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Managing your mental wellbeing during lockdown

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Article contributed by A4G Accountants, West Kingsdown

With everyone in the business currently being under lockdown, we wanted to help you deal with some of the challenges that you must all be having at the moment. 

Communication is key in promoting positivity, made harder now it’s a digital connection.  We’ve pulled together some ideas from Mind and thought it would be a good idea to share with you.

Contents

• Structure of your day

• Physical wellbeing

• Connecting with other people

• Dealing with anxiety

Along with the suggestions below, we also have the NHS Mind Plan, which anyone can do, that will help tailor your own individual support depending on the answers that you give, remember to be honest! https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/your-mind-plan-quiz/

Structure of your day

Decide on your routine

Plan how you’ll spend your time. It might help to write this down on paper and put it on the wall. Here’s some tips:

• Try to follow your ordinary routine as much as possible. Get up at the same time as you usually would, follow your usual morning routines, and go to bed at your usual time. Set alarms to remind you of your new schedule if that helps.

• If you aren’t happy with your usual routine, this might be a chance to do things differently. For example, you could go to bed earlier, spend more time cooking or do other things you don’t usually have time for.

• Think about how you’ll spend time by yourself at home. For example, plan activities to do on different days or habits you want to start or keep up.

If you live with other people, it may help to do the following:

• Agree on a household routine. Try to give everyone you live with a say in this agreement. Try to respect each other’s privacy and give each other space. For example, some people might want to discuss everything they’re doing while others won’t.

Try to keep active

Build physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. Most of us don’t have exercise equipment in our homes, but there are still activities you can do. Exercising at home can be simple and there are options for most ages and abilities, such as:

• Cleaning your home

  • Dancing to music

• Going up and down stairs

Seated exercises

• Online exercise workouts that you can follow (YouTube is a great place to find workouts for your ability)

• Sitting less – if you notice you’ve been sitting down for an hour, just getting up or changing position can help.

Keep your mind stimulated

It’s important to keep your brain occupied and challenged. Set aside time in your routine for this. Here are some examples:

• Read books, magazines and articles

• Listen to podcasts, watch films and do puzzles

• Have a look on the app store. There are lots of apps that can help you learn things, such as a foreign language or other new skills.

Physical wellbeing

Eat well and stay hydrated 

• Think about your diet. Your appetite might change if your routine changes, or if you’re less active than you usually are. Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can help your mood and energy levels. See  tips on food and mood for more information

• Drink water regularly. Ensuing you are drinking enough water is important for your mental and physical health. Changing your routine might affect when you drink or what fluids you drink. It could help to set an alarm or use an app to remind you. See the NHS website for more information about water, drinks and your health.

Get as much sun light and fresh air as possible 

Bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and make you feel more relaxed.

It is possible to get the positive effects of nature while staying indoors at home. You could try the following:

• Spend time with the windows open to let in fresh air.

• Arrange a comfortable space to sit, for example by a window where you can look out over a view of trees or the sky or watch birds and other animals.

• Look at photos of your favourite places in nature. Use them as the background on your mobile phone or computer screen or print and put them up on your walls.

• Listen to natural sounds, like recordings or apps that play birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall. 

• Get as much natural light as you can. Spend time in your garden if you have one or open your front or back door and sit on the doorstep.

• You may be able to buy seeds, flowers or plants online for delivery, to grow and keep indoors. If you order items for delivery, ask to have them left at your doorstep, to avoid face-to-face contact.

Connecting with other people

Keep in touch digitally with friends, family and colleagues

• Make plans to video chat with people or groups you’d normally see in person.

• Arrange phone calls or send instant messages or texts.

• If you’re worried that you might run out of stuff to talk about, plan with someone to watch a show or read a book separately so that you can discuss it when you contact each other. 

• Speak with someone you trust. If you are feeling anxious about Coronavirus or its implications, you may find it helpful to talk about these worries with someone you trust, especially if they are in a similar situation.

• You could join a peer support community. Mind runs an online peer support community called Elefriends, where you can share your experiences and hear from others.

• If you’re going online more than usual or seeking peer support on the internet, it’s important to look after your online wellbeing. Please read the pages about online mental health for more information. 

If you’re worried about loneliness

• Think about things you can do to connect with people. For example, putting extra pictures up of the people you care about might be a nice reminder of the people in your life.

• Listen to a chatty radio station or podcast if your home feels too quiet.

Dealing with anxiety

Take care with news and information 

• Stay connected with current events but be careful where you get news and health information from. 

• For up-to-date advice, see the NHS coronavirus webpage and gov.uk coronavirus webpages. 

• If news stories make you feel anxious or confused, think about switching off or limiting what you look at for a while.

• Social media could help you stay in touch with people but might also make you feel anxious if people are sharing news stories or posting about their worries. Consider taking a break or limiting how you use social media. You might decide to view particular groups or pages but not scroll through timelines or newsfeeds.

Find ways to relax and be creative 

There are lots of different ways that you can relax. These include:

• Arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, collage, sewing, craft kits or upcycling, DIY, colouring, mindfulness, playing musical instruments, singing or listening to music, writing, yoga, meditation.

It’s important that if you are suddenly feeling worried or low, try the below tips from the experts;

If you are feeling anxious: 

• If you have panic attacks or flashbacks, it might help to plan a ‘safe space’ in your home that you can go to.

• You can also find ways to comfort yourself if you’re feeling anxious. For example, there are games and puzzles you can use to distract yourself, and breathing exercises which may help. 

If you are feeling claustrophobic or trapped:

• Open the windows to let in fresh air. Or you could spend time sitting on your doorstep, or in the garden if you have one.

• Try looking at the sky out of the window or from your doorstep. This can help to give you a sense of space.

• Regularly change the rooms you spend time in.

A4G Chartered Accountants, West Kingsdown, Kent.

Follow this link for A resource to help people stop abusing alcohol and for improving mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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