During periods of stress and anxiety caused by the Corvid-19 pandemic counsellors recommend that people should try and structure their day in a way that caters for the emotional and physical wellbeing of all members of their household. Some of the following suggestions may help you cope with the stresses associated with all household members being urged to stay at home.
1. Agree household ground rules and activity times that work for all members of the household.
These may include:
- Set mealtimes (including breakfast).
- An acceptable daytime dress code – not too restrictive, but not too ‘sloppy’ either.
- A set a time for daily household meetings where everyone (including children) can say what worked for them and what didn’t work – be flexible, listen to everyone and make changes in daily routines as appropriate.
- Creating separate work and play areas where possible.
- Sharing the household chores – even young children can help with the dusting!
- Sharing childcare especially if there are two adults working from home.
- Rotating ‘exercise’ times so that all household members are not forced to be together all the time.
- Creating household ‘get-together’ times away from screens – for example, card games, board games etc…
- Planning and doing household projects – in the home or in the garden (if you are lucky enough to have one).
- Learning new skills.
- Volunteering to shop for neighbours who are members of vulnerable groups.
2. Maintain communication with your friends and family
It is important to maintain personal contact with family and friends who are not part of your immediate household. For example:
- Telephoning elderly relatives and other vulnerable members of the family to help boost their morale.
- Use social networking services such as Facetime, WhatsApp, House party or Zoom on your mobile phone, tablet or laptop computer for group video chats, or to play games with your friends and family so that you can see them, even though they are not in the same place as you.
3. Avoid over exposure to television and social media
It is unhealthy to spend too much time looking at screens because overdosing on screen time encourages a sedentary lifestyle and can seriously affect physical and mental wellbeing. Ways to combat this include:
- Limit the number of reports about the impact of the coronavirus on the NHS and the UK economy that you watch – too much exposure to negative news items feeds negative thoughts.
- Limit video gaming time.
- Limit social media time.
4. Ring-fence some time every day for individual relaxation
Examples of useful relaxation techniques include:
- Yoga exercises.
- Meditation exercises.
- Listening to your favourite music without other distractions.
- Having a warm bath.
- Using one or more of apps such as: Aura, Headspace or Calm.
5. Ring-fence some time every day for exercise
Ensure that all members of the household get some enjoyable exercise for example:
- Walking, running or cycling during your permitted daily exercise while remembering to keep at least 2 metres between you and others who are engaged in similar activities nearby.
- Tune into Joe Wick’s exercise classes on YouTube
- Try using the Les Mills or Fiit apps.
6. Maintain set mealtimes and a balanced diet
Ideally this should include:
- 5 a day – a mixture of vegetables and fruit.
- Some food rich in omega 3 – mackerel, salmon, herrings, sardines.
- Caffeine in moderation.
- Some wholegrains.
- Some food that contains vitamin D such as egg yolks, meat, carrots, cereals, milk etc…. because vitamin D helps release serotonin, a happy hormone, into your body.
- Some treats to boost morale!
7. Working from home
- It is important to have set work times when other members of the household know that you must not be disturbed.
- Build in coffee, tea and lunch breaks when you leave your work area and can socialise with other members of the household, take your permitted exercise or fit in your childcare duties.
HSE’s guidance for home workers applies to all home workers: https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/workers/home.htm
IOSH has produce guidance for managing remote workers during the coronavirus outbreak: https://www.iosh.com/coronavirus/remoteworkers a remote worker guide: IOSH 2020 Coronavirus remote workers guide and a remote worker check list: IOSH Coronavirus remote workers checklist
DAR Consultants have produced some health and safety guidance for people working from home: DAR Working from home
8. Try to get a good night’s sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is difficult when you have health, financial and/or employment worries but it is important because sleep helps to improve your wellbeing and refreshes your mind. The following techniques may help you get a better night’s sleep:
- Keep to a regular bedtime.
- Ensure that your bedroom curtains/blinds do not allow light to into your bedroom.
- Reduce your exposure to caffeine, alcohol and blue light (no TV, mobile phone use etc…), for at least an hour, preferably two, before bedtime.
- Practice deep breathing exercises when you are in bed.
The following web sites have helpful sleep guidance:
9. Wellbeing and Mental Health Advice
Every Life Matters, have produced an excellent booklet with useful advice about coping with the coronavirus restrictions: COVID 19 Wellbeing & Mental Health Advice
IOSH has also produced guidance on managing mental health and wellbeing: May 2020 IOSH Covid19 – mitigating the effects your physical and mental wellbeing