How do you look after your mental health during a lockdown?

With the announcement that the current lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic will continue for at least another three weeks, looking after your mental health is a priority.

How do you look after your mental health during the coronavirus lockdown - A Free From Life

Not that your mental health hasn’t been a priority since the start, or before all this even. However, now, more than ever, we need to ensure we are doing all we can to stay calm. I have already written about how to stay healthy and sane during this time, but I felt the subject needed revisiting.

Is it hard to make your mental health a priority? I think so. My emotions are all over the place. I’ve had meltdowns just from going out to the supermarket, felt bereft at the loss of ‘normal’ life as we know it, despaired for the future.

I know people who admit they feel guilty for actually enjoying this time.

They’re not affected by Corona, feel safe in their homes, are enjoying being together with their families, loving not have to rush around and live life in the rat-race. That, in itself, is a difficult emotion to deal with – guilt.

“We must allow ourselves to grieve for all we’ve lost,” says Renee, writer at Mummytries.

And that’s true, not only of those who have lost loved ones to this dreadful virus, but to those who are separated from family members due to the lockdown, those who have lost their jobs and in a wider sense, it applies to the loss of the life we once knew.

Children are due to return to school next week. Some have started back this week. How will that change things?

Before the lockdown, some schools managed to provide online lessons for their pupils. Others left the home schooling in the hands of the parents, which caused an enormous amount of stress, strain and worry for many.

Hopefully, the majority of people have come to realise it is near on impossible for a parent to replicate the education received in a school setting.

The problem is, parents up and down the country are trying to juggle jobs as well as supervising their children’s education. What working parents need more than anything at this time, is to not have to sit and watch over their children while they do their school work.

In Denmark, all the schools in the country had access to Microsoft Teams in order to provide virtual classrooms for their pupils.

Sadly, that’s not the case in the UK and although some schools are providing this level of teaching for the coming term, not all will be. For these parents, staying calm will be about finding balance and some semblance of a routine that can aid all those concerned.

How I’m finding balance and focus during this exceptional time.

I appreciate every situation is different, which is why, for this article, I have called upon the expertise of many in the field of wellbeing to offer their advice. Before I get to that, I’d just like to offer what I am doing in order to keep focused on the here and now:

1. Sticking to a routine.
Without a routine, I am lost. I found this out during the Easter weekend, when I wasn’t working, had no idea what day it was and didn’t know what to do with myself. That may come across as though I don’t know how to relax, but that’s not the case. I love to lounge around and read a book as much as the next man, especially when on holiday, but I find I have so much on my mind right now, it doesn’t seem to want to rest.

2. Exercising.
I’m not a runner. I don’t have a PT. Instead, I do half-hour, sometimes 40-minute, YouTube videos from PopSugar. I tend to do them once I’ve put the dinner on, so that by the time I’m done, the dinner is too!

I like the fact they are short, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve worked out after doing them. I also like the fact I can choose from yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, dance, barre – you name it, they have a workout for it. There are probably other YouTube channels out there that do the same thing, but I found this one and I like it. My kids are enjoying Joe Wickes’ workouts and do them every day, so it really is about finding something you enjoy.

One thing we all agree on is that we feel so much better for doing some exercise. It works for both mind and body.

3. Eating healthily.
Now is not the time to beat yourself up for reaching for the biscuit tin. I’m struggling with that myself. Despite keeping to my routine of being at my desk for 9 a.m. and working a normal day, it’s boring and dull being at home all the time isn’t it?

I’m doing my best to stick to a healthy diet though and the reason for this is that it makes me feel better and that’s important for me.

At the beginning of this lockdown, my husband and I were drinking wine every night, where we normally try not to drink during the week. We’re trying to curb that now, as we both admit to feeling sluggish the next day and we really don’t need to feel any more sluggish than we already do.

“Take time for reflection on what’s important and how you live your life. It’s an opportunity to press a reset button,” Karen Martin, Hypnotherapist.

I wish I could say I am taking this time to write more, read more, do all those jobs in the house that never seem to get done, but sadly that’s not the case. The writing I am doing, is reflecting what is affecting me right now during this crazy time, the reading comes in short bursts and the house jobs…

What will help you get through this time?

Naomi, at Lifecare Counselling, shares some tips on how to work with your anxious mind. As does, homeopath, Tracey Campbell.

If you think your worries are getting the better of you, these tips from Blossom Hypnotherapy may help.

Mind West Kent are continuing to offer their mental health groups, but online, as well as the Solace Café, using Zoom. Just because you are stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t reach out for help. Councellors like Katie Chuckley, at Beautiful You Counselling, are offering their services online too.

You can also get sleep therapy from places like The Good Sleep Clinic.

If doing your own exercise sessions are not your thing, there are a number of personal trainers offering guided sessions. SLJ, are one such organisation, as are Kate Munden and Carin Soderberg (Boxing).

“Try meditation to ground and bring yourself back to the now instead of focusing on the what ifs for the future,” says Sarah Cook, of Faebles online.

For mindfulness and wellbeing guidance, see Soulstar Sanctuary and Sonya Black.

And finally, here are ten tips for looking after your mental health during this time, from Anne Morgan at Bijou Concierge.

Whatever happens during these next weeks will be your new normal. It won’t last forever though. Let’s hang on to that thought as we ride out the storm.

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