Living with long COVID

There is no single treatment for long COVID. But there are things you can do to help manage your symptoms and make everyday activities easier.

Be patient and kind with yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat another person with long COVID. Take things slowly and gradually build up your daily and weekly routine.

Some days may be more difficult than others. But throughout your recovery, try to look after your physical health.

You can do this by:

Recovery is different for everybody. We are still learning about the different ways that COVID-19 affects people and how people recover from it.

Managing long COVID symptoms

Some of your symptoms might go away quickly. But others may come and go, or take much longer to improve. This might make your normal activities feel difficult and tiring to do.

Find our guides about managing:

Managing joint pain or muscle pain

Gentle stretches and strength exercises may help with muscle and joint pain. This could be activities such as yoga, tai chi or exercises with resistance bands.

Exercise while recovering from COVID-19

Find more exercises involving:

Check with your GP before you start a new exercise routine. Stop if you feel worse after exercise.

Talk to your GP for advice on how to manage other common long COVID symptoms such as:

  • chest pain or tightness
  • heart palpitations
  • pins and needles or numbness

Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP if:

  • you're worried about any ongoing or new symptoms
  • your symptoms get worse
  • you're finding it hard to cope - this can be because of emotions as well as physical symptoms

Urgent advice: Call 112 or 999 if

you or someone with you shows signs of a heart attack:

  • chest feels tight or heavy
  • pain that spreads to your arms, back, neck and jaw
  • suddenly feeling or being sick

Plan, prioritise and pace your activities

Match your level of activity to your energy level and rest before you need to.

Doing this helps to avoid ‘boom and bust’ behaviour. This is where you are very active on good days and then feel exhausted for days after.

To do this you can:

  • plan - create a balanced routine of things you need to do, things you want to do, and rest breaks
  • prioritise - be realistic about what you can do, think about changing tasks to make them easier or asking for help
  • pace - break down activities into smaller tasks and spread them out over the day or week

Do not compare yourself to others or what you think you should be able to do. Your energy level may vary from day to day. If you wake up feeling tired, you may need to do less than you planned.

Tips on how to make everyday tasks easier

Sometimes it may be difficult to pace and plan activities. For example, at a family event. If the activity is very important to you or unavoidable, try to plan for a longer period of rest after it. Let people know that you may not be able to take part in your usual way.

Tips on resting effectively

Going back to work and other activities

Planning, prioritising and pacing can help when you go back to work and other activities. Slowly add small increases in activity to your routine when you feel ready.

You can also manage the expectations of others before you start new activities. Tell them what you can do and what happens if you do more than your comfortable level of activity.

Using an activity diary to monitor your symptoms

Illness Benefit if you cannot work in the short term - on gov.ie

Going back to work after a longer absence

Doing the right kind of work is good for your mental and physical health. The longer you are off sick, the harder it can be to go back.

If you have been off work for a long time, planning your return can help you prepare and build your confidence.

To help you plan your return, talk to your GP or other health care professional, and your employer.

Talking to your GP or other health care professional

Talk to your GP or other health care professional about your symptoms. This could be an occupational therapist.

Tell them about your work, including where you work, your hours and your typical tasks.

You can discuss:

  • how your symptoms may affect your work
  • how work may affect your symptoms

They may suggest changes you could make at work to help.

Talking to your employer

Talk to your employer on a regular basis while you are out sick. This could be your manager, or a HR or occupational health representative.

Ask them about work policies on sick leave and returning to work after illness.

When you feel ready to go back to work, talk to your employer about:

  • planning your return to work
  • what reasonable changes can be made to help you at work

Pacing is important for both physical tasks and mentally challenging tasks. But this may not be obvious to others.

Having a clear plan on what to expect at work can help you prepare. Ask for a written plan if possible.

Managing your symptoms at work

It may take time to return to your previous level of activity.

When you return to work, continue to monitor and manage your symptoms.

Check how you feel at the end of the day and at the end of the week. Sometimes you may not have energy for other activities in your life.

Make changes to your routine if you need to.

Plan regular meetings with your employer to discuss how you are coping and any concerns you may have.

Supports and services

Living Well is a free self-management programme for people with a long-term health condition. It provides workshops and resources to help you manage your condition better.

The Living Well programme