Lockdown stress: Will the bubbles burst?
With schools only recently re-opening and despite the precautions being taken, Coronavirus cases are on the rise yet again. There is legitimate concern over more lockdowns and they are already happening at a local level.
When the decision was made to re-open schools in September were you in the 'keep them close' or 'boot them back' camp?
For me, having Crohn’s disease, I decided to take my children out of school the week before the decision was made back in March. I’m generally a stickler for the rules and therefore this was quite out of character for me, however, my instincts were really strong and at the time I felt it was the safest and most sensible thing to do. A week later the decision was made to close schools to the majority and therefore luckily, my children weren’t disadvantaged.
Like many others we tried to find a routine that worked for us, balancing school work with wellbeing and making the best of a challenging situation. It certainly wasn’t easy at times but I feel we grew as a family. That said, I was definitely ready for them to return in September.
As a country, we have only just sent the kids back to school and there is a real risk of them being at home again in the blink of an eye. To many, this will cause concern, inconvenience, impact incomes and disrupt routines. According to the Office for National Statistics, “There are 4.6 million households in the UK with dependent children aged under 16 years where all parents in the household are working”.
A major concern is the added stress this puts on parents and their mental health, not forgetting the impact on the mental health of the children. MIND state that, “More than half of adults and over two-thirds of young people said that their mental health has gotten worse during the period of lockdown restrictions, from early April to mid-May.”
Simple steps to help manage stress
So, given that we might be back in a lockdown situation again soon, what can we do?
Hope for the best (whilst preparing for the worst) - be positive! There’s a chance that no major lockdowns will happen and life will hopefully return to some sort of normal. There is also a chance that things will get worse before they get better. Try not to dwell on it or worry about it, instead carry out some simple actions that will help in the event of another major lockdown.
Take learnings from the last lockdown
- What worked well for you last time?
- What did you enjoy about lockdown?
- What were the positives?
- What would you do differently given the chance?
Make a plan of action
- What is your plan if your kids end up back at home again?
- What are your childcare options?
- What are your work options?
- Who can you ask for support?
- What support may you be able to offer to others?
- How have others coped through the last lockdown?
Sadly, looking after ourselves is usually at the bottom of the priority list. It’s either something that you don’t do at all or the first thing to go out of the window when life gets busy or stressful.
Remember you cannot pour from an empty cup! Your health and well-being are crucial, not only for you but for the other people you care about. It’s the reason they tell you to fit your mask on the plane before you assist your children in the event of an emergency.
Ensure these are part of your self-care routine:
- getting enough sleep
- eating as well as you can
- exercising regularly
- drinking plenty of water
- practising mindfulness or other ways to let your mind escape e.g. reading a good book, listening to music, taking a long bath
Feel and share your feelings
Recognising emotions and talking about them doesn’t come easily for a lot of people. It is more important than ever that we talk about how we are feeling with those close to us, including our children. It is very important that children hear us talk about our feelings so they know how to talk about theirs. Talking and listening is also such an important part of building a connection with others which is vital to our mental health.
Now more than ever we need to talk and listen to each other:
- Set aside time to talk to people you care about.
- Really listen to what they are saying.
- Remove distractions like phones so you give your full attention.
- Talk honestly about what’s going on for you and how that makes you feel.
- Ask questions about what is going on in their lives and how they are feeling.
- Accept other peoples’ feelings, even if it’s hard for you to relate.
And if you feel that you might need some extra support beyond talking to friends and family there is the option of working with a professional to support you through this period. A life coach can work with you to identify where you need the most support and help you find ways to manage stress.
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