Tips to stay healthy and happy during the Coronavirus pandemic

The Coro­n­avirus (COVID-19) pan­dem­ic has dra­mat­i­cal­ly dis­rupt­ed all of the nor­mal pat­terns in our lives. Cop­ing with the stress, lone­li­ness and uncer­tain­ty of every­thing is not easy for any of us.

What can help you main­tain your health and hap­pi­ness is build­ing new rou­tines and embrac­ing pos­i­tive things that com­fort and relax you.

Here are some sim­ple ideas that we think are worth doing reg­u­lar­ly, if you don’t already. We’ve also includ­ed links to some impor­tant resources. We wish you and your loved ones the best.

Keep in touch with your loved ones and support each other

This is an obvi­ous one that many of us have been doing and will con­tin­ue to do. But we can’t stress enough how impor­tant it is to keep in touch with your fam­i­ly, close friends, and elder­ly or vul­ner­a­ble loved ones. That 15-minute phone call or video chat, that choice to send a pos­i­tive song (rather than the unso­licit­ed mes­sage about the Coro­n­avirus that’s land­ed in your group chat) to a friend, or that two sec­ond Insta­gram DM to show your appre­ci­a­tion to some­one else who’s made you feel good, can make a difference.

Fur­ther­more, if you are strug­gling, then your trust­ed loved ones should be the first peo­ple you reach out to. Fur­ther advice about men­tal health is below.

Mental health and wellbeing

Main­tain­ing good health is essen­tial, espe­cial­ly at this sen­si­tive time. The NHS has advice about the Coro­n­avirus and advice on men­tal health and well­be­ing. Jour­nal­ist Kate Rus­sell has shared a series of men­tal health web­sites here on her Twit­ter feed.

There are also many well­be­ing and mind­ful­ness apps avail­able, such as Head­space and Sil­ver­Cloud. In-app pur­chas­es are present in these. If you’re after some­thing sim­pler still, sites such as Do Noth­ing for 2 Min­utes can be loaded up on your com­put­er or phone in an instant and encour­age you to active­ly take a men­tal break.

Exercise regularly

Exer­cise is good for the body and very good for the mind, too. Lots of resources are avail­able online offer­ing ideas and guid­ance on how you can exer­cise at home. Try to make sure you fol­low advice from rep­utable health and fit­ness professionals.

And try to enjoy nature and green spaces, when pos­si­ble. If you’re for­tu­nate enough to have a back gar­den, try to spend more time appre­ci­at­ing it.

Domestic abuse support

Sad­ly, domes­tic abuse is among the worst side effects of the glob­al lock­downs. If you, or some­body you know, are con­cerned about domes­tic abuse in the UK, links to get help can be found on

If you’re locat­ed out­side of the UK, please con­sult your own government’s advice or seek help from local sup­port hotlines.

Take breaks from social media

One of the extreme para­dox­es about this whole sit­u­a­tion is that mil­lions of us have now been spend­ing even more time on social media. Con­sid­er­ing the con­stant tor­rent of noise – as well as the near-unavoid­able neg­a­tiv­i­ty that you will see – this is not a good thing.

Use social media to stay con­nect­ed with your loved ones and your com­mu­ni­ties. But try to take long breaks from it. Of course, this isn’t pos­si­ble for all of us, espe­cial­ly if social media is cen­tral to your work. We would still strong­ly rec­om­mend tak­ing reg­u­lar breaks.

If you’re find­ing it hard to curb your social media use, most smart­phones now come with app block­ing fea­tures built-in (see screen time lim­its for Android and Apple), and exten­sions can be installed for web browsers, too (see Stay­Fo­cusd and Waste No Time).

Listen to more music

We’re going to guess this is some­thing you do and have been doing for a long time. Music’s abil­i­ty to lift our mood and help us focus is well doc­u­ment­ed. But in this hype-busy age we live in, it’s become all too easy to for­get the sim­ple pow­er of sit­ting back and lis­ten­ing to a good album from start to fin­ish. This is some­thing we strong­ly believe in, and we’re re-com­mit­ting our­selves to rec­om­mend­ing more artists over time.

