for health worries, not sleeping, worry etc
  • CALM www.calm.com  is an app to help practice relaxation techniques, particularly for sleep problems

NCUK’s free Counselling Service is currently running as normal. Kym and David offer sessions over telephone, and via online platforms. 

If you feel that it would be helpful to talk to us, contact Kym on 01727 752147 . 

There is more information about our counselling service here.

Support Websites 

If you feel very isolated, alone or suicidal at any point, there are also a number of organisations to contact:

Samaritans www.samaritans.org 116 123 contact by phone, text or email 24 hours 

CALM www.thecalmzone.net (for men) 0800 585858 5pm – midnight everyday

Silverline www.thesilverline.org.uk 0800 470 8090 Support for older people 24 hours 

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