Mental health during lockdown

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I woke up this morning with my calendar telling me that I don’t have any clients for the day. As for most of us, this is a strange experience as we are so used to planning our day filled with all the duties we have to fulfill career wise, running out to do the shopping for the family, helping kids with homework, assignments, preparing for tests and making lunches and dinners.

Suddenly, we have to stay indoors- isolated- keeping ourselves and kids occupied with work, chores and family time. We also have to deal with the daily threat of the Corona virus as the number of sick people are rising, and two reported deaths have already occurred. This contributes to so much anxiety for all of us. I would like to share a few suggestions with you, that might help you to get through this time.

Although I will not be going out or see clients at my office, I will be following a daily routine as it gives a sense of control and security. It also helps to reduce anxiety if you work with some purpose.

  • So after getting out of bed ( try to do so within 45 minutes to an hour after waking up), make your bed and take a shower or bath to set the tone for the day. Already two tasks that you have successfully completed! An excellent start which will set the tone for the day.
  • Tend to your hair and nails and keep on following your skincare regime. Put on some makeup such as lipstick or even just a lip balm.
  • Help your children to also follow a hygienic routine, and encourage all to wash hands regularly: 20 seconds with lots of foam from your soap.
  • For breakfast, avoid sugary cereals and rather eat a protein breakfast with good fats, to help you maintain steady blood sugar. 
  • As our movements are restricted, eat smaller portions. You can even eat from a smaller plate/side plate to help you manage healthy food intake. (This comes from a nutritionist, Taryn Coghlan, in Fairland).
  • Take in as much water as possible. It is advised that we drink a few sips of water every 15 minutes to avoid a dry mouth. I enjoy herbal teas without milk in between.
  • Be mindful of the amount of caffeine you consume during this time.
  • Take vitamins daily.
  • Avoid snacking, and if you have to, make sure there are some cut up veggies and a yogurt dip in the fridge. Carrot sticks, baby cucumber, rosa tomatoes, baby corn are some of my favourites.
  • This is a time where you can have a tea/coffee break as a family at given times- as you will have at work and school. Make sure this is a relaxed time of laughter and warmth.
  • As blood sugars drop between 14:00 and 16:00 hours, consider having a small ‘snack’ ready for the family. These can include cheese, boiled egg, a small piece of meat (or small meatballs- keep it to three or four), a piece of fruit, nuts, etc. Make sure that these are not a meal size. Just stabilize the blood sugar to avoid tears, tantrums or people becoming 'hangry'.
  • Spend quality time with your family- away from the TV. You don’t need hours together, but half an hour of undivided attention (not watching your cell phone for messages or taking calls), will mean a lot to everybody.
  • Make time to play together as a family: ball games, if you have space in your yard, watch your kids ride their bikes, and if you have your own pool, swim and play with your children. Play card/board games, and think of games that you used to play as a child and teach your children.
  • Manage your children’s screen time carefully. No more than half an hour at a time- then take a break. This can be a good time to train your children that there is more to life that screens.
  • When working from home, set your alarm to remind you to get out of the chair and stretch your legs. A good time to drink water and wash hands.
  • Plan daily activities for your children. Choose some fun school activities for them to participate in. Choose a topic, e.g. sea animals, and find interesting information and pictures to share with them. Allow them to make a drawing/ picture based on the information. This should be a creative activity of their choosing. Make sure colouring pencils and paints are available to encourage creativity. For a collage, print pictures of their choosing.
  • Now that our movements are restricted, explain to the family that housework is exercise and make it fun. You can call a family meeting to do so. Allow everyone to voice their opinions. The aim is to draw up a list of tasks that needs to be done. Let them choose some chores that they are prepared to help with, as their contribution to the family. Emphasize that families work together to make life easier for all. Keep it short and sweet.
  • Get moving. Put music on and do some dancing together. Consider finding a YouTube video that teaches some dance moves. Kids love Twerking and Hip Hop. Have great laughs together.
  • Read to your children. Let them tell the story back, or turn it into a game and ask some questions based on the game. See who can answer the fastest. Keep it organised with an object that the person who wants to answer, must grab- one person to answer- no shouting out. This helps not only with listening skills, expressive language, and story memory but also with impulse control.

In a time where much of our own control has been taken away, it is important to create your own control. Your children also need some control and a real sense of security. A good routine with family activities will allow for that.

Remember that I am available for Skype and Whatsapp consultations. Please feel free to continue making use of my services, even though it is not at my office. I am a telephone call away.

Please stay in your own home and don't leave your property without good reason- as stipulated by the President. Take very good care of yourself and your family. Good mental health to all of you.

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