Top tips for staying mentally well during the COVID-19 lockdown

Amy (name changed) attended our KidsTime Workshops before the pandemic and has kindly shared some tips for young people who are staying at home during lockdown. Read her thoughts below.

Lockdown is a confusing and difficult time for everyone. However, you can feel much more isolated when you’re dealing with the stress of being a young carer for a mentally unwell parent. Here are a few ways to relieve stress and create a positive atmosphere around yourself during this period, even if you may feel like your support system has been taken away.

Make time for yourself. Being in close confines with family can be draining for everyone but it is especially hard if your family are dealing with mental health issues. It’s really important to take some time, however small, for yourself. Even if it’s just half an hour where you listen to your favourite music or an audiobook, or go on a walk around your neighbourhood, it will give you time to think through your feelings and emotions.

Spend time with family. Although it is important to have time to yourself, it is equally important to remember to spend time with your family or friends who you are living with and ensure you are not isolating yourself. Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Human contact is still so important, regardless of whether it is physical or online.

Change up your routine. During this time it is so easy to fall into a repetitive, monotonous routine that will drain you mentally and physically. As much as you can, try to switch a part of your routine every day. Even if it’s something as little as baking a cake one day, or taking a different route on a walk or run, it will make such a difference to your mental health.

Have a productive start to your day. We’ve all head the phrase ‘you’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed today’, but it’s easy to forget how important the beginning of your day is to shaping how the rest of it goes. Instead of waking up late and going straight to your phone, which can leave you with a stressed and negative mindset for the day, try starting your morning with some exercise or making a nice breakfast for yourself. Even if the rest of your day isn’t productive, having a positive start to it can have a real effect on your motivation.

Don’t let yourself become demotivated. I think that we can all agree that right now is a very confusing time for everyone, especially if you are in school or college and have had your exams cancelled or your learning disrupted. However, despite how easy it may feel to give up, try and keep up to date with schoolwork and any other responsibilities you may have. Although it doesn’t always feel like it, it can actually be a really great distraction if you are dealing with problems with family, and it gives you a structure to your day that is necessary, now more than ever.

Keep in contact with your friends. Whether it’s by video calling, messaging, or even playing group games online (apps such as psych are great for playing with a group of friends), it’s so important to maintain your friendships and make sure you aren’t only limited to the company of your household. It’s really easy to feel alone when you can’t see your friends face-to-face, but know that you still have their support at this time. The only difference is that instead of in person, it’s online!

Keep in touch with your wider family. Even though you cannot physically see grandparents, aunts and uncles right now does not mean you can’t speak to them over the phone or video call them. It’s a great way of ensuring that you still have a base of support throughout a time that can feel very lonely and isolating. I’m sure they would love to hear from you as well!

Do something you’ve been putting off. Now is the perfect time to do the thing you know you need to do but you’ve been avoiding for months. Sort through all the junk under your bed or do a deep clean of your wardrobe. I promise, even if it’s not a big thing, you’ll feel so much more productive after it’s been completed.

Don’t forget self care. Remember to look after your own mental and physical well-being. Take some time every day to do something for yourself. Watching a movie you’ve always wanted to or taking a bath is a great way to treat yourself. Remember, you don’t always need to worry about everyone else, looking after yourself is just, if not more, important. If you find this hard, think of it this way: if you are not happy and positive in yourself, how can you be a positive influence and support for the people around you?