LOOKING after ourselves is vital at the moment. Here Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust sets out its tips for older people - although they are useful for all ages. The Trust points out that older people are known to be the most resourceful across situations of hardship and challenge. So ask for their advice on how to manage at home alone.

Fear can be helpful and lead us to take actions to keep us safe. However, sometimes it can be difficult to cope and think logically when our fear reaches high levels. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Facts dispel fear – try to follow advice from the NHS or public health guidance rather than social media formats.

Breathing exercise

If you feel worried, try this breathing exercise:

In through the nose, out through the mouth. Slowly. Count for 4 breathing in, and for 6 breathing out. Always make the out-breath longer than the in-breath.

Imagine breathing in the flowers (maybe lavender) and blowing out candles (pursing your lips to do this). Breathe from the tummy not chest – really make your tummy go out when breathing in. Do it for two minutes and see how you feel

• Try to focus on what you can control. We can’t control what is going to happen in the future, but we can control our own behaviour.

• Go back to things you’ve done in past that you found helpful to reduce anxiety. This will be different for everyone but could include gardening, exercise or telephoning a friend.

• Maintain your routine as much as possible at home. This means you will still be completing self-care activities such as bathing or showering even if you are not going out and so it makes your routine feel more ‘normal.’

• Exercise is very important for our mental and physical health. If you are able to take a walk round your garden, then do so. You could also access exercise videos online, or you could try an exercise DVD.

• Try to maintain a healthy diet, with lots of fruit and vegetables. Many supermarkets have now dedicated hours to support older or vulnerable people with accessing and purchasing their shopping.

• Stay hydrated- this means having around 2 litres of water per day.

Sharing your number

If you don’t feel comfortable with technology, you can still write down your number to give your number to neighbours or friends


• Keeping to hand a list of useful telephone numbers (Age UK Advice: 0800 169 6565)

• Have a list of your medications and important medical information to hand

What to do if you are feeling overwhelmed (from Russ Harris Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)

Fear is a natural response when we are confronted with challenging situations which are uncertain. However sometimes our thoughts can start to spin out of our control and can become unhelpful or not useful to us.

At these times, it can help to come back to the present:

Firstly - focus on what is in your control. We cannot control the coronavirus, we cannot control decision making about it or how we feel about it. But we can control what we do about it (our behaviour). The more we focus on what we can do, in the here and now, the more we can make a difference to how ourselves and the people around us.

How to do this- follow ACE:

A = Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings

Silently and kindly acknowledge whatever is ‘showing up’ inside you: thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, sensation, urges. Take the stance of a curious scientist, observing what’s going on in your inner world.

And while continuing to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, also ....

C = Come back into your body

Come back into and connect with your physical body. Find your own way of doing this. You could try some or all of the following, or find your own methods:

• Slowly pushing your feet hard into the floor.

• Slowly straightening up your back and spine; if sitting, sitting upright and forward in your chair.

• Slowly pressing your fingertips together

• Slowly stretching your arms or neck, shrugging your shoulders.

• Slowly breathing

E = Engage in what you’re doing

Get a sense of where you are and refocus your attention on the activity you are doing.

Find your own way of doing this. You could try some or all of the following suggestions, or find your own methods:

• Look around the room and notice 5 things you can see.

• Notice 3 or 4 things you can hear.

• Notice what you can smell or taste or sense in your nose and mouth

• Notice what you are doing

• End the exercise by giving your full attention to the task or activity at hand. (And if you don’t have any meaningful activity to do, see the next 3 steps.)

Ideally, run through the ACE cycle slowly 3 or 4 times, to turn it into a 2- 3 minute exercise.

Then come back to what matters to you and the people you live with or connect with through telephone calls

What matters to you? What do you like to engage in?

You may want to consider physical exercise to stay fit, cooking (as) healthy food (as possible, given restrictions), and doing meaningful activities by yourself or with others.

Repeatedly throughout the day, ask yourself ‘What can I do right now - no matter how small it may be - that improves life for myself or others I live with, or people in my community?’ And whatever the answer is – do it, and engage in it fully.

The Trust says the information has been compiled in association with the Faculty of Psychology of Older People (FPOP) and drawn from organisations such as Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project, Age UK Alzheimer’s Society and Russ Harris Acceptance and Commitment Therapy