The first lockdown was hard enough, when COVID-19 was so new and we had no idea what to expect. Never did we expect to find ourselves in a second lockdown with no foreseeable end in sight. No matter your circumstances, it is hard. And there’s nothing wrong with feeling the way you do. Here are some ways you can support your mental health in lockdown and make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
It seems no matter where we turn someone is always doing it worse than us. Lost jobs, closed businesses, home schooling multiple kids, haven’t seen family for more than a year… there are so many Aussie’s out there doing it tough, but at the end of the day, it’s not a competition. Your mental health during lockdown matters – and it’s okay to not be okay.
It doesn’t matter if there are people worse off. Every single person is entitled to feel how they feel through this lockdown and there is no right or wrong. The best thing you can do is embrace those feelings, own them, and take some positive action to support your mental health and take care of yourself.
1. Go alcohol free
Many people reach for a glass of wine to help relax and cope with daily stresses – which is completely understandable given what we are going through.
But the truth is, alcohol is a depressant, which slows down the brain and can have a huge impact on your mental health. It can alter your mood, energy levels, sleeping patterns, concentration, memory and many other things.
According to Headspace:
Frequent or heavy alcohol use can increase these effects, especially the impact on mood, and the ability to cope with tough times. People who are experiencing a mental health difficulty may use alcohol to try and manage hard times, or lift their mood. This can be helpful in the short term but may make things much harder to handle in the long run.
If you aren’t ready to give up your daily glass of wine, why not try and go alcohol-free? Sans Drinks is an amazing company that sells a number of different non-alcoholic wines, beers, spirits and ciders. It’s the perfect way to make you feel like you’re enjoying that much-needed drink at the end of the day, without the negative side effects.
Such an simple change that can have a huge impact on your mental health during lockdown.
2. Get outside and exercise
Fresh air has so many benefits. While exercising at home is great, with so many amazing YouTube channels for you and the kids to choose from, nothing beats a bit of fresh air in your day.
Here are some of the key benefits:
- Clear your lungs, while helping your body get rid of things it doesn’t need.
- Gives your more energy and focus: more oxygen circulates to your brain.
- Lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
- Helps you heal faster: oxygen helps replace damaged cells.
- Improve digestion.
So many reasons to get outside to help your body and mind feel better, plus it’s lots of fun as well. Take a break on your own, or take the kids with you and check out a nearby bushwalk.
Here’s plenty fun more games for the kids outdoors.
3. Pick up the phone
While we might not be able to see family and friends right now, we are lucky enough to have plenty of different ways to stay in contact with them.
According to Beyond Blue:
Often, the last thing you feel like at the end of a tough day is picking up the phone and chatting with a family or friend. It can feel like you have nothing to share, having been in lockdown and not going out.
But, it can make all the difference to your mental health.
Chat about things you’re looking forward to once this is over. Chat about funny things the kids said that day. Focus on the positive.
Set up a Zoom call with friends on the weekend, and organise a trivia night, or wine tasting. You can also use some of these great birthday celebration ideas for some inspiration, after all, any excuse to celebrate in lockdown will do. Businesses are getting creative to bring you entertainment during these times, so take advantage of it. Your mental health will thank you.
4. Find some ‘you’ time
It’s important to carve out some time to yourself to support your mental health in lockdown. Time away from the kids, away from housework, away from home schooling, away from work.
Time to pursue a hobby, or simply unwind and recharge in peace.
Time alone can actually heighten your emotional intelligence. It gives you an opportunity to reflect on your feelings, sort out your emotions and to work out why you’re feeling the way you are. This is so much healthier than bottling everything up and keeping it inside.
Need some ideas?
- Read a book
- Go for a walk (alone)
- Do some baking
- Have a bath
- Do your nails
- Watch some TV
5. Take a day ‘off’
It’s no secret that the days can roll into each other when you’re in the lockdown, broken up by a couple of weekend days where you don’t have to home school.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If it’s all feeling like too much, then take some time off. Take a day off work, take a day off home schooling and just unwind together.
Everyone is in the same boat, and we need to do what we can to keep ourselves healthy and sane. A day off from homeschooling (or three) isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things, so throw away the mum guilt and do what you need to make it through.
6. Find the silver linings
As much as you’re longing for life to go back to normal, take pause and think of the good things that have come out of lockdown.
It can be hard to see the good when you’re doing it tough, but it can really have a positive impact on your mindset.
Perhaps you’re enjoying:
- Having your partner working from home.
- Exploring your neighbourhood.
- Playing with the kids.
- Slowing down.
If you need a little inspiration to help you out, check out 59 COVID-19 Silver Linings, as shared by North Shore Mums from the 2020 lockdown.
7. Acknowledge your anxiety
Anxiety is not only normal, but can actually be helpful. According to the Black Dog Institute:
Research during past pandemics show that people who worry are more likely to do the things that help to keep the virus at bay, like frequent handwashing.
Of course, it’s still important to keep the anxiety at bay if you’re feeling overwhelmed. The Black Dog Institute shares some helpful tips, such as:
- Channel your anxious energy into action.
- Avoid unhelpful media.
- Stop behaviours that are fueling your anxiety (such as watching the 11am press conference).
- Be aware of your negative thoughts and don’t give them too much power.
- Be kind.
- Take a breath.
Don’t be afraid to seek professional advice. We are going through extraordinary times, and everyone copes in different ways. It’s about getting the best help for what you’re going through.
8. Develop new routines
Everything can seem out of control when you can’t plan out the day. Get on top of it and set your own routine in place that works for you and your family. It will give you back that sense of control in your life, to help you see things clearer and feel a sense of achievement as you make your way through the routine of the day.
Think to your normal routine pre-lockdown and the things you looked forward to most. Your morning coffee? Your gym routine? Lunch with a friend? Work these into your lockdown routine (lunch can be over Zoom), so you have things to look forward to each day.
The routine will look different for everyone, and some days, you will stray from the routine and that’s OK too. Life is unpredictable at the best of times, lockdown is no different.
9. Start a project
Keeping busy is important. It not only takes your mind off everything going on around you, but it also can give you a sense of accomplishment when you complete a task.
While you might have your hands full with looking after kids and trying to work, see if you can carve out some time on a project for you. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Clean out the kitchen cupboards and rearrange.
- Put together photo albums of the kids from previous years.
- Clean out wardrobes and get rid of clothes you don’t wear or are too small for the kids.
- Get into the garden.
You’ll come out of lockdown feeling like you have achieved something great! While also keeping your mind busy throughout.
10. Seek help
Don’t let life get the better of you. Know that you have plenty of friends and family ready to help out, along with so many resources to take advantage of.
Your journey is yours along, so validate those feelings and get help when it all gets too much. Don’t feel like you have to just push through because you think others have it worse off and you should be coping better. It’s simply not the case.
Here’s a list of free helplines you can reach out to, along with online resources and mental health apps. Just know that you’re not alone, and there are people out there who want to help. All you have to do is ask. Put your mental health first in lockdown.