There is lots of information and guidance available to help you and your family maintain your physical and mental wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic. We've provided some useful information on:

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing

When you can’t go out it can be very frustrating. You may find your mood and feelings are affected and you may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping. You may miss being outside with other people. 

There are simple things you can do that may help you to stay both mentally and physically healthy:

  1. look for ideas for exercises you can do at home on the NHS or other trusted websites
  2. spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, other indoor hobbies or listening to favourite radio programmes or watching TV
  3. try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise regularly, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs
  4. try spending time with the windows open to let in the fresh air, arranging space to sit and see a nice view (if possible) and get some natural sunlight, or get out into any private space, keeping at least 2 metres away from your neighbours and other household members

Try to focus on the things you can control, such as your behaviour and activities, who you speak to, and who you get information from.

Constantly watching the news can make you feel more worried. If you think it is affecting you, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to media coverage of the outbreak. It may help to check the news at set times or limit this to a couple of times a day. Avoid misinformation and use reliable information sources such as GOV.UK or the NHS website.

Draw on the support you might have through your friends, family and other networks during this time. Try to stay in touch with those around you over the phone, by post or online. Let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine. This is important in looking after your mental wellbeing and you may find it helpful to talk to them about how you are feeling. 

Remember it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust and in doing so you may end up providing support to them too. Or you can use an NHS recommended helpline.

If you are struggling with your mental health, please see the NHS mental health and wellbeing advice websites for self-assessment, audio guides and tools that you can use.  Some links are below. If you are still struggling after several weeks and it is affecting your daily life, please contact NHS 111 online.  If you have no internet access, you can call NHS 111.

Keeping physically active is really important for mental wellbeing. Check out the NHS home workout videos.

Government advice and guidance

The government has published guidance on looking after our mental health and wellbeing during the corona outbreak. It includes some tips for better mental health. There is also a list of NHS recommended helplines.   

Every Mind Matters 

Good mental health helps us relax, achieve, and enjoy our lives more. The Every Mind Matters website gives us some simple ideas to help us look after our mental health and wellbeing. Take the NHS Every Mind Matters (one you) quiz to get a free plan, expert advice and practical tips. 

NHS UK

Visit the NHS UK website for ideas to cope with anxiety and depression, and a mood assessment to help you understand how you are feeling and some audio guides which might help. Also visit the NHS website 5 steps to mental wellbeing. Evidence suggests there are five steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life

The Samaritans

The Samaritans website also has help for general mental health and wellbeing and issues relating to the coronavirus outbreak. They also have a 24 hour helpline that you can call on 116 123 any time for free.

Pinpoint Devon

Pinpoint lists a range of local support services to help with emotional health and wellbeing, as well as care and support services for people of all ages, including childcare and parenting. You can search, by postcode, for different categories of support such as:

For urgent mental health problems please telephone:

Eating and drinking for health

This guide is for everyone but particularly for people who are especially vulnerable to infections, including coronavirus. Being cooped up at home may mean that eating, especially eating snacks and junk food, is the way many people will occupy the time. So, how can you stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Not all foods may be easy to get hold of at the moment, but there’s a wide range of alternatives below in case you can’t find some of the things on the list. 

Hydrate!

The body is made of about 75 percent water. The usual recommendation is to drink six to eight glasses of water every day. As we are less active during the pandemic we may not feel as thirsty. Therefore, it is important to set regular reminders to ensure we are hydrating our bodies. These could be digital, such as by using smartphones, or a simple note on the fridge. For flavour and additional nutrients, why not add slices of cucumber, lemon or orange to the humble glass of water. Avoid sweetened beverages such as soft drinks because of the high sugar content. Herbal teas and milk are also good at helping to keep you hydrated.

Go’ Foods

These are essential for energy, which is crucial for daily functions such as moving, thinking and working - staples such as rice, pasta, bread and root vegetable crops such as carrots and potatoes. Choose wholegrain bread and mixed-grain rice where possible, which release energy more slowly, fuel you for longer and help to maintain your weight.

