At the time of writing this blog we are only into the first week of the national lockdown and I feel that the majority of us are still in an almost honeymoon period with working from home, home schooling etc.
The reality is that these are unprecedented times and unless we take the lead ourselves now to ensure we manage our mental and physical wellbeing then we are at risk of once this honeymoon period ends and the reality of the situation become more apparent and real, our mental wellbeing will be affected in a negative way.
Not being able to see and hug our family and friends, socialising, going to the gym, going for a meal and so much more we have always taken for granted that we can do those things anytime we wanted to. However, now we have to self-isolate, use social distancing, limit our movements except for the essentials.
One of our basic human needs is certainty and we are in a period where so much is uncertain and this is going to cause millions of us to feel more anxious and fearful. So, it is even more vital that we put in place ways to develop an approach to help build a stronger and healthy mindset to cope with the lockdown.
To do this we need to have some practical tips, methods and a structure in place. Here are some ways you can help to implement your own routine to help manage your mental wellbeing in a better way.
1. Keep a Routine: It is tough at the best of times to keep a routine especially where kids are concerned and with working from home and home schooling most parents will feel that all bets are off.
A routine is so beneficial for the mental health of everyone to try and keep a routine going as much as possible. Now what we are looking at doing is not to have a very rigid structure that has no flexibility. By getting up as if we are going to work and doing the school run, having meals at the set times, exercising, eating, sleeping, waking at set times will help reduce boredom, it will help prevent anxiety/depression spiking and will prevent unhealthy coping strategies.
Routine will help us to acclimatize better once the lockdown ends because if we don’t have a routine in place when the time comes to go back to work/school then people will experience their anxiety/depression spiking
2. Give Yourself a Break: This might be the most important one to keep in mind. This pandemic and lockdown will affect all of us, so if you have a wobble it is to be expected. So, when things are not going to plan in your house, if the kids are on their tablet more than you would like, playing the Xbox/PlayStation too much, it is not the end of the world. In the bigger picture it is not such a big deal if you miss a workout, the kids don’t do all the school work. We are all in this together so use the time to reflect on how well you have done and all the little mini wins you have had
3. If you have kids: what about instead of stressing so much on getting all the school work done (which is important) why not use some of the time we have more productively. Why not give them a little bit more responsibility, show them how to make a meal, to wash the car, cut the grass. Give them tasks that make them feel like they are developing and growing as people. Teach them life skills you wish you had been taught at their age
4. Limit the amount of TV per day: it is very easy to let the kids watch TV all day or to go down a rabbit hole watching the news all day which will drain energy from you faster than anything.
5. Home Exercise Routine: For so many of us going to the gym plays a massive part of our self-care routine and now that the gyms are closed does not mean exercise stops with it. Let’s get creative and use the technology we have available to look up exercises we can do at home and help maintain that all important balance.
6. Maintain that feeling of community: Part of our fundamental make up and a basic psychological need is that we are social creatures and we are built to have connections with people and want to gather and meet each other. Not having this fundamental need due to the lockdown is possibly the greatest factor that could cause a big negative shift in our wellbeing.
Texting and messaging are fine don’t get me wrong but picking up the phone or tablet to make a phonecall or video chat with somebody will mean so much more as it will allow us to see the faces of those we care about and see their faces light up when we are laughing about stuff. If it’s possible have a safe social distance chat with your neighbour or people in your street. So, make a list of people you want to call and call them.
7. If you are worried about money: There will be very few of us that will not be worried about our finances and businesses during this time so firstly it is absolutely expected to have anxiety and worry so please don’t feel that you are the only one. Look at what is within our control and make the necessary phone calls to accountants, your bank, citizens advice, look up the HMRC website for the packages the Chancellor announced to help with this and take back the level of control knowing you have done everything that you can to help.
8. Social Media detox: We all love a bit of social media but too much of it can be a bad thing. So often people only post about the stuff that is good (or appears to be good) in their life and if you see that everybody you know appears to be coping well this can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing. Use the ideas in this blog or some of your own ideas to spend your time more productively
9. Practice Gratitude: This one won’t be the easiest thing to do during the pandemic particularly if you have been badly affected by it, but practicing gratitude for what we are grateful for having has been shown to have really positive benefits for our mental wellbeing.
I will be the first to say this one could be a little challenging to do given the current climate right now, try writing down a list everyday of things that you are grateful for. If you have kids sit down as a family and talk about the things you are all grateful for having and I know you will have one of the most empowering moments of your lives when you listen to your kids to hear what they are grateful for. We can learn so much from our kids and they are grateful for the smaller important things in life which we as adults/parents so often miss or forget about
10. Have Fun: I know times are difficult and can feel that we aren’t allowed to laugh or have fun while the world is full of worry. But I am telling you now that it is when times are like this that we need even more to laugh with each other, play with the kids and watch them laugh and scream with delight, put on your favourite funny movie and allow yourself a little healthy escape every day. So, cook yourselves a lovely meal, stick on your favourite music and have a dance and sing around the kitchen and just like the line from a Taylor Swift song ‘shake it off’
So, until next time I wish you and all your families nothing but health and safety during this time and if I can help with anything please get in touch