Top tips for keeping anxiety and depression at bay

COVID-19 has dramatically transformed life as we know it. And, while some will adapt with little problem, others may struggle to cope with such a drastic change to their daily lives - prompting the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to launch a new range of mental health services for children and adults in response to the crisis. 

Below we’ve outlined the advice given by Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity, for managing your mood during the outbreak - and added some handy pointers, from local initiatives to relevant roundups.

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Much of the advice below also applies to physical health which, although current restrictions may make this more challenging, is just as vital to maintain: according to the NHS, exercise can reduce your risk of major illnesses - such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer - by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%. 

As Mind states, maintaining a regular routine can be helpful for providing structure; particularly during a time when many normal structures temporarily don’t apply. It may be helpful to incorporate the below into a daily routine you can follow. 


Eat well and stay hydrated

When you’re feeling bored, anxious or down, it can be tempting to indulge in comfort foods or unhealthy snacks - try not to. There’s a big difference between eating well (with the occasional treat) and slipping into endless snacking. Staying healthy and hydrated is not only important physically, it also has a massive impact on your mood too.

Top tip: From Manchester businesses offering deliveries to innovative apps, our Eating Out and Drink sections have inspiration aplenty for keeping your shelves stocked *and* local companies supported


Try to keep active

As well as getting outside (more on that below), there are plenty of ways you can be active indoors too. Cleaning, dancing to music, going up and down the stairs, online workouts…these are just some ideas. Why not get creative and add your own?

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Top tip: Check out our roundup of online workouts from Manchester fitness gurus. MCRactive, meanwhile, has exercise inspiration for everyone 


Get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as you can

It's well known that vitamin D, fresh air and nature have a positive impact on physical and mental wellbeing. For those without green space or somewhere else they can exercise nearby, however, Mind has listed some ways you can bring a little nature indoors; from simple things like opening your windows to listening to natural sound recordings and (for those who have one) getting out in the garden.     

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Top tip: Greater Manchester Moving is sharing lots of handy hints on its website and social media for staying active outdoors and in during the coronavirus outbreak. Have a dog? We’ve got some advice on keeping you and your furry friend active too


Balance your time

A sense of purpose is vital for good mental health - something that may suffer if your usual tasks have been displaced - but there are opportunities aplenty to stay productive at home; from having a clear out to tidying your possessions a la Marie Kondo. Mind also suggests a digital MOT, from deleting unused apps to sorting emails and upgrading software, plus contacting people you’ve been meaning to catch up with.

Finding moments to relax and be creative is also important - from arts and crafts to yoga, music to meditation - as is keeping your mind stimulated. Books, magazines, articles, podcasts, films, puzzles…all are great ways to keep yourself entertained and engaged.

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Top tip: We have listicles galore on keeping you and your family occupied, from free kids’ activities to enjoying Manchester’s vibrant arts scene at home. Need some escapism? We’ve even rounded up the best series to binge on Netflix and Prime. Or find ways to help on our COVID-19 Action page 

More useful advice

Take care of your immediate environment

For some, a clean and tidy home environment can help with spending more time indoors. For households with several people, it might help to decide who will use different spaces and how.

Find ways to work or study at home

Mind has put together some handy hints for those working from home, as well as caring for children and young people.

Connect with people

From video chats to phoning and messaging, staying connected is still possible thanks to technology. Mind also has an online community, Elefriends, for those without a strong support network.

Maintain a regular routine

As mentioned, having a routine can help you stay focused and productive; from waking up and going to bed at the same time each day to scheduling in activities and household chores. Try to follow your ordinary routine as much as possible.

Take care with news and information

It’s important to connected with current events (via reputable sources) but, if the news is making you feel anxious or down, consider limiting what you look at or watch. This also applies to social media, on which following positive accounts like Action for Happiness and School of Life can also help.


For Mind’s full advice - including for those with support needs (medication/treatment/care) and those struggling with their mental health - visit mind.org.uk.

Mind’s Manchester branch continues to offer many of its usual services online and via phone, and has also introduced two new listening services in response to COVID-19; one for young people (age 15-25) and another for over 25s. Visit manchestermind.org for the full list of young people and adult services.

You can find out more about GMCA's new mental health services on greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk.

For more coronavirus support, visit our COVID-19 microsite

Read more: Manchester Mind: ‘It was edgy at times…but we believed we could achieve great things and we did’