Mental Health Awareness Week has sparked off a wave truly inspirational fundraising efforts the length and breadth of the country. From Sir Captain Tom Moore’s garden Odyssey to the colourful NHS rainbow displays dotted in our front windows, we’ve been truly touched by your inspiring efforts and the power of community spirit everyone has shown.

All of these efforts show just how important the issue of mental health has become. But despite increased awareness, many of us struggle to find the time to actually practice a bit of self-care. We all need some well-earned TLC from time-to-time, and this is particularly the case in lockdown, where many of us will be grappling with feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Should you or your child be battling the lockdown blues, we wanted to share a few useful tips to help you cope with feelings of anxiety and isolation during the lockdown.

Enabling virtual conversations

Whilst many teens won’t need any help getting themselves set up on video calling platforms, many young children will not have the technical know-how to virtually connect with their friends. Why not set up a virtual play date for your children by penciling in slots with other parents? It’s a great way of tackling feelings of isolation while simultaneously maintaining supervised contact – not to mention giving them something to look forward to during the week! Many video calling apps will come with enhanced privacy settings that enable you to set up passwords or lock the virtual meeting room, so once the call is up and running the parents can sit back and relax.

Vocalising negative feelings

With all the disruption caused by the Covid-19 crisis, it’s only natural for children and young people to feel unsettled at this time and for some, the current pandemic might trigger existing anxieties. It’s important children know it’s normal to feel anxiety in response to a scary situation, and sharing those concerns is a great first step towards keeping those emotions in check.

The key is finding a useful way to manage it; whilst ‘sweating it out’ with regular exercise might be the best option for some, younger children might benefit more from writing down their feelings in a journal or drawing a picture of themselves and a loved one they are missing.

Keep structured

In the absence of a consistent school routine, parents may find motivating their children to get up and going can be particularly tricky. Adding an element of structure to your day doesn’t mean maintaining a rigid, military lifestyle; instead, setting out a few milestones in your or your child’s day, be it a morning walk or a designated reading time, can help ensure the members of your household keep their minds stimulated and unwanted worries at bay.

Designating your own space

Whist spending quality time with the family can often help alleviate feelings of anxiety and isolation, being unable to access private space can be an additional cause of stress. To guarantee everyone has their own space where they can speak to friends or practice a hobby without being disrupted, it might be useful to set out a rough schedule, coming together as a family to decide who would like to spend time in a certain space at a given time.

Have you and your family done something special for Mental Health Awareness Week? It would be great to hear what you do to keep your children’s minds occupied and spirits lifted.

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