Here we are… again. The third, some would say inevitable, lockdown is upon us, and it feels a little bit like stepping into a time warp. There’s no firm end date, but we’ve been warned it will last until mid February at least, and possibly even into March. Undeniably, it will be a challenge where mental health is concerned, especially when the cold and darkness already makes us feel bleak. Social interaction is being cut, triggering feelings of loneliness for many. Anxiety about the increasing spread of the virus is heightened, and the reintroduction for many of a permanent work-from-home routine can be tough.

So what can we do to preserve our mental wellbeing throughout these next few weeks? How can we make sure we don’t find ourselves overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety or stress?

We asked our Fegans’ counsellors about how they plan to do Lockdown 3.0 differently, based on the lessons they learned last year.

Leave the House Every Day

“I like to get out of the house everyday to either do some gardening, walk, play and train our puppy. It’s lovely to see how he responds so well to training! It’s all about me learning how to train him. Once I have the words, the right movement and timing, he picks it up soo quickly. Lovely to see and have that connection.”

“I am doing many things differently this time around! I used to go for walks without really looking around me. Now I stop and watch the birds and hug the trees and have a new appreciation of nature and I am also more observant .”

“I am lucky to live by the sea. It is a wonderful place for brisk/mindful walks in all weathers.”

Make Time for Yourself

“Not being too hard on ourselves when we are feeling low is key. Especially when there can be a bit of pressure to be super motivated and keep spirits up. Feelings are like waves. When we feel angry or sad imagining it like a wave that comes and retreats can be helpful, as well as having a good moan to a friend or family member. Putting on some rock music (the Prodigy can be a good one) and having a good old scream can also be a good release of pent up frustration.”

“I shall be getting out at the weekends. Last time because I was so stressed and consumed with working and home schooling it took me ages to unwind at the weekends so I just didn’t end up leaving the house.”

“Last time I did lots of cleaning, sorting, training, plus I work in a secure unit so that remained open. This time I am still working three days per week but I am going to think of things I have been meaning to do… use my sewing machine, do some online courses that are not work related and spend time catching up with people that I am missing.”

“I find mess really difficult when I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed so I am keeping my bedroom free from clutter, children’s toys and work.

I am making full use of my calm space by carving out 30 minutes every day whilst my husband takes over the bath routine which we would usually share. I have a scented candle, chocolate, a book to dip in and out of, I’ve downloaded some guided meditations and I have saved some 10 minute stretch and yoga videos.”

“In the summer lockdown, gardening really helped with my mental health. My garden is so tidy now that I really have nothing to do in it so I am going to try to read more in this lockdown and combine work books with some good fiction.

I am also not going to beat myself up if I have not been perfect and eaten half a Christmas cake or watched too much television. I am allowed to have bad days.”

Avoid Reading/Watching too Much News

“I think I’ll be limiting the amount of “news” that I watch/listen to, as most of it isn’t fact, just conjecture and generally not helpful to feeling positive. Also, I think the same would apply to social media (although I’m not on Facebook or Twitter anyway). 

Keeping connected with people who are important to you, (rather than 400 people you barely know on Facebook) albeit by phone/zoom/facetime. Making a regular slot can be helpful.”

Find New Ways to Have Fun

“My husband and I have been thinking of ‘new’ things this time round as motivation is low. One thing we decided to do is dressing up on Saturday/ Friday night as a ‘going out night’. Kids included. We get a take out or if we cook we get Prosecco and j2os for the kids. We also decided to do games with a couple of leagues running till the end of the month.”

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