Balancing the demands of motherhood has never been easy. But just when you thought life was getting a bit easier and some normality was resuming, BAM! COVID is back again with incredible force. This was expected to some degree once restrictions were lifted, but the impact on our overall wellbeing is significant. Anxieties are on the rise again; concerns persist around job security and peoples resolve is being tested. And, with Covid-19 forcing many mothers to be an employee, parent and teacher all at once, many are having a hard time keeping it all together.
Never has there been a more important time to be united in all that we do, to be kind to each other and to focus on taking care of ourselves and our families.
Practical tips to help you and your family cope during the pandemic
1. Ask yourself what worked for you last time?
When the first wave of COVID first struck, how did you handle it? Did you simplify things? In our house, I scheduled in my regular exercise, planned out the educational activities I wanted to achieve each morning, joined Hello Fresh to lessen the pressure of meal planning and made sure we were all eating well.
So this time ask yourself how can you revisit those strategies and focus on the things you CAN control and less about external negative forces.
2. Gratitude Practices
Gratitude has been scientifically proven to improve your brain and your life. It improves your energy levels, improves your sleep, mental strength and your self esteem.
Try writing down 3 things in the morning and 3 things at night. You are not dismissing the negative but instead focussing on the positive.
3. Look at your diary to create some form of structure.
When you’re stuck at home, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy routines. From not practicing proper hygiene to lying in bed longer, watching too much tv or putting off chores. So why not change things up, set a new schedule—and add some fun elements to it as well?
Also it can be good plan something to look forward to. If you have to reschedule it down the track because things are still looking uncertain, then so be it. But it’s good to look ahead and be excited about something. Maybe plan a local holidays? Book in a dinner with friends. Or maybe schedule in a fun day out at the Beach.
4. Do daily exercise both for your body and mind.
Research shows that exercise is one of the most powerful ways to reduce anxiety, thanks to the burst of endorphins you get after breaking a sweat. It might be downloading a new meditation or visualisation app, going for a walk everyday or even streaming a you tube workout. And challenge yourself to do something different each day.
In our interview with Clinical Psychologist Chris Barnes from the Gidget Foundation, she suggested using the Box Breathing technique which you can learn more about here.
5. Limit social media and your exposure to the news.
Ever heard of “Doomscrolling”?
Doomscrolling is the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. But checking your phone for an extra two hours every night or constantly watching the news won’t stop the apocalypse — but it could stop you from being psychologically prepared for it. It’s ok to watch the headlines in the morning to be aware of current events, but it’s another to keep checking it all day revisiting the same information.
6. Connect with other people any way you can.
Meet a friend for a coffee if you still can get out and about (you can use our helpful family friendly directory to find somewhere to go!) But if you can’t go out, use Zoom to do a mutual activity virtually. As a goal, make contact with one friend and one family member daily if you live alone and at least one person daily if you live with others.
Also, create a fun happy hour with your partner at the end of each day. Whether it’s by mixing up new cocktails to try together (either alcoholic or non-alcoholic) or simply setting some time aside to talk about things unrelated to COVID-19—like new books, movies you want to watch, or places you want to see—creating an impromptu party or social session can help you reconnect on a deeper level.
It can be reassuring to remember that even as we are all apart physically, we are all in this together.
7. Self Care
Self care is a great way for people to reduce stress. That’s why it’s important to encourage yourself, your partner, or child to find a method of self-care that works for them. Take a longer shower. Use some nice creams. Give yourself a mini facial at home. Read a book. Whatever it might look like, do something for yourself.
8. Teach kids how to give you a bit of space when you need it.
This one might take some time to get right, and can sometimes be easier said than done, but if you can teach your kids to be patient, even if it’s only for 5 minutes while you are able to calm yourself down and had your cup of tea, it will make a big difference to your day. Especially if you are really struggling with your anxiety.
9. Do something for someone else.
Researchers from the University of Zurich recently found a link between generosity and happiness. The study found that small (read: less time-consuming) acts of kindness had as much effect as large acts of kindness—and even simply promising to be charitable had an effect.
Need some inspo? Try writing an unexpected letter to a friend. Send some flowers to someone for no reason. Go down to the park and pick up some rubbish. Or even just send a simple text to a friend checking in on them for no reason other than you care.
Further information and resources
If you can’t find things to help calm you and keep you moving forward, there are several organisations that can help, including the Gidget Foundation, Beyond Blue and PANDA.
If you are also after further information about how to help your kids cope with COVID anxiety, The Conversation has published a great article about it here.