Looking after yourself in lockdown – Harrogate hospice’s Just ‘B’ service shares ideas to help
It’s dark, cold and the lustre of Christmas is behind us – and then, along comes another lockdown. How can we keep going and keep mentally healthy at a time of year which can be tough, even when we’re not living through a pandemic?
Saint Michael’s Just ‘B’ bereavement and emotional wellbeing team share some simple ideas to give ourselves a mental boost during the days and weeks to come.
While these are aimed at adults, they can be adapted for the whole family.
1: Talk it through
While COVID 19 has made it much harder to be with others in person, there are still lots of ways we can still have social contact, whether this is by letter, telephone, zoom or email.
Talking through your problems, fears and thoughts can help you to reframe things, get some perspective or simply make you feel less alone. And if you can reach out to others, you may also be able to help them too – they may be feeling as isolated as you are. In these strange times, many people would welcome a friendly phone call or a hand-written note.
If you need support with anxiety or isolation, you can always call Just ‘B’s Hear to Help line, 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm. T: (01423) 856 799.
If you have been bereaved, you call the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Grief support helpline on: 0808 196 3833 (8am to 8pm)
2: Stop worrying
It’s normal to worry but most worries never actually materialize. Although it sounds easier said than done we can train ourselves to re-focus, from the over-thinking worry to more practical problem solving.
Sometimes a physical activity can help shift mental gears, sometimes writing down the worries can ‘take them out of your head’. Try and focus on what you can control, and what steps you can take to address the problem rather than going over and over in your head. If there isn’t anything you can do about it, you may have to try and let that worry go. You may be able to use visualization – imagine the worry floating away on a balloon.
When you notice you are worrying and have focused on what you can control, a good tip is to raise awareness of things to be thankful for. By counting your blessings daily you can condition your mind to seek out the good that is around you. Being thankful is a vital component of happiness.
3: Keep moving.
We know it’s hard to motivate yourself to get outside in the winter months but it really is a great, free way to boost your mood. Exercise – even just walking – releases endorphins into the blood stream, helping to produce a feeling of wellbeing. Also, if you feel cooped up indoors, just a change of scenery will make you feel better.
If your mobility is limited even some gentle stretches will help your mood.
If you are working/studying from home your day no longer has a commute so before work you could use the former travel time to exercise or go for a walk so that you are making the most of it. Even a short walk could create a positive mindset for the rest of the day.
4: Set goals:
Whether these are little, easy, wins such as sorting out the understairs cupboard, or a longer project like learning a new language, there is real value in setting a goal, planning how you will achieve and, of course having a go.
Trying new things gives us a focus and a sense of control and can be very rewarding. Inspired action keeps most people driven and optimistic.
If you like to think big, plan your next holiday for when we are able to travel again, or think of a life-list challenge you’ve always wanted to tick off.
If that’s too much, make a little list of things you would like to achieve in January, or February and work towards those instead. Make these a mix of practical ‘to-do’ things and more fun, enriching activities.
5: Think bite-size:
If it all feels too much, focus on one day at a time, – or even one hour at a time.
Make a plan each morning to help get through each day. A sense of routine helps provide stability in uncertain times which is good for our emotional wellbeing.
The plan could include: waking up at the same time, shower, get dressed, do housework or admin, regular meals, exercise time, TV time, relaxation time, social time and going to bed at a regular time. Try and incorporate some outdoor time each day. Giving yourself a routine that you stick to will also enhance your sleep quality which is vital for health and wellbeing.