Looking after your mind in lockdown

Being able to support your child throughout lockdown – and beyond – starts with looking after yourself. Just like with physical health, your mind needs care and attention. When things feel tough, small changes can make a difference.

A mother and her two kids sitting on a bench looking out into a valley

Write it down

Try writing down how you feel to keep track your mood from one day to the next. Think about why it might have changed. What makes you feel good? What makes you feel worse?

If you notice you’re recording a lot of negative thoughts, start noting down something good too. Doing this regularly – even if you can’t manage every day – can help you to tap into your emotional wellbeing.

Be kind to yourself

How does your inner voice speak to you? Is it critical, judgmental, or unkind? We’re usually much more critical of ourselves than we would be of others.

Try to give yourself the same level of understanding you would a close friend. How would you comfort them if they were feeling bad? What would you say? Try speaking to yourself in this way.

Remember that no one is perfect, and we all have moments that are harder than others.

Get a good night’s sleep

Getting quality sleep can make all the difference to how we feel. Make sure your bedroom is as comfortable as possible, drink less caffeine and turn off your tech at least an hour before trying to sleep.

If you have trouble drifting off, get up and read a book or make a warm drink. Then go back to bed. This breaks any thought patterns that may have been stopping you falling to sleep.

Eat well

Missing meals can cause low blood sugar and make us feel sad, while dehydration can make us irritable. Eat a varied diet to get a mix of nutrients. Where possible, choose more wholegrain cereals, nuts, beans, fruit and vegetables.

Avoiding sugary foods helps too. They burst of energy they give soon disappears, leaving us feeling tired and low.

Talk about it

You may not want advice, but it can be useful to get another point of view. Being open about what’s really going on will help others see when you might need a bit of extra support.

Try sharing what’s going on with you to your partner or friends. Or you can talk to us on our live chat.

Make time to exercise

Being active releases endorphins, which lift our mood.  Even a short burst of movement can help you feel more balanced. Look for ways to incorporate it into your new routine.

This could include walking round the block, a short work out at home before work, or even gardening. You may also want to join your child in taking part in PE with Joe on YouTube.

Nurture your relationships

Even though you might not be able to visit them at the moment, put aside time to connect with family and friends, and check in with them often to see how they’re doing.

Build strong relationships with your children by looking for things that you enjoy doing together.  Offer support if someone needs it (sometimes just being there matters) and accept help when offered.

Be in the present

Learning to focus on the present helps to take our minds off worrying (often about things we can’t change). It’s as simple as making an effort to notice what’s happening around you.

You could be walking, eating, washing the dishes, but take a minute to think about what you see, hear, touch, smell and feel right now. Whatever comes up, notice it and let it be as it is. Accept it without judgement.

Get into the habit of bringing yourself back to the present moment once a day, even if for a couple of minutes.

Accept you can’t control everything

Life is full of uncertainty, especially at the moment. Not knowing what’s coming in the future can be unsettling. But spending too much timing thinking about what might happen only makes us feel worse.

Practise spotting when you feel the need for certainty. Remind yourself that it’s just a feeling. Then try letting go of that need: it will help take some of the pressure off.

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