Staying physically and mentally healthy during the pandemic

Posted on: 30th July 2020

There are lots of things we can do to make sure we feel well in body and mind.

Eating and drinking healthily

We all know that a varied diet rich in fruit and vegetables is good for us, but during times of uncertainty and stress, it’s all too easy to slip into unhealthy habits. Lots of us ‘comfort eat’ sugary or fatty snacks, and many of us use alcohol to relax.

Eating well is important for a healthy immune system, so now is as good a time as ever to make sure you’re eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and a good balance of proteins and carbohydrates.

Boredom and the convenience of having food close to hand can also lead to unhealthy snacking habits. If you can, try to keep your cupboards stocked with healthy snacks. That way you won’t be tempted to have another biscuit each time you walk past the kitchen.

With the temporary closure of bars and pubs across the country, more of us will be drinking alcohol at home. As always, if you do have a drink, remember to be kind to your liver and stick to the NHS guidelines – have at least three consecutive days without alcohol and don’t drink more than 14 units in a week.

Getting enough exercise

For a lot of us, spending more time at home means we get less exercise. If you’re feeling well, it’s important to try to make time for exercise during the day. Exercise boosts your mood and your immune system, so try to stay active if you can.

Government guidelines currently allow us to leave the home for exercise once a day, whether that’s to go for a walk, jog or bike ride. This can be alone or with people in your household, to avoid the risk of spreading infection to others. Try to stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people when you’re out and about.

There is a wealth of free classes online, from 10 minute high intensity sessions to 60 minute yoga classes - there’s a class and intensity level to suit you. What’s more, you usually don’t need any specialist equipment to get started. A good place to start is the NHS fitness studio.

If you’re at home with children, you could even encourage them to join in with you! Fitness coach Joe Wicks is livestreaming free fitness classes every day at 9am, and Strictly Come Dancing star Oti Mabuse is offering free dance classes online at 11.30am.

Don’t forget that walking to the shops to get essentials also counts as gentle exercise.

What if I’m self-isolating?

If you’re self-isolating because you’re unwell or because you have a health condition that makes you vulnerable, don’t go out shopping if you can avoid it.

If you can, ask a friend or relative to shop for essentials on your behalf, or try shopping online.

Community groups have also been set up across the UK to help with things like getting food in for people who are self-isolating, older people or those with long-term conditions.

If there isn’t a group near you, keep checking back as the list is growing all the time. You could also contact your local council to find out what help is available in your area.

Looking after your mental health

This is a strange situation for all of us and it’s completely normal to be feeling anxious, worried or stressed right now. Along with looking after our bodies, it’s so important to protect our mental health too.

There is no right or wrong way to feel – everyone responds differently to stressful situations.

  • If you’re feeling lonely, try keep in touch with friends and family via phone or video call.
  • If you’re self-isolating with family, try to avoid conflicts and arguments as much as you can. If things get heated, allow yourselves some time alone and try to let small things go.
  • You could share your thoughts and feelings with others with a liver condition, on our community forum, Health Unlocked.
  • You could even write a letter and send it by post – a letter through the door is bound to put smile on a loved one’s face.
  • If you’re feeling anxious or very low, you could speak to someone ay Anxiety UK - call 03444 775774, or use their Live Chat Advisory Service, or Mind - call 0300 123 3393, or email
  • Finally, if you have any general concerns about your liver health, we’re here for you. You can call our helpline or email us – our experienced liver nurses are here to help.