By now we are all very familiar with the mantra of Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. This post aims to provide a rough lockdown guide with some ideas and resources to stay safe and stay well, whilst staying home.
We’ve been so moved by the real community spirit our nation has forged in the face of Covid-19.
There’s been great humour and amazing creativity via social media and tv to try and lighten the impacts of the pandemic. Along with people providing new social network platforms, diverse and creative activities to occupy us whilst in lockdown.
What may come next…….
It’s been well documented and recognised that our mental health may well struggle at this time. That’s regardless of whether you had an existing mental health issue pre Covid-19 or not. So many factors can contribute to this.
As the restrictions continue we may feel a range of different emotions as we experience more personally the direct impacts of the pandemic. We may be grieving, have financial stress, anxiety about contracting the virus or the health of our loved ones, or fear of being outside.
If relatives or friends are key workers or working within the NHS as well as being extremely proud, we may have real worries about their wellbeing. The impacts of ongoing social isolation, the huge changes to our everyday routines and fear of what the future holds.
These are only some of the many issues currently that might be impacting on your emotional wellbeing. So, we want to pull together some ideas, tips and resources to help people to survive lockdown, stay safe, stay home, stay well and ultimately save lives.
What we can do in lockdown…
Constantly looking at coronavirus related news or media streams may lead to feeling overwhelmed, scared and helpless. If you’re feeling that way, try to keep your exposure to what’s happing about the virus to a minimum, watch the news once a day if you want to be informed or visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus for the governments official updates and advice.
Focus on the things you can do to make sure you stay safe and well and do them.
Try to start and end each day thinking of the things you are grateful for and happy to have in your life.
Unusually for Blighty, a lot of us are often experiencing good weather. Spring is here and all around us flowers are blooming, birds are nesting and nature is in full force. Take some time to really be in the moment, (aka mindfulness!) and tune in to your surroundings, what you’re seeing, smelling, hearing and feeling. Apps like Headspace and Calm can also help you to do this.
Take each day, one at a time and plan each day, the night before. Be specific about what you want to achieve. These goals can be big, small or a mixture of both. It’s great to include things that give you a sense of satisfaction or feel good factor.
It’s okay to feel anxious or sad, talk to people in your life about how you’re feeling, they may well be feeling the same. If you don’t feel able to talk to friends or family there are lot’s of organisations offering support at this time, for your mental health or if you are in crisis. We have listed some of these at the end of this post.
Let go of the guilt!! Do you sometimes feel guilty doing things that you want to do? Now we’re not thinking unhealthy behaviours here, just things that you enjoy, that give you pleasure and do you and no-one else any harm. We can often feel guilty about giving ourselves the same time and value that we give to other people or things. Now is a great time to give yourself permission, ditch the guilt and do more of what you want to do.
Stop thinking about the things you can’t do at the moment, think about the things that you can or new things you’d like to try. It can help to think of things you used to enjoy doing but for whatever reason may have stopped.
Can you use this time to learn something new? Are there things you longed to be able to do before but thought you never had the time? This could be an ideal time to think outside the box about ways you can start doing these things now. Think about what you value, skills and qualities you’ve already got and some you would like to develop more.
Here’s some ideas for inspiration….
Looking for inspiration? Learn a new language (Duolingo is a great free app that teaches a big variety of different languages.)
Whatever floats your boat from cookery, PowerPoint, painting, dancing, Chinese, presenting, model building or roller-skating. Literally whatever you chose, there are loads of online resources available to help you. Simply type your interest into the search bar. A lot of suppliers are still delivering. So what’s to stop you starting now?
Get Active through lockdown…
We’ve been hearing from some people that exercising under lockdown is proving more difficult, particularly those that live in built up urban districts.
Often when we think of exercise we think gymn, jog, swim etc. How about dancing like nobody is watching to some of your favourite tunes or doing floor exercises whilst watching your favourite programmes.
Again online resources provide a huge and diverse range of exercise tutorials via YouTube and other social media platforms. A lot of these are free from, Salsa, yoga, cardio literally loads of stuff at your fingertips to try.
It can be hard to get motivated at the best of times to exercise. Try as many different things as you like till you hit on something you enjoy. It’s super important to enjoy what you’re doing to keep your motivation up on days when you might not really feel like doing it.
For “Friends” fans out there, do you remember the episode about there being no such thing as a totally selfless act? At this time there are a lot of vulnerable people out there who could do with some help.
In reality doing things for others when they are less able to do some stuff themselves, as well as helping those individuals can give the person doing the helping a really strong feel good factor. An organisation called Action for Happiness have a great website which has loads of great tips for looking after your own and other peoples happiness.
Stay connected in lockdown…
It’s good to talk. We are so lucky to have so many different ways to connect during lockdown and the necessary social distancing and self isolating. Lots of us have access to the telephone and internet. This gives us loads of opportunities to be together remotely which they so didn’t have that during the Spanish flu!
