It was almost a year ago that we experienced our first lockdown in the UK. At the beginning it was novel, the weather was great and in true British style we just ‘got on with it.’ We didn’t anticipate the wider impact on all our lives, nor did we fully appreciate the seriousness of the virus.
Those in education have been hit particularly hard, maintaining part-open schools, and providing lessons and materials for those home schooling, on top of managing their own family situation. It’s tough. It’s undeniably tiring and relentless.
Thankfully one of the lessons we did learn during the first lockdown is how all this affects people’s mental health and wellbeing. The awareness that has been raised has given many comfort knowing that they are not the only one feeling overwhelmed.
The darker days of winter have made this third lockdown feel particularly harsh, but there are some simple changes to your routine that can help your wellbeing. Whether you’re a teacher, a parent or both, these ideas can be slipped into your day to give you more balance.
It’s important to keep to a routine and give your day structure. A routine makes us feel more in control and when you feel in control, you’re able to better cope with the day’s challenges.
– Try and stick to regular sleeping patterns, getting up and going to bed
at the same time every day
– If you’re working from home, make sure you take breaks to move and
stretch; stop for lunch
– Make time for exercise. It could be an online class or just a simple walk
For most the commute is not something they would say they miss! But our commutes helped that transition between work and home. We used that time to think about our plans for the day or to reflect on our day at work. It’s important to still set aside that time before and after work and create that defined separation between the two.
Jotting down your goals for the day can help with focus and productivity. The trick here is not beat yourself up if you don’t achieve everything. Just move that goal along to the next day.
One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to keep active. Dark, grey days aren’t great motivators, but how you feel afterwards will be! Mix up those at-home sessions with some outside activity or take on a challenge to raise money for charity.
5 Eat well
What we consume directly impacts our physical and mental health. The better the foods we eat, the better we feel.
– Forward plan your meals and snacks to pack in those 5 portions of fruit and veg
– Keep hydrated, especially if you’re exercising more
– Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol as these can exacerbate anxiety
6 Screen time
The time spent watching TV or streaming content has increased massively over the last year. It’s important to be aware of how much time you’re spending in front of a screen to ensure you create balance. Bake, paint, read, draw, or get those ‘old fashioned’ board games out for a games night with your family.
7 Stay connected
Missing friends, family and just general social interactions with others has a significant negative impact on our wellbeing. It’s important to maintain those relationships, check in with each other and see how your colleagues are. Make time each day for at least one phone call, video call or contact via social media.
We mentioned at the beginning how people feel comforted knowing that others are feeling the same as they are. It’s normal to feel worried, scared, helpless, stressed, or anxious. What’s really important here is talk about your worries and seek additional help if you need it. This could be with friends, family, your GP, or via one of the may great organisations who can offer expert advice. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/
9 Media exposure
There’s a natural curiosity and desire to stay up to date with what’s going on with the pandemic. The coverage is 24/7 and our addiction to devices means we’re more exposed than ever before to the news. Only use reliable sources to get the facts and limit your exposure to reduce anxiety.
10 Switch off
This may sound obvious, but it’s something we’re all guilty of not doing. Taking time to do things you enjoy and to relax, is a reset button that we all need to push whenever we can.
Small changes can make a big difference and remember, it’s natural to feel a whole range of feelings during times of uncertainty and change. Some days will be better than others. Take time to be kind to yourself and to those around you. Be patient with yourself and your loved ones.
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