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Forget COVID-19 - cabin fever's well and truly gone viral. With no clear end in sight you might be feeling overwhelmed by claustrophobia and anxiety over having your freedom to travel and socialise restricted indefinitely.
However, restrictions are already being lifted, and at some point we will see lockdown more or less come to an end, as we are now seeing in other countries around the world. Whatever happens, this will only be temporary even if it feels as if it's dragging on and on. Here are out top tips to make lockdown easier for the whole family.
Avoid Overdosing On News
First things first - curate what you expose yourselves to. Overexposure to negative news can be catastrophic for mental health. With so many conflicting updates and sensationalist, alarming news stories, it's best to limit media exposure to a minimum and take only what you need from it.
Try out the Simple Politics page on Instagram for daily infographic updates on the news in impartial, simple terms. Everything you need to know in relation to lockdown and the UK's progress in tackling it can be found here. All the information is sourced, fact-checked, and only key facts are included.
The need to constantly tune in to mainstream media can be an addiction. Our brains can get addicted to the stress caused by seeing an alarming headline and the subsequent relief felt after reading the attached article and feeling temporarily more informed. You then feel the need to check the facts against a different paper, Google the same topic, see if it comes up on the BBC News in the evening...
Your body is flooded with stress hormones every time you are exposed to bad news. Stress is detrimental to physical health and the stress hormone corticosteroid actually suppresses the immune system, making us more susceptible to infection. So it really is counter-productive to keep scrolling through apocalyptic news.
Most importantly though, make sure your kids aren't getting exposed to endless news. It can leave them feeling powerless and overwhelmed. Mainstream news isn't created with children in mind as the target audience, and we don't want to burden them with the stress of watching and hearing about scary news every day.
Make The Most Of Your Time At Home Together
As we are now seeing, lockdown isn't going to last forever; kids will soon be back at school and people will be encouraged to get back to work. Although there may well be further lockdowns in the future, this is definitely a time to savour at home together.
Forget pressuring yourself to be the new improved Mary Poppins, just allow yourself to relax and enjoy some time out chilling with your family. You don't have to have every single day planned with military precision around craft activities, school lessons and baking. The kids will catch up once they're back at school.
What did you normally not get enough time to do pre-lockdown? Was it watching movies together on school nights? Sunbathing and having picnics in the park? Well, there's time to do that now, so choose activities you'll all enjoy and don't worry about what any other family is doing.
Get Out And About
We are all allowed to take unlimited exercise outdoors now, so take the opportunity and get out and about. Outdoor exercise is the best way to beat claustrophobia and support our mental health. Leave home behind and get the kids on their scooters or bikes. Sunbathe all day at the park in the hot sunshine and pack a picnic to last you all day. Bring a ball or water pistols and make a day of it.
You can drive unlimited distances now for exercise too, so why not try out new nature spots for some sunny explorations? Vitamin D deficiency has been proven to have a strong correlation to COVID-19 rates, so getting sunlight on your skin is of utmost importance right now. Vitamin D also aids in combating depression and boosts the immune system.
Getting sufficient sleep is also crucial in keeping body and mind healthy and keeping the immune system in tip-top condition. Getting a good amount of fresh air and exercise during the day will help the family sleep better at night. A day spent lounging around on the sofa will have kids bouncing off the walls by bedtime. A day or two like this is totally fine, of course, but after a few days, you'll want to get out in the fresh air.
Try Out A New Creative Hobby
Whether it's gardening, cooking, decorating or becoming a slime expert, lockdown is a great opportunity to develop new skills you can enjoy with your family. You could decide to grow your own vegetables in the garden or on a windowsill. Tomatoes, peppers, green onions and radishes can all be grown with ease on a small balcony. If you don't have room to grow food, how about cultivating a window box of flowers or making a few hanging baskets? This way you bring the outdoors inside and reduce levels of pollutants inside your home. Indoor plants reduce CO2 levels inside the home and also filter airborne dust particles from the atmosphere.
Maybe now could be a good time to switch things around in the home, try out a new layout, get the kids to paint pictures and frame them and make a picture wall. You could discover a passion for collage and enjoy making different kinds with your kids every day, or start reading more together. Why not get the paints out and try making some art yourself?
Have A Lockdown Ritual
A morning walk at eleven, lunch, creative play or relax time, a walk at four o'clock, dinner, bath, popcorn and a movie, bed. Having pleasurable routines and relaxing, rewarding rituals as part of your lockdown day-to-day is a surefire way to get you through the quarantine with your mindset intact. Whatever goes on in your day, try and make sure to finish off with a ritual that really does relax you. If that's a 'quaran-tini', then treat yourself. If it's a bath, try and make sure you're able to have one as much as possible.
Same goes for the kids - if their way of winding down is watching cartoons on the tablet it's probably best for their mental health that they are allowed to do that sometimes. Lockdown can be hard on everyone and we all deserve to have our treats and me-time to get us through it. It's about finding balance, not perfection right now.
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.