Houseparty is a phone or tablet app for all your friends and family to be on a video call all together. When people in your contacts have also got the app they can see when you’re online and join your party. So remember if you’re wanting a private party, lock the door on your screen to stop any unwanted gate-crashers!
Missing your local Karaoke night? Apps like the Smule or the Voice can be a fun way to keep in touch with your friends. You might even make some new ones. Sing along with them, or by yourself, play about with the special effects and just have fun! Be aware that some apps have a costly weekly or monthly subscription to go ad free, however offer cheaper or free options if you stick with having to watch adverts whilst using their app.
Could you start a book club, or cookery club and have weekly online catch ups? If you specialise in something, how about giving live tutorials, or if you don’t join someone else’s whose doing something you’d like to learn!
Working from home during lockdown…
Get up the same time as you normally would and get ready for work.
Now, there are different schools of thought about this and depending on what you do, your company may have it’s own policy which needs to be adhered to.
One school of thought is to dress as you would if you were doing your typical day at work. Doing so, can help to get you into the working mindset. Also, if you are doing a lot of video call communication you will look more professional in formal calls.
Another might be dress for comfort, or wear things you feel relaxed and confident in. Either way it’s unanimous that long-term you need to get dressed in the morning to keep a heathy self-care routine going.
Working from home during lockdown can be challenging. Particularly when you’re in a house with pets or with other people who also may not be there ordinarily. If possible, create a separate space to work, where you can concentrate on what you need to without distractions like tv or social media.
Often homeworking can lead to longer hours and people don’t always remember to take regular breaks. Keep to having a daily schedule with timescales and breaks factored in. You can set timers on your phone to help keep you on track or use apps like Rescue Time , although the latter may come with a cost.
It can help, having a virtual work network or support system to bounce ideas, offload or simply just to feel connected.
Switch on, switch off…….
Its good for our wellbeing to have a healthy balance of stimulation and relaxation. So it’s really important to recognise when you need to switch on or switch off. Boredom can be as unhealthy as being stressed or over stimulated.
Our brains need variation, you can stimulate your brain more by having different activities you can dip into. Whether that’s puzzle apps like Words with Friends, Sudoko or brain training apps like Elevate, Peak or Lumosity or playing games or having competitions with other members in your household. Remember though that too much time spent gaming is not particularly good for us in terms of productivity and better mental health.
Undoubtedly, lockdown is a real magnifier. Things can feel a lot more intense in the absence of our usual distractions. We are constantly hearing about the virus, the negative impacts and deaths. Understandably, sometimes you might want to just switch off from it all.
Taking some time to just zone out, read a good book, really listen to some music or meditate can help to empty your mind and recharge. Headspace and Calm are two good apps in relation to the latter. They can also help to reduce unhelpful or uncomfortable emotions, alongside talking about how you’re feeling which for us is one of the best way to do that!
So we’ve already recognised that lockdown has the capacity to be a magnifier for moods and situations. I guess partly due to that it might sometimes feel like you’re living in a pressure cooker! It’s totally understandable that relationships may feel the strain of being in lockdown. There are a number of factor’s that can contribute to this.
So, how are you getting on in lockdown?…
Many people are now either furloughed or working from home. That means you’re probably spending a lot more time with each other. This can be even more challenging as there are also less distractions and ways to escape feelings of pressure.
If you have children, trying to entertain them 24/7, uphold the restrictions and do home schooling can be incredibly stressful. Emotions like, boredom, worry, stress and anxiety can massively impact on how we perceive situations and relate to others and all of these emotions can go hand in hand with what’s happening right now.
Sometimes, the ways we may try and manage these feelings, ironically may only serve to magnify them at a later time or intensify them in the here and now.
With that in mind, keep an eye on which coping strategies you are using and whether they are actually helping. We’re thinking particularly about alcohol consumption, substance use or gambling. It’s very possible levels of these activities may well rise at this time if other coping mechanisms aren’t in place.
All of the different ways to fill time, keep communicating, stay active and stimulated we’ve identified can be brilliant ways to meet emotional needs and distract from triggers without using alcohol, substances or gambling. If you are struggling with any of these issues, please check the resources listed at the end of this article for avenues of support that are available.
Right now, even with the best of relationships, keeping those happy and healthy maybe challenging.
To keep things going….
Firstly, try not to sweat the small stuff. In a world where everything is magnetised with real, sadness and fear around us, it’s easy to lose perspective. Too much time on our hands can lead to overthinking things that wouldn’t normally bother us.
Make time for each other. Sounds crazy given that lot’s of us have much more time right now, but really being with who we are with is something we don’t always really do. Now more than ever is a time to appreciate what we have.
Set out time to chat each day and plan things you can do together. Watch a movie, play a game, do a quiz, go for a walk, do stuff together that you both enjoy. If you are in lockdown separately, you can still do all this remotely, although perhaps not the walk!
If it gets too much…….
Conversely, if you get to the point where you feel like you might blow a fuse, then take some time out. Not always easy to achieve in lockdown but usually possible. Go in to another room, go for a walk, go out into the garden or even just go to the toilet.
