The mental implications of lockdown and isolating

So somehow, it’s now September and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to sit down, collect my thoughts and actually try and write something.  It’s been a tough old time heading back to work with my husband having to work away and me still having to look after my children.  I’ve felt my motivation dwindling, my patience disappearing and my positivity hard to keep hold of.  My kids went back to preschool last week and managed a day, yes just one day before my little boy had a cough, could we get a Covid-19 test?  Nope, nothing anywhere and so just when I thought things were getting back to normal, bang we’re back at home, stuck in again!  This was a big blow and I’m not going to lie pretty much broke me last week, I’ve been an emotional mess with my mental health incredibly fragile ever since. 

I’ve honestly been a bit worried about myself more recently, I’ve started to feel quite trapped and have pretty low depressive thoughts, I’ve been crying a lot and unable to focus.  I’ve also seen a return of my sciatic pain which is pretty emotionally draining as well.  Sorry if this all sounds a bit dark but I wanted to be honest about things as I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way.  The mental impact of everything going on at the moment and the pressure being put on parents in particular is extraordinary and I honestly feel there’s only so long the government can expect people to go on in this way.  

So, deep breath, let’s try and be a bit more positive and look at how to refocus myself. 

This is what I’ve come up with;

Step one – Find a way to give myself a bit more time/space

I’ve done this by increasing my son’s days at preschool.  This has been a difficult decision but he’s been off with me for six months now and his behaviour has deteriorated more recently, he needs the structure and I need a bit of breathing space to make the time we do get to spend together more fun.

Step two – Exercise

For me this is my Yoga, it has always helped with my focus, my sciatic pain and also my mental health, it needs to be part of my daily routine and this should be non-negotiable.  

Step Three – Be kinder to myself

I have beaten myself up so much over the last few weeks/months; ‘I’m not a fun mum’, ‘I’m letting them down’, ‘why can’t I cope, when everyone else can’, ‘I should be able to do this’, ‘why don’t I want to spend all my time with my kids’, etc, etc.  Why do we do it to ourselves?  At the end of the day we’re all doing our best and I love my kids more then anything, I know that.  I need to stop the negative chatter when I notice it and replace it with positive words instead.  ‘I’m doing my best’, ‘We do lots of fun things and the kids are happy, ‘no one is perfect and Instagram isn’t a reflection of real life.’, ‘you are good enough’.

Step Four – Stop looking at the news

Let’s face it, there’s nothing good on there!  As long as I know the rules to follow, I don’t need to know anything else! 

Step Five – Breath

So simple but most of us aren’t doing it right, we need to take time to check in with our bodies each day, in fact most of us our breathing backwards!  This was a complete revelation to me when I was told.

Take a deep breath in now

Did your chest raise and your tummy go in?  Yep that’s backwards breathing! 

When you breath in your chest should expand and your belly go out, like you would see a baby/child do.  Over the years we start to breath into the top of our rib cage and suck our belly’s in – as is socially acceptable nowadays – well this is wrong, wrong, wrong!  No wonder we’re all so flipping anxious.    

Step Six – Eat well

We need to fuel our bodies well and reduce things we know will affect our mood like, caffeine, alcohol, sugar etc. 

Step Seven – Sleep well

We need to get enough sleep to make sure we can function properly and enable us to implement all the other steps above, good sleep is the key to so much.

I’m betting most of these things aren’t relations to you, but sometimes implementing them all can get a bit overwhelming and I’m right there with you, this is not easy, if it was, we’d all be feeling great.  Annoyingly some sort of discipline is required to remain in equilibrium and so we should aim to do our best but not to set unachievable targets which are just going to make us feel rubbish when we don’t meet them!    

Look at the list above and find the quickest win, mine was finding some more time for myself by extending my sons preschool days but maybe it could be going to bed half an hour earlier, or sitting when you wake up in the morning for 2 minutes and listening to your breath.  It could be swapping one chocolate bar for an apple each day or changing one of your caffeinated drinks for a decafe.  Make it achievable and then you will feel like you have succeeded and that you’re heading in the right direction.  Small quick wins which are sustainable, that’s the key! 

Even writing this is giving me hope that I can start to take some small steps towards making myself feel better.  I know it’s been a long slog and we’re not out of it yet but you’re not alone and never forget to

Stay Strong xxx

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