Mental Health during lockdown is a really important issue which we have seen greater attention on now from both the Government and the Voluntary, Community, and Social Enterprise Sector (VCSE).
The long-term impacts on our mental health from a lockdown are likely to be seen over a period of many years – and are likely to include heightened levels of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive behaviours, and trauma responses – and that’s just focusing on the adult reactions.
In children, we have no way of yet knowing what the longer-term effects will be on children who are currently very young and so their experience of lockdown and the Covid restrictions could potentially shape their perceptions of life with implications for the rest of their lives.
So, together we want to raise the level of conversation around mental health during lockdown – to provide supporting information to people who recognise the potential impacts and want to act to mitigate or pre-empt any problems before they begin.
Below, we’ve collected some top tips for protecting your mental health during the lockdown. If you have any more to contribute or want to join the discussion then please tweet us @nestandgrowcic.
How to protect your mental health during Lockdown
- Choose your inputs
It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all of the news and information around the Coronavirus.
Limit the amount of news you are consuming, temporarily mute any contacts on social media that publish posts which cause you anxiety.
- Allow yourself to feel
It’s ok to feel anxious or worried and it’s ok to feel upset or scared.
Allow yourself some time each morning to observe how you feel but time box that moment so that those feelings don’t spill over into the rest of your day.
- Try Meditation
Meditation is not for everyone and the thought of being alone with our thoughts can terrify some people, but read up on guided meditation and try a small session every day for a week – it can make a real difference to how we feel, behave, and work throughout the rest of your day.
- Set Goals but Don’t Punish Yourself
It’s a great idea to set yourself some goals for both work and personal life, but don’t punish yourself for not achieving them, we may need to adjust our expectations in light of the unusual situation we find ourselves in during lockdown.
Some people have set goals to learn something new or to study a subject – or even simply to read a book on a topic of interest to them. But don’t judge yourself against others, instead try to project your thoughts forwards to after the lockdown is lifted – what would you have liked to have achieved by then?
- Try Journalling
Journalling (or writing in a diary/notebook) is not a new technique but we are finally understanding the mental health benefits of journaling, especially during a lockdown.
The idea is to spend some time each day writing down our thoughts and feelings, what we are grateful for in our lives, and what we want to change – and how we will make that change.
It’s an opportunity for reflection and planning. There are lots of websites that can help you get started, and remember – like any new habit, it takes time to practice and refine.
- Set Expectations
Everything is not the same, so our expectations will need to adjust – as will the expectations of other people around us.
It’s important to review your expectations for what you can realistically achieve from home, and potentially with your family around you more than usual.
Speak to your boss or work colleagues about mental health at work and what your expectations of each other should be now with the lockdown restrictions in place.
- Reconnect with people
Reconnect with your friends and family – not via social media, but on a one-to-one basis over the telephone or video call.
Take some time to ask them “how are you?” – and make sure to listen to the answer. Talk to them about how you feel and ask them how they are spending their lockdown time. Maybe you could spend some time doing a common activity such as reading the same book or sharing some new music.
- Start/Restart a Hobby
Is there a hobby you can do from home that you used to enjoy doing as a child or in the years past? Did you enjoy painting or crafting, or simply reading a book?
Carve out some time to re-energise through mindful activities and indulge your creative side. Not all hobbies require spending money – have a think about how easily children can be occupied through collecting leaves, making collages from old magazines, or drawing with chalk, pencils, or anything they can use.
- Indulge yourself Appropriately
Allow yourself some time to focus on you. Ask the family or your housemates if you can all agree to give each other some ‘me time’ and not to interrupt each other.
Block out an hour in your diary to indulge in something that’s just for you – it doesn’t have to be productive (ideally not!) but it could be cooking a meal, watching a film, or just sitting quietly with a book. Make sure you get some time for you to balance any negative feelings.
- Spend some time in Nature
Spend some time in nature if you can. This point depends on the rules of your lockdown, but most areas are still permitting you to go outside and exercise safely.
Spend a little time going for a walk, or visiting the local woods or park – somewhere outside where you can feel the wind on your face and hear the sounds of nature.
Try not to be on your phone! Instead test out your senses, what can you see, hear, smell, and touch. What can you notice about the the changing of the seasons?
As with all tips about protecting our mental health – lockdown or no lockdown, make sure you only attempt what you feel comfortable with and don’t try to do too much.
If you need support with your mental health then try to speak to someone else about it. Talking as therapy is still one of our most effective tools in protecting our mental health.