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Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

19 May 2020
This week, 18th-24th May 2020, is Mental Health Awareness Week. Now, during the current lockdown, mental health, mindfulness, and being kind to yourself is more important than ever. Martin House Psychologist, Kate, has pulled together a few tips for coping during lockdown.
 
Be kind to yourself and don’t place too high expectations on yourself or your children about what you might achieve in a day. The current situation is tiring for everyone, so remember to pace yourselves.

Try to take each day a step at a time. It is easy to quickly feel overwhelmed so pause and think about what is within your control; what can you do for the next few minutes? When something does not seem to be going to plan, view that as an opportunity to do something else instead. Perhaps that is just to go into another room to make a drink or listen to some music.

Try to keep a gentle routine. Having some structure and routine to the day is helpful when we are spending so much more time at home and do not have our usual routines as before.  It is particularly important for younger children to help them to feel more safe and secure and less anxious when they have an idea of what will be happening next.

Getting sleep and rest are particularly important during these anxiety-provoking times. Keeping a soothing bedtime routine for children ensures that they have the best chance of sleeping well and then coping better the next day. Although it can be hard to fall asleep when feeling anxious, noticing the things that calm you or making use of audiobooks or soothing music, or apps that provide nature sounds can help you to rest and perhaps eventually fall asleep.

Do calm, soothing activities. Notice what helps to soothe you and your children. It may be doing something creative, listening to an audiobook, getting some fresh air, colouring, doing a puzzle or game together, or reading a favourite story. It might be different for each of you and at different times in the day.

Try doing something in a mindful way. There can be a lot to process and to think about at the moment and we can often feel as though we are constantly juggling lots of different tasks which is exhausting. Mindfulness involves slowing down to really notice what you're doing and what your senses are telling you, paying attention to what you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste. It is the opposite of rushing or multitasking but allows you to focus on what you are doing.

Take some calming breaths. A simple, relaxation strategy is to taking some calming breaths. The picture below is a gentle reminder and helpful for teaching children about how we can do this. It can be useful wherever we are and for all ages.

mindfulness.jpg

Focus on enjoying the simple things together. Children and young people of all ages will need more time with you even if they don’t put it into words so being together, playing or doing an activity of their choosing are all so important. They may be needing more cuddles at the moment too.  

Find ways of managing difficult emotions. Find moments to do something that helps you, such as talking to a trusted friend, writing in a journal, getting out for some exercise. Help your children by giving them opportunities to draw, write, play and chat with you.

Stay connected with family and friends and give yourselves permission to have coronavirus-free conversations. Find things to laugh about together and share positive moments and photos with one another to feel closer.

Limit how much you watch the news on tv or online as these can impact upon anxiety levels. Instead, find ways of accessing social media that is uplifting and encouraging to you to counterbalance the negative information.

Pause and consider: What made me smile today? What am I grateful for? Trying to do this each day can be helpful during these tough times.

And, finally, know that you are not alone; know that there is always someone you can speak to whether that is through your friends and family or GP or the many other organisations that exist to support us all through tough times.
 
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