How to look after our mental health in a positive and fun way for all of the family

At the moment we do not have individual control of what is happening externally, however as a community we have 100 per cent control by doing what our Government and our health professionals are asking us to do. If we follow what we are asked to do then that is our best chance to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

However we are all having internal monologues and this in a lot of cases is causing us to be fearful, upset, angry, frustrated, sad, hurt, resentful, and anxious. We can only live for the moment, when we start to run the movie forward, for example, imagining the worst case scenario, that is when we start catastrophising. Each day brings a new story or an update on a previous one. We have to find ways for self-regulating; what I mean by this is ways in which we can stop ourselves feeling fearful and negative. We have two choices, either to act from fear or to act from love and possibility. Miracles can happen when we act from a place of love and possibility.

Humour

We have never had a better opportunity to become creative and do things that we would never dream of before. Ask yourself, what am I learning about myself during these times? What am I now doing differently that is working and that I will continue to do differently when life gets 'back to norma'?

Each morning when you get out of bed, ask yourself what kind good deed you can do today which will help a member of your family or a friend in order to make them laugh and feel better about themselves. That can be a text message, a helping hand cleaning the house, picking a really good movie which will make everyone in the family laugh, bring humour into some part of each day. Play board games, set silly challenges, play charades. Dress up in silly outfits and take family portraits which you can look back on and laugh in the not too distant future. Have different themes for each day of the week.

Daily routines

As part of your daily routine put aside a set time during the day for the following activities, these are just some suggestions, however it is time for you to get creative and add in some fun to your daily lives.

Monday: Compile a list of everyone’s favourite songs, play them really loud around the house.

Tuesday: Food, make a list of everyone’s favourite meal, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and choose one person to cook that meal each day for everyone.

Wednesday: Pick a funny movie and watch it together.

Thursday: Exercise, set challenges for all the family, skipping, jumping jacks, sit ups, have a balloon party. Take lots of photographs and videos during those fun times.

Friday: Play board games.

Saturday and Sunday: Tell your loved ones and friends how grateful you are to have them in your life right now. Face time extended family, cousins, grandparents, hearing your voice and seeing your face is an extremely comforting way to keep in contact with loved ones, especially now that we are all physical distancing.

Students: Ask for help

If you are struggling at the moment trying to cope with home schooling, get in touch with your teachers and do not be afraid to express how you are feeling. Do not see asking for help as a cry for help; see it as an opportunity for you to learn from someone else. The stresses that you are under at the moment will not last forever. You are not alone, many teenagers all over the world are in the same boat. Trust yourself that you will figure it out as you go along.

The effect of social media on anxiety

We need to limit the time we are on social media and especially all the notifications regarding the pandemic because, let’s face it, it is very frightening and is causing huge anxiety Our Government and medical professionals have warned us that a lot of what is being written on social media is inaccurate. I would suggest that you tune into national news bulletins no more than twice daily. Make a decision today to leave your phone down and do something else. Give your brain a chance to relax, go for a short walk, breath, I promise you that if you do this you are going to feel 100 per cent better.

It is far healthier to think out how all of this is affecting you rather than reading all of the negative reports. The reason that most of us are feeling anxious at the moment is that we are fearful of how we are going to cope if the worst happens. Make a list of all the supports you have right now should anything that you are currently fearful of happen. You will find out very quickly just how much support you actually have all around you.

A very good way of limiting our fears and getting focused is to write down how we are feeling every day. If this feeling is mostly negative and fearful, well this is very normal, acknowledge this and then look at what you can do to be more positive. For example, getting up every morning at the same time, getting dressed, putting a plan in place, and ticking off the different activities and chores as they happen. This will give you a sense of purpose which we now need more than ever as we are in “lockdown”.

If your emotions and feelings at the moment are fear, put your focus and attention on something else. Leave notes around the house to remind yourself of positive affirmations, for example, I am successful, I believe in myself, I feel great, I am so lucky, this is not going to last forever, or set your phone to ring at certain times to remind yourself to have more positive, empowering, thoughts.

You can also leave little positive notes for your loved ones at home, for example, “I love you”, “I was here”, “Have a great day”, Have a peaceful sleep”, “Good morning buddy”, leave them on a chair at the dinner table, beside their bed, on a mirror, this might seem silly but it will raise the vibrations of the person who reads them and it will make you and the person who reads them feel loved and appreciated.

Gratitude

Above all else, be grateful for all of the positive people you have in your life at the moment and all of the wonderful positive people we have in our country who go out to work every day to keep us safe. You have your parents/guardians, siblings (if you are not an only child ), teachers, friends you can connect with on social media. You have a roof over your head, food to eat, a bed to sleep in, we can take those things for granted.

Patricia Uí Fhlaithearta

 

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