Put on your own lifejacket first, they say. In order to help your kids remain calm and positive through lockdown, you need to look after your own mental health. Lockdown can be an emotional rollercoaster. Check out our list of ideas to help you look after your mental wellbeing. Make sure to browse through our other Lockdown blogs for great tips and ideas on how to keep the whole family happy and healthy during this time.
Get Out For Your Daily Exercise
Getting out once a day for an hour's exercise will help you stay fit and get some vitamin D, both of which will boost your immune system and decrease anxiety. Even if it's just a quick walk around the block and back again, it's better than nothing. Keeping active during the day will help you sleep better at night too, and getting a good night's rest will enable your body to better fight off infections.
Doing some outdoors exercise will help you fight off cabin fever, and it's a good idea to get out and see other people on the street, even if you do have to maintain a two-metre distance from them all! Keeping fit and active is important at the best of times, but particularly now when the condition our bodies are in could really make a difference to our ability to fight off the infection if we get it.
Make An Effort To Stay In Touch With Family And Friends
If you're feeling depressed you might find yourself shying away from reaching out to loved ones outside the home for support. People do want to hear from you. Reach out to them. Try Zoom or Houseparty for some face-time or just send a Whatsapp to check-in with a friend.
Limit Your News Intake
Checking the news for updates every half hour isn't going to make lockdown end any faster. Continually exposing yourself to depressing stories can be detrimental to your mental health. Limit yourself to checking the news at set times each day. Perhaps you just tune in once a day, filter out the most relevant news and leave the rest. Let's face it, what's the point in scrolling through pages of disturbing content if it's not immediately relevant to lockdown and the virus? What's the use in reading the same data on the virus day in day out, when the only thing we can do to protect ourselves and others is doing what we're already doing?
Limit your social media use as well. Snooze accounts that only post negative material and check out accounts such as @simplepolitics who round up all the latest news on COVID-19 and present what you need to know in bullet points. If they haven't posted it, you don't need to know it.
Keep A Journal
If you don't already keep a diary, now's a great time to get into the habit. Not only is it a great stress-reliever but it will also be interesting to look back on when this is all just a distant memory.
Journalling is a great way to keep anxiety in check. Journalling helps us ground ourselves in the present moment and identify how we are feeling and why we are feeling that way. it allows us to peacefully evaluate our day, set intentions for the day ahead, and focus on gratitude for what we have and what we've experienced.
Try journaling as soon as you get up, as a form of meditation. It's best to try and write freely, without judging what you're putting down. You can also journal at the end of the day, reflecting over the day and setting down what you'd like to experience the next day. It doesn't really matter when you write, but it is best if you can to set aside a peaceful time when you can just focus on your journal uninterrupted.
This journal is for your eyes only, so let yourself be totally free with what you write, with no shame.
You can always edit your journal in the future and share it. Read Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year for inspiration!
Set A Daily Lockdown Routine
Setting a daily routine is a great way to create a sense of stability in our lives. Having a daily routine helps us to be more productive and more relaxed. Time seems to pass faster when it's structured, whereas having no routine at all can lead to days stretching on endlessly. Setting a routine helps us break our days up into manageable chunks of activity. Where there is no structure we can end up wasting time by allowing activities to drag on for hours, whereas allotting a set time for it frees up time to do other things later.
If you work from home setting a routine is particularly important. Formalising a routine with the family will prevent the kids from distracting you while you work, and help you to avoid procrastination or getting distracted yourself. This should prevent your work from taking up more time than it needs to so that you can still have time to relax in your day.
Kids thrive on the security routine brings. They can find it comforting to know when they will be eating, when they'll get to go out and when you'll all be sitting down together to watch movies. Kids that go to school will be used to structured days, and routine actually brings more freedom and leisure time to your day than going without.
The routine doesn't have to be the same every day. You can plan your day the night before or when you get up. When the world lacks stability, ramp it up at home.
Have A Daily Wind-Down Ritual For Yourself
Every daily routine should involve a wind-down ritual. This could be a shared moment with your family or one that you do by yourself. Maybe your favourite way to wind-down at the end of the day is with a glass of wine in the bath. A few pages of a good book, a tub-full of bubbles and the bathroom door firmly locked. Maybe it's a joint routine, with a Disney movie, snacks and cuddles on the sofa. Whatever it is that allows you to truly chill out at the end of the day, make sure you do it, every single day.
Be Easy On Yourself
Don't demand too much of yourself. None of us has lived through a global pandemic or experienced lockdown before. We're all still adjusting, and everyone will adjust differently. Don't feel like you have to spend every day baking bread in a frilly apron or making a different variety of slime for every day of the month. The house doesn't have to be spotless and the kids don't always have to be engaged in some insta-worthy creative activity.
Be easy on yourself. You're doing your best, and each day can be better than the last. No one's keeping score on how well you cope with lockdown and how productive you're being.
Eleanor lives in Brighton with her three year old daughter. They are always on the lookout for new experiences and environments to explore and exciting new activities to do together. One of their favourite ways to spend an afternoon is the cinema, you will always find them queueing for popcorn the minute a new kids’ film is released! They love getting the train to London in search of new activities and great places to eat. Eleanor is also training as a complementary therapist in her (limited!) spare time and is very interested in the practice of mindfulness.