Tips on Maintaining
Health and Wellbeing
during the Corona Lockdown


Taking care of family


Social connections

Managing stress and fear

Useful links for calming and meditation

Resources for family

Links for emergency services and support

The lifestyle changes required as a consequence of the corona pandemic place huge demands on our ability to adapt and change. Life has changed dramatically in such a short time, it is easy to become overwhelmed and stressed.

Negative stress occurs when the demands arising from changing circumstances exceed our resources. So the first priority is to enhance and maintain your personal resources. This applies whether you live alone or in a family situation. Living alone can make it hard to motivate yourself. In a family, it is important to look after yourself so you can take care of others.

"Put your oxygen mask on first!"


The most important elements are adequate sleep, regular healthy meals and exercise. All three are essential for healthy functioning and, most important at this time, enhancing your immune system.

  • Sleep: When the routine of going out to work, school, social gatherings is gone, it is easy to sleep in late and shift our bedtime to much later as we are not tired. This soon has an impacts on our body rhythms and we begin to feel sluggish. Maintain regular bed and rising times. Good sleep practices help to enhance sleep. Cut out screen time in the hour before bed, especially avoid checking the latest news. Engage in a relaxing pre-sleep activity such as reading or meditation or cuddling your partner!
  • Regular meals: Make sure you have balanced meals at regular intervals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nutritionists also advise an energy-boosting snack mid-morning and afternoon, such as fruit or a handful of nuts. This will not only maintain optimum energy throughout the day but will also affect your mood, helping you to stay resilient and positive.
  • Exercise: It is still possible to walk, run or cycle once a day as long as you observe social distancing. Even if it becomes difficult to go out to exercise, move your body as often as possible. This helps to discharge stress and enhances our physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Most of all, be kind to yourself: We can often be our own worst enemies, beating ourselves up if we don't meet personal goals and expectations. It is important to realise that this is an exceptional situation. If you are keeping yourself healthy and happy, you are already achieving a huge amount.
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Taking care of family

Your own self-care routine is the blueprint for taking care of your family, with appropriate adjustments.

  • Enlist support from your partner and older children in household tasks, entertaining younger children, home schooling activities, etc.
  • Maintain a good work-life balance. Manage your expectations of what you or your family members can achieve in lockdown.
  • Make exercise family fun.
  • Allocate a regular check-in time where family members can share their worries.
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Making sure we look after our need for regular sleep, nutrition and exercise provides a natural structure to each day, dividing it up into distinct time slots. While we often resent the structure imposed by our working day, we can feel unmoored without it.

We need structure. Assign time slots to your most important activities.
  • Work: When are you most alert, creative and energetic? Use that time to do work that requires concentrated focus. Admin can be left for another time.
    Lower expectations of what you can achieve. In a busy household find islands of tranquillity where you can focus even for short periods. You will achieve more when you can focus in a relaxed manner.
    Be wary of what hijacks your time, such as mobile phone , checking emails.
    If possible, maintain a clear separation between work and home space.
  • Home schooling:Don't let the pressure of home schooling become your nightmare. There is a great amount of educational material available online. Your children might be getting assignments from teachers. Don't be overwhelmed. Be realistic about what can be done without it becoming a constant battle. Choose activities that are educational but also fun and it will be easier to engage your kids.
  • Enlist help: You can't visit grandparents, but they might be willing and able to provide some teaching support online.
  • Plan: Plan time for household tasks, fun and entertainment, etc.
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Social connections

Social distancing means physical distancing, not social isolation. Social connections are important, now more than ever when so many people are spending more time alone. Stay connected online.

Be aware of family and friends who live alone and for whom lockdown can be a lonely and even frightening experience. Do you have neighbours who are confined to home who need some help with shopping or someone with whom they can chat?

Plan online meetups around group activities, such as quiz or trivia evenings or even scavenger hunts, which can engage the younger family members. Continue your book club online. You can even arrange an online theatre visit together. There are increasing possibilities as entertainment providers become more creative about how to reach audiences. Return to top of page

Managing stress and fear

This is a pandemic of fear as contagious as corona itself. Fear and its lesser version, anxiety, are our response to feeling threatened. The impact of corona virus threatens us in multiple ways. Will I become ill? Will I recover? How will I cope with the consequences for my health, lifestyle, job? Too many questions, so much uncertainty, so much insecurity all generating fear about what might happen. The perfect storm arousing huge stress.

