looking after yourself and others during the continued restrictions

It is hard to believe that nearly a year on and we are still in the midst of the pandemic and restrictions.

Our Mental Health and well-being has certainly been under pressure and it does always seem worse during the colder months – however spring is around the corner, as is the hope of getting back to some form of normality.

Children and parents have been finding it particularly hard, as have those people shielding and living alone, when so many of our social face to face interactions are not possible.

The message is –

  • to stay as connected with other people in what ways you can, whether meeting for a socially distanced walk, phone call or video call, and talk about how you feel – or check in on someone else, especially if you know they live alone. If they do not want to talk, just let then know you are there and will check in again with them. Sometimes people do want another person to just listen –
  • There are so many wonderful organisations you can talk to or text – reach out, it is so worth sharing your feelings – you are not alone. SHOUT, MIND & YOUNG MINDS, CALM, ANXIETY UK to name a few.

Age UK has a good video to help older people who are not familiar with video calling.

Nature continues regardless…

If you can, do outside into nature, it does have a calming effect and helps you feel a little more grounded, getting natural light is important.Even 10 minutes a day will help – look out for the signs of spring, like snowdrops and daffodil buds or just pause and listen to the birds. You can put some food and water out for the birds and get nature to come to you.

If you are feeling low or have feelings of anxiety that you find hard to talk about,

then why not look at expressing how you feel by reading or writing poetry, how about a story or blog, if you are musical – you could write a song or rap? There have been some particularly funny Lockdown songs and during these times – humour is a saviour.

If you do feel particularly anxious

try writing down all your thoughts on a piece of paper and then rip it up and throw it away.

Maybe draw or paint your feelings and use the colours as expression – you don’t need to be ‘good’ at art, just use the colours in a way that helps you feel good or release pent up feelings.

Put some music on and really feel the music, express yourself through movement – dance like no-one is watching – or dance together whether in person or over a video call and have fun. Movement, like dancing or other forms of exercise are so good for you, and help you feel energised.

Focus on the positives from each day

take each day one day at a time. Take timeout for self-care, like reading a book, going for a walk or having a bath – this helps you cope with what is going on around you

Remember to Breathe… and let go of those things you cannot control and focus on what you CAN do

Valentines in Lockdown?

‘Lockdown Love’ has certainly been a challenge, especially if you do not live with your partner, or are single and looking for love.

So, what can you do for Valentine’s day?

  • You could have fun making each other a valentine’s card and a poem to go in it! Or send one to cheer up a friend or someone you admire!
  • Write a valentine’s song.
  • Send a valentine’s video – with a lovely message or song!
  • Dress up for a night out & cook a meal together – or if you live apart both cook the same meal over zoom!
  • Maybe support a local restaurant by ordering a valentine’s meal or food hamper.
  • Watch a film together and cosy up – again you can watch the same film together while on a video call – just press play at the same time!
  • Wrap up warm and go for a country or coastal walk
  • Send flowers, an indoor plant or seeds for the garden.

If you are single and looking for love

Are you currently single?

It certainly is a challenge to be able to meet anyone in person, however dating site reports suggest it is a good time to have more meaningful chats with a potential partner, with a little less initial pressure about meeting up.

If you are using dating apps, do take care and make sure you try not to go on them when you feel particularly vulnerable, and do not give out your phone number – use the withhold number option, until you feel safe to.

Only ever arrange to meet someone if you feel safe. That it follows current restriction guidelines, and you tell someone where you are. Do not meet anywhere remote.

For Valentine’s why not buddy up online with another single friend. Watch a romantic film or RomCom – with a warming hot chocolate or a cocktail!

If you can – treat yourself to some lovely food to cook or order in and why not?

  • Loneliness can be hard, so remember to connect with friends, or the wonderful organisations out there. Check up on someone you know is alone.

Valentine’s day is just one day!

Stay connected and stay safe

Andrea

AGE UK https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/work-learning/technology-internet/

MIND https://www.mind.org.uk/

Young Minds https://youngminds.org.uk/

Anxiety UK https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/

CALM https://www.thecalmzone.net/

Staying Happy and Healthy is crucial to your well-being

If you are feeling low or anxious – here are some small things you can do to help you stay Happy and Healthy.

Do keep connected with others, in what ways you can.

Keep moving and get outside if you can, or buy some houseplants to bring the outside in, and feel the benefits.

Playing games with others is a great way to have fun and be connected, all you need is a pack of cards – why not revive some traditional games.

Look after yourself

Look after yourself – you’re worth it, and when you’re ok – life flows better, and you feel more able to deal with any stresses.

Andrea

As we head into our second lockdown, how can we reduce anxiety and stress?

A return to restrictions and lockdown has seen Anxiety levels soar again, in all ages.

It has been a year that has touched everyone in some way. One we certainly won’t forget.

Continued uncertainty and not being able to plan for the future, can give the feeling being anxious, stressed and not being in control. We are left wondering when ‘normality’ will return.

This can also create stress and overwhelm, as our mind becomes hypersensitive to the continued threat to our well-being and fears go into overdrive.

