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Looking after mind, body and spirit during these times

One of our Parent Champions shares what has helped her and her family during the coronavirus crisis.

I wanted to share what has helped me with the changes that have happened since the start of the coronavirus. I have two sons who are three and eleven years old, so they both need very different things. When lockdown started, I was fine and relaxed about it. I accepted it and took each day as it came. However, I soon felt like my mind was being fed with lots of negative news stories. It flooded my thinking. Now we manage that more as a family, it’s given us less negativity and more clarity.

For me, all aspects of being human – mind, body, spirit and environment – are interconnected and shape my experience. We need to tend to all these parts of our lives.  So, how can we do this at this time?

  1. Mind: To make sure my mind is happy and clear, I have a weekly timetable giving structure to our days. It gives me goals and it means that I don’t get stressed or confused. As a family, we don’t follow it to the letter, but there is something nice about having it there as a safety net. I’ve also created a star chart for my boys, which they really enjoy. They have been a ‘creativity star’, ‘determined star’ and ‘patient star’! Drawing a gratitude bucket, and writing or drawing on it the things we are grateful for, is great too. I have also filled a jar with 101 different activities (see picture above!), and my sons enjoy choosing a couple each day – like painting rainbows, making slime, baking, and walks outside in the woods looking for the Gruffalo.

  2. Body: We do those things which we enjoy, and which release those ‘feel good’ chemicals in the body that help calm the nervous system. Ours include exercise, hugs, dancing, singing, kindness, yoga, meditation, and fun games. I do miss my Zumba class, so I use online recordings of Zumba and yoga, running around the garden and dancing to favourite songs. I’ve also been drinking lots more water, going to bed earlier and taking rests during the day if I need them (for example when my three-year-old was playing in the garden, I lay there for 30 minutes doing nothing!) We go on lovely walks and I benefit from the energy in nature.

  3. Spirit: Seeing and being part of some of the fabulous connections happening online has really helped lift our spirits, and helped with a sense of belonging. I’ve been attending an online singalong group, which we all really enjoy. I’ve taken a relaxed approach with home schooling and focused on things we enjoy – sleeping outside in the playhouse, planting sunflowers, writing a journal, and online classes we can do together. We’ve also been looking at what we can do for our neighbours. When I go to the shops, I smile at people – because social distancing doesn’t mean having no connection at all. I’ve also been doing a lot of inner smiles to myself!

  4. Environment: I'm using one of our rooms as a sort of classroom/play room, with lots of uplifting images and my boys’ star charts. It has sensory items and a ‘calm corner’. Outside, we’ve planted some seeds in pots, such as sunflowers, cauliflowers and cress – anything I could find. The seeds were out of date, but they’re actually growing!

It helps to keep asking myself what I can say, do or think that will bring benefit to me. Kindness, compassion and acceptance gives me a more positive sense of self. It’s when I move away from this that I start to feel uncomfortable or unstable. When emotions like anger, worry or sadness sweep in, I re-focus my attention on the present to become grounded again. And self-compassion – speaking to myself in the way a good friend would, so that I comfort myself with kind words.

If you are a parent or carer and looking for mental health support at this time you can visit our website for advice and resources.