COVID-19: Free Mental Well-Being Resources
We hope you are holding up ok. What a surreal and uncertain moment we are still living in right now, months after the pandemic started. Our best wishes go out to you and everyone around you.
We have put together a roundup of fact checked, free, research-led and practical mental well-being resources that are relevant to COVID-19. They could be useful for you and loved ones over the coming days and weeks.
First responsibilities and fundamentals
We believe our first responsibility is to take care of ourselves so that we can be responsible and proactive - rather than panicked and reactive - as this new situation unfolds.
This is not just important for you, it’s critically important to maintain good mental well-being so that you can be of service to the others in your lives. We can all try to think of a couple of people each day who might need help with a simple supportive message, call, or groceries etc, and reach out to them.
Always remember the fundamentals of good sleep, eating nutritious food, regular movement and looking after your mind. Spending more time at home could mean more space or flexibility to build the foundations of well-being.
Please take care of yourselves and each other. Take note of the World Health Organisation and your local country’s recommendations, and if at all possible please stay at home.
Mental Health | Remote Working | Digital Well-Being | Staying Active
Mental Health and Well-Being
If you are struggling with your mental health beyond "everyday" levels of stress or anxiety, please contact your physician or local mental health charity, they will have resources to help.
World map of mental health charities: Our friends at Equoo have produced this incredibly useful world map of mental health charities with their websites. Talking to a friend can also really help.
NHS guidelines: The UK’s National Health Service has released guidelines for looking after your mental health during the pandemic. It’s an outstandingly good resource. We also want to take a moment to salute every single healthcare and other brave crucial workers around the world and to let you know your work is so deeply appreciated by so many people.
UK Government guidelines: The UK Government has published “Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19)” which itself is packed full of resources including advice for specific groups who may need additional support right now.
Processing grief: Harvard Business Review have published an excellent interview with grief expert David Kessler titled "That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief" - how to acknowledge, manage and find meaning from the sadness we might feel from the temporary change to normal life.
6 Science-Backed Ways to Boost Your Mood: this Huffington Post article also has links to the research to back them up. Numbers two and three are not recommendations we've seen widely shared elsewhere.
Remote Work and Digital Well-Being
Remote work challenges: This is an excellent article on the 7 Biggest Remote Work Challenges (And How To Overcome Them). As pre-Covid remote workers and a remote team, we can vouch for the wisdom in this. For the “How Not To Feel Isolated” section, think of the digital equivalents.
Getting things done: As a general “getting things done” article that’s adaptable to many styles of working, this is very good: “6 Extremely Effective Ways to Take Control of Your Day and Get More Done”.
Digitally adapting your business: If - like many - you suddenly have to rethink your business or career in digital terms, this article on “How to Adapt Your Business in Times of Social Distancing” is really worth a read. It doesn’t have all the answers - nobody does, yet - but it will definitely give you some ideas on how to think about the situation and what questions to ask to uncover less obvious opportunities.
Digital balance: we published a short guide to 5 apps to boost your digital balance and digital well-being. This just became a magnitude more important.
Our updated lockdown tip is to limit your consumption of news (twice a day is a good guideline) and stick to credible sources. We have noticed a clear correlation between those who are most anxious and their levels of news consumption. If someone is bombarding you with stories, set boundaries with them.
Staying Active Whilst at Home
Staying physically active is an important part of maintaining good mental health. Particularly for anxiety, one of the fastest ways to get out of your head is into your body. Body scan meditations are also good for the same principle.
General guidelines: Sport England has collated a set of ideas and guidelines on how to stay active while you’re home.
Training effectively at home: when you can't go to the gym. This COVID-19 specific resource is from our friends at GMB, who are all about creating physical autonomy and freedom in your life.
Dogma free yoga: for free, well produced, accessible yoga practices of differing lengths from just a few minutes upwards we recommend Tara Stiles’ YouTube channel - her philosophy is very compatible with our “no crystals, no mumbo jumbo” approach.
