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Coping with your emotions about coronavirus

This page is about coping with the emotional impact of the coronavirus pandemic and adjusting to changing government guidance.

Last updated: 1 August 2020

In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, shielding (protective measures for people who are 'clinically extremely vulnerable') has been paused. In Wales, this is likely to happen on 16 August.

At the same time, rules for the general public are also relaxing.

Although some people will welcome these changes, others will be quite worried. It can feel hard to make sense of what's best for you personally.

It's important to remember that what you do to protect yourself and your loved ones is a personal choice. Some people will want to carry on limiting their contact with other people, while others will want to start making changes to how they've been living. We have more information on understanding your level of risk to help you think about this.

There are also things you can do to look after your mental health and feel more in control – whatever precautions you take to protect yourself.

Coping with changes to the guidance

Changes to the guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable are being introduced because there are fewer people with coronavirus in the UK, and so there is less chance of catching the virus. However, people who are clinically extremely vulnerable are still at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they do get coronavirus, so it’s really important to continue taking precautions.

In response to these changes, you may start to feel anxious, stressed or even fearful about the future. You might also find it difficult if friends and family start going out again when you’re still coping with restrictions on your life.

It’s important to know that there’s no ‘normal’ way to feel in response to these changes – whatever you’re feeling is valid.

Here are some things that might help you manage difficult feelings:

Choosing to go out

Going outside for fresh air, to see some nature or to see other people can be good for your mental health. But when things change quickly, it can be stressful. Here are some things that might help you adjust:

  • Check with your healthcare team first, and if it’s safe for you, you could start with small steps like going out for a short walk when nobody is around – for example, first thing in the morning or in the evening.
  • Take things at your own pace, and only do what you feel comfortable with.
  • We have more information on how to stay safe if you are going outside.

Coping with feeling vulnerable

Last updated: 3 July 2020

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.

Looking after yourself if you’re staying at home

Last updated: 3 July 2020

Despite the pausing of shielding in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, some people may wish to remain at home or continue keeping their distance from others. Others may be advised to take extra care by their healthcare teams.

If you’re continuing to take extra precautions, here are some things you can do to help you cope:

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. You could 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. Order your diary and see if it helps.
  • 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 these 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.
  • Open your windows for fresh air and get some natural sunlight.
  • If you don’t have a garden or outside space, try bringing nature into your home with some house plants or potted herbs.

Tell us about your experience

You can help improve support for people with blood cancer by completing our impact of coronavirus survey. The results will help us understand the impact on people with blood cancer and help us support clinicians and the NHS.

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.