Whether you are a parent, a carer or you work in children’s services, looking after your own emotional wellbeing is of considerable importance.
The current situation is hard and uncertain, so we will all have strong feelings - like fear, sadness, anger and confusion. It is likely that we may feel overwhelmed if we are having to care for children at home, work from home or do different work from normal. These feelings are completely natural and not at all wrong. Due to the circumstances, it is expected that we will have strong feelings, which may affect our general sense of feeling well and happy. So, it is even more important that we should care for ourselves first and foremost because:
We can care for ourselves by taking regular short pauses during the day - at home or wherever we are working. And it is really important that we make some time and space for ourselves, so that we can take longer pauses to recharge for the next day.
Take regular, short 2-3 minute pauses as often as you can throughout the day, to help you rest for a moment and reduce any tension:
Take a few deeper breaths than normal - a long slow in-breath through your nose and then open your mouth to breathe out with a sigh. Pay attention to your in-breath, all the way in - and your out-breath, all the way out. Feel a sense of letting go on the out-breath.
Spend a moment feeling your feet on the ground - notice any sensations like tingling or heat or cold. Then notice if you are holding any part of your body tightly, like your hands, jaw, shoulders, neck or abdomen. If you are, breathe into that area and let go on the out-breath.
You may not feel like smiling, but doing it will automatically relax tension in your body - and it will probably lighten up someone else’s day if they see you.
Take notice of one thing you can be grateful for, right now in this moment, for example help from others, your comfy seat, the taste of tea or coffee, a message from a friend, autumn leaves.
Make special time, ideally every day, to recharge yourself. You are very important. If you can sleep as much as possible, do that. Here are some other scientifically proven ways to help you feel calmer, happier and stronger.
The following 5 practices have been shown to be the top most important things we can do to look after our emotional wellbeing, but it’s important that you practice them in a way that feels easy and good for you.
Take notice of what’s happening around you or within your body right now. You may want to listen to a relaxation or meditation app such as Headspace, Calm or Insight Timer for a few minutes. Or you could listen to the birds singing or really savour your cup of tea or coffee, or your meal.
Move your body in some way that is easy and makes you feel good - you may want to take a walk outside if you can do so safely, dance to your favourite music, or run up and down some stairs.
Connect positively with someone - you may want to talk to someone, or phone or text a person who cares about you, whom you know will lift your spirits and make you smile. Don’t be afraid to reach out to talk to people if you need to talk - they will feel good that they can help you, which will be good for them too.
Give something simple and easy to light up another person’s moment and to make you feel good too - you may want to smile or give a compliment to someone. The best gift you can give is your full attention, so you could spend time with a person in your household or make a call to someone and really listen to how they’re feeling.
Find something new that you can try out that isn’t stressful for you - you may want to try out a new recipe, listen to a new piece of music or learn a new game.
We all have a unique set of character strengths which make up who we are and how we relate to others. Focusing on your strengths as much as possible will boost your sense of ease.
You can find out what your greatest strengths are by filling in this survey:
Write down your top 5 strengths and carry them around with you to remind yourself what’s most important to you and how amazing you are.
Think about and ideally write down 3 good things at the end of each day, for example:
Doing this helps you re-focus on good things, rather than on the difficult things, which tend to stick like velcro in your mind. You can get apps such as ‘three good things’ to help you with this or you can use pen and paper.
Crying and laughter are both really good de-stressors because of the way they naturally relax our bodies. Don’t feel you are not coping if you cry - it’s a really good way of coping. Find ways to laugh as much as you can.
We have produced a daily checklist for looking after ourselves during COVID-19 (pdf), which you can download and print.
Our COVID-19 websites and resources page has links to other sources of support for mental health and wellbeing, for children, young people and adults.