Introduction

COVID-19 is having a severe impact on many people’s health and wellbeing, and living and working through this unprecedented pandemic continues to be an extremely difficult and challenging time for many people.

We’ve produced the following guidance to help you look after yourself and your friends and family while we all adjust to living and working in new ways as lockdown continues to ease.

You can also download our free healthy lifestyle advice during COVID-19.

Looking after your mental health

It’s natural to feel worried in unpredictable times. Try to keep things in perspective - public health agencies and experts in all countries are working on the outbreak to ensure the best possible care for those affected.

If you’re frequently having intrusive and negative thoughts, take a moment to assess how realistic these truly are. Reframing negative or unhelpful thoughts into more realistic statements can help you maintain a healthy dose of optimism.

You might find the following resources helpful:

Try mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness and meditation can be really helpful tools for managing stress, anxiety and other mental health issues. If you’ve never tried them before, it’s easier than ever to get started. There are lots of resources available online:

Of course, if you find it more peaceful to be away from technology, try simply sitting comfortably in a quiet space for 5 to 10 minutes with your eyes closed, focusing on your breath and breathing slowly.

Supporting those at increased risk of poor mental health

Older adults, especially those in isolation and those with cognitive decline/dementia, may become more anxious, angry, stressed, agitated or withdrawn during the outbreak or while in quarantine.

You can help by:

  • providing practical and emotional support with help from family, friends and health professionals
  • sharing simple facts from trusted sources about what’s going on - give clear information about how to reduce risk of infection in words that are easy to understand, especially for those with a cognitive impairment
  • repeating essential information whenever necessary - instructions need to be communicated in a clear, concise, respectful and patient way. It may also be helpful for information to be displayed in writing or pictures.

Getting help if you’re struggling

While it's normal to feel afraid and lonely at a time like this, worsening mental health could indicate the need for outside help.

If you find yourself with very poor mental health while isolated and aren't able to pull yourself out of feelings of anxiety, depression, or fear, it’s important to reach out for help:

  • Sussex Mental Healthline – freephone 0300 5000 101 – provides 24/7 support from registered clinicians. As well as crisis support it provides psychological support to anyone with general concerns about their mental health, and if needed they can refer you for local assessment and treatment.
  • Samaritans – call 116 123 – 24hrs a day, 365 days a year.
  • Community Rootsonline or freephone 0808 196 1768 – a network of local services committed to supporting good mental health and wellbeing in Brighton & Hove

    Financial wellbeing

    Financial wellbeing is also important in managing your mental health:

    Taking advantage of some time to yourself

    Being alone doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you’re used to surrounding yourself with friends and family or even prefer the company of strangers, learning to appreciate the joys of being by yourself may take time.

    Having friendships and a strong social support system is important for your mental health and wellbeing, but having some time to yourself may help you appreciate those connections all the more.

    Learn to value solitude

    Research increasingly shows there are real benefits to finding things to do by yourself. Through solitary pursuits, you learn more about yourself and reflect on your experiences.

    Being on your own can:

    • improve concentration and memory - working alone can help you focus your attention, which can improve your retention and memory recall.
    • make your interests a priority – being alone is an important part of self-development and allows you to get to know yourself. Having some time to yourself gives you a chance to make creative choices and focus your attention without worrying about what other people are thinking
    • boost creativity - where group efforts are often about achieving consensus and fitting in with the crowd, solo work encourages innovation without added social pressure. You can enjoy activities you love at your own pace and in your own way
    • improve your relationships - relationships are often strongest when each person takes time to take care of themselves. Even when it comes to friendships, the old adage may be true - a little absence might really make the heart grow fonder.

    Think about your post-isolation future

    While it may feel like this period of solitude will last longer than you might normally be comfortable with, there will come a time when you'll be back to your usual routines. One way to feel less alone now is to take positive actions now for the future.

    You could:

    • make a list of all the things you want to do in the future
    • plant some spring bulbs if you have a garden or balcony
    • declutter – make the home environment as nice as possible by clearing out things you don’t need any more or have been meaning to get rid of, saving any unwanted items to donate to charity once it’s safe to do so
    • have a digital clear out – delete unused apps and photos, update software, sort through email inboxes
    • plan a fun event with friends or family for when you’re out of isolation.