 ‘Grow’ foods

These help physical growth, especially for children. Grow foods rebuild your body when you are unwell or have an infection. They are often required in small amounts but are essential and should be consumed daily; they include meat, fish, eggs, milk and other dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt. It’s worth buying UHT milk and other dairy products which have a long shelf life and freezing meat and fish. Plant-based sources of proteins such as lentils and beans have a long shelf life and are rich in vitamins and minerals. Rinse dry foods thoroughly before cooking.

Glow’ foods

These make sure the body works well, help to protect the body from diseases and fight off illness. All foods have some vitamins and minerals, but colourful fruits and vegetables are generally rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Build a colourful plate with:

  • Green fruits and vegetables: broccoli, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, green beans, cucumbers, peas, green pepper, green apples, kiwi, green grapes, lime, avocado.
  • Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables: carrots, pumpkin, sweet corn, sweet potato, yellow pepper, apricots, oranges, grapefruit, peaches, mangoes, pears, pineapple.
  • Red fruits and vegetables: tomatoes, radishes, red cabbage, grapes, strawberries, watermelon, cherries, raspberries, pomegranates, cranberries
  • Blue and purple fruits and vegetables: blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins, figs.
  • Preserved fruits and vegetables: whether canned, frozen, dried or pickled, these are a great alternative source when fresh fruits and vegetables are difficult to find

'No' foods - what to avoid!

Foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt (heavily processed foods) are not considered part of a healthy diet.  It’s particularly important at this moment to avoid these foods as much as possible as they don’t give you any nutritional benefit.

Finally… The Eatwell Guide is a great visual aid that shows the different types of food to eat and in what proportions.

Keeping active

Physical activity is known to be really good not only for health and mental wellbeing but it helps manage stress, improves your sleep and your quality of life. In addition, it can keep you physically strong and well balanced which helps maintain independence and confidence.
UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines 2019

We are all recommended to build physical activity into our daily routine where possible.

Below are links to a variety of exercise programmes. Please read the joining instructions carefully to ensure this suits your level of fitness and health. If in any doubt, start with the lower level activities and build up, particularly if you are not used to exercising.

Standing exercises

The NHS fitness studio has a good range of exercise videos including aerobic, strength, yoga/pilates, and beginners running podcasts. Some exercises can be adapted to be done seated.

The British Heard Foundation has a 10 minute routine which can be done standing.  It’s recommended for people with good balance and lower limb mobility. [Note: Some high impact exercises are included eg. jumping; and some exercises are done on the floor eg. sit-ups.  Not recommended for anyone with Osteoporosis.]

Seated exercises

The NHS has a pilates-inspired chair based exercise video which is suitable for people who have difficulty getting down to the floor and would prefer the support of a chair.

Macmillan Cancer Support have produced a comprehensive exercise programme which is published on YouTube. This includes warm-up, cardio, strength and cool-down videos, with some seated options included. 

Improving strength and resistance

Strength activities make your muscles stronger, making everyday activities easier. Some of these British Heart Foundation exercises can be done while seated. They have guidance on strength exercises and strength exercises using everyday objects.

Improving strength and balance

The LaterLife Training programme is a strength and balance programme which can be done sitting or standing. These are around 15 minutes each session and can be watched live or done later on, whenever it suits you. They invite you and your family to join them live on Facebook for 10 minutes, 3 times a day to take part in our "Make Movement Your Mission". They'll also be uploaded onto LLT's Youtube channel shortly after the live stream ends.

Resistance Band Exercises

Resistance bands are large elastic bands that you can use to strengthen different areas of the body. They can be good for people with limited mobility, as many of the exercises can be done while seated. The British Heart Foundation has a guide to resistance band exercises.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a series of postures linked by slow, graceful movements and accompanied by breathing techniques that focus the concentration. Benefits include improved balance, relaxation and increased energy levels. It can also help to reduce the suffering associated with chronic pain conditions.

Check out these local follow-along videos in seated and standing versions. They are broken down into introduction session, parts 1, 2, 3 and full version, and cool-down.

Other resources

Other websites with some great ideas and resources to help us keep healthy and active: