How to look after your mental health in COVID-19 times

05 Apr 2020 | Online Consultation

Welltech Medical spends some virtual time out with Silva Neves, an accredited psychotherapist who specialises in psychosexual & relationship therapy, couples therapy, and the treatment of compulsive sexual behaviours.

Silva will be recognisable to many as one of the professional experts on BBC One’s revolutionary and acclaimed couple therapy programme: Sex on the Couch. He is a regular key note speaker at national LGBTQ conferences and a frequent contributor to news and television, most recently interviewed by Channel 5 News on how to manage the coronavirus anxiety.


How to look after your mental health in COVID-19 times


I was interviewed a few times about the coronavirus anxiety. People have been asking me how to manage their anxiety about it. 

We’re told that things will get worse, numbers of infections and death rates will rise. It is all very alarming. And it is anxiety provoking. 

Obviously, it is normal to be anxious but it is also important to look after our mental health in this anxiety provoking period. 

As well as good physical hygiene such as washing your hands, it’s important to look after your mind hygiene. 

1- Feel the anxiety. Breathe through it. Tell yourself that it is normal to be anxious, and breathe more. You can count your breathing as it helps reduce anxiety. Do Not attach stories to the anxiety feeling such as ‘what if…?’. The worst case scenario thoughts that we attach to the anxiety feeling make the anxiety worse and then it is easy to become really distressed. Breathing through anxiety without adding stressful thoughts is actually hard to do, but with practice, it gets easier. 

2 - Limit your exposure to social media and news stories. Perhaps you can allocate a couple of minutes to update yourself on the progress of the virus, but after that, think of other things. Watch other things, like a comedy film, for example, or engage in your favourite hobby. 

3- Covid-19 is a serious illness. But we don’t need to be gloomy about it all the time. Even though it is a killer virus, we can still try to bring some lightness to our lives. Laughing does help our mental health. Read jokes, call friends and laugh with them.

4- Human connection is crucial, especially in a crisis or on lockdown time. Use technology such as FaceTime or Zoom to connect with friends and loved ones on a regular basis.

5- Sleep. Switch off. In this period of high stress and anxiety, our brain needs more rest. Try to get your 8 hours a night. 

6- Develop a practice such as yoga or Thai Chi. These practices are very good for helping us stay in the here and now. During that time, you can give your brain and body a rest from stress and anxiety. 

7- Use your common sense. Do wash your hands. Do be careful with social distancing. All of these things will help you feel in control. Some people may wish to volunteer to feel that they’re doing their bit. That is great. But remember that you’re doing your bit if you stay home, too. Be gentle on yourself.

8- Let’s be kind to each other. We can all empathise with each other with our different levels of anxiety and fear. We can all respect each other with our different opinions. Let’s remember to smile when we see our neighbours.

9- It is normal to have higher anxiety or more intense emotions than normal in these challenging times. But if your level of distress is so high that it stops you from living your life, please see a therapist online.

Silva Neves



Twitter: @SilvaNeves3

Instagram: @silvanevespsychotherapy