Embley’s Assistant Head Pastoral, Leah Goodey, shares some simple steps you and your family may wish to consider taking to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the current lockdown…
My original idea for this piece was to offer something different to the plethora of articles out there about wellbeing during lockdown. However, it occurred to me that no-one really ever knows what is going on in someone else’s home. My personal and family pressures are not the same as yours. What works for me in maintaining or even improving my wellbeing may not work for anyone else, and they may already be doing it. So, what follows is not meant to be a tick list of what should be done, but more what could be done, if it fits.
We have all been affected by this situation, and some us more than others. The only certain is that we all have to find our own way through, as best we can. Having said that, a few ideas that I have picked up from my reading are as follows.
Routine, or maybe rhythm
We are creatures of habit, and yet our normal habits and routines have been hugely altered in recent weeks. Trying to establish and maintain a new rhythm, with similarities to what we are used to if possible, will undoubtedly help. Trying to keep to our everyday norms can help too, such as getting up and dressed in the morning, sitting to a table to work and not on the sofa, structuring learning in accordance to the school timetable and getting out of the house every day.
Distinction between work and play
Keeping our work routine going Monday to Friday and relaxing things on a Friday evening as we head into the weekend can help to mark the difference between work and play time. Given that our homes are now our offices and classrooms, we might think about clearing work away at the end of the day or on a Friday. Some aspects of routine can get monotonous so trying to allow some variation such as where to go to exercise, or what to eat for dinner can stop the days blurring into one.
We all know that exercising is good for our physical and emotional wellbeing. Sometimes, though, it is the last thing we feel like doing. I have come to realise over the last few weeks that getting out of the house for a walk or a cycle – usually with family, but sometimes alone – gives me a newfound perspective, eases the emotional burden just enough, and re-energises me for the next day.
Changing our immediate environment, getting some fresh air and letting off steam is a simple but effective de-stressor.
Take each day at a time
It can be overwhelming to look too far ahead, into the unknown, and it’s easy to get bogged down in thinking about what might be around the corner. Taking a break from the news and social media and just focusing on today can make things more manageable. The small things add up, for the better or worse, so investing in small steps can make a difference.
Our children are way ahead of us when it comes to connecting with each other via social media, but they will be missing daily face to face interaction with their friends. Perhaps we can use this time to reach out to people we haven’t spoken to in a while, or to someone we know who would welcome a friend. Perhaps we can use this time to reconnect with our loved ones, not just those who live miles away, but also those with whom we share our homes. Friday night movie night or dinner time might be a way to get the whole family together, habits that were perhaps lost in the bustle of pre-lockdown life.
One of the simplest and furthest reaching things we can do is to have compassion for others, but also for ourselves. This situation reminds us how vulnerable we are, but more importantly that we are all vulnerable, prompting us to rediscover our empathy for those we are so accustomed to.
Our thoughts and attitudes influence our emotions and behaviours. We can learn to recognise downbeat thoughts and learn to replace these thoughts with something more positive. All the evidence shows that positive thoughts really do make a difference.
Last but not least, no-one in the Embley family is alone in facing this. The contact provided by our virtual learning programme is important not just from an academic perspective but also for keeping us connected. Tutors are always available; they look forward to contact with their pupils and families. So please speak to them, and let’s keep our community and our wellbeing strong together.
Embley pupils and parents can access a range of information and support services via the Wellbeing Section of our Digital Learning Spaces.