The Novel Coronavirus - Israel Ministry of Health

Healthy Habits

Publication date: 17/03/2020, 15:38 | Update date: 06/04/2020, 18:23

Mental Coping

The last few weeks and months naturally and understandably have caused mental stress, including feelings of uncertainty and helplessness. In this situation, we can improve our mental coping, and that of those around us.

Coping with uncertainty may generate preoccupation with threatening scenarios, with concerns and even with a sense of loss of control. While we do not have control everything happens with regard to the Coronavirus, we do have a great degree of control over our own personal and familial safety by complying with the guidance and focusing on our routine and the activities that bring us pleasure and a sense of well-being.  


There are ways to promote feelings of control and competence:

  • Receiving updates from authorized and official agencies – Make sure you receive reliable information, at a reasonable frequency, with an emphasis on the required practical preparations. Make sure you comply with the current guidance published in the Ministry of Health's website.  
  • Focusing on routine – In order to better balance between knowing the guidance, complying with it, and maintaining peaceful and effective livelihood and routine, we need to: minimize excessive and/or prolonged exposure to news channels preoccupied with Coronavirus, and assuage our fears by focusing on the components of an active and vital routine.
  • Sharing – It is recommended that you share your thoughts, feeling and concerns, if any, with those close to you.
  • Relaxation techniques – Engage in plenty of activities that bring you relaxation and pleasure: physical activity, hobbies, positive social interactions, arts and crafts and more. 
  • Support and assistance – Pay attention to yourselves and those around you. If you experience difficulty coping with the situation, you should seek help.


When to seek professional help?

Powerful emotional responses are normal reactions to a situation of crisis or significant stress. They usually tend to dissipate after several weeks, during which children and adults resume routine and normal activities. Should those emotional responses persist beyond two weeks or worsen, and significantly impair children or parents' capacity to function, you should consider seeking professional help.  

For assistance and consultation on mental coping with the issue of Coronavirus:

Ministry of Health Helpline for stress and mental health support: 1800-250-025

HMOs Hotlines:

  • Clalit *2700
  • Maccabi *3555 or 1700-50-53-53
  • Meuhedet *3833
  • Leumit *507 or 1700-507-507

Non-profit organizations:


Coronavirus and the media hype around it may affect our emotional condition and that of our children.

We want to increase our capacity to cope with this stress and thereby improve our resilience.

In order to decrease the uncertainty, we need to provide children with information that is both relevant and appropriate to their developmental stage. We need to improve the children's sense of competence by keeping a routine and encouraging them to engage in activities.

Parents constitute the most important source of support for their children in times of crisis. Therefore, it is important to remain vigilant to the children's signs of stress, and provide them with support and security.  


Practical advice:

  • Embrace two binding rules that are true for all children of all ages:
    • Avoid hiding: You need to create an atmosphere of sharing at home. There are no secrets and it is okay to talk about everything and ask any question. By contrast, if the parents hold hushed conversations among themselves, the children understand that something dangerous is happening, and that they are being kept in the dark about it.
    • Avoid overwhelming: If the parents feel overwhelmed with worry or stress, they should care for themselves first. It is okay to talk about the things that worry us, but we should only do so when we are not feeling overwhelmed. Rather, we should be able to also talk about how we cope with this worry.   
  • Try to maintain your routine – Routine is a source of safety for children. Make sure to maintain regular habits, mealtimes and bedtimes. Create opportunities for the children to share their thoughts and questions with you. Play with your children, you may find things that will be enjoyable for both you and for them.  
  • Restrict your children's exposure to the news broadcasts – Refrain from over-exposing your children to the broadcasts. It is especially important for preschool and elementary school-aged children. 
  • Adjust the information to your children's level of understanding – Tell them the truth only, in a simple and reassuring manner, without delving into details. Provide the children with information and an explanation that there is a virus called Corona and that the State of Israel is taking measures to keep all of us safe. Information overload may confuse children and make them frightened and insecure. Pay heed to your children's questions and the content that occupy them. It is recommended that you help the children distinguish between facts and rumors, which would help instill a feeling of control over the situation. Teach them that not everything that you hear on the street or reading online is true, and that it is always best to ask the parents.     
  • Enhance your children's feelings of control and competence – Teach the children how they can keep themselves and their surroundings safe by maintaining hygiene, for example covering their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing with either a disposal handkerchief or with a folded elbow, washing their hands with soap before eating and after using the restroom. A few examples to activities that you may initiate: Ask the child hygiene rules, prepare a video or write a story explaining the rules of hygiene to children, prepare a poster with the rules for all the family. Thus, the child will feel significant, and a partner in the efforts to prevent infection.
  • Be mindful to your own responses to the event – Children learn how to respond to a situation by observing the adults around them. Take care of yourselves, find a way to lower your own level of stress (for example, by a breathing exercise, by sharing with your partner and by receiving support). The children will identify your level of stress and react accordingly.  

