The lockdown won't last forever, but as one day rolls into the next, we need to know how to manage our feelings and mental health. Here are my 5 tips for keeping good mental health during lockdown.
Find your routine. Maybe it’s based along the lines of your pre-lockdown routine, but if not, find your new natural rhythm. If possible, try to go with the flow.
Avoid using the words: ‘have to’ ‘must’ and ‘should’.
You may have to continue working while on lockdown, and if you’re like me, you’re having to do that with children at home with you. So give yourself a break from all those lovely and well-meant posts that suggest that you can now get on top of all those jobs you’ve been meaning to do, or that you can now somehow also add teacher to your list of tasks on top of those other jobs you have to do in a day. There’s a reason you didn’t train as a teacher! And if you did, you’re probably more chilled than the rest of us on managing that for your children.
Put the radio on while you’re working. Listen to your favourite podcasts while you’re cleaning. Watch comedies on TV. All of which will give you the sense of others in the world and normality and help to lift that feeling of being alone.
Plan your escape. For 30 minutes escape from work, kids, the news. Switch off. Grab a bath. Sit in the garden for 30 minutes.
Do some exercise, always good for mental health.
Self-care is something you could practice now and take into the post lockdown future with you. Find the things that help you feel soothed.
If you are a single parent, especially of young children, this is tricky, I know. On the one hand you’re the only adult in the room so it’s hard to find time to yourself, and on the other, you probably need it more than anyone. So even if it has to wait until the kids have gone to bed, even if it’s a cup of tea in bed with a book and getting an early night.
There will be a future after this, and you could be a self-care superstar by then!
If you don’t want to wash your hair or get dressed. Don’t. But if you do want to but don’t see the point. Do it. You’re the point.
Get out. Get out. Get out. You are allowed to go for a walk. Walking plus fresh air, and maybe bumping into someone you know, is great for lifting your spirit. (Also, another good reason to wash your hair, but please, no actual bumping).
If you have to self-isolate, open your windows and let that air and light in.
And sleep. Sleep well. Eat well (not just crisps!).
3. Keep connected
Message your friends. Make the landline and mobile calls and join in the FaceTime and Zoom calls with friends or family.
4. Check in
If you have children, remember they are also going through the lockdown. So, check in with them to see how they’re feeling. Acknowledge how they’re feeling. If they’re struggling with anxiety, get them to make themselves a fort to go to when they need a break, and respect their space.
Acknowledge how the adults are feeling. If you are living with a partner or parents, it’s likely that this is the most amount of time you have ever spent together without the escape of school or work. It may not be tricky for you, but it may be for them, or vice versa. If there’s tension, give each other space to calm down and then, if you can, discuss what happened and what the underlying reason may have been, and consider how you might manage future tensions between you.
Keep an eye on your alcohol consumption. You may want to take the edge off Groundhog Day but watch that it is manageable and not creating problems for you. Think about why you’re drinking. Is it to ease the tension of what’s happening right now? Are you trying to avoid the feelings of tension, sadness, loneliness, anxiety? Maybe think about allowing yourself some time to acknowledge and experience those feelings and find another way to soothe yourself and gently distract you away from them. They will pass.
5. Get the facts
But don’t do overload on information about the coronavirus. Find a couple of trusted sources that you listen to or read. And leave it at that.
And remember, that as with all things, this is temporary, and it will pass.