    Using the library

    Our libraries may be closed but there are some great online services available to everyone who lives or works in the city. 

    Free resources available from the library

    Free eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines and eComics for all library members!  Anyone who lives, works or studies in Brighton & Hove is entitled to join. You can view what's available on the library website. 

    If people are not yet members, then you can register for a library card online. We will give you a temporary membership number and PIN.  You will then be able to use the library's eServices.  

    If you need help you can send an email to libraries@brighton-hove.gov.uk.

    Keeping active

    While it's natural to focus predominantly on managing your mental wellbeing during a crisis, we sometimes forget that our physical and mental health are delicately intertwined.

    Whether it’s a few star jumps in your bedroom, yoga, or dancing, exercise will help get the adrenaline out of your system and channel any stress or anxiety you may be fee.

    Very importantly, it will also keep the body well in terms of heart and lung, bone and muscle health. This can protect our overall health and also keep us functioning day to day and ensure we are all able to look after ourselves.

    Evidence tells us that prolonged periods of sitting are not good for our health so it is important to try to move around the home as much as possible. Can you stand up each time a TV advert break comes on? Can you walk up and down the stairs for a few minutes before sitting down for lunch?

    Exercises you can do you at home

    Our Healthy Lifestyles team are now sharing a lot of useful online content throughout the day which can help people of all ages keep moving. They will also be producing their own online content including the Active for Life Challenge and Stretching with Vanessa.

    Go to our How to stay active at home page for more information. 

    Check the Brighton & Hove Healthy Lifestyles Facebook page for updates on activities.

    You can also try the following to help you stay fit while isolating:

    Find more information and advice from the Healthy Lifestyles team about how to stay active at home during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

    Staying safe while exercising

    Whenever you’re exercising, please do so with caution and only if you feel well enough.

    Read advice from the NHS on warming up before exercise and cooling down (stretching) after exercise.

    Support to keep cycling during Covid-19

    Cycling is one the government's recommended forms of exercise that can be done safely while social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    If you want to cycle more while following current guidelines for safe social distancing, you'll find the following resources useful to help you on your way (especially if you're a key worker who can travel to work by bike).

    Online resources

    • The council's online cycle map will show you the fastest, quietest and balanced routes using a way-finding function.
    • Ride Healthy has hints, tips and advice on getting back on your bike so you can ride safely and confidently.
    • Love to Ride is an online platform and mobile app that encourages cycling.
    • Use the Highway Code rules for cyclists for guidance on road junctions, roundabouts, crossing the road and more.
    • Sustrans is a charity making it easier for people to walk and cycle.
    • Cycling UK is a national cycling charity. Its mission is to enable more people to cycle. Visit the website here and use their resources to plan cycle and walking routes.
    • Zedify is a Brighton based zero-emissions delivery company that uses e-cargo bikes for first and last mile deliveries and local deliveries in Brighton and Hove.
    • Bicycle M-check and Learn to Ride -learn how to look after your bicycle by following the M-check system. There is also a useful video showing you how to do this.

    Cycle shops open during Covid-19

    The following cycling shops are currently open in Brighton & Hove and are supporting NHS staff and other key workers. Please contact the shops and service providers directly to find out opening times and how they are currently operating.

