Helpful advice for parent and carer wellbeing during the current shutdown

These are challenging times, and are hard for most of us. As well as taking care of your children or the children and young people in your care, it is also important to take care of your own health and wellbeing.

Children and young people react, in part, to what they see from the adults around them. When you deal with situations calmly and confidently, children feel safer and reassured. These may be hard times for you - you may feel bored, frustrated, lonely or scared. You may also feel low, worried or anxious, or concerned about your finances, your health or the health of those you love. You may worry about your children’s wellbeing and how best to support and take care of them.

It's important to remember that it is OK to feel this way - these are challenging times, everyone is struggling, and everyone reacts differently. Remember, this situation is temporary and, for most of us, these difficult feelings will pass.

Staying at home may be difficult, but you are helping to protect yourself and others. Visit this website for advice during these challenging times. We also suggest the following tips to support you:

What can help your health and wellbeing during coronavirus

  1. Stay connected with others: Keeping in touch with people you love and trust is important for your mental wellbeing. Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family via telephone, video calls or social media instead of meeting in person – whether it’s people you normally see often, or connecting with old friends.
  2. Help and support others: Think about how you could help those around you – it could make a big difference to them and can make you feel better too. Could you message a friend or family member nearby? Are there community groups that you could join to support others locally? Remember it’s important to do this in line with guidance on coronavirus to keep you and others safe. And try to accept other people’s concerns, worries or behaviours.
  3. Talk about your worries: It is quite normal to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember that this is a difficult time for everyone, and sharing how you are feeling with family and friends can help them too. You could also share ideas of how you are coping with family and friends – this will help them. If you don’t feel able to talk with friends about your feelings, there are people you can speak to via NHS and Government recommended helplines - find out more.
  4. Look after your physical wellbeing: Your physical health has a big impact on how you are feeling emotionally and mentally. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour, which in turn can make you feel worse. Try to eat regular, healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise -there are lots of exercise websites and where possible take a walk outside once a day, or do some gardening if you have a garden. Try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs.
  5. Look after your sleep: Feeling anxious or worried can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough. Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns and keep good sleep hygiene practices – like avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment, see our sleep resources on this webpage.
  6. Try to manage difficult feelings: Many people find the constant news about coronavirus scary and distressing. Remember that being worried about the coronavirus outbreak is perfectly normal. However, you may experience such intense anxiety that it becomes a problem that affects your day-to-day life. Try to focus on the things you can control and make sure you get information from safe and trusted sources. Try some of the tips on managing anxiety. Remember that doing things that you enjoy will help you keep things in perspective and give you a break from worrying.
  7. Manage your media and information intake: 24-hour news and constant social media updates can make you more worried. Limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to media coverage of the outbreak. It may help to only check the news at set times or limiting to a couple of times a day.
  8. Get the facts: Get your information from trusted sources, such as GOV.UK, or the NHS website, and fact check information that you get from newsfeeds, social media or from other people. Think about how possibly inaccurate information could affect others too - try not to share information without fact checking against trusted sources.
  9. Stick to routines: Life is changing for us all for a while. Whether you are staying at home or social distancing, your routines will be disrupted. Think about how you can adapt and create positive new routines – try to engage in useful activities (such as cleaning, cooking, gardening or exercise), meaningful activities (such as reading, watching TV or calling a friend) and playful activities (games, hobbies, music) and exercise. You might find it helpful to write a plan for your day or your week. Stick to regular mealtimes and bedtimes; get up at a regular time. Try and change activities throughout the day, in predictable ways. Routines give us a sense of regularity, predictability and help us feel normal and safe. It helps our children too.
  10. Do things you enjoy: When you are anxious or low you may not do the things you enjoy as much. Focus on your favourite hobby or learn something new. Doing things you enjoy will lift your mood and help you relax and worry less - watch a film; listen to music; do puzzles and creative activities; bake; sew; knit; read; do gardening; exercise; dance, or chat to friends online. This might also be the time to do the things you have put off, or even learn something new (use the internet to help you with this). If you can’t do the things you normally enjoy because you are staying at home, try to think about how you could adapt them. There are lots of free courses online and people are coming up with innovative online solutions like online pub quizzes, streamed live music concerts, dance classes and exercise classes. The Chatterpack blog has lots of ideas of things to do during the period of social distancing.
  11. Keep your mind active: Read, write, play games, do crossword puzzles, Sudoku, jigsaws or drawing and painting. Find something that works for you.
  12. Take time to relax and focus on the present: This can help with difficult emotions, worries about the future, and can improve wellbeing. Relaxation and deep breathing techniques can help you keep calm. Enjoying moments like a child’s smile; a funny message from a friend; the smell of nice coffee; the feel of sun on your skin; a kind action – these lift your spirits. Safe Hands Thinking Minds is a helpful website to help you with some ideas of ways to relax and manage stress.
  13. If you can, get outside once a day, or bring nature in: Spending time in green spaces can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. If you can’t get outside, you can try to get these positive effects by spending time with the windows open to let in fresh air, arranging space to sit and see a nice view (if possible) and get some natural sunlight, or get out into the garden if you can. Remember that social distancing guidelines enable you to go outside to exercise once a day, as long as you keep two metres apart from others.
  14. Plan practical things: Work out how you can get any household supplies you need. You could try asking neighbours or family friends, or find a delivery service. Continue accessing treatment and support for any existing physical or mental health problems where possible. Let services know you are staying at home, and discuss how to continue receiving support. If you need regular medicine, order repeat prescriptions by phone, or online via your GP practice website or the NHS app. You can also ask your pharmacy about getting your medicine delivered, or ask someone else to collect it for you. If you support others, by visiting them regularly, think about who can help while you are staying at home.
  15. Speak to your mental health team: If you're already receiving mental health care, contact your mental health team to discuss how care will continue, and to update safety/care plans.