For some it may be the first time they are confronted with such overwhelming uncertainty and anxiety. This period is even more challenging for those who are susceptible to anxiety or depression. They may have worked hard to manage their problems but now find themselves spiralling down because of this unprecedented period of confinement and lack of control.

Fear is a normal response to these extraordinary circumstances. Acknowledge and accept it but don't let it overwhelm and disable you.

The body responds to perceived threats by mobilising to fight or flee, just as if it encountered a dangerous animal in the wild. Hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are secreted and stimulate the release of energy, preparing us for action. Heart and breathing rates increase to pump these to our limbs. Everything nonessential to action is suppressed, including the immune system.

When fleeing or fighting is not an option, our body remains in a state of alertness, using up resources in a nonproductive and even damaging way. We feel stressed, stuck, frozen, like a rabbit caught in headlights.

1. Harness fear
  • It will motivate you to do all you can to protect yourself and your family: observe the restrictions and advice from government and health authorities.
  • Keep up to date with the latest information but don't obsess about the news. Only read news in the morning, not in the evening and definitely not before bedtime.
  • Channel your energy into productive and rewarding activities.
  • Exercise! This will discharge the nervous energy in a healthy way.
2. Practice mindfulness

Brooding or ruminating on distressing possibilities feeds fear. Fear is future-oriented, drawing attention to what might happen. Mindfulness practice trains us to detach our attention from thought streams that sweep us off into disaster scenarios. Instead, we learn to redirect our attention to breathing, which anchors us to the present moment. In this present moment all is well.

In the words of Echart Tolle, author of "the Power of Now"

Be here, be present, don't lose yourself in fear

3. Cultivate positivity

Constantly hearing so much distressing news, it is easy to develop a negative bias and view everything as stressful, if not catastrophic. Cultivating positivity can help to provide balance.

  • Are there perhaps new opportunities at this time? Adversity can promote creativity.
  • Spending more time connecting with family and friends can enhance closeness.
  • Initiate a daily thankfulness practice. This increases our ability to appreciate the little things that we take for granted and also the people around us.
  • Spend time on things you enjoy and which provide you with meaning and purpose. Minimise time spent in activities you don't enjoy; it drains your energy.

4. Connect with loved ones

When we connect emotionally with those we love, the hormone oxytocin is released. This acts as an antidote to adrenaline and cortisol, calming the nervous system, reducing fear and stress, and re-establishing a sense of balance. Make sure you boost your oxytocin daily whether through a cuddle or conversation.

Try to have corona-free conversations. This is difficult when you are very anxious, but distraction is important. Share humorous stories/jokes. Laughter is a great stress-reliever.

For individuals susceptible to anxiety and depression, there is a tendency to shut down when feeling overwhelmed. Don't forget you have family and friends to whom you can reach out. It is a good idea to make a list of go-to people and arrange to call if you are upset.

If you live alone, have a video call with someone each day. Perhaps set up a buddy system with someone else who lives alone so that you can check in each day to ensure that both of you are okay. Return to top of page

Useful links for calming and meditation

Shawn Achor
First of five short talks, starting with gratitude, including a simple exercise

Eckart Tolle
A special message for this time: Staying Conscious in the Face of Adversity

Jon Kabat Zinn
Recording of recent livestream presentation by the creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): Mindfulness, Healing and Wisdom in a Time of Covid-19 Return to top of page

Resources for family

Twinkl contains a wealth of educational material to use with kids.

Cosmic Yoga with Joe Wicks really keeps kids engaged.

Glasgow Science Centre offers loads of online classes like virtual zoos, family cooking classes and science. Return to top of page

Links for emergency services and support

Amsterdam Mamas have an English-language page with information and links.

Police resources on domestic violence (in English).

Veilig Thuis is a contact for reporting domestic violence. It provides advice and support for reporting domestic violence and child abuse. This can be for yourself or if you are worried about the safety of someone else. It also provides advice and guidance for professionals. Unfortunately, the staff can only speak to you in Dutch.

Contact point for domestic violence (in Dutch). You can report domestic violence via the Central Reporting Bureau for the Netherlands: Return to top of page