Kids' yoga and meditation: designed specifically to help kids aged 3+ become stronger, calmer and wiser, the excellent YouTube channel "Cosmic Kids Yoga" has a number of creative videos to follow along.
Free and low cost classes online: You will also be able to find lots of free, donation based or low cost fitness and yoga classes online right now. If you’re able to make donations or payments that’s a wonderful way to support self-employed fitness trainers and yoga teachers.
Resources by Mind: Unlocked
Meditation: we have a selection of free guided meditations here.
Written: Mind: Unlocked's co-founder Jessica wrote "10 Habits For Better Mental Well-Being in Lockdown", an article packed with practical thoughts and lots of links to research supporting those ideas.
Audio: A bitesize 15 minute podcast with Niraj covers what he was doing to look after his mental, physical and spiritual well-being during the UK's first lockdown, and some top quick-fire practical tips.
Audio: Niraj joined mindful drinking movement Club Soda's podcast exploring dealing with uncertainty, meditation, drinking and coping with kids. Related, our friend and drinks expert Camille Vidal recorded a podcast exploring conscious consumption and our relationship with alcohol during this time at home.
Audio: Niraj was on a podcast packed full of tips and practical ideas on working from home and digital well-being with Michael James Wong. Listen to it now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other places. Other guests on the series - called The Quiet Life and designed to help us cope and adapt to our new circumstances - include Jasmine Hemsley, Shona Vertue, Chloe Brotheridge, Faisal Abdallah and Camille Vidal.
Written: Jessica published this insightful article covering a bunch of practical ways to mentally and emotionally cope better. In particular she has some great research-led tips on maintaining healthy relationships whilst isolated.
Written: Niraj put together his early COVID-19 thoughts in a short 10 slide visual piece titled “Mental Balance in a Coronavirus Reality”.
Some Good News
Bitesize YouTube good news show: Clearly inspired by the title of this section ;), actor John Krasinski launched an excellent new YouTube channel called "Some Good News" which delivers just that: sometimes touching, sometimes funny—and always deeply human—bitesize stories of people coming together to support each other earlier on during this global pandemic.
Positive climate change: Around the world during the first lockdowns we saw positive climate change reports as we collectively pause on our travel, production and consumption habits and let the planet breathe. This report on NASA's website explores reduced air pollution and lower carbon dioxide emissions in areas under coronavirus quarantine. Air pollution in UK cities is falling - echoed in many other places in the world - but contrary to many reports, dolphins have not reappeared in Venice's canals and Bill Gates did not pen a beautiful message about the what the pandemic is teaching us. We fact check everything.
Early major victories: Renowned futurist and founder of the Google X-Prize Peter Diamandis listed a number of major victories against the pandemic during the first lockdowns, and had them fact checked with links you can follow up on. It was published on 19th March and of course information is changing very fast right now, but we still feel it's worth sharing.
He notes “Remember that our most important tool during times of panic and crisis is our mindset.” (the highlighting is his).
Anxiety podcast: Dr Rangan Chatterjee has recorded “Coronavirus Special: How to Manage Anxiety in the Face of a Global Pandemic” with behavioural neuroscientist and psychiatrist Dr Judson Brewer.
NHS Mental Well-being Audio Guides: a series of mental wellbeing audio guides from the UK's National Health Service. You can listen to them privately, in your own time, to help you through feelings such as anxiety or a low mood.
Workplace well-being podcast: Dr Nick Taylor, CEO of workplace mental health platform Unmind, talks to Poppy Jaman OBE, CEO of City Mental Health Alliance about how coronavirus has impacted mental health at work, from financial stress to grief.
Get meditating quickly with our growing free guided meditation library.
Of course meditation is not going to solve COVID-19 or put food on your table, but it absolutely can get you into a better headspace to think more clearly and be more focused as well as the physiological effects of reducing stress and anxiety and better sleep.