The year hasn’t started as positively as we might all have hoped.
Another lockdown, schools closing and life not returning to ‘normal’ as we were hoping has been a lot to take in. The stresses of this can cause immense overwhelm, especially for parents.
We can often miss the signs we’re completely run-down because we have adapted to a fast paced, stressful life filled with high expectations from others and ourselves.
Here, I share my tips for others who may be struggling with all the various stresses of life in lockdown.
How to recognise if you’re overwhelmed
There are many ways in which overwhelm might affect you, these are just some indicators you may be familiar with…
- You’re struggling with sleep
- It’s difficult to concentrate, even on tasks you usually find easy
- Physical health issues – you might experience headaches, nausea, or breathlessness as a result of stress
- You’re irritable
- You feel like you can’t relax
Learn grounding and breathing techniques
Relax your shoulders, pulling them down towards your feet, remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth and take a deep breath.
There are loads of different grounding techniques that can help to bring you into the present moment and tackle anxiety. Try some out to choose one that works for you.
A simple exercise to relax your body is to do five sets of this simple breathing exercise: Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold for seven, and breathe out through your mouth for eight seconds. This will become more powerful the more you practice.
Write it out
Don’t underestimate the power of a good list. Your to-do list can feel like an endless cycle but clearing your tasks from your brain and on to paper can really help alleviate your worries.
Writing down the things that are on your mind at bedtime will help give you a better night sleep and in turn help with your feelings of stress.
Avoid information overwhelm
Don’t give yourself too much information. News alerts, social media, and your group WhatsApp pinging away every five minutes can negatively impact your mood and make it impossible to focus on, well, anything.
Schedule in some time when your phone – or at the very least, your notifications – are turned off.
Go easy on yourself
Give yourself some slack and listen to your body.
Tired? Prioritise having an early night or give yourself permission to have a nap.
Hungry? Eat whatever you fancy rather than what you ‘should’ be eating.
Don’t try to do everything, allow yourself down-time when you need it, and remember that you need to look after yourself before you can look after other people.
Prioritise feelings of safety
When everything is up in the air, we look to our everyday life for some sense of security.
That’s important for you and your children.
Maintain a routine and give children reassurance that they are safe and sound.
Make sure to chat with kids about what’s changing and what’s not, and remind them that they can ask any questions they need and talk to you about what’s going on.
Stop judging yourself for screentime
Don’t worry about screen time. You have to get through this and if you need to put your little one in front of the TV so that you can get on with some work, don’t give yourself a hard time over it.
Work out how you want to spend your time
If you’re furloughed, you might have more time on your hands.
While it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself to be productive, feeling like you’ve wasted the hours will only make you feel rubbish.
Have a think about the tasks you’ve long wanted to do and prioritise those now you have some time at home, whether it’s finally finishing that book or decluttering the cupboards.
Try a gratitude diary
There’s a wealth of research to suggest practicing gratitude does wonders for your mental wellbeing.
Think about writing a gratitude diary to take in the little things that might pass you by. It’s easy to forget the nice bits that make up our days when we’re feeling overwhelmed.
Before bed write down three things that you’re grateful for or that made you smile that day.
Take regular breaks
Take regular breaks if you’re working from home. You won’t work to your full potential if you’re not taking breaks to stretch, make a drink and get some fresh air. Work in intense 50-minute sessions, have a break and come back focused.
Make time for social connection
Keep in touch with friends and family via the phone or a socially distanced walk if you can with one other person. Even a video call with loved ones can really boost your spirits.
Allow yourself to feel sad
It’s okay to feel down. Give yourself time to understand your emotions, allow yourself time to process these crazy feelings the coronacoaster brings each day. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to feel happy all the time.
Try ten minutes of meditation
Calming meditation can really help you relax. It needn’t be something that takes up too much of your time, just 10 minutes of mindful relaxation can really help your brain relax and focus.
If you’re furloughed and have time on your hands, think about volunteering your time to help charity organisations or lend your skills to help others in need.
Not only will this keep you busy, but you’ll feel a great sense of satisfaction after knowing you’ve helped make a difference.
Don’t forget to head over to my blog, my YouTube channel and Instagram for daily money saving advice, tips and hacks for living your best life on a budget.
To talk about mental health in an open, judgement-free space, join Metro.co.uk’s Facebook group, Mentally Yours.
Need support? Contact the Samaritans
For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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