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Ask the Experts: Ways to Look After Your Wellbeing in Lockdown

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by Sam Smeaton

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26.09.21

Family playing in backyard

Everyone is stressed at the moment. taking care of yourself is more important than ever

No matter where you are living right now, most of us are feeling overwhelmed, fatigued, and stressed out – even with NSW coming out of lockdown on October 11th.

For those with children, lockdowns have proven to be particularly challenging and home schooling is certainly no picnic. With this in mind, we have partnered with Stride, a leading expert in mental health, to guest write this blog post and provide some practical tips to help you take care of your mental health.

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Families in lockdown and working from home

For those of us still in lockdown or with restrictions in place, we may also be required to do remote learning for our children, meaning suddenly we’re our child’s learning facilitator as well as parent, as well as attempting to meet the requirements of work and have enough energy left over for our partner.

There is no way that you can effectively meet all these expectations, and this makes life particularly stressful. By now most work environments are quite used to having relaxed Zoom or Teams meetings with children walking in and out or even having a toddler sitting on your lap which makes it a little easier to meet you work commitments.

Here’s what Stride recommends:

  If you’re working from home, set some boundaries around your work times and when you clock “on” and “off”. It’s important to create a divide between the time when you are working and the time when you are not.

  Try to have a specific space for your working hours, as this will help to separate this form your non-work life. It may not be a whole room but might be a certain chair/place at a table/desk/kitchen counter.

  Navigate the best time for you to meet your work requirements as part of the whole family plan.

  Have a ‘designated parent’ whilst the other one can work undisturbed and then switch over.

Exercise and Activity

By now we all know the benefits of exercise and activity and the need to move your body no matter the age, but this is particularly important for children and boys. Boys use physical movement to help them discharge excess cortisol, the stress hormone, during these stressful times. Stride recommends the following including:

Engage in activity or exercise each day (can be self-initiated or through online sources such as YouTube videos).

⇒  Engage in activities that you and your family like and find enjoyment in. It might also be the time to pick up an extra hobby that you’ve been meaning to try or want to pick back up.

  If you are feeling heightened symptoms of anxiety, stress and worry, engage in activities that assist with reducing this (such as meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, sensory/deep pressure activities, dance, gardening, art, cultural activities, listening to music or reading).

Ensure kids under five get outside and run around for 40 mins to an hour. A basketball hoop or trampoline also works wonders! 

Person gardening

Emotions and emotional health

The last 18 months or so has been quite the roller-coaster and not something anyone could have predicted. The constant barrage of media and conversation has been impossible to ignore, and the ‘doom and gloom’ messages ever present.

You may have good days and bad and that is not unusual. Stride recommends the following:

quote from Stride article

⇒  Try to be mindful of how much time you spend watching the news and on social media, increased time watching the news does not usually decrease our stress/worry.

⇒  Try to have a balanced “intake” of the news and media that you do watch/engage with – there are always terrible and equally wonderful things happening around us.

⇒  Consider different ways to feel, express and manage different emotions that you will experience – this might be through exercise, journaling, meditation, talking with a friend/family member.

⇒  Be mindful of what you can and can’t control – and write it down if that helps.

⇒  Reframing: this can help with feeling out of control and experiencing increased stress and worry.

Diet

It’s easy to eat comfort food and neglect a healthy diet when we’re at home all the time and so close to the fridge!

As parents we tend to prioritise our kids and so we often eat later in the evening once the rest of the family has eaten or at random times. Reaching for a glass for wine or a beer is also very easy to do, and we know from the last pandemic it can be habit forming. Stride recommends the following:

Make sure you are eating regularly and not skipping meals.

  Try to keep your meals balanced and varied.

  Limit your consumption of alcohol as this can impact your mood.

Support for all ages

Stride offers mental health services to all people of all ages in New South Wales, Queensland, Bendigo and Canberra.

Mental health can affect every part of life. As specialists in both early intervention and complex needs, we bring expertise to every aspect of mental health – from therapy and daily support, all the way to finding a job and home.

Contact Stride to learn about our mental health services for your child, your family or yourself.

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