A good playlist can be just as sooth­ing, of course – and we curate some our­selves. But we also encour­age you to give music radio a go if you’ve not tuned in at all. Sta­tions such as BBC Radio 6 Music, NTS Radio and Reprezent Radio have a wealth of pro­grammes cov­er­ing a huge spec­trum of styles. You can also catch-up or re-lis­ten to radio shows via Mix­cloud. The mix­ture of music, con­ver­sa­tion and spe­cial guests can turn your mun­dane, alone time into some­thing much more invigorating.

Read a physical book

We all use tech­nol­o­gy and are fix­at­ed on screens for hours and hours on end. Read­ing a good book – espe­cial­ly fic­tion – is a high­ly pos­i­tive way to unplug and calm your mind. If you pre­fer a Kin­dle, or anoth­er eread­er, try to make sure it is set to soft­en its bright­ness or tones dur­ing night­time reading.

If you find it tough to com­mit to a book, then con­sid­er spring­ing for an audio­book. And if you’re in need of rec­om­men­da­tions, start by ask­ing friends or brows­ing lit­er­a­ture com­mu­ni­ty sites, like Goodreads.

Spend some time writing or drawing by hand

Com­put­ers and touch­screens have made the act of phys­i­cal writ­ing or draw­ing seem almost redun­dant for those who aren’t in the habit of phys­i­cal note­tak­ing or drawing.

How­ev­er, writ­ing or draw­ing by hand can be very calm­ing and ther­a­peu­tic. Dr Clau­dia Aguirre, a neu­ro­sci­en­tist and mind-body expert, described some of the ben­e­fits of hand­writ­ing to Head­space. Give it a try.

Listen to a podcast you’ve never tried before

The chances are you already have a favourite pod­cast or two, if not more. But it’s worth ask­ing friends for rec­om­men­da­tions of what they lis­ten to, or tak­ing a chance on one you’ve nev­er tried before.

For exam­ple, in The Curi­ous Cas­es of Ruther­ford & Fry, pre­sen­ters Dr Adam Ruther­ford and Dr Han­nah Fry use sci­ence and math­e­mat­ics to inves­ti­gate every­day mys­ter­ies sent by lis­ten­ers, such as “how does love affect our brains?”, “what is fire?”, and “how do cats find their way back to their old homes?”. The pre­sen­ters have great chem­istry, the shows typ­i­cal­ly last just 30 min­utes, and they’re filled with a play­ful­ness and inquis­i­tiv­i­ty that makes for per­fect com­fort lis­ten­ing. Gem­ma Cairney’s The Leisure Soci­ety is also one we reck­on reg­u­lar read­ers of our site will par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoy. And you will find plen­ty more shows when explor­ing the ded­i­cat­ed pod­cast app of your choice.

Give gaming a go

If you’ve nev­er been one for video games, then now is as good a time as any to change that, because there has nev­er been more ways to enjoy them.

For those that don’t know their Ani­mal Cross­ings from their Poké­mon, start by brows­ing a site like Fam­i­ly Video Game Data­base or Ask About Games. Click’s Marc Cies­lak also offers his advice on fam­i­ly gam­ing.

For those who know what they want from their video games, there are many resources that can help you find games that might appeal to you, no mat­ter what your pref­er­ence is. On sites like Twitch and YouTube, you can find many users rec­om­mend­ing games as well as doing whole playthroughs of games. Games are almost always bet­ter when played togeth­er, and Co-Opti­mus lists co-oper­a­tive games that you can play on the couch with your house­hold or online. Final­ly, we would encour­age you to speak with gam­ing friends of yours. There are also many com­mu­ni­ties – such as Melanin Gamers, Black Twitch UK, Black Girl Gamers, and Gayming Mag­a­zine to name just a few – that can help you get more out of your time spent play­ing games.

If you’re an artist or cre­ator, or you’re won­der­ing how you can sup­port your favourite cre­ators dur­ing this pan­dem­ic, we’ve pre­pared this fea­ture with some help­ful advice.

Image: Eric Son­stroem/Flickr-CC