Avoiding mental breakdown during lock-down

Looking after yourself and your mental health while working from home, doing homeschooling, looking after your family at the same time and not being able to meet family and friends may have sounded like a movie plot or a horrid nightmare only a few weeks ago.

For a lot of people this is now their new reality. And they are considered the lucky ones, grateful to still have a job in comparison to the many who have lost theirs. We are all having to adjust massively to this ‘new normal’ and to somehow make it work. For some people this will be easier than others, depending on their personality, level of resilience and resourcefulness as well as their attitude in general.

With so much uncertainty, worry and fear around it is very easy to go down a spiral of negativity and despair, but that’s the last thing we need at the moment. Now that the shock of the lock-down is gone and people are at the stage of acceptance, searching for the best way forward for them and their family, it is absolutely crucial to look after ourselves and our mental health in order to be as resourceful and creative as possible.

In a household full of people needing attention, that in itself can be a challenge for many. Nipping a few minutes of lone time could feel like winning the lottery sometimes. In order to recharge our batteries fully though, we need to create an environment that makes us feel good, rather than low or overwhelmed. Here are some tips that may be helpful in order to bring some calm and balance in your day.

Plan your day the evening before. Whether you are working or not, having a plan and knowing what it is that you want to achieve during the next day can be very useful and makes you feel in control. In a situation where there is so much that is out of our control, a plan is a good thing to have. Without one, it can sometimes feel like you’ve done nothing (even if you have) and the day just goes by and blends with the next. Instead, when you know what you are working towards, you will have a certain feeling of achievement at the end and a measure of how you have progressed.

Schedule in some ‘me’ time. Personally, I find this extremely helpful. It allows me to just be, to focus, to fuel my mind with positive thoughts, to remind myself of what I am grateful for. I choose to do this in the morning before everyone else is up, enjoying my coffee on the balcony, absorbing the sunshine and enjoying the peace and quiet. I would literally close my eyes and mentally take myself back to a place I’d love to be right now. If you are a ‘feeler’, it’s the feelings that you felt then, that will come back. If your are more visual it could be the whole scenery that you can bring back. This is called anchoring. The point is that by bringing a powerful, positive feeling at the beginning of the day, you will not only feel great, but start the day on the right foot.

Let go of perfect. Give yourself permission to enjoy ‘good enough’. Aiming to be the perfect parent, partner, person only puts extra pressure on yourself right now. Ask yourself the question ‘When is good enough, good enough?’. As long as you and your family are well and everyone feels the love, does it matter that the house is not as spotless as it could be or your child watches a few minute of cartoons while you are attending a virtual meeting, probably not. Don’t make it even harder for yourself, let go of the need for perfectionism.

Focus on what you want more of, not what you don’t want. When we are in our faces all the time, it may be easy to get affected by otherwise small things. Listen more, instead of being quick to judge, focus on what the other person did well and what qualities/strengths they have that you are grateful for. Many families are managed on the basis of crises, moods and quick fixes, not on sound principles. Symptoms surface when stress and pressure amount. People become critical and overreact. Sitting down and thinking about/writing down your family’s ‘core’, shared vision and values, gives unity to the family as well as direction. That in itself gives a feeling of security and certainty, because the core of the family is changeless.

Fuel your mind and body regularly. Do anything that brings the feel good factor. Listen to your favorite music while you do your daily chores. Do some physical activity every day, even if it’s in the form of dancing not a proper workout. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Indulge in your hobby. Challenge yourself to learn something new each day. Laugh, because laughter is the cheapest form of therapy there is. And give your loved ones a hug more often. Just hold them and relax, we are in this together.

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