Practical and emotional support
Coping with your emotions about coronavirus
This page is about coping with the emotional impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last updated: 5 January 2021
If you are living with blood cancer, there could be many things affecting your mental health right now, from the ongoing worry of coronavirus and being vulnerable, to the increasing numbers of cases, and possibly the behaviour of other people around you. You're not alone. Whatever your situation, we are here for you, and there are things that can help.
My mental health and coping strategies for shielding
Coping with difficult feelings
Last updated: 5 January 2021
You may be feeling anxious, stressed or even fearful right now. You may feel angry, upset, or alone.
Whatever you are feeling is valid. As someone living with blood cancer, you've probably been through a lot over the past few months, emotionally and practically.
It's important to look after yourself. Finding ways to manage difficult feelings is part of this, and could help you in the future.
Here are some things that might help:
- If you’re worrying about the future, try some of our guided relaxation and mindfulness exercises. They can help you focus on the present. Mindfulness has also been shown to reduce anxiety and stress levels.
- Getting creative can also take you out of your head and into the moment. Our information about looking after your mind and emotions lists some activities you could try.
- Make time to understand your level of risk – this can help you make decisions about how to protect yourself. Ask your healthcare team if there’s anything you’re unsure about.
- If you’re worried about returning to work or managing financially, we have information about money and work that can help you access support.
- Share your worries with your family or friends – talking to people you trust can help.
- Going outside for some fresh air or to be with nature can be calming and refreshing.
- You could also talk to other people with blood cancer in our online forum coronavirus threads, or speak to us.
- If you’re feeling anxious, take a look at these 10 ways to cope with anxiety.
- Look at Mind’s information on difficult feelings about the coronavirus pandemic.
- Read the Mental Health Foundation's information about how to look after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.
- If these feelings don’t go away, speak to your healthcare team or GP. They can help you access telephone or online counselling.
Thank goodness for the Blood Cancer UK forum where we can share our highs and lows. And I do have to say that I have had some lovely chats with the Blood Cancer UK Support Services Team. They are just marvellous!
- Maria, diagnosed with T-cell large granular lymphocytic leukaemia (T-LGLL)
Coping with feeling vulnerable
Last updated: 5 January 2021
Being told that you’re ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ can be difficult to process. It might trigger memories of diagnosis or make you feel like things are beyond your control. If you start to feel this way, here are some things that can help:
- Look at our pages on living well with or after blood cancer for ideas on how to maintain your physical and mental health. Taking small, simple steps to improve your health can feel empowering.
- Make time to understand your level of risk. Having this knowledge might help you feel more in control.
- If you have concerns about the impact of coronavirus on your health, tell your healthcare team. If you can’t talk to them straight away, write down your questions and take them to your next check-up or telephone appointment.
- Visit the NHS pages on Every Mind Matters. They include expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health.
- Look at Mind's information on coronavirus and your wellbeing.
Coping with uncertainty and vulnerability
First blood cancer, then coronavirus... Jade talk about how she's learnt to cope with the challenges of both.
Looking after yourself while you stay at home
Last updated: 5 January 2021
Here are some things you can do to help yourself while you have to stay and home and keep your distance from others:
Coping with isolation
- If you’re feeling lonely or isolated, talk to other people with blood cancer using our online forum or speak to us.
- Stay in touch with family and friends by phone, online or by post. If they're not being as careful as you, explain why you’re keeping your distance and tell them that you want to stay in touch.
- Plan things to look forward to – it could be as simple as a video call with someone you haven’t seen for a while, having a film night, or doing an online exercise class at the same time as a friend.
Finding a routine
- Try creating a timetable for yourself – having a routine can help.
- Start a diary – you can record your goals, things you've achieved, things that have helped you, and how you're feeling.
- Try to maintain a regular sleeping pattern – getting the right amount of sleep can have a big impact on how you feel.
- If you struggle to get to sleep, meditation can help. Try listening to our guided relaxation and mindfulness exercises.
Looking after your physical and mental health
- Spend time doing things you enjoy like reading or cooking – or you could learn something new.
- Keep active – try some of our guided exercise videos you can follow at home, or visit the NHS website.
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals and drink enough water – see our information on eating well.
- Try some of our guided relaxation and mindfulness exercises. They can help you relax and reduce your stress levels.
- Go out for a walk and get some natural sunlight and fresh air.
- If you don’t have a garden or outside space, try bringing nature into your home with some house plants or potted herbs.
Leukaemia won’t stop me from getting fit – neither will COVID-19
Resources and services to support your wellbeing
Last updated: 6 January 2021
There's a range of services available to support your emotional wellbeing during the pandemic and beyond.
- The NHS One You website has information and advice to help you look after your mind and your body.
- The NHS also offers a range of audio guides to help boost your mood.
Free 24-hour listening services (countrywide)
- Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours.
- Text "SHOUT" to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text "YM" if you're under 19.
- If you're under 19, you can call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline.
- NHS Volunteers Responders offer a telephone "check in and chat" service if you're feeling low and isolated. Call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm).
- For urgent help in England, find out about an appropriate local NHS urgent helpline.
- Clear Your Head has tips and advice about dealing with anxiety, uncertainty and loneliness.
- The Scottish Association for Mental Health has a coronavirus mental health information hub for people looking for emotional support.
- SilverCloud is an online course which offers support for anxiety, depression and much more for people resident or registered with a GP in Wales.
- CALL Mental Health Listening Line is a 24-hour confidential mental health helpline.
- ACTivate Your Life is a free online course designed to improve your mental health and wellbeing.
- The Young Person’s Mental Health Toolkit links young people aged 11 to 25 to websites, apps, helplines and more to build resilience.
- Warm, Well and Connected aims to reduce your risk of isolation and improve your emotional and physical health. Call the Healthy Living Alliance on 02890 310346 or the Northern Area Community Network on 02821 772100 to find out more.
- The Covid Wellbeing NI online hub provides information, self-help guides and ways to access help to support your mental health and wellbeing.
- Lifeline is free 24-hour confidential helpline staffed by counsellors. It's for anyone in distress and can put you in touch with follow-up services.
Keep updated about coronavirus and blood cancer
Join our mailing list for key updates about coronavirus for people with blood cancer, what we're doing to help, and ways you can help, including campaigns you may be interested in.
Support for you
Call our free and confidential helpline on 0808 2080 888 from Monday to Friday, 10am to 7pm, and Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 1pm.
We are currently receiving a very high volume of calls related to coronavirus, so if you're not able to get through straight away, please leave a message and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
You can also email us if you prefer to get in contact that way. We'll usually get back to you within two working days, but due to the current rate of calls and emails we are currently receiving it may take us longer.
Talk to other people with blood cancer on our Online Community Forum – there is a group for coronavirus questions and support.
You can also find out what's helping other people affected by blood cancer through coronavirus and beyond in our pages on living well with or after blood cancer.
The following companies have provided funding for our coronavirus support, but have had no further input: AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Celgene, Gilead, Incyte, Kyowa Kirin, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi, Takeda.