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After spending time in hospital you may experience a range of unfamiliar feelings and reactions. Although these may feel strange or unpleasant, it is important to remember that these are common, normal and understandable responses to a significant or life-threatening experience.

Many people who are recovering from a coronavirus infection will experience some psychological distress. You may experience feeling:

  • Anxious
  • Low in mood
  • Fearful of further illness, of stigma or of passing the infection to others

Some people may experience nightmares or flashbacks, poor sleep, impaired memory functioning, reduced attention and confusion. You may also be experiencing ongoing physical difficulties. It is important to remember that some physical difficulties can often be a sign of anxiety, stress or tension.

There is no right or wrong way to react. Each patients’ recovery journey will be different. Not everyone will experience the same psychological distress, and not everyone will experience this to the same degree. Over time many people will adjust to their experience, with little or no residual distress.


What can you do to help?

Below are some simple ways that you can look after yourself during these challenging times.

Please click on the links to find more information and useful local services.


1. Stay Connected to others

Whilst you recover and whilst the national guidance is for us to remain at home, it is important to stay connected with friends and family. This could be by phone, video calling, email or social media.

Many communities now have a network of volunteers who may be able to provide support, a friendly voice to talk to or practical help for shopping or collecting prescriptions.


2. Engage in activities you enjoy

Focus on the things that you can currently do which you enjoy, find relaxing, and which give you a sense of achievement. For example, listen to music, do the crossword or read a book. Remember to follow the guidance for managing fatigue.

Maintaining a daily routine is very important if you are on your own a lot. It will provide you with a sense of purpose, structure and normality, particularly if the world feels unsettling and uncertain at the moment. If your mind still feels muddled or confused from your illness, a daily routine will help with orientation and clarity.

You might find it helpful to keep a weekly planner, as in the following workbook.


3. Share how you feel

Talking to people to make sense of what you have been through might be helpful. It can help to talk with friends, loved ones or other people you trust for support.

Think about specific challenges you have faced in the past and how this may help you in this situation; How did you get through it? Who was helpful at that time?

If you wish to talk to someone other than family or friends, you can access support through your GP or via NHS talking therapies.


4. Be kind to yourself

It is understandable to experience a range of unfamiliar feelings and reactions after a significant or threatening experience. Treat yourself with compassion and kindness; allowing yourself to recover psychologically as well as physically from your illness. Try to hold in mind advice you would give to others in a similar situation who had been through the same experience.


5. Sleep well

It can be hard to re-establish a normal sleep routine after spending time in hospital. Try and stick to a regular morning and bedtime routine. To help your sleep routine try not to nap in the daytime and avoid caffeine in the evening. Listening to music, relaxation or reading may help but avoid using screens before you go to sleep.


6. Eat healthily and drink regularly

Please refer to the guidance on nutrition to help recovery from covid19.


7. De-stress

a) Focus on what you can control.

It is understandable that you may experience times of worry and stress; you may find yourself dwelling on what might have been or what might happen in the future. Where possible, try to focus on what IS within your control, what you CAN do and what you are ABLE to achieve.


b) Relaxation exercises

Mindfulness and relaxation exercises can help to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety and the intensity of our thoughts. Regular practice is necessary to experience the full benefits of these strategies.  

  • Simple breathing exercise
  • Use visualisation of a familiar or favourite place where you feel safe and secure for example a park or garden. Imagine being there and explore it within your mind. What would you see, what colours would there be? What sounds might you hear? Are there any scents that come to mind?
  • Links to useful websites / apps
    1. FACE COVID - How To Respond Effectively To The Corona Crisis
      In this brief animation, Dr Russ Harris, author of the international best-seller The Happiness Trap
    2. Mindful Breathing Exercise
      This is a short mindful breathing exercise video on YouTube from Every Mind Matters


If you are experiencing prolonged periods of low mood, anxiety or cognitive difficulties it may be worth discussing treatment options with your GP.

Psychological/talking therapies can be helpful and can often be offered without requiring travel or face-to-face contact, via telephone or video link.


The following are services to which you can refer yourself directly: you do not necessarily need a referral from your GP or other healthcare professional to do this. For Surrey residents, the following services may be available:


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