Today’s blog has been written by Phoebe Crook, Assistant Psychologist at Headspace Guildford. We know there are many challenges at this time, and many things out of our control. But we also know that looking after ourselves and taking responsibility for what we can manage can help look after our mental health. Here’s what Phoebe has to say about how you can manage yourself and make your way through this difficult time.
Being stuck at home is difficult. We should not feel guilty for finding this time challenging. I have seen things floating around the internet saying that individuals should stop complaining about being stuck inside and calling people out for being a “snowflake”. Personally, this feels like a very damaging message and invalidates the perfectly normal feelings that most people are experiencing. Of course, there are more challenging situations than being stuck at home but the scale and enormity of the situation at present is unprecedented and rightly, so people are finding it tough. There is so much uncertainty with every aspect of daily life. You might be worried about your job, worried about your health or finding it difficult that your children are at home instead of being at school. So, in a similar vein to the previous blog posts, this post is focusing on what we can do for ourselves and is here to remind you that you need to look after yourself during this time. This list of things you can do for yourself is not exhaustive and should be taken as inspiration. Equally, do not feel the pressure that you have to do these things or that you have failed if you are not doing them.
- Try and keep a routine going as much as possible. Wake up at a similar time as before lockdown and this applies to your children. Obviously, there will be deviations but try and keep as close as possible to your usual daily routines of when you wake up, when you eat meals and when you go to bed.
- Utilise your daily walk. Being stuck inside all day is not good for both your mental and physical health. The government has allowed us to go outside once a day for some exercise so try and utilise this. You don’t have to be out for long, but it will break up your day and help you feel refreshed. If you cannot make it outside then try and do some form of exercise inside, this can be as simple as walking up and down the stairs. Basically, try and get moving for some parts of the day so you aren’t sat down all day.
- Try and eat as healthy as you can. Obviously being stuck at home means you have access to food easier. We are all guilty of popping down to the kitchen to grab a quick snack. Whilst eating chocolate cake is amazing and should be enjoyed, there is a balance that needs to be maintained. Try and stick to normal meal times and try and limit the snacks you have to healthy ones.
- On a similar note, remember to drink lots of water and avoid drinking too much fizzy drinks or caffeine.
- Enjoy having alcohol but try and limit your intake. It might be tempting to have a few glasses of wine in the evening but realistically if this is occurring everyday then this is masking the problem not helping.
- Limit your consumption of the news or turn off the news. If you are feeling overwhelmed, then get someone you live with or a family member to digest the news for you and relay it to you. It is important to stay up to date but equally, it is understandable that you may find the news anxiety provoking so find a way to limit and take control of how much you consume.
- Keep busy and distract yourself! This does not mean spring cleaning the whole house or learning a new language but simple things like watching a movie or spending time doing a jigsaw will help keep your mind busy when things are getting too much. Personally, I have found podcasts a useful source of distraction. Simply listening to a conversation helps to distract your thoughts away from worry or stress.
- Finally, acknowledge your feelings and write them down to validate them. It is fine to feel how you are feeling at the moment. Encourage your children to acknowledge their feelings as well. Being open and honest with who you live with about how you are all managing.
Hopefully this blog encourages you to find ways to look after yourself. I know most of these tips are very straight forward but it is surprising how many of them we forget about. Finally, it might be worthwhile to look at this website https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/ to get some more tips and reminders on how to look after yourself and your family.