Mental health at home
Over the next few weeks we will all experience extra pressures that will affect how we think and feel. It’s important to recognise that all of us have mental health and, just like our physical health, at this time it’s important to look after it. On page 5 of this booklet there is a checklist of little activities to complete.
Primary Schools’ Wellbeing Booklet
Liverpool CAMHS (Childhood and Adolescent Mental Health Services) has also provided advice to help parents and carers at this time. Liverpool CAMHS promotes the mental health, emotional wellbeing of all children, young people and their families.
The website can be found by clicking on this link.
The Young Minds website also provides a range of support strategies for young people and parents/carers.
What anxiety is
Anxiety is a normal day-to-day feeling, just like hunger, excitement, tiredness etc. It’s part of how we rationalise things and make decisions like whether it’s safe to cross the road or not – we don’t want to step out in front of a car! However, when we’re under increased stress, as we are now, our bodies can mis-interpret this stress as danger, triggering an overwhelming anxious response. This is known as the fight or flight response and it provides the body with a burst of energy – adrenaline – so that it can respond to the perceived danger.
When the fight or flight response is activated, you’re likely to have lots of symptoms; some of these might include your heart pounding, feeling nauseous, butterflies in your stomach, clammy hands, tense muscles, feeling dizzy, shallow breathing, racing thoughts, feelings of overwhelm, being out of control or angry. These responses were useful when we needed to run away from a sabre-toothed tiger, but they’re less helpful when we want to get around busy supermarkets looking for toilet paper!
How to manage anxiety
This might sound too simple to be true, but by slowing our breathing down, we activate another system in our body which acts as a brake, letting our body know the ‘danger’ has passed, thereby soothing the fight or flight response. It’s worth practising deep breathing when you’re not feeling anxious, so it becomes an automatic response when you do start to feel anxious. Here’s a simple guide on how to do this: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/ways-relieve-stress/
2. Pay attention to your thoughts: unhelpful thinking patterns such as catastrophising and ruminating keep us stuck in an anxious place. If you notice you’re caught up in this type of thinking, ground yourself by placing your feet firmly on the floor and really notice how that feels. Look around you and name five things you can see. The idea is to bring your attention into the present moment, rather than being lost in your thoughts.
3. Basic self-care: get at least 6 hours sleep a night, eat well, don’t go overboard with alcohol. Get some exercise. If you can’t get outside, there are some on-line exercise sessions popping up on the internet. If you can get outside, do; even standing outside your front door and noticing the clouds, the breeze etc can be very soothing.
4. Routine/structure: we all benefit psychologically from having some routine and structure to our days, so think about ways you can put some in place at home. Take it one day at a time and be open to changing things when you need to. Limit the time you spend taking in information about Coronavirus.
5. Connection: we’re wired to connect with other people, so self-isolation and distancing are challenging for us. However, as well as the traditional telephone, we have many on-line platforms to enable us to connect with each other. Make it a priority to keep in touch with others, and maybe even get back in touch with people you’ve lost contact with.
6. Kindness: give yourself a break and be as kind to yourself as you possibly can. Would you speak to your best friend the way you speak to yourself? Probably not! The bottom line is that we’re all mammals trying to get by in life and we all deserve to feel loved and supported.
Government support for workers, families and businesses
If you are struggling financially at this time please take time to see if any of these links will be of benefit.