So what can we do about it? …...here are some top tips to help
Try to follow a routine and get some exercise
- Try to get up and go to bed at the same time every day and aim for about 8 hours sleep a night
- Are you working from home? Make sure you schedule in tea breaks and lunch breaks, and remember to get up and walk around your house/flat ...try not to sit in one place all day long
- Make time for exercise such as going for a walk, doing the garden, lifting weights, or an online dance or fitness session
Exercise can help ease depression, stress, and anxiety, and aid in the management of chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. By finding new ways to get moving and stay motivated, you can take charge of your mood and well-being and regain a sense of control during lockdown.
Make sure you eat
Try to prepare nutritious meals if you can. Eating well is good for both your physical and mental health. Meals don’t have to be complicated. Simple meals can be fab such as baked beans on toast followed by fruit. Similarly, pasta with a bit of chicken, vegetables and pesto is also a good meal. If you can:
- Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to make sure you get a range of vitamins and minerals. Fresh, frozen, dried, and tinned options all count.
- Have regular meals and stick to healthy snack options such as fruit, or a small handful of unsalted nuts and seeds and try to avoid eating things such as several packets crisps each day.
- Consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D (10 micrograms), especially during the winter. Alternately, a multi vitamin pill and cod liver oil are also good sources of vitamin D. This is particularly important if you are not exposed to much sunlight, are over 65 or have dark skin. Vitamin D is important for absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. In addition, scientists now think Vitamin D is important for the functioning of our immune system which helps us fight infections.
A great resource is the NHS Eatwell Guide https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-eatwell-guide/
Drinking enough fluids helps your body function properly. The NHS Eatwell Guide recommends you have six to eight glasses of fluid a day and drink a bit more if you’re exercising. Fluid can be water, fruit juice, tea, coffee etc but not alcoholic drinks!
Avoid the couch and binging
It can be easy to form unhealthy habits especially if we are feeling a bit down. These might feel like they are helping but often make you feel worse in the long term.
- Try cutting down on how much caffeine you drink. Whilst coffee and tea are obvious drinks which have caffeine so too do Coke and Diet Coke. Having too much caffeine, or having it later in the day, can affect how well you sleep. It may also cause you to feel irritable and add to any feelings of anxiety.
- Don’t turn to alcohol, smoking or other recreational drugs as coping strategies for stress. They will only make things worse.
- Avoid binge eating or drinking – these can often lead to weight gain and make us feel worse in the long term
Take time to look outside
If you can go outside, then try going for a walk or run in a green space. If you can’t leave your house, just looking out of your window can help. Take a few minutes to notice nature such as plants, trees, animals and clouds
Just imagining the outdoors can have a positive effect. People exhibit a better mood and behaviour simply from viewing images of nature.
Take time to switch off from online news and social media
It is important to stay informed but try not to constantly read or listen to the news. Often the news is repeated throughout the day and often bad news predominates – switch it off if you find it makes you feel anxious, angry or stressed.
It may also be helpful to limit helpful to limit the time on social media.
Breathing is also a great way to relieve stress - taking some slow deep breaths can help reduce anxiety levels and help you reset. Another good technique is to breath in slowly through your nose then breath out through your mouth.
Many of us have been apart from some of our friends and family for a long time now.
Try to keep in regular contact using phone, text or video calls if you can. Writing letters or sending cards might be a nice change if you’re feeling tired of video calls or texts.
Try to enjoy spending more time with those you live with if you can.
If you know people who live alone, the elderly or those who are vulnerable try to keep in touch with them as best you can.
Changing rules and routines can be confusing for children. Try to be a positive role model to help them learn how to manage in uncertain times.
- Play regularly, get them exercising, bake, draw and paint, play instruments and sing.
- If you can, try helping them with their schoolwork
- Try getting children to write down things that have made them feel proud or happy recently.
- Make time to ask your children how they’re feeling. It is important for children to know that they can come to you if they are feeling anxious, fed up or scared.
For many people, the idea of going into a lockdown may feel overwhelming. You might feel sad, anxious, stressed, angry or tired
If you’re struggling, make sure you talk to someone about how you’re feeling. This could be a partner, friend, your GP, your employer or a mental health organisation.
Support in Kent
Information is available at www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeing for people experiencing a range of mental health and wellbeing issues.
There is also a specific web page to help families with children or young people who might be experiencing difficulties at www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeingfamilies
Both web pages offer advice and signposting to other sites which can help in range of situations.
As part of the Release the Pressure campaign, a text service is also available to people who are struggling to cope and need immediate help. By texting the word “Kent” or “Medway” to 85258, you will start a conversation with one of the many trained and experienced volunteers who can give help at any time, wherever you are.
Finally. …...Be kind and remember…...It’s natural to feel a whole range of emotions during times of uncertainty such as with the Covid 19 pandemic and lockdown. Some days will be better than others. This is a time to be kind to yourself and to those around you. Be patient with yourself and others