It’s important to look after our mental wellbeing, not only so we can try to keep calm and stay positive, but so others around us can too. Ask for help if you need it, but also offer support to those that need it too.
- Keep in touch and interact with others: make sure you reach out to those who make you feel positive and energised. Use video calls if you’re self-isolating – a smile can be much more reassuring than just a voice.
- Talk to someone you trust: speaking to people who help you rationalise the situation, or have a calming influence, can help you to counterbalance information in the media.
- Be kind to yourself: practice talking to yourself with understanding and compassion. Speak to yourself as you would to a friend to reassure them, or the way an encouraging coach would, rather than a critic.
- Don’t accept your thoughts as facts: just because something feels scary, it doesn’t always mean something bad will happen. When you notice a change in your mood, ask yourself, “What was I thinking about just before that?”. Was the thought helpful or unhelpful? It can help to imagine a friend saying your thought out loud – if it’s unhelpful, what would you say to them to challenge their thinking?
- Accept that there will be some uncertainty: letting go of worries about the future is easier said than done, but like any skill, it gets easier with practice. If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of anxious thoughts, you can use something called ‘Worry Time’. Tell yourself ‘I’ll worry about this later’ and then let yourself worry about it for half an hour in the evening, for example. Then, if there’s something you can do about your worry, make a plan, and if not, let it go
- Eat healthily: good nutrition has a positive impact on your mood and also boosts your energy and immunity.
- Avoid stimulants and sedatives: caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can make anxiety symptoms worse.
- Exercise regularly: physical activity releases anxiety-reducing chemicals, while acting as a healthy distraction. There are many things you can do to keep exercising even if you’re at home more than usual or self-isolating – walking round the garden, deliberately leaving some things you may need upstairs in the morning so you have to go back up for them, walking on the spot or round the room when making a telephone call, marching on the spot when washing the pots, cleaning your teeth etc.
- Write down a list of all your strengths: remember times in your life when you have overcome difficulties and remind yourself of all your resources and positive coping strategies that helped you through it.
- Limit your news updates: reading every news report on every site can feed anxious cycles. Try to stick to one or two sources, once or twice a day
- Access nature: whether you’re self-isolating or social distancing, you may be spending a lot of time indoors, so make sure you get plenty of fresh air and light. Go for a walk when you can and use your garden if you have one. While you’re inside, sit near a window and open it every now and again. You may need to think creatively. What about birdwatching? Or a windowsill garden?
- Remember to breathe: when we experience stress, our breathing gets faster and shallower. When you feel yourself getting worked up, breathe slowly and deeply into your tummy to override your stress response so that you feel calmer.
This information has been collated by Weston Park Cancer Charity with support from the NHS website and Nuffield Healthcare.
Our services are up and running during COVID-19. We are here to support you – together at every step.
If you or someone you know needs help and support during COVID-19, our helpline – 0114 553 3330 – is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Let us know if you need any emotional support. We are able to offer one-to-one mindfulness support or can arrange one-to-one psychological therapy. In the meantime, you can download our guided relaxation >