I don’t know about you, but my emotional wellbeing has taken a strain lately. It’s been more than 100 days since the national lockdown was implemented in South Africa, due to the Covid-19 breakout. I’ve had anxiety, fear and sleepless nights where I can’t shut down from my thoughts or day.
Some of us are not only carrying our own emotions, but those of our children too, as it has not been an easy time for them either. We have all had to mourn the loss of our personal freedom and loss of normality and on the harsher side, some have lost income and family. This pandemic has been more horrific than I ever would have imagined.
Never being one to dwell on the negatives for too long, I thought I would share some tips on improving our emotional wellbeing during this time.
Find ways to switch off
I have been lucky enough to be working from home, but that also means that it becomes difficult to “switch-off” during the week. When I shared this in a recent Instagram post, I found that a lot of people were feeling the same way.
One way to get some peace is by putting your phone on do-not-distrub mode at certain parts of the day. I do this from about 6pm, so that I’m not interrupted by any calls or messages after hours. It’s family time; or “rush hour” as I call it – while we do bath time, dinner and bedtime.
On weekends, I take it to the next level and enable silent mode for most of the time. I find this ritual very peaceful, because I will only see notifications once I personally go in and look for them. If you would like to challenge yourself even further, you can simply put your phone away in a different room for a few hours. Some people are really good keeping their phones off completely, especially during the night; personally I’m not there yet.
Most people do not have a dedicated work space at home, but I do think it’s important not to work in your bedroom. I tried that for a few days, as my room has a lot of natural light, but I found that it was very invasive after some time and I battled to sleep. For your emotional wellbeing, I think it is important to separate your work and personal time.
Start a fun ritual with the kids
One thing we started doing is having “sleepovers” in the lounge on a Friday night (the kids, not me). It’s something fun and different for them to do and look forward to once a week. They pull in their mattresses from their rooms and watch a movie and spend the night in the lounge. Kinda reminds me of my childhood where my cousins and I would do that during the holidays (not out of choice at the time, but still fun anyway).
Just like us, our children are feeling real stress and emotions from the changes that have come out of not leaving the house or going to school. Give them something fun to look forward to at the end of the day or week, especially if you have very busy days with work piling up.
Spend time in the sun
This has become my new therapy, and not just because parts of my house are freezing. Whenever I’m able to, I try to take my lunch break with the kids outside. It actually took me a while to get to the point where I don’t feel guilty about taking tea and lunch breaks while I work from home.
Getting sufficient vitamin D will improve your mood, energy levels and help you sleep better at night (something I really need). The pro’s recommend that we spend 20 minutes a day in the sunlight and please remember that it’s still important to wear sunscreen in winter!
This time, could also include going for a family walk during the day or even working out and getting some fresh air, which are all great to relieve stress and improve emotions.
Creativity will mean different things for all of us, but it’s certainly a good way to get into some feel-good emotions. I got carried away helping the children with their artwork recently and it actually reminded me how much I love doing creative stuff; but somehow, I never make time for it.
When we are creative, we are in our “flow” – which is a space where more good things and ideas can grow. Make your creative time a priority, diarize it if need be.
* Cook a new meal or bake
* Journal or start a blog
* Sit in silence and daydream
* Colour-in with the kids
* Tackle a DIY project in the house
* Make a new vision board
* Research something you have been wanting to know or try and actually start trying it
* Take an online course
* Browse Pinterest
* Play music and dance
Carve out some personal time
What personal time you ask… This is something I have not had much of, so I get it! I feel like something or someone always needs me since I am always home. If it’s not work, then there’s the children’s school work, cooking or washing up that needs to be done. I actually have not been alone for more than 20 minutes at a time, and that’s not even every day. Having said that, I still feel it’s important for us to atleast try.
Lately “personal time” takes the form of a quick grocery run and even then I’m not switched off, as it does feel scary to be out during this time. This has exhausted me so much, as I really like to get lost in my own thoughts.
Your personal time is the time for you to just be. Enjoy your thoughts, take a long bath, take a nap, listen to a podcast, read a book or just rest your mind from worry. Self awareness is critical in order to identify and have a handle on your emotions.
If you have older kids, your personal time, could be when they are reading, watching TV, sleeping or doing some school work. I currently have a baby who hates sleep and loves hanging on me. Haha. For now, I take a few minutes before bed to introspect and try to relax but I’m a huge advocate for time alone.
Positive self talk
No doubt, we are all scared and emotionally burnt out to some degree, so the way we talk to ourselves and the thoughts we allow to continue flowing in our minds are so important to monitor.
It’s easy to alway think of the worst-case-scenario, but these are the thoughts that we need to learn to control; or risk them controlling us. Negative thoughts will never benefit you. To date, you have survived all of your bad days, so believe that you will be able to get through whatever hardships may lie ahead of you. You WILL make it.
* Talk about what’s stressing you and ask for help when you need it
* Write down positive affirmations
* Read uplifting text messages you’ve received in the past
* Tell yourself it’s okay to have bad days
* Surround yourself with people who bring you up and make you feel good
* Remind yourself you are worthy of good things
My final words of advice when it comes to improving your emotional wellbeing during this time, is that you should not be afraid to open up and be vulnerable with others. You never have to suffer alone or in silence. You will be amazed at the support you will receive once you open yourself up for others to help you.
If you don’t have someone to talk to, reach out to the professionals, such as the South African Depression and Anxiety Group: 24hr Helpline 0800 456 789
How are you feeling right now Mama? Would love to hear how you are taking care of your emotional wellbeing.
Modern Zulu Mom