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How to survive ‘Staying In’

Here's 7 super practical steps to help boost your mental health during lockdown from some of Kent’s best wellbeing experts

Whether you’re juggling working from home, keeping the kids occupied or worrying about loved ones life can feel pretty stressful right now. We’ve all had to rapidly adapt to a radical change in our way of living. As time goes on the challenges might feel greater and sometimes it can be hard to stay positive.

So we asked some of Kent’s best wellbeing experts – who specialise in everything from clinical psychology to wellbeing retreats – for their top tip on staying sane through the lockdown.

Here’s 7 super practical steps to help boost your wellbeing during this time:

1. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL

Dr Rachel Whatmough, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of The Tunbridge Wells Psychologist says:

Life is full of things we can’t control right now. Focusing on the unknowable’s like ‘when will lockdown end? is understandable, but unhelpful. Ruminating about what we can’t control increases our anxiety. Instead focus on what is within your control – your behaviour – because from that, our feelings and emotional states follow. 

So how? Keep to a routine and do daily breathing exercises to help break the habit of that future-focused, worrying mind. Gather attention to the physical sensations of the breath in the body. When the mind wonders, gently redirect to sensations of breathing.

Don’t dismiss your feelings. When facing a crisis, fear and anxiety are normal. While it can be helpful to remember the universality of these feelings – that everyone is suffering right now.

It’s also important not to dismiss your own struggles: ‘we are all in the same boat so I just need to get on with it’. We’re not all in the same boat, we are in different boats – sailing across the same stormy sea. Let’s be compassionate to the struggles of those around us, but also to our own individual challenges and feelings. thetunbridgewellspsychologist.co.uk

2. TRY THIS BREATHING TECHNIQUE

Caelia Butcher from Cinque Yoga who teaches yoga at Green Farm Spa Retreat, near Shadoxhurst, says:

Do not underestimate deep and rhythmic breathing techniques which can help to quieten your thoughts, slow your heart rate, and regulate your autonomic nervous system. Best of all, they can be done anywhere – in even the smallest space.

Try the ‘box’ or ‘square’ breath: breathe in for a count of five; hold for a count of five, breathe out for a count of five; hold for a count of five.

Using hand mudras such as the ‘Adi Mudra’ while breathing in this way can increase and stimulate oxygen flow to vital areas like the throat and head and increase the capacity of the lungs. To perform Adi Mudra, fold the thumb in towards the base of the little finger and wrap the fingers around it to form a fist. Rest your fists gently on your thighs with your palms facing down. greenfarmkent.co.uk

3. ADAPT & SET NEW GOALS

Dionne Reece, Founder of The Positive Mind, Psychotherapy and Counselling says:

Adapting and being flexible will allow us to not only survive the circumstances, but to thrive and find a positive way through.

Self-isolation and social distancing mean that we may find ourselves with lots of time on our hands to think – which can lead to a great deal of rumination. This means old anxieties, perhaps triggered by current events, may come to the fore. What is key, is to use this time constructively.

We are being forced to think about where we are in our lives, so we should consider this a time of consolidation and planning for the future and set new goals. Think about it, when do we ever get the chance to pause and properly reflect on where we are?

Our lives will undoubtedly change – and potentially for the better – and we should see this as a springboard to a fantastic future in which new opportunities may open up. Start brain-storming now. thepositivemind.co.uk

4. GET HELP IF NEEDED

Amanda Gardiner, founder of Reset Divorce Coaching says:

There will be many people already going through divorce and or separation (or considering it) for whom this virus is a clear stressor on top of an already horrible situation. Many will be forced to ‘stay home’ with a spouse they are separated from, others will have child contact concerns and challenges and yet other will be facing additional financial worries.

You can try to manage these by ‘shrinking the challenge’. Whatever your particular problem is, ask yourself ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ And then ‘If it did what would I do?’ and ‘How can I prevent it happening?’ Drill down until your problem seems smaller and more manageable. 

It is also worth avoiding confrontation. Try to keep the spotlight on any common ground you have with your ex (maybe your children or staying healthy). Consider putting disputes on hold for now, as arguments in the context of today’s surreal world can seem much graver and challenges may appear insurmountable. 

Finally, boost your mental strength and resilience by focussing on the future. This, like everything else, will pass. Try visualising how life will be then and look forward to it with every fibre of your being. 

Reset Divorce Coaching is offering mini coaching sessions at significantly reduced prices to help you through this challenging time. resetdivorcecoaching.co.uk

5. IMMUNE BOOSTING SMOOTHIE

Jennie Gough, Nutritionist & Eating Psychology Specialist says:

Avoid constant grazing by creating structure around when you’re going to eat (for most people this will be three meals and one snack) and plan what you’re going to eat. By planning ahead you free up mental energy and reduce the risk of making impulsive unhealthy choices.

Get enough sleep – tiredness increases your appetite and makes you more likely to reach for sugary foods to boost your energy.

Try and fill your diet with nutrients that support the immune system – so foods that include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, selenium and zinc.

Nuts and seeds are also a great choice for your immune system as they are high in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, selenium, vitamin E and zinc. The best choices are Brazil nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Try this Immune-Support Smoothie:

2 cups of spinach

1/2 cup frozen mixed berries

2 tbsp plain ‘live’ yoghurt 

1 banana

2 cups milk or almond milk

Add ingredients to a blender. Blend for 30 seconds then serve.

jenniegough.com

6. EASY OUTDOOR EXERCISES

Celebrity trainer, Kathryn Freeland, founder of Stede Court Kent’s exlusive luxury fitness and wellbeing retreat says:

Now, more than ever, we need to look after both our bodies and our minds. Make a routine and write lists of things to achieve. Make sure you get your one daily outdoor exercise that everyone is entitled to do.

Even if your outdoor space is tiny, stand in the fresh air, feel the sun on your face. And follow one of my easy exercise routines here. stedecourtprivatefitnessretreat.co.uk

7. FIND A PRACTICAL PROJECT

Style Confidante, Becky Leeson, founder of Becky’s Wardrobe, who offers everything from Wardrobe Edits to Outfit Building sessions says:

A tidy and organised wardrobe makes for a clear head and a sense of calm. Stuck indoors and with time on our hands having a wardrobe sort out will be cathartic and offer a little control in these chaotic times.

You have spent time curating your wardrobe, invest in yourself by understanding it and you will reap the benefits of organising it. It’s an emotional process and it’s okay to feel that way. 

Go for good hangers, clothes will hang better and look better. Order by category, when you can see what you have you can select clearly.

Don’t tackle the task of streamlining all your clothes at once, manage your categories into time slots over a couple of weeks.

Be strong, remove pieces you know you won’t wear again, if you need time to accept some emotional ties keep these pieces together and review a little later.

You will discover pieces you had forgotten about and you will feel a sense of achievement and inner happiness, believe me it’s liberating and it will boost your self esteem. beckyswardrobe.com

Find more ideas here

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