Getting out of the immediate situation and getting some breathing space is going to help to get a calmer head set. Take time to think things through and check if you’re response is relative to the situation. Make a pact to only go back to things when you are both in better frames of mind.
Of course, some of us may be in relationships where it’s not possible to use these types of strategies. Tragically but not surprisingly, domestic violence has increased at this time. Women’s Aid are an organisation who support people experiencing domestic violence you can access their website here . They have also created a system to help people who are feeling unsafe and unable to speak to report what’s happening to them. If you need more info about this please click here.
We have provided some more info about agencies who can support you with domestic violence or relationship issues at the end of this post.
Last words from us for today!
Just to say that here at GCS, we really hope that you have found some parts of this rough guide to staying well through lockdown useful. Our apologies for the length of this post! Covid-19 can impact in so many different ways and whilst we’ve covered a few we’ll undoubtedly have missed some too.
In doing our research we stumbled upon this image which says very simply many of our sentiments right now so we wanted to share that with you. We would however add that for us in this instance the less is most definitely more! 🙂
We hope that you stay safe and well throughout this challenging time- with much love GCS
Some useful resources to stay safe and well in lockdown
Support for relationships or abuse during lockdown
For male survivors of domestic abuse contact The Men’s Advice Line .They are open 9am-8pm Mondays and Wednesdays and then (am-5pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for a webchat or freephone please call 0808 801 0327.
Childline is a great organisation that offers support to children who are experiencing problems, whatever the problem may be. They are currently open 7 days a week from 9am till midnight, please call 0800 1111 or visit their website.
For support with your emotional wellbeing and mental health during lockdown
Mind are a nationwide charity organisation who offer a wealth of advice and diverse services to support people who are struggling with their emotional wellbeing or mental health. You can call them on 0300 123 3393, Monday to Friday 9am-6pm. Text them on 86463 or email them on [email protected]. For more info, visit their website here.
The Samaritans are still open 24/7 every day and they are there to listen to whatever it is that’s affecting how you’re feeling, call 116 123
CALM aka Campaign Against Living Miserably are open 5pm till midnight every day of the year. They are there to support you when you are feeling low, whatever the issue may be call 0800 58 58 58 or visit their website.
If you’re not feeling up to talking, Shout offer a free text service to anyone who feels like they’re in crisis and need immediate support. Just text SHOUT to 85258 to get support from a trained volunteer via texts, or visit their website for more info.
Tragically, there has been an increase in the amount of suicides happening in the UK since the start of the pandemic. Please ask for help- please don’t wait till you are so low that you feel like there’s no other options. If you feel you are at risk of seriously harming yourself please use one of the above resources or you can contact 999.
If you are struggling with an addiction in lockdown
Gambling. We are Gambling Counselling Services LTD aka (GCS). GCS are a private organisation who offer counselling and support to anyone struggling to control their gambling. We can also help people who are affected by someone else’s gambling addiction.
Please visit our website or if you would like more info or advice please click here or email us at [email protected] We offer a free initial consultation via telephone or video call. Following this we can either provide ongoing support or link you in with other organisations who may also be able to help.
Gordon Moody House provide residential rehabilitation programmes for people who struggling with their gambling. They have also developed a great app called The Gambling Therapy App. It’s a great way to access relevant information and tools to help you regain control.
They also offer a free, confidential helpline 0300 123 1110 which is open weekdays from 9am–8pm and weekends from 11am–4pm.
Drug Misuse. Whether you are worried about your own drug use or struggling with someone else’s habit Frank are a national organisation who can provide you info, advice and signpost you to more local support that you can get further help from. Please visit their website here
Their helpline is 0300 123 6600 and is available for drug misusers, their families, friends, carers to access advice and support. (Formerly known as the National Drugs Helpline) 24/7 every day of the week.
For your physical health during lockdown.
A call to your GP surgery will usually be you first port of call however if you feel like you have a non urgent medical issue or want health information or advice when your surgery isn’t available please visit nhs.uk or contact 111.
In the case of any emergency, please call 999. It has been reported that people with potentially life threatening symptoms are not calling emergency services. Please do, hospitals have the facilities to look after you and give you the care you need safely.
For financial issues throughout lockdown
Money and debt. If you are struggling financially Step Change are an organisation who offer a free support and advice service and with options specific to best meet your individual circumstances.
You can access their support either online via their website here or by calling 0800 138 1111 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. However due to the increase in demand at this time they have some restrictions to their call service and it may be difficult to get through, please visit their website for more info about this.
Housing. If you are worried about becoming homeless or are homeless Shelter are a free support agency who can give you advice at this time. For more general worries you may be having, please visit their website here to find out the contact number of your most local office to get advice.
If you have nowhere to sleep, or might be homeless soon, or if you have somewhere to sleep, but nowhere to call home or if you are or could be at risk of harm you can call their urgent helpline. It is open 8am-8pm weekdays and 9am-5pm over the weekend. The number is 0808 800 4444 but please only use this number in the situations specified here.