Updated: May 29, 2020
We find ourselves in an unprecedented season. A season that none of us were prepared for and none of us have lived through before. Despite what our social media feeds tells us, none of us have the magic formula for living la vida lockdown.
Due to my daughter being poorly in hospital for a few weeks, I joined the lockdown life on 1st April. Happy April Fools day. The feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and overwhelm hit me almost straight away and it felt just like when we had brought the tiny new born version of her home from the hospital.
Just like when I had postnatal depression, I felt like a lot of other people, particularly other Mums, were doing really well and it made me feel really low. One month on and my mental health has improved. I have accepted that this is what will keep my family safe. This will protect our NHS and ensure that their resources go where they are most needed.
It hasn’t been easy, but I don’t think it is easy for any of us. Here are some things which have helped me to protect my mental health:
Limit your news intake and use reputable sources
Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about the virus, and any news for that matter, can help you feel more in control. I am very wary of viewing sensationalised news from tabloids as their sole purpose of “being” is to sell us news and keep us coming back for more. Instead, use gov.uk, or World Health Organisation for unbiased facts.
Connect with friends and family via telephone/video chat
Feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need. Social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and can help reduce the risk of mental ill health for people of all ages. These times mean that we have to be more creative with connecting with our loved ones but with the joys of modern technology, we can have a quick chat with a friend or a full on family pub quiz via Zoom.
Stop “Should-ing” all over yourself
Karen on Facebook says that she is absolutely killing it during lockdown. She bakes her own bread now and her perfectly dressed, well behaved children are crafting quietly whilst she is able to write her novel and prepare elaborate home cooked meals. Good for her. You think that you should try to make bread now too, or that you should do more crafty things with the children rather than have them watching Disney+ to try to keep them quiet. Or you should use your time more protectively to learn a new skill. Should should should. No. This is not what this time is for. It is so important to stop comparing yourself to others, especially what you see on social media. It is a teeny, tiny piece of someone’s life that they want you to see. A phrase stuck with me during my recovery from postnatal depression and anxiety; “don’t compare your behind the scenes footage to someone else’s highlight reel.” Be kind to yourself; you’re doing the best you can do.
Lower your expectations of yourself and your children.
There is a reason why the phrase “do not work with children or animals” exists. If you are in the midst of trying to home school and work at home; I take my hat off to you. Home working while home-schooling presents an unprecedented challenge and one that, let’s face it, no one in normal circumstances would choose as it’s such a hard task. Coming through this with your and your children’s mental health intact is THE most important thing you can aim for. Setting expectations too high is a sure-fire way of creating extra anxiety and stress for everyone.
Enjoy the great outdoors
A mistake I made early on was not making the most of the allowance of being able to take some exercise outside. I didn’t leave the house for a week at the start and I was in a terrible mood. A walk around the block, or window rainbow spotting is a great family activity and a great opportunity to blow away the cobwebs.
Take time out for you
I have found that being at home 24/7 with a 2-year-old and a husband is certainly a new experience (to say the least!) and there have been some times when they both have been incredibly annoying. I’m sure they will both say the same about me too! More than ever, it is so important to take some time out to have break; just you. My favourite treat is putting Lexi down for her afternoon nap and having a bath with a lovely bath bomb. It is a simple thing to do, its pretty cheap and it gives me 30 minutes to relax. Other days, I go for a walk, or for a run. I feel so much better if I take the time for myself; both mentally and physically.
Ask for help
The strongest thing you can do is ask for help if you need it. Motherhood can be a lonely place without a global pandemic and there are some wonderful support services available if you wanted to chat to someone, off load or seek extra support.
I have compiled a list of organisations who I have sought advice from during my difficult times: (https://www.thebangaveragemum.co.uk/resources)
Take care & look after yourself,
The Bang Average Mum x