Lockdown is affecting our families, adults and children alike. It is hard not to feel anxious and also to start suffering from cabin fever. So how do you keep your spirits up during week 8 of lockdown and beyond?
Unfortunately, we have to face the reality that however much we want to protect our loved ones we can’t make the threat go away. All we can do is follow the guidance and stay safe. What we can do is boost our resilience and those of other family members, finding ways to keep everyone’s spirits up.
Here are 8 tips to help you and your family manage anxiety, reduce cabin fever and keep your spirits up with some resources to help.
Exercise and Nutrition
Exercise is very important for both mental and physical health. Put your face mask, keep social distancing, and go for an hour somewhere green where the kids can expend some energy. You could have a go at Joe Wicks ‘Seven days of sweat’ workout. Perhaps you could share the experience with a group of friends and all go online at the same time. You’ll get fitter and socialise at the same time.
Make sure your family eat healthily. Fruit and vegetables are good for immune system so have plenty.
If you need it make ‘worry appointments’
Some of us are born worriers; suggestions of optimism only increase anxiety. If this is you, try to limit it so worry doesn’t become overwhelming. A trusted technique is ‘allowing’ yourself a specific allotted time (treat it as a diary appointment) to worry as much as you like for say 15-30 minutes. You can write them down if that is helpful. You could also set up time limited phone calls with a friend who’s also a worrier. When your time is up STOP.
Start projects that take a while
Starting projects suggests an optimism about the future that becomes self-reinforcing. Uncertainty can paralyse us. By pro-actively starting a project we can break out of paralysis. Are there things that family members have talked about doing but not started? Once you start you can admire your handiwork at the end of the day. Everyone will feel they are achieving something and moving forward.
The aim is to replace anxiety with optimism. A great science-based resource with ideas about how to do this is ‘Positran’s Positive Action Cards’ to help you improve your wellbeing.
Get everyone to count their blessings
At the end of each day, identify three good things that have happened during the day and write them down. Encourage each family member to do this. It will help train your brains to look for the positives in difficult times so it’s an excellent habit for kids to get into.
You can find lots of similar proven exercises in Vanessa Keys excellent book: 10 keys to happier living.
Experience Appreciative Living
Appreciative Living is all about seeing and seeking out the best of life. Despite everything, we can still appreciate the things that make life worth living. Developing an appreciative eye takes practice but the benefit to our health, well-being, and ability to remain pro-active in the face of threat, in fact to our resilience, is beyond question.
Jackie Kelm, the guru of Appreciative Living has some great videos on YouTube. You might also like the Appreciative Inquiry card pack, with pictures, quotes and questions.
Keep in touch with friends
Social contact is very important for wellbeing. I suggest you try to speak to someone outside your home daily. Talk to friends about their plans for the day and what they are hoping to achieve during lockdown. You’ll help each other see positive aspects of the situation for you and your families.
Pro-actively managing your news feed and other anxiety amplifiers
We are being offered 24-hour, worldwide updates. Following this minute-by-minute is not likely to do you or your children any good. You can’t influence things other than by taking the sensible precautions we’ve all been told about. So, take positive control and limit your daily diet.
What we want to do is replace anxiety with optimism for everyone in the family. Two great resources with ideas about how to do this are ‘Happy Brain Science’s Happiness at Work’ game and again ‘Positran’s Positive Action Cards’. The positive action cards, also science-based, give easy to follow instructions for over sixty ways to increase your well-being.
Find something to laugh over
There is lots of evidence that laughing is good for our immune system and is a great coping mechanism in difficult times. What do you and your kids find funny? Whatever your type of humour find more of it to share. When I need a chuckle I watch Tripp and Tyler: A Conference Call in Real Life on YouTube.
We hope you found these tips on how to keep your spirits up useful. Remember, we are all in this together!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Sarah Lewis C.Psychol., is the principal psychologist at Appreciating Change, a strengths-based psychological consultancy that is committed to applying well-researched positive psychology ideas and interventions to workplace challenges and opportunities at an individual, team or whole organization level.
Sarah is an associated fellow of the British Psychological Society, a principal member of the Association of Business Psychologists, and a member of the International Positive Psychology Association.
Sarah is an acknowledged Appreciative Inquiry and Positive Psychology expert, a regular conference presenter and author of ‘Positive Psychology at Work’ (Wiley), Positive Psychology and Change (Wiley), ‘Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management’ (KoganPage) and Positive Psychology in Business (Pavilion).
She also collects great positive psychology resources to support consultants, trainers and coaches in their work which are sold through the Positive Psychology online shop. https://www.thepositivepsychologyshop.com/