Written by Gemma Buckley, BSc (Hons) – Occupational Therapist & Wellbeing Advisor
Looking after your mind
Routines can be helpful to normalise an abnormal situation. If you’re working from home, set an alarm, shower, get dressed and be ready for work. If you’re furloughed, plan your day ahead the night before – it might be getting the washing on early, preparing the evening meal so you’re not rushed in the evening when everyone demands dinner or taking one part of a room to declutter.
Feelings of anxiety can increase when we don’t feel in control, but it helps to know that we’re all in this situation and at the moment the government advice needs to be followed and is outside of our control. YouTube has many videos for mindfulness, yogic breathing and anxiety-calming exercises. Whilst it can feel overwhelming, try and take a look and try different options – there may be one there that is right for you.
If you’re in lockdown alone, make use of internet-enabled devices to keep in touch – FaceTime, WhatsApp video, Facebook Messenger. But if you don’t want to talk to anyone for a bit, that’s ok – you can text friends/family just to check in. It’s normal to sometimes want to hide away and if that’s how you feel, then that’s also ok. Everyone needs space sometimes and if you consider yourself an introvert, then space is really important.
If you’re in lockdown with family, try and put some boundaries in place if necessary. Maybe some of the family are working at home – respect their requirement to work and agree to chat when they have a break. For those with children, this can be really difficult, especially if you’re a single parent and trying to work from home. Try what works for you, whether that is drawing up a rota to organise the day or working together whilst the children do schoolwork online. Don’t beat yourself up if chaos reigns occasionally – you can only do your best in exceptional circumstances.
Looking after your body
Planning ahead can be useful, especially if this minimises the times you have to go out shopping. A meal planner, even for a few days, can help give you a sense of control. Be open to change though, especially whilst stock levels in supermarkets remain variable. If you can, buy locally – this helps support local business, but also helps keep you local.
Follow government advice – continue to wash your hands for 30 seconds with soap and water, use antibacterial hand gel or wipes (if you have any), remain 2 metres minimum from other people (unless they’re members of your household) and follow guidance in stores for social distancing shopping.
Take advantage of the government advice to exercise – if you’re physically able, go for a walk, bike ride or jog round your neighbourhood. Do not drive to exercise as this goes against government advice.
If you have a garden, try and sit outside, even for a little while and get some fresh air.
Look online for exercise videos, both for adults and children. Be aware that if you’re new to exercise that you don’t over-exert yourself and if you have any ongoing health conditions, this may not be right for you. Walking is an excellent source of exercise and puts minimal strain on your joints. Try and think about your posture, keeping your back straight – walking at a brisk pace is believed to be the most beneficial for health.
What a day could look like?
Yoga practice/mindfulness/breathing exercises (online) at 9am every day
Tidying up the garden/house/doing creative activities such as art &crafts 10am
Making lunch at 12.30pm
Going for a walk at 2pm
Booking a time for a Skype call with a friend at 4pm
Making dinner at 6pm
Watching a film or playing a game at 7pm
Find what works for you – it’s ok to binge watch an entire series on Netflix or get dressed in the afternoon. If that is what helps you manage the exceptional times we’re living in, that is ok.
Social media can be your friend or your worst enemy – refreshing Twitter constantly can take hours out of your day and be entertaining. It can also make you stressed and anxious; if that is how it’s making you feel, step away and take a break. Many people are finding creative outlets through cooking, making things, DIY, etc – just achieving one thing that you set out to do each day can help you feel more in control.
And finally, these strange times will end, and whilst things might not immediately bounce back to normal, there’s nothing to stop you from planning and daydreaming about the future!
(All views and advice are author’s own)
Useful contact information
NHS website – up to date information on Covid-19, health A-Z, exercising, advice https://www.nhs.uk
Women’s Aid – national domestic abuse agency: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/
Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org or call free on 116 123
Safe Space Sussex – information and support for Sussex residents following a crime: https://www.safespacesussex.org.uk