Well, for the 5th time Melbourne has been placed into a lockdown.
This time has really got me, I'm so over it! I'm over it for my students, their families, my family, my friends, businesses and people's livelihoods. It certainly feels like it is never ending and without getting political, it can feel like leaders on all sides are letting us down in some way.
I am a glass half-full person and even though I feel the way I do, I can put things into perspective. I have a safe home, a job and am surrounded with love and support. Not many have ALL of those things. I know that right now the most important thing is to be looking after my wellbeing and the wellbeing of the kids that I have the privilege of supporting through this time.
It is extremely frustrating. All I can think about is the milestone moments and important events that families are missing out on. I have friends who have had their first child, and because their families live overseas, they have not been able to share the joy of a grandchild with their parents. It's just devastating. Not to mention the mental toll and financial losses to businesses and the pressure that comes from this experience that is so much out of our control.
Dwelling in the sorrow and sadness of the past 18 months can be absolutely heartbreaking. Focusing on the good, the kindness of strangers and the hope for the future is more crucial than ever for our individual mental health.
During this current lockdown phase I will feel anger and frustration, but I am also going to make sure I am doing things that support my mental health and wellbeing. I know this time round I won't be jumping to organise zoom parties (been there done that!!). It is also about setting realistic goals for yourself and focusing on the small things that bring you joy or help you to feel good each day, because at this point it is so unclear how long this will continue. Here are some tips that will hopefully help you and your family manage through this current lockdown.
1. Routines - A predictable daily routine and things that are familiar can help to give kids a sense of security and predictability. So try to keep the daily routine during lockdown as close to a regular school day as possible. Give kids break times that work for you and the family. Also be mindful of a routine for yourself to manage your own work or household duties. Try not to get caught up working extra hours when working from home during lockdown and skipping those vital daily breaks as well as interactions with the kids. Define boundaries for yourself to differentiate between working hours, rest and relaxation. Set the emails to mute and make sure you as the adults are having enough playtime as well.
2. Letting go of expectations - You don’t have to be the remote learning superstar, neither do the kids. Just do what you can each day to support your kids, and if it's not working that day, that’s okay, the kids will be fine! Just let your teachers know, we get it, and don’t want there to be extra pressures in the home either. Let go of expectations for yourself also, you don’t have to smash a fitness routine or a detox diet, just do what makes you happy and feel good, that's the main thing!
2. Outside time - When it's not raining (thanks winter lockdowns!), get outside and give your body, and your kids, a dose of fresh air. Getting the kids active outside is important for their mental health too. I'm making sure I still get outside to complete my 10,000 steps each day. When we work from home we also become way more sedentary so keeping active is even more important. Exercise also increases endorphins and will help you to feel good.
3. Reduce alcohol consumption - Regular, heavy drinking interferes with chemicals in the brain that are vital for good mental health. In the long run it has an impact on mental health and can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, and make stress harder to deal with. Look towards other coping strategies other than alcohol, such as reading, journalling or just taking a bath. Ultimately it's all about what makes you feel good, so if that’s a glass of wine at the end of the day, then go for it, just don’t overdo it for your mind and body's sake (nobody enjoys a hangover!).
4. Social Media Cleanse - Just like spring cleaning the wardrobe, cleansing our social media of negative accounts is just as fulfilling. The cleanse should include removing connections with people on social media that you don’t have a relationship with anymore. With all social media it is essential to remember what your purpose for the engagement is; connection, entertainment or perhaps to be informed, if it doesn’t suit your values or again make you feel great, then why follow the account? A cleanse to your social media will help to boost a sense of positivity when interacting online, especially during a lockdown. It may be entertaining to watch the Channel 7 Facebook comments section, but does it really benefit your wellbeing? Probably not. Cleanse away I say!
5. Reducing tech time - Most of the time people who are working from home, including kids, are on devices all day. Playing with kids and doing practical things with them will fill their “wellbeing” cup and yours as well. In the down time try to have kids play with their toys, puzzles, board games or Lego, whatever it might be, just try to avoid screen time. There is plenty of research to show the negative impact screen time can have on sleep patterns, especially for little ones, so be mindful of the amount of screen time for the whole family.
Last tip: Stay in touch with friends and family in the best way you can. And remember to reach out if you are struggling and let's look out for each other. We will get to the other side and one day it will be all over. I have every hope of that.
If you are in need of support during this lockdown don't hesistate to reach out to myself or to any of the following services.