Many parents and children are feeling more anxious and our mood may have declined. We have been faced with a threat to our survival and we are unable to engage in many of the positive social activities that we enjoy. Not only are we affected as adults, but our children are affected too, perhaps more than we may realise.
Lockdown restrictions are being eased, but it could be quite some time before life returns to anything resembling normal and our children are able to return to school or play in groups with their friends. Briefly, here are a few tips that you could use to help children cope:
Keep talking to your child about the situation and provide them with the basic facts.
Try to find out what they are thinking. It is important to fill in any gaps in their understanding. Children can pick up information that is incorrect, misleading and fear inducing.
If your child is asking questions, then try to deal with them. Do not go into too much detail but try to allay any fears and provide realistic reassurance.
Be mindful of your own behaviour. We can underestimate our children’s understanding and sensitivity to our emotions. Children instinctively pick up on our feelings, noticing things such as our tone of voice, facial expressions and body language. They look to us to assess the extent to which a situation is safe or dangerous. A calm, rational adult who can maintain a reassuring manner is what children need. Sometimes we have to fake it!
Coping with children being off school for a prolonged period is not easy. What can you do?
Finally, nothing lasts forever, and this too shall pass. Remind yourself and your children that eventually the situation will improve. Try to be optimistic.
This is an amalgamation of my recent posts about how to cope with lockdown. It also covers general tips for maintaining good mental health in any circumstances.
Maintain a routine
Maintaining a routine is important for your health. Our brains are hard-wired to expect our routines to continue. When those routines are disrupted it can be very confusing. You may have established a new routine and that is fine, if it works well for you. However, if you are lacking a routine then I suggest trying to outline some sort of structure to your day. I like to write things down, so I find it helpful to make a note each night of the things that I would like to do during the next day and to prioritise them. This provides a framework with which to structure the day ahead.
Try to maintain a routine of getting up at a similar time each morning, getting washed and dressed, having regular mealtimes, established times for work or chores, regular times for exercise, relaxation and most importantly sleep. This is helpful because it helps you to stay calm, in control, and reduce feelings of anxiety and low mood.
Connect with positive people
Be aware of negative people. You know who they are – the ones who are always moaning and the complaining. They are obviously feeling low, but their negativity is almost as contagious as the corona virus itself! Being in the company of negative people will lower your mood, increase your anxiety and make you feel even worse about the current situation. If possible, take yourself away from these people, whether they are in direct contact with you, or online via social media. Instead, try to seek out the company of people who are positive, helpful and optimistic. If you are unable to do this, then you could read an entertaining book or try to watch programmes or listen to broadcasts that are calming and uplifting.
Make your home a sanctuary
There are many therapeutic benefits to making your home comfortable and attractive. Not only does this create a more pleasant environment in which to live but it can also lift your mood and help you to feel calm and relaxed. As we are all spending more time at home during lockdown, this could be an opportunity to do something positive by doing whatever you can to make your home a pleasing and comfortable place. I have been busy spring cleaning and decluttering recently and it’s very satisfying to see the difference in my own home. My therapy room is looking lovely but alas I can only see clients online via Zoom for the time being.
Do some gardening
If you are fortunate enough to have a garden, then gardening is an activity that has a surprising number of health benefits. It’s definitely one of my main therapeutic activities for self-care for the following reasons:
Exercise is a great way to manage stress and look after your mental health. The wonderful thing about exercise is that it releases chemicals within the brain that help you to feel positive, uplifted and motivated. These chemicals (neurotransmitters) include endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.
These brain chemicals play an important part in regulating your mood. Exercise has numerous benefits for your physical and mental health. Here are just a few of them:
As we enter the eighth week of lockdown some people may be feeling impatient and frustrated about the current situation, wanting to get back to their normal way of life. This is perfectly understandable and normal. However, our lives remain on hold to a large extent, so dwelling on those feelings is only going to make them expand in our minds. This will not help us to cope effectively. In fact, it will make us feel more stressed.
If you’re feeling like this, then see if you can try to turn things around by focusing instead on what is working for you. They say, “Patience is a virtue.” Perhaps it is, but it’s also a life skill, in my opinion; something that we can learn, that we can cultivate within ourselves through consistent practice. I find mindfulness meditation and gardening helps me to practise patience. I wonder if you could find something that could help you? It could be a form of exercise, a meditative practice, a hobby or interest, an activity such as angling or bird watching – anything that enables you to connect with a sense of stillness and inner calm. Remember, nothing lasts forever, and this too shall pass.
Finally, If you are finding it difficult to cope do please get in touch with me. I am offering hypnotherapy and talking therapy online via Zoom. These online sessions can be just as effective as face to face sessions and I provide easy instructions to get you started with Zoom (which is free to use).
Tel. 07856 201869