    • Baker Street Bikes
      7-8 York Place, Brighton, BN1 4GU
      Email bakerstbikes@btconnect.com
      Phone 01273 675754
    • Brighton Bike Hub
      St Martin's Place, off Lewes Road, Brighton, BN2 3LE
      Email info@brightonbikehub.org
    • Cranks
      22 Chapel Street, Brighton, BN2 1RQ
      Email cranksbikes@gmail.com
      Phone 01273 69347
      Please contact to make an appointment.
    • CycleWand
      83 Ditchling Road, Brighton, BN1 4SD
      Email info@cyclewand.co.uk
      Phone 01273 929434
    • Cycle Brighton
      86 Elthel Street, Hove, BN3 3LL
      Email info@cyclebrighton.com
      Phone 07786 517370
      Available for key workers. Please email or text to make an appointment.
    • Evans Cycles
      4 Air Street, Brighton, BN1 3FB
      Email contactcentreteam@evanscycles.com
      Phone 01273 772357 – Option 2 for workshop
      The Evans Cycles “Click and Collect” service and online service is available. The Brighton store is not open for browsing during COVID-19 but the workshop can be contacted directly for bike servicing - call the number above for servicing. The nearest Evans Cycles store that is open is the Gatwick store at Camino Park, James Watt Way, Crawley, RH10 9TZ, 01293 574999. Key workers are prioritised.
    • Electric Bikes Sussex
      35 Marina Square, Marina Village, Brighton, BN2 5WA
      Email info@electricbikessussex.co.uk
      Phone 01273 625060
      Please contact to make an appointment.
    • Get-a-Fix (mobile cycle mechanic)
      Email getafixcycles@yahoo.co.uk
      Phone 07792 211839 01273 253393
      Please contact to make an appointment.
    • Halfords
      Unit 4, Lewes Road, Brighton, BN2 3QA
      Phone 01273 604833
    • Hove Cycles
      101 Blatchington Road, Hove, BN3 3YG
      Phone 01273 778360
      Available for key workers and NHS staff.
    • Pedalmoore (mobile bicycle repairs)
      12 Brading Road, Brighton BN2 3PD
      Email info@pedalmoore.co.uk
      Phone 07512 010923
      Please contact to make an appointment.
    • Rhythm & Bikes
      63a Lewes Road, Brighton, BN2 3HZ
      Email info@rhythmandbikes.co.uk
      Phone 01273 272039
      Covid-19 Opening hours: Tues-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 9am-4pm
      Available for key workers and NHS staff (10% off parts and labour for key workers and NHS staff).
    • South Coast Bikes
      2 Quayside Buildings, Basin Road South, Hove, BN41 1WF
      Email workshop@southcoastbikes.co.uk
      Phone 01273 202124
      Supporting and prioritising key workers and NHS staff.
    • Southover Cycles
      Email southovercycles@gmail.com
      Phone 07847 209487
      Please contact to make an appointment.

    Getting some good sleep

    Sleep is crucial to our overall health and wellbeing – we spend up to a third of our lives sleeping.

    A continuous stretch of 7-9 hours of sleep a night is recommended, although studies suggest that sleep quality (continuity and depth of sleep) has a greater impact on good daytime functioning than overall length of sleep. Just one night of poor quality sleep can negatively affect your attention span, memory recall and learning ability.

    Lack of sleep in the longer term can increase the risk of stress, anxiety and depression, while physical effects include an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other chronic illnesses.

    Read advice from the NHS on how to get good sleep.

    Eating well

    Alternatives to supermarket shopping include local veg and food deliveries. Please note that as demand is high for food supplies, the independent suppliers may also be at capacity and unable to provide a delivery as soon as you’d like.

    Local suppliers still operating include:

    Keeping healthy

    Changes to our routines can be a time when unhealthy habits can start to develop, or they can be good times to make small changes to improve your health.  
     
    Eating well and keeping active whilst in lockdown are important to support your health and wellbeing.

    Working well from home

    When working from home, try to:

    • create physical separation between work and leisure time – if possible, try working in a different room than the one you usually spend most of your leisure time in
    • stay connected – create a network of regular, supportive communication with your colleagues during your working hours
    • arrange frequent two-way feedback sessions about work and work-related issues
    • keep in touch with staff working from home (if you’re a manager) and ensure regular contact to make sure they are healthy and safe. If contact is poor, workers may feel disconnected, isolated or abandoned
    • break up long spells of Display Screen Equipment (DSE) work with rest breaks (at least five minutes every hour) or changes in activity
    • avoid awkward, static postures by regularly changing position
    • get up and move or do stretching exercises
    • avoid eye fatigue by changing focus or blinking from time to time.

    Advice for parents

    Children often adopt the coping strategies they observe in their parents. Parents who grow anxious during a pandemic may end up witnessing their children develop anxiety along with them.

    You might find the following helpful for supporting your children:

    Our Healthy Lifestyles team have started work on '5 days to wellbeing', offering messages and activities each day. Check the Brighton & Hove Healthy Lifestyles Facebook page for updates on activities.

