Man with MS hoovering

Coping with social distancing and self-isolation

A lot of us are staying at home because of COVID-19. Here are some ideas to keep the mind and body active and well in the coming weeks.

Stay active

Keeping active can help us stay as healthy as possible – physically and mentally. If you like to get outside, this might be a frustrating time. But there are things we can do at home to move more.

We’ve got a whole range of online exercise videos, specially designed for people with MS to do at home. There are yoga, Pilates and workout videos, as well as exercises developed by a physiotherapist for specific MS symptoms. Take a look at our exercise page and find an activity that suits you.

Relax

Feeling anxious or stressed during challenging times is normal, and it’s ok to not be ok. But there are lots of things you can do to look after your mental health.

If you’ve never tried it before, why not look into mindfulness. It can be a great way of taking back control if you feel caught up in thoughts and worries. Or, you could join in with our breathing and relaxation yoga video.

If you’re feeling very stressed or anxious right now, MIND has information you might find helpful. You can also find about managing MS and mental health on our website.

If you or someone you know is struggling because of coronavirus, gov.uk can direct you to the right support, wherever you are in the UK. This includes information about feeling unsafe, paying bills and mental health. 

If you want to chat to someone, call our MS Helpline on 0808 800 8000. We’re here Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm except bank holidays. 

Find your new routine

Lots of us are having to find new ways to work, study and play together. But there is help available to help you manage things at home.

The NHS site Every Mind Matters has tips on working from home and looking after children and teenagers.

If you’re doing some home schooling, gov.uk has a list of free online resources that could help. They cover the basics like maths and English, but also mental wellbeing and PE. And there are specific links for pupils with special educational needs. 

Be connected

Humans are social creatures, so we need to stay connected, despite social distancing and self-isolation. Maybe that’s singing from the balconies like in Italy, or just making sure you’ve got phone numbers for the neighbours you usually chat to in the street.

There are social benefits to this, but they might also be able to help you get the practical things you need, like groceries and prescriptions. Make sure you ask them to just knock and leave things outside your door. If you’re worried about getting these essentials, there are organisations who can help.

Most big supermarket chains do online shopping. And online pharmacies can deliver prescriptions free of charge. To make sure you register with a legitimate pharmacy, read the NHS guidance on buying medicines online.

Keep in touch with family and friends with video calls. One-to-one calls are easy on the mobile, but you might even get whole groups together with something like Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts. If someone in your family or group of friends already uses one of these, get them to help you set it up. You can also sign up to our new Keep in Touch service, which gives you the opportunity to have a weekly catch up with one of our friendly volunteers.

You can join one of our Time to Chat or Virtual Wellbeing sessions and connect online with others living with MS across the UK. Or you could sign up for an information webinar. We've got plenty to choose from over the coming months, have a browse and see what suits you.

And don’t forget our own MS forum. It’s a welcoming community of thousands of people who know life with MS. Join the conversation now.

Be entertained…or learn something new

Talking books, podcasts, that Netflix series you were told was worth a watch… Now might be a good time to see if the reviews were right. If you don’t want to spend on subscriptions, BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 all have on demand services.

If the usual radio stations don’t offer what you want, search out free podcasts that sound interesting. If you’ve never done it before, here’s a guide from The Guardian on how to listen to podcasts.

Or you may want to check out some blogs from the MS community. Topics range from living with the hidden symptoms of MS, to raising tigers in Hertfordshire.

If you fancy a mental challenge, why not try an online course. Loads of places offer them, including Future Learn. You could also learn more about living better with MS. Or try our new online fatigue management course.

You can also use the extra time to take part in the MS Register’s coronavirus survey. The data will help clinicians and people with MS make decisions about their treatment during the pandemic.

Get creative

If you’re inspired by our community blog, why not write your own blog post for us? You can share your story with us using our handy form.

You can also start your own blog, and write regular updates about your life with MS.     

If you’d rather pictures than words, make a photo diary. Give yourself a theme and see how creative you can get. You don’t have to publish them anywhere, but if you do, social media loves a picture!

It’s also a good time to get creative with food. If you can, get yourself some treats to eat as well as the necessities – makes life inside a little nicer. And if your usual choices aren’t in stock right now, get creative. Visit the Cooking on a Bootstrap website for recipes that use tinned food.

Cake Break is one of loads of creative ways to fundraise for us, all from the comfort of your own home. And if baking’s not your thing, check out our fundraising at home page for tips and ideas.

For more creative inspiration, check out some of blogs below.