Look after your mental health and wellbeing when staying at home

Page last reviewed: 17 December 2021

The Mental Health Foundation is part of the national mental health response during the coronavirus outbreak. Government advice designed to keep us safe is under constant review and will be different depending on where you live: more details and updated information here.


We may still find ourselves spending more time at home than we used to: either because of government restrictions, or because we’re shielding, self-isolating or caring for someone.

Whatever your reason for being at home, these tips can help you look after your mental health.

1) Move a little every day

Being active may reduce stress, increase our energy levels, make us more alert and even improve our sleep.

Explore different ways of adding physical movement and activity to your day and find something that works best for you. Some personal trainers are doing free home workouts on Instagram, or you could try a YouTube exercise video a few times a week. The NHS website has seated exercises you can try if you’re less mobile. Or you could simply go for a daily walk to get some fresh air and move your limbs.

Read our guide to keeping active and visit Every Mind Matters for some ideas to get you started.

2) Try a relaxation technique

Relaxing and focusing on your breathing can help your body feel less tense and your mind feel calmer.

Try to check in with your body during the day. Drop your shoulders, unclench your jaw, and take deep breaths to ease the tension and relax your muscles. 

A range of simple relaxation techniques, including guided visualisations, are available from the NHS.

3) Connect with others

Staying at home, especially if you live alone or with people you aren’t close with, can feel lonely. Find time to keep in touch with co-workers, friends, family, and others to help you (and them) feel more connected.

Explore ways of connecting that work for you. This could include video-calling, WhatsApp, written notes or social media.

When it comes to socialising, think about what you feel ok with. Do you only want to meet up outside, for example? Or only if everyone has been vaccinated and taken a lateral flow test before meeting up? Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. If friends and colleagues are socialising in ways you don’t want to, ask if they will partake in activities you feel comfortable with too.

4) Take time to reflect and practice self-compassion

Make time to reflect on the positive aspects of your day. Whether you managed to get out of bed, or you completed an important task, celebrate the small things. Consider keeping a gratitude journal where you could write two or three things you are grateful for each day.

Mindfulness techniques may also help you focus on the present rather than dwelling on unhelpful thoughts. Be aware they may not be helpful if you experience social anxiety or severe depression.

We have a number of relaxation and other digital exercises on our website. 

5) Improve your sleep

With all the stress and worry that the pandemic brings, you may have trouble sleeping.

There are many ways you can help improve your sleep. Aim to go to bed and get up at the same time each day in order to maintain a routine. Also, try to get some natural sunlight by opening curtains and windows. This helps to regulate your body clock which can help you sleep better.

Before bedtime, avoid using your phone, tablet or computer. Instead, try to read a book or do some gentle yoga.

A range of tips for improving sleep can be found on our website and from Every Mind Matters.

More tips

You can find more tips for looking after your mental health here.

The Mental Health Foundation is committed to bringing readers reliable and relevant information. All of our pages are written and regularly reviewed by our mental health experts, in line with official advice on the coronavirus outbreak.

We need your support to keep providing vital information during this time.

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If you want to develop a personalised plan for supporting your mental health you can visit the Every Mind Matters site, developed in collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation.

If you need to talk confidentially you can call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. We also have a resource on how to get help for your mental health.