    Mental and emotional wellbeing support for children still at school

    If your child is still going to school and you have any concerns about their emotional or mental wellbeing, you’re invited to talk to a Primary Mental Health Worker from the Schools Wellbeing Service.

    Telephone consultations are available while schools are closed. Please email SWSConsultationLine@brighton-hove.gov.uk or call 01273 293481.

    You’ll need to give details of your name and phone number and a Primary Mental Health Worker will call you back. While we aim to call back within two days, please be aware we may have a high demand so your patience is appreciated.

    Please note that this is not a crisis number – if you need immediate support, contact your GP, call Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) duty care on 0300 304 0061 or go directly to A&E. For alternative sources of support, please visit Find Get Give – mental health and wellbeing services for young people, parents and carers.

    Department of Education coronavirus helpline

    There is a helpline to answer questions about coronavirus related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline in the following ways (open Monday to Friday - 8am to 6pm):

    Advice for pregnant women and new mums

    The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists has released official guidelines to outline information for pregnant women and new mums surrounding the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19):

     

    Advice for unpaid carers or if you’re looking after someone

    Are you looking after someone, without being paid, who due to their health condition, disability, substance misuse, or mental ill health, needs regular practical, personal, physical or emotional support?

    If so, then we’d consider you to be an unpaid carer.

    Caring for someone while trying to maintain a life of your own can be challenging as well as rewarding. We understand the importance of the role you’re providing and want to support you. 

    Around 1 in 6 people living in Brighton & Hove provide regular unpaid support to family or friends who need help. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that 1 in 3 people nationally are providing essential care and support.

    Carers can be of any age, including children, adults and older people.

    Watch a thank you to carers for Carers Week 2020

    What to do if you think you or someone you care for may have COVID-19

    If you’re worried that you or someone you look after may be at risk, NHS 111 can offer direct guidance and they have set up online coronavirus help

    Call 111 if the symptoms of the person you care for become severe and let them know you’re a carer.

    Local support for carers

    As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's important to know what support is available locally to you as a carer and for those you look after.

    The Carers Hub is a local service created for all unpaid carers. 

    They provide a range of services including information, advice, peer support, the carers card (a discount card which entitles you to cheaper travel, shopping and more), and specialist assessments which can potentially lead to accessing respite options or carers’ personal budgets.

    Please contact them and find out how they can support you:

    Get further information on local support available to carers

    Additional support for young carers

    If you’re under 18 years old and providing regular care to another child or adult, please contact the Young Carers Project, as they have a range of specialist support for you – no one should be caring alone.

    Backup care in an emergency

    Do you have a backup, contingency or emergency plan for if you’re unable to provide care? 

    Locally we have a carers emergency backup scheme, which supports carers to develop contingency plans. Additionally there is national guidance from Carers UK, and from the Government during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    You can also access the Carers UK Digital Offer which has information, e-learning opportunities and give you use of the Jointly App

    Jointly combines group messaging and to-do lists with other useful features including medication lists, calendars and more,  enabling you to communicate and coordinate with those with whom you may be sharing caring responsibilities. The Brighton and Hove code is BHCC_JT75.

    Balancing caring with work

    If you’re juggling caring with work, both the local Carers Hub and the national organisation Employers for Carers offer support to both employees and employers to help unpaid carers. 

    Our local access code, which you will need to set up an account, is #EFC1769.
     

    Relationship support

    Relate are the UK’s largest provider of relationship support.

    Many of Relate’s services including relationship counselling, individual counselling and sex therapy are now available via webcam. Call 0300 003 0396 to book an appointment. You can also access telephone counselling via the same number and you can access live chat allowing you to talk to a trained counsellor via instant messaging.

    If you’re being abused or think you could be, make sure you get support from Relate to stay safe.

    Domestic violence

    Staying in can help save lives, but for some people, home doesn't feel safe.

    If you have been affected by domestic or sexual abuse and violence you can talk to someone and get support from:

    • The Portal  
    • National Domestic Violence 24hr helpline 0808 2000 247
    • In an emergency call 999

    Additional resources 

    Domestic violence and abuse

    This is a worrying time for us all, but particularly for adults and children living with domestic violence, or who have experienced stalking or sexual abuse. Risks will be heightened and you may be feeling that you are trapped or that your mental health is suffering as a result of being at home more. Or you may be worried about your own behaviour towards a partner or family member and need support to address this.