Family in Isolation
Should your family be required to remain in isolation:

  • It is recommended that you listen to music and engage in physical activity. There are many things that you can do indoors such as dance, jump the rope, play with a soft ball, play catch with a balloon and more.
  • Keep your children engaged in enjoyable activities: Board games, painting, arts and crafts, reading books and so on.
  • Practice breathing and guided imagination exercises with your children. There are plenty of such exercises online. These exercises will help in emotional regulation.
  • Distance learning – It is possible and encouraged to log on into the Ministry of Education's "Distance Learning" website. 

It is important that you create a daily routine for your children that is structured, regular and full of activities.

Strategies for Isolation


  • Initiate contact – You are isolated but not alone! Make it a habit to call, Skype or WhatsApp family members, friends and work associates several times a day.
  • Keep yourself active. Make it a habit to get up in the morning and dress as you do when going to school and/or work. Be consistent about it.
  • Make a timetable for your day.

Example for a timetable:

07:00-09:00: Morning routine, including breakfast and physical exercise

09:00-13:00: Work/studies including break for physical exercise

13:00-14:00: Lunch

14:00-17:00: Continuation of work/studies including a break

17:00-19:00: Leisure activity, including communicating with family and friends

19:00-20:00: Dinner

20:00-23:00: Leisure activity

  • Make sure that you work and/or study by telecommunications as much as possible
  • Exercise for at least a half an hour a day. Make sure to keep your leisure time active – read, play games and more.
  • Comply with all the medical guidance that you received



  • Imagine worst case scenario
  • Try to sleep the day away, it may adversely affect the quality of your sleep.
  • Spend too much time reading articles or the news about the Coronavirus. Information overload may generate even more worries and concerns.
  • Hide or repress your feelings and be prepared to share your thoughts and feeling with the people around you.

Remember: This is a temporary situation! Most people do not develop any of the symptoms of the disease or experience the disease very mildly.

For further reading on the following topics:
Strategies for isolation
Healthy routine for children
Keep active
Healthy nutrition
Time to relax - including phone numbers and links for assistance and counselling in mental health


Keep Active

Physical activity, even such that you can do on your own without leaving the house or even your room, helps alleviate stress, preserve and strengthen muscles and bones, and serves as a wonderful way to spend time away from the screens.

Keeping Active also during isolation is #efsharibari


Children and Youth

  • Physical activity at home – Presentation with a wide variety of physical activity such as aerobics, stretches and relaxation for children, youth and adults.
  • Games – Active and healthy games: 60 ideas for keeping in motion with the children also at home. For example:

Fruit and vegetable tag – Spread pictures of fruits and vegetables, or plastic models of fruits and vegetables, around the room. Provide the participants with baskets. The goal is to collect as many fruits and vegetables as possible within a time limit. You can use different methods for collecting fruits and vegetables such as: jumping on the right leg, frog leaps, sprinting, crab walks etc.   



  • Physical activity at home – Presentation with a wide variety of physical activity such as aerobics, stretches and relaxation.


Healthy Nutrition

It is recommended that we take care of ourselves and eat healthy nutrition that invigorates the body even when staying in home isolation. It is important that also during isolation there will be a variety of healthy options at home, to allow us to maintain our routine to the best of our ability and not to increase the harm that may result from unhealthy eating.  

Principles of Healthy Nutrition

The general guidelines for healthy nutrition in general, relevant also during home isolation:

  • It is recommended that you prefer home cooked meals and use raw materials (over pre-cooked meals for quick serving or instant dishes that are rich in sodium, fat and sugar). Home isolation provides ample time to plan ahead for marinating and for cooking, to spend time and effort cutting vegetables and to add a variety of new recipes to your repertoire. Use this opportunity.

If you're not isolated alone, you can make cooking a quality family time, for example by cooking and eating together. Try our Efashribari recipes – for easy to make and warm meals that make dinners a family experience that can make a change for the better.

