Helping your recovery from COVID-19

The South East London Long COVID programme has released 10 short animated films to help people with their recovery. 

Launched on Thursday 8 February, the films offer guidance, tools, and tips on how to help manage symptoms and reduce the risk of ongoing issues. To watch them, view the YouTube playlist here.

In the blog below Julie Moore, a Consultant Respiratory Physiotherapist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust who works with the programme, explains more with the help of two patient advisers.

Why have the Long COVID animations been produced?

The South East London Long COVID ProgrammeThe South East London Long COVID programme [pictured] worked closely with a patient advisory team. They told us that despite the vast amount of information on Long COVID, there was a lack of simple guidance on the recovery process. What was out there was hard to navigate and overwhelming, with too many paths to choose from. 

Mum-of-two Stephanie Schreiber [pictured, second on the right] joined the Long COVID programme about 18 months ago. She caught COVID-19 in March 2020 and it took nearly a year before her condition stabilised and she started to see improvements. She had difficulty returning to everyday activity and suffered multiple symptoms including fatigue, chest pain, and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTs) - a condition which includes increased heart rate and difficulty sitting and standing.

Stephanie, 48, says she wanted to get involved in designing the videos to share what has helped her to recover and to give something back. She said: 

We have thought carefully about how to simply present complex concepts to make it really easy for people who are struggling – just as we were. We were keen to ensure that the videos are bite size and easy to understand.
I hope that we have made Long COVID a lot less frightening and showed that recovery is possible as there are a lot of myths and some negativity online when you are looking for support. If the videos had been there for me, I might not have pushed myself so hard and tried to return to my everyday household chores, work, and exercise too quickly.

We wanted short films, three minutes maximum with enough animation and visuals to help understand the tips but not be too complicated. And we wanted to end the films with three simple messages.

We felt that shorter films would be easier to watch if struggling with concentration. They are also easier to share with others such as family and friends, who will be more likely to watch them. Empathy can be important from your loved ones, it helps them to understand what was happening. 

What we’ve learnt

They take a long time to create! Most importantly you need people that have had experience of the symptoms - they are crucial for both the content and the delivery. It is important the content fits with the best available knowledge and latest evidence of what helps recovery, as well as what the research is telling us about we have learnt from other viral illnesses. 

Who’s been involved?

Clinicians and patients co-created these films. Those that have experience of using the tools in the films to help their recovery. We had six key patients who all had a different journey and experience and recovery. The group was diverse but most importantly everyone had a different experience. For example – two had been in hospital, very unwell in intensive care, while others had milder COVID-19 symptoms but got it multiple times. A few of them had unfortunately lost their jobs as result of the illness.

All were severely affected by Long COVID though, and most importantly felt that the strategies helped their recovery but often in different ways. 

Final result

We think they are a great resource because they give the practical tools to help manage the symptoms.

George Apunte [in the picture above, second on the left], 42, who has two children aged six and three and is a carer to his wife who has a chronic illness, caught COVID-19 for the third time in April 2022. He tried to return to his job working on the gate line for a railway company once the isolation period finished but this made his ongoing symptoms a lot worse. He ended up being signed off work for almost a year.  

He admitted that he felt tearful when he saw the final versions of the videos. He said:

If I had even known half of it at the start, I wouldn’t have got as bad as I did. I wanted to help create these videos to help others and ensure that they don’t struggle the way that some of us did.
One of the hardest things was having a baby who wanted me to pick him up but I just didn’t have the strength so often I just pushed through the pain barrier.

The 10 films

The Recovery Puzzle – introduction to COVID-19 recovery

Our short films are packed with practical advice and guidance to support your recovery and help manage Long COVID. This introductory film explains how the series works, and how you can use the information in a way that's right for you. 

Mind and body connection 

You might feel unsettled or more emotional than usual during and after an illness. This film can help you to understand why this happens, and has advice about how you can cope with the emotional effects of being ill and recovery.

Relaxed breathing

Your breathing might have been affected by COVID-19. This film contains some simple breathing exercises that can help you get back to a good breathing pattern, to help your recovery.

Manage that cough

Dry, uncontrolled coughing can cause throat sensitivity and anxiety, making it worse. It is possible to get some control over your cough. This practical advice helps to reduce the urge to cough, and explains what the triggers are and what you can do to manage it.

Energy recharge

Extreme tiredness (fatigue) can happen after an illness and it can affect your life and mood. Find advice to help you keep your battery charged throughout the day, and get back to your usual activities when your body has recovered. 

Physical activity

Returning to daily activities and exercise can be difficult after a virus, and you might need more time to recover. Follow this traffic light system to test what activity your body can do and how it responds. This can help you to plan your day and get you back to your usual pace of life.

Time to relax

If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, this film has advice to help you rest and relax properly. By giving yourself time, your mind and body have the chance to recover from the emotional effects of illness.

Food for recovery

Your diet and eating habits can make a big difference to your recovery, but ongoing symptoms can make it difficult to eat. This film gives ideas about changes you can make to eat a healthier diet to help your body recover.

Prescribed rest

Proper rest helps you heal and lets your body get back into balance after a virus. Find out what we mean by good-quality rest and why prioritising planned rest is so important.

Boost your sleep

Getting enough good-quality sleep is an important part of your body's recovery. This film will guide you to sleep well and boost your energy, stick to a daily routine, and relax and switch off before bed.

You can watch the films on the Guy's and St Thomas' NHS FT YouTube channel here


The launch of the animated films featured on the BBC London News website here.

In November last year KHP published the article ‘Learning from our Long COVID patients’, featuring video and written interviews with the patient advisory team. You can watch the video here:

Learning from our Long COVID patients (

The South East London Long COVID Programme is a two-year programme funded by NHS Charities Together and Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity. It is one of the first KHP services to include all five NHS Trusts in south east London and their hospital charities. Its overall aim is to accelerate the recovery of people with Long COVID across the six boroughs of south east London.