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  • Jan Ockendon

My five tips for surviving the current situation.

1) Try getting up 30 minutes earlier than everyone else. Have a routine of things that you do every day which are helpful to your mental health. Maybe that is a gratitude diary which has really helped me to think about all those things around me that are good. Or maybe 30 minutes to yourself to have a hot cuppa and a read. Whatever you choose be consistent, if you don’t feel you can commit to the same thing every day that’s fine. Have a rota of things you do on different days and mark that in your diary or planner.

2) Get out into that fresh air every day. Even if you live in a built up area get all of you bundled up and go for a walk. Find some green space and see what you can find, there are still interesting things to see in the winter. Most cities have some green space and if you get to it and look you will find enough things to watch or listen to or investigate to call it a science lesson. Nature has been proven to have a beneficial effect on the stress levels and the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol in consistent and large amounts not only has a detrimental effect to mental health it also contributes to some physical health challenges too including challenging our immune system.

3) Find mindfulness. Mindfulness is a Buddhist concept, it has been used for many years and really helps mental wellbeing. Mindfulness is essentially the art of being present in the moment you are living in. Being able to take in what is going on around you and inside you without feeling the need to react to it or be overwhelmed by it. It can lead to a greater awareness of how we are feeling mentally and physically and give us a framework to hold those feelings. There are several mindfulness apps available with guided meditations and programmes to get involved in. Some of the meditations are very short so even if you have children there will be something you can engage in. Calm and Headspace both have children’s sections with meditation for children or sleep stories for children to help them get to sleep as well.

4) Get enough sleep. Sleep is important, it’s like a reboot for our bodies. We all know that lack of sleep can lead to us being grumpy and unproductive and that can increase our stress levels. One night of bad sleep is irritating but it won’t have too detrimental an effect but if that continues it can lead to more serious problems. It leads to brain fog and lack of concentration which in turn leads to an increased risk of accidents or injury wherever we are at home or as a road user. If it continues it can lead to potentially serious effects to our health such as obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure or even diabetes. Did you also know that getting enough sleep increases your sex drive? Maybe why new mums and dads can go off sex. How can you help increase your chances of getting a good nights sleep? Here are the top tips:-

· Have a consistent bedtime, our brains respond well to routine and it helps it to know when to start to wind down.

· Have a wind down routine. Doing the same things every night is a good way of signalling to your mind that it is time for bed. Maybe write a journal to get rid of the day or a to do list for tomorrow with anything that might need doing which you know will get stuck in your mind otherwise. Use soothing essential oils such as lavender or frankincense or a pillow spray containing these oils.

· Read a book. Turn off your tv, smart phone, computer or laptop. A book will help the mind settle whereas the HEV blue light we get from our screens is stimulating and can stop us from being able to get off to sleep.

· Have a warm bath. This brings a sense of general wellbeing but can also be soothing and soporific meaning we can sleep easier

· Use one of the previously mentioned mindfulness apps which have a sleep story or sleep cast to help to wind down and fall asleep. Trust me on this one they are wonderful.

5)Self Care. Make time to engage in something just for you.Have a list of things that you really like to do, whether that is knitting or some other craft activity or reading a book.Make sure that is part of every day, just like the mindfulness suggested earlier self care helps us to recharge our batteries in what has become a difficult time for a lot of people.It doesn’t really matter what it is you do as long as it is something you enjoy and find soul recharging.I would also say make sure you do not try to multi task while you are doing this, if you are cooking or baking leave your phone somewhere else.This is your time and if it is really important they will call you back and you can answer messages when you have had your time away from your busy life.If you keep a diary or planner try putting this time in there so you know that is your time and are not tempted to skip it for today. Writing it down makes it important and you are more

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