Living well in isolation

This document has been produced by the Clinical Psychology team in Cardiff & Vale University Health Board.

A period of isolation will be challenging for everyone; but we hope these ideas may help to lessen the impact. They may not all be possible for everyone – use any of these suggestions which might be appropriate for you.

Activities and structure

  • Don’t listen to the news too frequently (or at all). Check up on news only once each day at most. Choose your information sources wisely in order to access accurate information.
  • Structure your day so that you have an activity to undertake each morning, afternoon and evening. Be kind to yourself and set manageable goals. It’s okay if you are unable to do everything you intend. You are likely to experience many distractions.
  • Keep to a routine with waking up and bedtimes. You can add to these routines by having a bath or shower in the mornings, and practice meditation or mindfulness before bed.
  • Watch or listen to programmes, audiobooks and podcasts. Do you have any favourite comedy sketches? Are there any light-hearted shows that bring you joy? Audible have made many titles of audiobooks freely available online:
  • Read a book that has been on the shelf waiting for attention.
  • Learn a new skill or hobby, or pick up an old hobby you used to enjoy doing. How about drawing, jigsaws, playing board games, or learning a language?
  • Explore the world from your home! has a livestream of 100 cameras from around the world so you can watch the northern lights, pandas, the Great Barrier Reef, and more.
  • If you have a garden, spend time out of doors. Even in colder weather, if you’re well, wrap up in coat and blanket and take a coffee break outside.
  • Go with the ‘flow’. Research suggests that when you are fully engaged in an activity, working at your own pace and making progress while being fully absorbed, you achieve a state of ‘flow’. Activities which induce flow will vary dependent on your interests; however, some people find activities such as painting, gardening, baking, knitting and woodwork can induce flow.
  • Take time to self-care. Schedule time for soothing activities. This could be a warm bath, a meditation of mindfulness practice, a few moments cuddled up under your favourite blanket, or petting the cat/dog. Anything that makes you feel calm, connected or cared-for counts.
  • Make time for spiritual practice if this is important to you. Whilst you cannot attend places of worship at the moment, think about setting aside time for prayer and meditation at home. Can you stay in contact with members of your congregation over the phone or via Skype? Skype could offer an opportunity for group prayer sessions too.
  • Take a virtual tour of a museum. There are many; some examples are:

Diet, health and exercise

  • Keep up movement and exercise.
    • Follow any advice you already have from a physiotherapist, your nurse or doctor
    • Even if you have fatigue, move about briefly out of a chair every hour. Look at this NHS advice on sitting exercises, but follow your own common sense about how much to do: well/exercise/sittingexercises
    • If you’re already fitter and want to keep up exercise, use the stairs as often as possible, do some simple exercises that you’re familiar with, or look for some on-line guidance. Remember, only as much as you feel comfortable doing.
  • If you are allowed, leave the house for exercise – e.g. if you do not need to be completely sheltered. Try to do this even if it is a short walk. Remember to observe the guidance around social distancing and keep 2m (6ft 6) away from another person, unless you live with them.
  • Try out an online class. Class providers such as yoga are offering online, scheduled classes at set times, which can also help with your routine and structure. Many of these are offering classes for free to try, or at reduced prices
  • Consider food supply options.
  • Try to buy only what you need for the coming week.
    • If you have concerns about accessing fresh food and supplies, consider how family or friends may be able to support you. There are many local businesses that may be able to provide free delivery of fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables. Many communities are also providing options for support so it may be helpful to connect with your local community online via platforms such as the ‘nextdoor’ app and local newspapers.
  • Spend time making fresh meals if you have the ingredients and energy. It takes more time than ready meals, and can add structure to the day.
    • Check up for ideas: type in a search for ingredients you already have at home, and a range of recipe ideas pops up. Try some new meals, cakes or even sweets.
  • Contact your medical team if you have questions or queries to do with any issues around your physical health and cancer treatment. Who in the team could you phone, e.g your CNS?


  • It can be difficult living in close proximity to others, but there is information about managing family relationships at home –
  • Support younger family members – there are options to guide self-care for young people online:
  • Make a regular phone-call to a neighbour or friend who may need support – they will be in need of hearing another voice. Try to talk about other things rather than coronavirus.
  • Ask others how much they would like to discuss coronavirus and let them know how much you want to talk about it. Some people find it helpful talking about the latest updates, other people find it overwhelming. Try to communicate what your needs are.
  • Think about creative ways of connecting with others. How about arranging a “cook along’ via FaceTime/Skype/Zoom with a friend or family member.  You could even cook the same meal and eat at the same time. Could you watch/listen to the same film or podcast at the same time and then text or chat on the phone about it afterwards? Or play games such as scrabble, chess etc against a relative or friend on- line. Are there any online groups or communities you could join who have shared interests?
  • There is online support available if you want to talk to someone. SilverLine is free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24/7: 0800 4708090.

Psychological wellbeing

  • Connect with friends and family; share your experiences.
  • Allow yourself space to process and make sense of how you are feeling about the covid-19 virus
    • Allow yourself time to worry (e.g. allocate yourself 15 minutes worry time, use a journal or diary to reflect on your experience and how you are feeling).
    • Notice how you are feeling and what you may be doing to help manage these feelings. Try to limit coping strategies that might be maladaptive in nature such as drinking alcohol or eating unhealthily. Use strategies which optimise your overall health and wellbeing.
  • Make a list of what you can and cannot control to help focus your energy.
  • Practice reflecting on good experiences. At the end of the day, reflec vt on three positive things that have happened each day – this could be anything at all, from receiving a text from a friend to enjoying a meal.
  • Try out some psychological resources involving ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and mindfulness
    • Download the ACT companion app: The app is available on android or ios. Enter the code TOGETHER on the subscription page to unlock all the app content free for three months until the end of June.
    • The Velindre Mindfulness app – an excellent  way to guide mindfulness practice; available free to download.
  • Think about your values or the activities that help give your life meaning. Ask yourself whether you could be doing more of these activities to help you manage during this period.
  • Create your own ‘self–isolation bag’. This     could include objects personal to you to help you manage and self soothe (e.g. your favourite scent, book, a jigsaw puzzle, hot water bottle, playlist).
  • It can be difficult to change habits, so keep using well-practiced, helpful strategies. Try to do them a bit more if you can.


Lastly, if you find that your low feelings are getting worse there is more specialised help available.

  • Contact your GP
  • Your GP can also refer you to your local primary mental health service for more specialised support.
  • The Samaritans provide free confidential emotional support to anyone experiencing feelings distress or despair including those that may lead to suicide: 08457 909090 (open 24/7).
  • Community Advice and Listening Line is a free confidential listening and emotional support service for people in Wales: 0800 132737 (open 24/7).
  • Mind Infoline offers free confidential help on a range of mental health issues: 0300 123 3393 (Monday- Friday, 9am-5pm).