Tips for Coping During Social Distancing and Isolation

At a time where there is a massive shift away from our regular lifestyles and we all face a lot of uncertainty, we may start to notice our mood change, and levels of stress and anxiety increase. As such, it is really important that we make sure we are looking after not only our physical health, but also our mental and emotional health. We will be shortly updating our self-help resources with covid-19 specific information. In the meantime, we hope the below suggestions can support you with ideas on how you might be able to take care of yourselves:


Maintaining a sense of normality

  • Keeping a routine 

The shift for the majority of us from having quite a well-established routine to now having a restricted and limited routine can be unsettling. This can leave us feeling a little lost and we may notice an increase in anxiety, stress and low mood. One suggestion to combat this is to maintain a basic routine that gives us structure, familiarity and a sense of purpose.

For example, waking and sleeping at the same times we would normally, taking meals at the same times, and having key activities that we do each day, such as a form of exercise.


  • Keeping Variety In Your Routine   

It can be useful to think about a variety of activities, and making sure we have a balance of self-care, productivity, and things that we enjoy or find interesting. It can be helpful to plan this for a week at a time to keep an eye on achieving this balance.

For example, we might notice increased working hours now that we log-on at home, we may notice we’re spending a lot of time cleaning, or even that we’re resting too much (which can be disruptive to maintaining good sleep cycles).

As well as shifting from an established routine, we may notice that how we fill our time has also changed. Although the temptation might be to spend a large proportion of time doing one type of activity, a variety works best for staying well and maintaining mental and emotional wellbeing.


  • Thinking creatively 

It’s useful to consider how to make adjustments to activities you did before the shift to social distancing and self-isolating – can you do these activities in a different way? What was it about them that was important? How can you stay in contact with that whilst at home?

For example- attending a gym class might have felt important as a way to look after your health whilst also being something sociable. Is it possible to join online gym classes, exercise with someone you live with, or connect with friends and family over video messaging and follow an online class together


Returning to work, or children returning to school

This can be an anxiety provoking situation, whether in terms of the journeys entailed, concerns about knowing the differences between colds and COVID-19 symptoms, or how we feel about ourselves or our children being in busier environments.

  • North West London recovery college and occupational therapy NHS teams have teamed up to deliver workshops on managing during the current pandemic, including a webinar on returning to work. For more information please see our workshops page.
  • The decision about whether it is safe to send our children to school can be really tricky when children are prone to experience a number of colds or illnesses. North West London NHS have provided a flow chart guide to help you decide if your child is well enough to return to school, which you can view here.
  • The Government has also created a webpage regarding what to expect when children are returning to school, which can be found here.


Managing Stress

  • Relaxation

It would be really understandable if things were feeling a bit tense right now, even for those who normally feel well, given the current global situation. On top of that, you may be working from home without proper office equipment which might be putting stress on your shoulders or back. Relaxation strategies might be useful to help keep your body and mind feeling well during this time. Relaxation might be achieved in different ways depending on who you are, but you could consider having a relaxing bath, doing some yoga, practicing mindfulness, or completing some progressive muscle relaxation exercises. There are lots of free online resources to help you practice some of these exercises if they are new to you. Below is a link about mindfulness, including some videos to help guide you.

  • Choose to tune into the news…and to tune out 

Are you glued to the news or social media for updates about the current pandemic? It’s very understandable if you are, it’s important to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world. However, it’s also important to take a break and have some respite – especially if the news is contributing to anxiety. It might be helpful to think about only tuning into headlines, or picking one news broadcast a day, and turning off notifications on your phone during the day.

  • Keep in touch!  

Even if we enjoy time alone, social time is really important. It helps us feel less alone during uncertain and anxiety provoking times, and allows us to share our concerns. You could keep in touch with family members, friends, or local community support services. You could also try and choose to make certain chats more structured by arranging a quiz evening, or book club, to give you all a little bit of a break from the current difficulties.


Keeping Well

  • Healthy eating.

Whether it’s something you used to do or something new you wish to introduce, having plenty of fruits, vegetables, water and balanced regular meals are all great ways of boosting our mental and physical health. Use the links below for some ideas:

NHS- Live well, Eat well

NHS- Change 4 Life

  • Get active!

Yes, we are being asked to remain indoors but we have the opportunity to exercise outdoors once a day. Aside from this, even whilst in the home, being active is important and we don’t need an indoor gym or equipment to achieve this. The NHS has some free workouts available here.

  • Get a good night’s sleep.

As mentioned before, maintaining a basic routine can help to maintain a structure to our day but also keeps us in line with our body clocks. Be aware of what can interfere with good sleep hygiene for example too much caffeine or exposure to LED lighting from electronic devices, and what can contribute to improving sleep for example taking a bath, listening to music on low volume and ensuring the space is dark enough and comfortable.

NHS- Live Well: How to get to sleep

  • Support for managing increased alcohol or drug use

We have all seen news reports of an increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic as people have attempted to cope with so much uncertainty. Unfortunately, this can in the longer term have a negative impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing.  If this sounds relatable and that you would like some support with reducing this Change, Grow, Live offer various self-help tools, including a free online ‘break-free’ session. They also offer one to one support.


Be Kind

  • Be kind to yourself!

Things are difficult enough for us all right now, without an internal critical voice making things feel that much harder. It might be a really good time to consciously try speaking to ourselves in a kinder way. Perhaps as we’d talk to a friend? For example, giving self-reassurance and using positive self talk, or soothing yourself by doing something nice like reading or watching something that you enjoy or makes you feel good. The current global situation is unprecedented and so quite rightly we will feel anxious and uncertain. Rather than being hard on yourself, acknowledge how you are feeling and allow this feeling to pass by considering how we might care for a close friend or family member and extend this to ourselves.


Be Kind to others

  • If you’re in a position to do so, it can be really beneficial for our own well-being to do something nice for others. It helps connect us to others, gives us a sense of usefulness, and has the added benefit of making someone else smile. This doesn’t have to be a big thing, or require you to put yourself at risk – it could be sending an e-mail with more detail than a text message, creating and sharing a playlist with someone, or organising a group video quiz night to help take people’s minds off of things. It’s nice for them, but also nice for us!