Staying positive during challenging times
Now more than ever, it’s so important to take care of our mental health and wellbeing. Staying at home in order to stay safe and well feels quite surreal, so we’ve put together some ideas that are helping us, and might help you, to stay relaxed and feel more in control.
Connect with People
Stay connected with family members, neighbours and friends, whether over the phone or via tools such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp. Write letters or emails, or make phone calls with people you've been meaning to catch up with for ages.
If you're worried that you might run out of stuff to talk about, make a plan with someone to watch a show or read a book separately so that you can discuss it when you contact each other!
Help people who are more vulnerable than you such as the elderly. Helping others will keep your own situation in context and make you feel better. See our post on Happiness for more on the benefits of being kind.
Think about things you can do to connect with people if you feel lonely. For example, putting extra pictures up of the people you care about might be a nice reminder of the people in your life. You could also listen to a chatty radio station or podcast if your home feels too quiet. Audible is great for a massive selection of audio books and Spotify is awesome for music when you want a break from the TV.
Stick to a routine
Follow a routine and keep to it. It can be any routine that works for you, there are no rules! We like to go for a walk early in the morning, then come home, shower, have breakfast, and do some writing, reading or work. Losing the commute provides some extra time which can be used to your advantage!
If you’re not waking up early naturally at the moment, which many of us seem to be doing, then it’s a good idea to try and be consistent with getting up and going to bed at similar times as you would do normally. Have a look at our article about sleep for more advice. If you aren't happy with your usual routine, this might be a chance to do things differently though. For example, you could go to bed earlier, spend more time cooking or do other things you don't usually have time for. Plan activities to do on different days or habits you want to start or keep up. Differentiate between the hours and days, making sure you take regular breaks from work, and don't let the days drift by, with bin day as the only significant thing to look forward to!
Of course, with children in the house, it's particularly important to maintain a routine so that school isn't such a shock to the system when it eventually returns. Morning exercise courtesy of YouTube, fresh air in the garden, and helping to prepare meals will all help keep them off games and TV for as long as possible! When we're back to home-schooling after the Easter break, plan how you'll spend your time. It might help to write this down on paper and put it on the wall. Set alarms to remind you of your new schedule if that helps.
In terms of exercise we can still keep physically active and go out for a run, walk or cycle once a day. We also try to do some yoga or an indoors gym session of some kind a few times each week, there are lots to follow on the web at the moment!
If you don’t fancy a formal workout, just stay active by:
· cleaning your home
· dancing to music
· going up and down stairs
· sitting less – if you notice you've been sitting down for an hour, just getting up or changing position can help. I've taken to sitting on a stability ball for work as the dining room chair just wasn't cutting it for 7 hours a day. I also find that turning off the video camera is handy in busy conference calls if you need to stretch!
Get as much sunlight and fresh air as you can
According to the organisation Mind, bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and make you feel more relaxed.
It is possible to get the positive effects of nature while staying indoors at home. You could try the following:
· Spend time with the windows open to let in fresh air.
· Arrange a comfortable space to sit, for example by a window where you can look out over a view of trees or the sky, or watch birds and other animals.
· Look at photos of your favourite places in nature. Use them as the background on your mobile phone or computer screen, or print and put them up on your walls.
· Listen to natural sounds, like recordings or apps that play birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall.
· Get as much natural light as you can. Spend time in your garden if you have one, or open your front or back door and sit on the doorstep.
· If you have safe access to green space like a garden, you could bring some natural materials in to decorate your living space, or use them in art projects. This could include leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark or seeds.
· You may be able to buy seeds, flowers or plants online for delivery, to grow and keep indoors.
Take a look at our post on Nature Deficit Disorder for more on the benefits of nature.
Declutter to help you relax at home
There are lots of different ways that you can relax and stay calm at home, not least by meditating and taking notice of the present moment. Have a look at our Mindfulness and Meditation articles for more ideas.
To ensure your home is as relaxing as possible, try having a clear out. Sort through your possessions and put them away tidily, or have a spring clean. You could also have a digital clear out. Delete any old files and apps you don't use, upgrade your software, update all your passwords or clear out your inboxes.
Be creative and keep your mind stimulated
It might not be your thing, but if you’ve always harboured aspirations, you could give the following ideas a go:
· arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, collage, sewing, craft kits or upcycling
· playing musical instruments
· free online courses
· there are lots of apps that can help you learn things, such as a foreign language or other new skill
· if you're a library member, you may still be able to borrow ebooks, audiobooks or magazines
. do a virtual tour of a museum eg. britishmuseum.org
. watch a play online eg. nationaltheatre.org.uk
· catch up on films and all those drama series you planned to watch when you had the time!
· SEND organisation ChatterPack have compiled an amazing resource full of tours, courses, music and books, all available for free for anyone HERE.
Take care with news and information
Stay connected with current events, but be careful where you get news and health information from. Right now far too many of us are spending too much time watching the news, which will just make you psychologically anxious. Remove yourself from the everyday negative headlines all around us as much as you can. Of course keep in touch with the news but limit yourself to just once or twice a day, maybe just in the morning and evening to watch the main headlines. If you do watch TV, watch something entertaining or educational instead, or a film maybe.
Social media can help you stay in touch with people, but might also make you feel anxious if people are sharing news stories or posting about their worries. Consider taking a break or limiting how you use social media. You might decide to view particular groups or pages but not scroll through timelines or newsfeeds.
And finally, if you are finding it really difficult...
· Talk to someone, don’t suffer in silence.
· We are in this together, you are not alone. Our inbox is always open for a chat!
. Stay home, stay safe, take care.
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