Our emotional and psychological wellbeing is being tested by COVID 19 and it’s so important that we take time to focus on our mental health. Talking to children about mental wellbeing is healthy and helpful and this piece is aimed at explaining some of the current strains as well as offering some advice and suggestions on how we can all look after each other during this challenging period.
Further advice for parents is available via The Witherslack Group who are running a series of webinars intending to ensure that parents, carers, and professions get the support they need whilst at home.
How to look after your mental health during the lockdown
– A guide for children and young people –
These are very unusual times we’re in. If you’d told me a month ago that I wouldn’t be allowed to pop to the shop to buy myself a cheeky chocolate bar whenever I fancied one or that children wouldn’t be allowed to go to school, I would never have believed you. But here we are… spending a lot of time together at home!
A lot of people are struggling with the new rules and the huge changes to their normal routines and sometimes being at home with your family can get a little challenging. During all of this, we must look after ourselves physically and mentally. Everyone has good days and bad days and your mind needs looking after just as much as your body. If you hurt your leg, you can feel the pain – sometimes you can see the pain. When you’re struggling with your mental health and you’re feeling low or worried, it’s not visible and sometimes it’s hard to describe. You might have experienced feelings of confusion or sadness yourself recently. You might also have seen or heard your parents struggling. They might be feeling stressed or anxious about what’s happening in the world – it’s not been easy recently! When you’re spending time indoors with your family, it might help to have some tips on how to look after each other emotionally. Below is a shortlist of things you might like to try to stay positive.
Our tips for positive mental health during the lockdown.
1. Create a timetable for your day
Knowing what you’re doing each day and when you intend to do it will help keep the structure and routine in your life. Map out when you’re going to get your schoolwork done, when you’re going to stop for lunch or have a snack, when you’ll do your exercise, etc. This will allow your other family members to get their work done too! You can use this handy online template to build your schedule or design and handwrite your own.
2. Get some exercise
Get out for your daily exercise, make use of your garden (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or find an online workout to get your heart going. Joe Wick’s PE sessions are hugely popular with both adults and children, as are Cosmic Kids Yoga sessions.
3. Talk about how you feel
It’s ok to feel bored and, understandably, you might feel worried at times. Some days you might be feeling super chirpy. Talk to your family about how you’re feeling and make plans together to increase the positivity.
4. Plan for the future
Spend some time thinking about what you’d like to do when the lockdown is over. Perhaps dedicate a jar or box to your ideas – each time you think of something (go for a picnic, take a train to somewhere new), write it on a piece of paper and pop it in the box. When the lockdown is over, you and your family members can take turns to pull out a suggestion and make a plan for that day!
5. Be kind to each other
Remember that everyone is having good days and bad days and some encouragement from each other goes a long way. Compliment a member of your family or tell them something positive about your day. Give hugs, leave secret special notes for people to discover, ask someone how they’re feeling. All these things will help.
6. Give each other space
Living in such close confines can be challenging! Maybe your schedule for the day needs to include some solo downtime where you get a little break to be alone. Remember that the people around you might like some alone time too.
7. Get creative with ways to unwind
Your day should include downtime where you get to relax and have fun. Play games together, get arty, try finding a new hobby. Find a new book to grab your attention – the World Book Day’s extracts page might introduce you to something or someone new.
8. Practice some mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness encourages you to focus on relaxing your body and mind. There are plenty of mindful activities you can try – some more active than others. From colouring to meditation; take a moment of calm. Headspace offers fantastic mindful sessions for children allowing moments of peace and stillness. Look out for our free meditation and mindfulness courses about to be released!
9. Remember happy memories
Take some time to reflect on the past and share some happy memories. Now is a great time to pull out the old photos, create a memory book, share your favorite moments.
10. Offer to help out around the home
Your parents LOVE a little help around the home and now more than ever you can make a big difference. Keeping your room tidy, offering to help out with the chores, looking after the pets, supporting your younger siblings with their routines and chores – these things will all be much appreciated!
11. Reach out to family members you haven’t seen in a while
It can be hard to keep in touch when you can’t see each other regularly. Make use of the wonders of modern digital technology and get in touch with the aunties, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, and cousins that you haven’t seen for a while. Why not try virtual game playing – set up the monopoly board in two households and enjoy some healthy competition across homes!
12. Keep a journal.
This is a time that you will never experience again. It’s a time in history that people will look back upon and learn greatly from. In the past, we have learned from people’s diaries and journals of their experiences. Write daily, write about your thoughts and feelings and the things that happen. All of this is important.
This is another incredibly powerful way to record this moment of living history. If you have access to a device or a camera then take photos of your family, record what you see when you are out on your daily walk- so many things are strange and unusual that an excellent way to be a historian and record this is by taking photos.
14. Join in or learn something new.
Make use of free courses and classes. Elite Tutors Sussex are about to launch meditation courses, spelling course and an after school choir along with Dr. Suess read along and a creative writing course too!
Remember that things will get back to normal and you’ll be able to see your friends and extended family again, hopefully soon! Use these days to enjoy being together as a family – remember it for the fun you had and the kindness you showed towards each other.
by Emma Rickaby QTS- an Elite Tutor