April 05, 2020

Healthy Mama || Looking After Your Mental Health During Covid 19 Lock Down




Aside from the obvious worries coming along with Covid 19, such as losing people we love, getting sick etc etc, one of my biggest worries was keeping myself together in lock down. I don't do well in the house and on a normal weekend I much prefer being out and about doing just about anything, as far away from our road where I spend all week at home, school or walking between the two. The thought of being stuck in with the kids arguing, the pets scratching and Adam tapping away working had me scared and so far, the thought of it has been worse than the reality which I am thankful for, and really hope it continues. Before all this started I was struggling a little with life, not the worst I've ever felt but I could feel everything slipping a bit and was just starting to get to grips to build myself back up again. I was and I guess still am to an extent scared that my mental health will plummet with all this, so to the best of my abilities I'm doing everything I can to stay afloat, to keep positive and to go a little easier on myself. Although we're OK for now, I know many people are struggling financially and I know all too well how stressful this is, especially with no end date available, so if that's you, I see you and this will get better.

I thought I'd share a few tips for keeping our mental health in order right now if you're at home, without the option to go to our favourite places or see some of our favourite people. It's so important to look after ourselves mentally and physically, but I think there is a lot more emphasis on keeping fit and less so on what's going on inside our heads. I hate to think of anyone struggling and if any of these things help then I'd be so happy for you or anyone else needing a little help right now.




BE KIND TO YOURSELF!


Most of us suck royally at self care and although it's more of a hot topic nowadays, it isn't simply having a spa day or having a new hair do. For me, self care is about all that stuff, but much more about looking after our souls, finding ways to stay positive, to keep focused and survive this time unscathed. Things like work if you're working from home aren't ever going to be as productive as being child free or being at the office, this is OK! Nobody worth your time will expect the same work standard when in your own home, surrounded by distractions, juggling kids, pets and a household with a world pandemic going on right outside our front door. Put less stress on yourself, expect less and understand that this is all good. You are not just working from home, you are keeping safe from a deadly virus whilst trying to work the best you can. I think this is a really important thing to remember. 

Similarly to this, if you're a parent trying to do everything you normally do, with no alone time trying to 'home school' your kids, chill out. Although giving them work to do is a great thing as it keeps them busy, provides a big distraction to what's going on and keeps a slight sense of normality, most of us aren't teachers, nor are we expected to be one. If you're doing nothing but getting through the day with healthy happy kids, that's amazing. Anything on top of that is a bonus and just remember that they can learn in so many ways, it doesn't have to just be conventional pen to paper, but they can use apps, learn life skills around the house and get busy planting flowers, sorting their books and everything else that needs doing around the house and garden. The important thing is that you look after yourself so you can give them what they need as best as they can, it's a strange time that none of us were prepared for and we are all just doing our best muddling through.

As a general rule, we are all in the same boat, we all do our best and we have nothing to prove to anyone, so if you're feeling you're not doing enough or worried because your kids played Fortnite all day and didn't work like their friends, that's OK for now because it's a world of uncertainty and if they're happy, that's most important.

PRACTISE SELF CARE


As above, looking after yourself right now is key to keeping your mind happy. Make time each day to do what you need to in order to feel grounded and calm. It's a stressful scary time for all of us and if you already suffer from depression or anxiety, it's likely that this time could amplify those feelings even more than normal. Taking a few minutes in your day when needed can make the world of difference, you just need to find the right relaxation technique for you. 

Start with your diet - make sure you are putting good things into your system as although junk food tastes even better right now, it will make us feel sluggish, low and unhealthy after a while which will bring us down further. Having a good routine with our eating is a good place to start, to keep us from grazing all day, as well as getting good regular sleep, plenty of water, fresh air where possible and sunshine.

MAKE USE OF TECHNOLOGY


While we are all isolated, many of us are missing friends, family and colleagues and although it's hard, it's not forever and there are lots of ways to keep in touch, see people and get your fix without leaving the house. We are lucky to be going through this in this day and age, where we all have phones, laptops or tablets usually which can easily be set up for phone calls, video chats and a world of other things. Social media certainly has it's flaws, but in this situation it's a great way to keep in touch, have a taster of normality and see friendly faces. This week the kids have enjoyed making some video calls and just seeing Soph chatting away to her little BFFs has made her so happy as well as putting a much needed smile on my face too. I've also taken part in my friends family quiz night which was so much fun and just took place using voice notes on Whatsapp. There are apps like this as well as Facebook messenger which has lots of fun filters and games for the kids and Zoom for big family chats. Making use of the tech we have to hand is so important right now to keep in touch with the world, just make sure to avoid pages that may trigger your anxieties or cause you stress. 




DO SOMETHING FOR OTHER PEOPLE


Doing something kind for someone else is always a great thing to do, but right now everyone is scared, lonely or sad and even the smallest gesture could make them happy. The acts of kindness thing has really spread now which I love, but it also gives you a great feeling knowing you made someone smile, especially in times like this. There are lots of people reaching out on social media for help right now, from shopping for the elderly or simply sending a card or piece of art to somewhere like a care home to people that won't be getting their normal visitors and will really appreciate some happy post! Think donating to a food bank, sending craft supplies to schools that are still teaching kids of key workers or sending thank you cards to NHS workers. Why not try something this week to make someone else smile, you may just find that makes you smile too! If you don't have the energy to do this right now, that's OK too!

MAKE THE MOST OF OUTSIDE SPACES


If you're lucky enough to have a garden right now, however small - make the most of it. Enjoy going outside to look at any plants you have, any bugs you can find, blow bubbles, sit in the sun, go feel the rain, enjoy looking at the clouds, the stars, the rooftops, the birds, everything. Fresh air does us so much good and it's times like this we really begin to appreciate what we have. If you don't have your own outside space, make the most of any outside time now(safely) in case we go on full lock down! Go for a walk, even if you don't feel like it. Do some exercise outdoors if you can and just breathe in (away from people) all that fresh air, see all the beautiful things and get moving. Remember this won't last forever, so if it helps start making plans for where you will go, list your favourite outdoor places, holidays, maybe even look at old pictures and look forward to the time we can all get out and enjoy these places again, it will come!

GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF DISTRACTIONS


Even on the darker days, it's important to keep our minds busy. Even if you're just watching a film, it gives you a bit of escapism for a while. Use this time to get creative, get those jobs done around the house that you've been meaning to do forever and try and do things you enjoy. The more we do, the more we distract ourselves, the less time we have to think about bad things or to worry too much about what's going on. This isn't something we can control or second guess when or how this will all end, so we need to try and keep our mind off topic, especially if we are feeling low. Keeping a journal, writing on a blog or just offloading by phone or chat with a friend or family member can do the world of good. Hearing other people going through what you are is a comfort and sometimes just doing a big old brain dump does just the trick to ease your woes for a while.



REACH OUT


Lastly, if you are struggling and it's beyond what you can manage yourself, please do reach out for help. It's not always manageable by ourselves and with something so big going on in the world and no real answers, it's no surprise that it may get too much for people. If this is you, get some professional help online or by phone from people like the Samaritans, Mind or contacting your GP or local service for assistance. We all need help sometimes so don't be afraid to make that call, there are people ready and waiting to help 24 hours a day! If you just need a little help with shopping or anything else, just ask on Facebook or any of the socials, there are people out there kind enough to get out in the community and help those in need, so ask away.


Stay safe everyone, remember this won't be forever and better times are going to come! Look after yourself and stay home as much as you can. 

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