  • It is recommended that you consumed fresh or cooked vegetables of different types and colors, fruits, legumes and whole grains.
  • It is recommended that you keep regular mealtimes as part of the schedule of the new isolation routine.
  • It is recommended that you make time to eat at leisure and close the screens when eating.
  • Israel's national nutritional recommendations are also valid for the isolation.
  • It is recommended to refrain from eating snacks and sweets, especially those labeled with the red label.
  • It is recommended to drink mostly water, and refrain from drinking sweet or sweetened beverages.
  • It is important to make sure that we eat measured quantities of food. During isolation we are less active, and do not spend the same amount of energy that we normally do.
  • It is recommended to avoid the natural tendency to look for "comfort" in food, snacks and sweets. It is preferable to try and use this time for additional activities like reading a good book, completing crossword puzzles, dancing, learning a new subject, returning to an old hobby, or listening to good music, and not for eating snacks.
  • There is no reason to eat ultra-processed food containing high quantities of sugar, trans fat or sodium. If you are isolated, you can ask a family member or a friend to bring you healthy foods, dishes, and fresh fruits and vegetables.  



Buying Healthy Food

When in isolation you can shop on the internet and order a delivery, or ask a f­amily member/friend/neighbor for help. Grocery shopping should include healthy and nutritious products such as:

  • A variety of fruits and vegetables – some fresh and some frozen or canned so that they can last longer (bags of assorted frozen vegetables, preserved vegetables and peas and more).
  • Legumes such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas as well as legume pastes – You can buy either dried (raw) or canned legumes.
  • Grains – Crackers, bread (you should keep some in the freezer), quinoa, buckwheat, rice, pasta and more.
  • Fats – Tahina, nuts, seeds and almonds, peanut butter with no additives, olive or canola oil.
  • Dairy products or substitutes such as tofu and soy drinks – You can buy some shelf stable.
  • Canned fish, eggs, and raw chicken in the freezer  

You may use the healthy grocery list for reference.

Special Cases

  • People with heart conditions and various chronic conditions (diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, dialysis, heart failure, cardiovascular diseases) or people recovering from operations, diseases and various chronic conditions that compromise the digestion system etc. should follow the guidance of the treating physician and the dietitian. 
  • In special circumstances, such as when there is need for task-specific food, baby formulas and when there is dietary restriction, such as in cases of illness or food allergy/intolerance, it is important that you buy foods suitable for such conditions, according to the dietitian's recommendations.

Time to Relax

During these challenging times, when the level of anxiety is higher than ever, it is crucial to de-stress and to increase a sense of calm and happiness, and to augment the immune system.

Recommendations for maintaining your emotional health during the isolation:

  • Breathing and physical exercise – It is recommended that you start the morning with breathing exercises and some physical activities.
  • Learn something new every day – Surely there are plenty of things that you wanted to get into, to learn, and to immerse yourself in, but never had the time. This is exactly the time to learn everything that you've never had any time for. You can find free online courses at
  • Happy memories – When we remind ourselves of happy times and people that we love, the various good chemicals that keep us health and happy are released. This is exactly the time to organize the family photos and the family videos that are piling up. It is time to remember joint vacations and funny moments, to arrange slideshow presentations and videos clips for every family member. This is an unforgettable gift, and gifts bring us special joy. Below are recommended album editing software with tutorials.
  • It is a great mitzvah to be happy – Laughter is good for the health. When we laugh our stress levels reduce automatically. It's time to do everything that makes you laugh.
  • Reduce smartphone notifications – Technology generates stress, these days more than ever. In generally it is recommended that you significantly reduce your consumption of news on television and in social media. However, you should continue following the Ministry of Health's guidances.
  • If you're happy and you know it clap your hands – Music reduces stress levels, increases pleasure chemicals and augments your immune system. Researchers found that music can dramatically lower stress levels. Surrender yourself to your favorite soundtrack and let all the good stuff flood your body and mind.
  • The wonders of writing – You've always wanted to write. You've got a story inside of you that's just bursting to see the light of day. This is exactly the time to do so. Writing people are happy people. Writing gives a good feeling of doing something and of meaning, and helps process feelings and thoughts. Additionally, writing is an action, and it brings us from thinking to doing.
  • Science lovers – If you love science, Davidson Institute has got something just for you! Quizzes, trivia and interesting articles on science and technology.
  • Playing games – Games too are good for your health and enhance your brain. Play as many board games as you can or create your very own escape room – Take some time off the come up with riddles and timed tasks and to move between the rooms in the house.
  • Nighty night – Sleep is important for the health of the brain. It is recommended that you go to bed early, keep your cell phone away from the room, do a couple of breathing exercises for good slumber, listen to relaxing music before bed, banish negative thoughts and let the positive thoughts fill us.
Back To Top