As the weather changes too, how can we manage our anxiety, or help those close to us?

Following on from being on Pat Marsh’s show, on BBC Radio Kent – I have listed the advice spoken about and more…

Focus on what YOU can control

Like your getting up time, when you have lunch or some exercise, whether indoors or outdoors.

A routine is a great thing to have in the week, especially if you are not able to continue your normal routine, to give you structure. Relax at the weekend. This will help you feel less anxious to keep the days of the week and the weekend seperate.

Also, Stick to a good bedtime, to get important sleep you need. Waking up refreshed is so much better for you and will help you cope better day to day. Our body repairs and our mind helps file away our day.

If you wake up in the night – listen to the calm silence and then task your mind to count down from 300 – gently keep bring your mind back to the countdown and you will go back to sleep. It is a good idea not to turn on phone screens if you wake up, because the light affects your sleep hormone, which promotes sleep.

Stay connected in whatever way you can with family and friends. This is the time to keep talking. Talking to friends and family about how you feel, or listening to others, can really help.

Pick up the phone and have conversations. Check on your neighbours. You can meet one other person for a walk, so even if it is meeting for just a half hour walk, it is well worth doing. Wrap up if it is cold and prepare to be invigorated!

If you feel anxious and like thoughts are whirring around your head – get a plain piece of paper and write everything down – then rip it up. It feels good.

Try to limit the news to once a day, just so you can keep in touch with what is happening that may affect you, then concentrate on what you can control within your own environment – whilst following the guidelines.

Other things you can try:

  • Join virtual group or create one – like a model club, knitting, photography… there are other things too, if you are not wanting to use a device or computer.
  • Have quiet time and read, colour, draw or paint and do crafts, or a jigsaw
  • Try calming mindfulness – focus on your breathing and think of things that make you smile and feel happy
  • Make a calming glitter jar – literally fill an empty jar with water and glitter – seal and enjoy its calming affects
  • Get a stress ball – or something lovely and touchy-feely for when you feel anxious and stressed or pop bubble wrap!
  • Listen to music, sing out loud and dance – music has wonderful power to uplift you and change your mood instantly and it lasts
  • Watch things that make you Laugh, laughing really is a tonic.

So, give a few things a good and you will feel better

Feeling panicky?

If you are feeling panicky:

  • Breathe – breathe in for the count of 3, hold for 3, breathe out to the count of 3 and hold for 3 – do this three times and you will feel calmer
  • Tell yourself ‘I’m OK, I am calm’
  • This could be useful to try: Focus on 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear (even if you create the noise) 3 things you can touch. This grounds you and helps you feel calmer.

Really not feeling yourself?

We can all be feeling anxious and stressed, but if it is taking over your day to day living, affecting your sleep and eating habits, then do seek help from your GP, and the many organisations available to get the support you need.

You are not alone: 1 in 4 people suffer anxiety.

Andrea

Tips to help reduce the anxiety of returning to school after Lockdown

Covid19 pandemic of 2020 and the resulting lockdown, has certainly had an impact on all of us, not least our children causing much anxiety. So, how can we help?

*firstly, do seek professional help if you feel you or your child’s mental health is of concern.

As lockdown eases further, children of all ages and their parents may be having feelings of anxiety around returning to school after such an extended break and worrying about how safe it is for their children, which is understandable.

For many children, lockdown has been a happy & safe experience that they may not want to change.

Many children have desperately missed their friends, teachers and the routine school offers and have also been missing out on extra-curricular activities.

Children & young adults can respond in different ways:

Maybe becoming withdrawn; be unusually clingy; be ‘naughtier’ and seek attention or lash out and can show their concerns by really worrying about what might happen but find it difficult to say how they feel.

Things that may help

  • Children mostly take their cues on how to deal with a situation from the adults around them.
  • Be aware of using negative language, or talking about your worries within your child’s earshot, about them returning to school.
  • If your child is worried about going back to school, it isn’t enough to say, “everything will be alright”.

Acknowledge how they feel, and that it is ok if they feel worried and then help them to deal with it and find good coping mechanisms

  • Older children – let them know it is Ok to feel anxious and that the feelings can just be some apprehension and are the same for excitement too! That after day one or two they will feel much better
  • Try to limit the news coverage and stick to things you can control within your environment and your child’s school.
  • On a practical level – connect with parents and children your child knows from school. Arrange a safe play date or meeting. This helps you share your worries too.
  • Walk or drive past the school a few times before the term starts. Also, get your child involved in getting their uniform and bag ready.
  • Encourage your child to talk about what they like doing at school and their friends
  • If your child is moving from primary to secondary, remember that their anxieties are real, encourage them to talk over how they feel.
  • Most schools have good information on their website about the safety measures they have put in place. Contact the school if you are particularly concerned.
  • Some Children worry about leaving their parent alone at home…reassure them that you will be fine.
  • For most children of all ages – after the first few days of getting back to school, a routine will soon be found, and they will have survived and so will you!

*SHOUT – part of Heads Together a useful texting service for people struggling with Mental Health. Visit Childline, Young Minds and Anxiety UK’s websites too, all packed with great advice.