Stay in touch

Keep in touch with your friends, family and neighbours. If you’re able to, call them regularly to see how they are and tell them how you’re feeling. Hearing someone’s voice can make a big difference to how you feel.

If there’s someone you’ve been meaning to get in touch with for a while, now may be a good time - it doesn’t matter how long it’s been. They may be very pleased to hear from you. If you’re not sure what to talk about, you could compare notes on how you’re coping with isolation or tell them about books, films or TV programmes you’ve enjoyed, for example.

There are many other ways to stay in touch. You could write a letter if you can safely get to a post box or ask someone to post it for you. Bear in mind that post is taking a bit longer at the moment. If you have a smartphone or computer, use email and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You could set up group chats on applications such as Whatsapp and use FaceTime, Skype or Zoom to make free video calls. If you don’t know how to do these things but would like to try, see below for where you can get help.

If you're using technology, make sure you know how to stay safe online.

Ask for support

If you're experiencing loneliness or need someone to talk to but you don’t know anyone, you could call The Silver Line, a free, confidential helpline for older people – 0800 4 70 80 90 – or Samaritans on 116 123.

Many charities have local support groups. Although it may not be possible to meet up in person, they are finding other ways to offer support by phone or online. Our factsheet How to stay socially connected has contact details for a number of organisations, including the Royal Voluntary Service and Age UK. You could also ask your local council about community and support groups in your area.

If you have a religion, stay in touch with your faith community. While you can't go to your usual place of worship, you could join prayers and services online, or listen to religious or spiritual podcasts, such as BBC Sounds. The Church of England has a free phoneline called Daily Hope 0800 804 8044 for those who aren’t online. If it feels strange to observe your religion alone, you might like to connect with a friend online or over the phone and celebrate together.

Learn how to use technology

If you want to use technology but you’re not very confident, there are lots of websites that offer free help. Learn My Way has many free courses in basic digital skills, such as using a touchscreen, how to get online, and online safety. Digital Unite can also take you through the basics and has links to other useful sites. And this BBC webpage explains how to make a video call.

If you have a disability or a sensory impairment, you can find resources on AbilityNet, including factsheets and webinars, and there’s also a free helpline if you need technical support – 0800 048 7642. My Computer My Way explains how you can adjust your device to suit your needs.

Tune in to local radio

Local radio can be a good way to find out what’s going on in your area. As well as listening, you could take part in phone-ins, and they may be able to put you in touch with local support. There are hundreds of local BBC, commercial and community radio stations. You can find them at BBC local radio stations and Radio Now. If you don’t have a radio, you may be able to listen online or through your TV.

Plan your day

Having a structure to your day can make things seem more normal and help you to feel more in control. Try to stick to a routine, get up and go to bed at similar times, and eat regular meals. Focus on the short-term and don’t think too far ahead. Plan something to look forward to every day, such as a phone call, watching a film or baking something special.

As far as possible, keep up with your normal activities and interests. You may find that clubs you belong to have moved online or set up phone groups, so keep in touch with them. Set yourself goals by writing a ‘to do’ list each day.

Do activities you enjoy, such as cooking, gardening or DIY. You could also use the time to declutter – sort out your clothes, tackle an area you’ve been putting off or organise your old photos, for example. Or you might want to get creative – keep a journal, write poetry or stories, do some art or play music.

Try something new

If you want to keep your mind active, U3A has suggestions for ways to keep learning while you're unable to go out. You can also find free online short courses at FutureLearn and OpenLearn.

You could research your family history by exploring the digital records at the National Archives. You can download some for free while the archives are closed.

You can view the collections of many art galleries and museums online or find creative prompts, such as Exploration of the day or 64 million artists if you’re looking for creative inspiration.

If you’re relying on friends, family or neighbours to deliver food and other essentials, you could ask them to bring you magazines, puzzles, or books to help you stay occupied.

Volunteering can be a good way to give yourself a sense of purpose. If you're staying in, could you make phone calls or help to organise things from home, for example? You can find contact details for your local volunteer centre at Volunteering Matters. There may be other ways you can volunteer online. For example, you could:

  • track bird sightings on ebird and contribute to research and conservation
  • download the be my eyes app so you can give visual help to blind or partially-sighted people
  • use your skills as a United Nations volunteer.

These are just a few suggestions. Share your tips with friends and family or read some of the stories in our Home Truths series to find out how other people are coping with staying at home.

Look after yourself

It’s important to take care of your mental and physical health. Try to stay active. As well as keeping you fit, exercise can help to reduce stress and improve your mood. If you haven’t been told to continue shielding or to self-isolate, you could consider going out to exercise locally, even if it is just for a walk around the block at a quiet time, for example. Otherwise, make sure you get some fresh air by opening windows.

There are lots of exercises you can do at home. You could try these exercises for older people from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy or the NHS website. There are many other resources online and some TV and radio programmes that have exercise slots, such as BBC Radio 5 Live or 10 Today. Remember to warm up before you start, wear comfortable clothing, drink plenty of water and cool down afterwards. Our Staying active webpage has more information.

Try to eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated – drink 6-8 glasses of water or diluted juice a day – limit the amount of alcohol you drink and get enough sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, follow our tips for getting a good night's sleep or speak to your GP.

If you're feeling anxious or unwell

If you’re feeling anxious, don’t look at the news all the time. Limit it to certain times of the day and only look at trusted news sources. You might find it helpful to try meditation, mindfulness or relaxation exercises.

If you’re worried about your mental health, you could call a specialist mental health helpline like Rethink 0300 5000 927, Mind 0300 123 3393 or Anxiety UK 03444 775 774. You could also try the self-help advice and tools on the NHS website, such as the NHS mood self-assessment tool and Every Mind Matters.

Remember, if you’re feeling low or unwell, you can still contact your GP, or call NHS 111 if you have an urgent medical problem. You can also get help through NHS 111 online.


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