    At home shouldn’t mean at risk. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse don’t suffer in silence. Police response and support services remain available to help and advise you.

    If you have been affected by domestic or sexual abuse and violence you can talk to someone and get support from:

    • The Portal freephone 0300 323 9985
    • National Domestic Abuse 24hr helpline freephone 0808 2000 247
    • In an emergency call 999

    If it is not safe for you to speak you can use the Silent Solution system - call 999, and if the operator hears no response, you will be directed to press ‘55’ if you need help. The conversation will then continue in a way that allows the caller to communicate by using yes/no to answer questions.

    The Respect Phoneline is an anonymous and confidential helpline for men and women who are harming their partners and families.

    • Call 0808 802 4040

    Additional resources 

    Further advice and support options relating to domestic violence and abuse.

    Help with alcohol or drug use

    This is a stressful time for everyone - usual routines have changed for many of us and we may have lost structure in our day, which can make it easier to develop unhealthy habits.

    It's important to keep an eye on our alcohol consumption. To keep health risks to a low level, men and women should not exceed 14 units a week, spread over three days or more. If you're pregnant or under 18, the safest advice is not to drink anything. It's easy to check your consumption of alcohol units online.

    Alcohol can have a negative impact on various aspects of our life such as sleep, mental health, weight, sex, health, parenting and so much more. Now is a good time to be more conscious of how much you’re drinking.  

    If you're worried you may be drinking too much, this quick quiz from Alcohol Change may help you. 

    Get local support with alcohol or drug misuse 

    Help to quit smoking

    In light of the spread of Covid-19, it's even more important than usual for people who smoke to quit. If you smoke, you're less protected against the virus and at greater risk of: 

    • acute respiratory infections
    • infections lasting longer
    • infections being more serious than they would be for someone who does not smoke.

    In fact, evidence tells us that smokers who get Covid-19 are 14 times more likely to suffer from a serious respiratory infection than non-smokers.

    Referrals for support

    The council’s Health Trainers are continuing to offer behavioural support to smokers (including pregnant smokers) via telephone sessions. Medication to help you stop smoking will continue to be available. 

    To make a referral for yourself or someone else, please complete our online referral form. We aim to respond to all general enquiries within three working days and all referral enquiries within 10 working days.

    Further advice

    If you need to talk to us sooner or would like to discuss the service with the Healthy Lifestyles Team, please call us on 01273 294589. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter

    Get further inspiration and resources to help you quit smoking from Today is the Day

    Support for those affected by bereavement

    Bereavement support

    These resources cover some of the different situations and emotions bereaved people may have to deal with.

    Cruse Bereavement Care have a particularly helpful guide to dealing with bereavement and grief during coronavirus.

    Information for employers - supporting an employee through bereavement

    Employers should consider that everyone deals with death differently, and each employee’s needs will be different. Supporting an employee can help them feel valued and reduce their stress or anxiety.

    When an employee tells you about a death 

    It’s good practice to:

    • offer your condolences
    • assure them they don't need to work if they don't want to, and make it clear that work should come second to looking after their wellbeing
    • ask how they’d like to keep in touch
    • ask if there’s any important work they need someone else to cover, if appropriate.

    If someone is upset they might not be able to talk for long, or someone else might contact you on their behalf. If this happens, it can help to follow up with an email, or call them a few days later.

    Communicating in a calm, empathetic way can help employees feel supported, valued, and help ease their anxiety about work.

    Keeping in touch while an employee is off

    In the first few days after a death it’s important to communicate with the employee.

    When you get in touch, it’s good practice to ask:

    • how they are
    • how they’d like to be in contact while they’re off, for example by phone or email, and how often
    • if they want you to let others know about the death
    • if they want to be contacted by others from work, for example to offer their support or condolences
    • if they need any information or support from you, and signpost to any support that’s available to them
    • if they’ve thought about returning to work, if appropriate.

    Be careful not to pressure them into making any decisions before they’re ready.

    ACAS have some helpful resources on managing bereavement in the workplace and keeping in touch with an employee during absence.

    Suicide prevention

    Suicide prevention and support