Maintaining Mental Health In Lockdown

Updated: Apr 14

We’re in unprecedented times, how many times has that statement been thrown around recently? It’s true though, we’re living through a period of time that will be studied in the textbooks for years to come. The real question is, how are we to maintain any sort of normality, whilst we are locked inside our homes. Ultimately there is no right or wrong way to get through this, everyone’s dynamics are totally different. For me, I’m home with my teenage son, who is happy to chat with his friends in his bedroom all day and play on his Xbox. I spend my time working when I choose to, walking when I want and really having the freedom to have me time to work through whatever I need to, others aren’t so lucky and if this had happened 4 years ago I would have been in a totally different space.

My son who I didn’t realise at the time is autistic, he was spiralling into what can only be described as psychotic breaks every 3 months, I was living with my now ex and her 2 children, the house was loud and chaotic, and would have driven all of us to the point of insanity.

As an autistic adult and parent of a child who is also autistic, ADHD and PDA, I totally understand the importance of structure and routine and how difficult it is when they are thrown not only off kilter but totally obliterated. Let’s face it when you throw any type of additional needs into the lockdown pot, there is going to be challenges that a typical 2.4 children set up doesn’t experience. Then there are those who are totally alone, some may not be up to date with the latest technology, some may not have people around them full stop. Just from these examples alone, you can see how different everyone’s experiences are, which is going to impact the way we manage our time in isolation.

There are some actions that we can all take to maintain some sort of equilibrium, giving ourselves a chance to come out stronger than before, at the very least we can start to put some good habits into place which will serve us well when we come out the other side. Ultimately we need to find what works for us

In no particular order here are some things you can do to take back control.

Limit how much news you’re watching , if needs be you can delegate the news to a family member or friend, this means that you still get the necessary updates, but you’re not sucked into the media’s hype, fear and propaganda.

Instead of watching the death count, look at the recovery count, it’s also worth keeping in mind that the death rate for cancer in the UK is 165,000 annually, the coronavirus is significantly less and will eventually fizzle out, we just need time and patience and a willingness to break away from the collective fear.

Get yourself a good routine in place, go to bed at the same time, set an alarm for the morning and find what works for you. Is it getting up before the kids so that you can have that cup of tea in peace, is it time to start your meditation practice again, is it just to read a chapter of a book before jumping in the shower? Routines can be anything you want them to be, make this time count.

Exercise is so important for mind, body and spirit, take the time to go out if you’re physically able too, if you can’t get out, why not get creative, the most brilliant of ideas stem from boredom.

Be mindful with what you’re watching on TV, news aside programmes do just that, they are designed to programme. Here’s an example from a recent experience. I decided to re-watch vampire diaries, I enjoyed them before and there’s a good few seasons to keep me out of mischief… Mischief… What’s that! I digress… It took me a few days to make the connection, but I was starting to feel really depressed and foggy, I stopped watching it and decided to watch a comedy and woke up in an entirely different head space the next day (The film was Hustle, highly recommend it)

Stay in the present moment as much as you can, I know this one is thrown about a lot, but by staying in the present you’re not allowing your mind to go on its own little tangent. When you think about the future, you start to think about how long this could all last for, weeks become months, is it ever going to end, how will I cope, will I be able to feed myself, will I ever see family again, that monkey mind will really take you places you don’t want to go.

I suggest investing time into breathing, I have several guided meditations available to help ease anxiety, depression and to start focusing on your breath, this is such a simple tool and one that is so often overlooked. My Youtube channel can be found here.

Learn a new skill or start a project that’s been on the back burner, there are loads of online resources offering free courses at the moment, it’ll be a good focus.

If you’re in business is there a way to adapt, is there a service you could be offering that will help others and yourself through this crisis?

If you’re in a family with 2 adults in the household and you are able to leave the house, why not split the load, so instead of all going for the daily walk, dad takes kids out and mum gets to stay home and relax taking essential me time and vice versa. Give and take is so important, so make sure you switch it up so you’re both benefiting.

The limbic system, the part of your brain responsible for emotions is on high alert at the moment, this means that the oldest part of our brain the amygdala is active a lot more often than normal, this is the part of the brain that is responsible for fight, flight or freeze, when it’s active it pumps chemicals into your body to help you to survive. At the moment our limbic system is much more active, keeping us in a state of high alert, by implementing some of the above suggestions you can absolutely take back some control and calm your racing mind.

You don't always have to be doing something. It's OK to take a break and have a rest, you are not lazy for doing so

I hope this has given you some useful tools to take away and try, re framing the negatives and keeping things in perspective is really challenging to do, but it’s always worth the effort.

If you are suffering with domestic abuse and need immediate help you can call 999 and press 55 on your phone’s keypad if you’re not able to talk, help will come. Otherwise here is a list of resources that are available in the UK to help both women and men who are suffering at the hands of another, you do not need to suffer in silence.

If you would like to talk about mental health and improving your depression and anxiety I offer a free call and my rates per session are currently fixed at £40 via zoom, I offer EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) therapy to release individuals from trauma, whilst easing anxiety and depression in the process, along with hypnotherapy and general advice, you can find more about my services via the main website or by calling me.