It’s been around 8 weeks since the UK was plunged into lockdown in an effort to slow the spread of covid-19, a virus that has literally turned all of our lives upside down in an instant. Life will be forever changed. We are all navigating our own challenges and struggles whether that is coping with being totally on your own to coping with being stuck in a house with the same few people and it getting increasingly tense! Here are a few tips you could try to help you look after yours and your children’s mental health.
- Talk and check in with each other every day. A great tip I got from the Grief Recovery website is instead of asking “How are you today?” ask “How are things with you today?”. This is a much easier question to answer, particularly for someone who is having a tough time, are anxious and in fact grieving.
- It is particularly important to encourage children to talk about how they feel even if they just say they feel muddled. That is likely a very accurate description of their feelings right now and that is absolutely fine, tell them it’s ok to feel muddled, sad, angry, upset, frustrated and tired.
- Spend as much time as you can with your animals, purring cats and are known to relax humans, talking regular walks with your dog will benefit both your mental and physical health so do this daily.
- Try to get enough sleep, this is not easy and is something I am continually working on myself. As a single parent of 2 children and running a business, getting enough sleep, particularly at the moment is challenging but it is very important and is an area I am continuing to work on.
- Eating a well balanced diet is imperative, but lets face it, most of us have been hitting the high sugar and fat treats to try to make us feel a bit better haven’t we. Start by making a few swaps, fruit instead of crisps, low fat spread instead of butter, increasing wholegrains and reducing alcohol and caffeine. Start with little things and then gradually make more improvements.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself, just getting up and getting through each day is a big achievement in itself at the moment. For some people, the day just feels so empty with nothing much or nobody in it, that’s hard to navigate. For others, they are juggling trying to entertain kids as well as keep the house going and work full time, not to mention attempt home schooling your children! That’s a massive ask of anyone for even a couple of days, let alone 2 months so be kind to yourself, you are doing a great job. Celebrate the wins.
- Try to make time to watch a film or have a relaxing bath as often as you can when the kids are in bed, you need to recharge your batteries.
- Pick your battles! It’s not going to do any lasting harm if every now and again you bin off shower/bath time and you watch a movie with the kids instead. The bath/shower will still be there tomorrow and lets face it, who needs bath time battles every night anyway, they are over rated!
- Keep in touch with as many people as you can by phone and video calls, check in on people regularly, especially those that you know who are on their own, elderly or particularly vulnerable.
- Get outside at least once a day, more if possible, even if it’s just sitting in your garden, taking a gentle stroll or a more energetic walk. Do whatever you are most comfortable with and build up if you can.
- The current situation will likely bring back feelings from previous losses e.g grief you felt when you have lost loved ones in the past, be aware of that and acknowledge it. Seek help from a trained grief specialist or therapist to help you through this difficult time.
- Empathise with your children, they may not feel that safe at the moment, everything is different and scary. They may be pushing all of your buttons several times a day but they aren’t doing it on purpose, they are scared and muddled just like you, trying to get through the day. Hold them and tell them it’s ok to feel scared and you are there to protect them and love them.
- Be realistic about what you are going to get done in a day, then reduce it a bit to get what you will really achieve in a day. Perhaps have a couple of lists – urgent things that have to be done and those things that are a bonus if they are done today.
- If you are a particularly anxious adult or child, a weighted blanket can really help you feel safe and secure during the day and at night, helping you get to sleep much quicker. We recently bought one online and have been really impressed.
I hope these few tips have been helpful for you. I am by no means an expert in mental health or well being, this is purely based on experience.
Take care and stay safe xx