Events like the current Covid-19 pandemic are extremely rare, but when they do happen, it is normal to have strong reactions, a psychologist explained this week.

Looking after your psychological wellbeing during a global pandemic is very important.

Changes to your daily routine and limited social contacts mean many of us often feel low, frustrated and disheartened.

Elspeth Desert, clinical director and consultant clinical and health psychologist at NCIC, explained why some people were experiencing different feelings to normal.

She said: “In North Cumbria we have seen very high levels of infection and demand. We are all under extreme pressure both at work and home," she said.

“The challenge is increased by the length of the pandemic and the lockdown rules.

“We know that, as a result, we will all experience changes in our wellbeing, for example, feeling more emotional, perhaps irritable, our sleep being poor and feeling fatigued and low. These are all very normal, but as the weeks go on we can also find these feelings becoming more frequent and difficult.

“Many of us feel hesitant about seeking support, thinking we normally “just manage” but this is not normal times.”

Anna Stabler, chief nurse at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, added: “It’s normal to feel stressed, confused and scared during an event like this. Talking to people you know, and trust, can help.”

NHS mental health services have been open throughout the pandemic and continue to stay open during this lockdown. The advice is to speak to your GP for a referral, or you can self-refer via

If you or a loved one face a mental health crisis, you can find your local NHS 24/7 helpline on

Five steps to mental wellbeing:

1.Connect with other people

2. Be physically active

3. Learn new skills

4. Give to others

5. Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)

• There are lots of things you could try to help build stronger and closer relationships:


• try switching off the TV to talk or play a game with your children, friends or family

• have lunch with a colleague

• visit a friend or family member who needs support or company

• volunteer at a local hospital or community group. Find out how to volunteer on the GOV.UK website

• make the most of technology to stay in touch with friends and family. Video-chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are useful, especially if you live far apart

• search and download online community apps on the NHS apps library


• do not rely on technology or social media alone to build relationships. It's easy to get into the habit of only ever texting, messaging or emailing people

2. Be physically active

• Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. Evidence also shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

• raising your self-esteem

• helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them

• causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood

• Find out more about getting active


• find free activities to help you get fit

• if you have a disability or long-term health condition, find out about getting active with a disability

• start running with our couch to 5k podcasts

• find out how to start swimming, cycling or dancing

• find out about getting started with exercise

3. Learn new skills

Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

• boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem

• helping you to build a sense of purpose

• helping you to connect with others

• Even if you feel like you do not have enough time, or you may not need to learn new things, there are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life.

• Some of the things you could try include:


• try learning to cook something new. Find out about healthy eating and cooking tips

• try taking on a new responsibility at work, such as mentoring a junior staff member or improving your presentation skills

• work on a DIY project, such as fixing a broken bike, garden gate or something bigger. There are lots of free video tutorials online

• try new hobbies that challenge you, such as writing a blog, taking up a new sport or learning to paint


• do not feel you have to learn new qualifications or sit exams if this does not interest you. It's best to find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life

4. Give to others

Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by:

• creating positive feelings and a sense of reward

• giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth

• helping you connect with other people

• It could be small acts of kindness towards other people, or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.

5. Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)

Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.

Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

Read more about mindfulness, including steps you can take to be more mindful in your everyday life.