Support During Lockdown
Advice on managing lockdown:
In terms of basic advice it would be helpful for students keeping routines as much as possible, putting things away when they have finished work so they have a good separation between work and rest spaces, making sure they take regular breaks and acknowledging their achievements. It is important to acknowledge that the situation is really tough, and that it is ok to struggle and find it difficult – and it is also ok to ask for help.
In terms of emotional challenges, it is important to think about the practice of self care. This means staying active, getting outside each day, finding ways to be creative, finding ways to connect with others and stay engaged.
Human beings are not designed to live under sustained stress, and the continued pressure many students are under will be affecting the way their brains work. Understanding this may be helpful for some students – the brain reacts in one of three ways to a stressor. When the first two – fight/flight are not possible, then often the brain resorts to ‘freeze/collapse’ instead. We end up with the release of hormones in our bodies (cortisol) that affect the way we feel. We can help our brains to stop making cortisol in a variety of ways:
1. Breathing exercises (maybe incorporating some mindfulness and breathing at the beginning and end of a day could help. Some apps like Calm and Headspace are offering their services for free at the moment).
2. Movement – this can be anything, walking, dancing, yoga – just getting the body moving.
3. Creativity – giving our brains space to do something creative, anything works! Whatever you enjoy (e.g. drawing, painting, photography, dance).
4. Connection – trying to make meaningful connections with others is vital, maybe text a friend or organize a zoom call, or play a game with family.
5. Laughter – a real belly laugh tells the brain that we are safe and can be great to help manage stress. Maybe watch your favorite comedy or find other fun and safe ways to make yourself laugh. (My children have started a ‘prank war’ at home!)
6. Hugs – not easy at the moment, but physical contact with others can change the way the brain works, so if you have someone at home who you can hug then do this!
ThinkNinja is a free app [https://www.healios.org.uk/services/thinkninja1]
Kooth: an anonymous online counselling/wellbeing service. It is open 365 days a year, currently from 12-10pm weekdays and 6-10 weekends (they are currently reviewing their opening hours). [https://www.kooth.com/] They also have an online blogging/journaling function!
Shout: a 24 hour crisis text service (text P2B text to 85258)
https://beheadstrong.uk offers young people information about looking after your mental and emotional wellbeing.
https://www.place2be.org.uk/page/get-urgent-help/ if you are in crisis
https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/self-care/ - to help you find a way to practice good self care
https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/looking-after-yourself/coronavirus-and-mental-health/ - offers general advice on helping young people manage through this difficult time.
Practical advice for to students/teachers
Challenge yourself to stay in the present. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control. Apps that help with mindfulness include:
Headspace, who are offering their service for free at the moment -
Calm, who offer a free week, sign up here -
DARE; an app to help manage anxiety –
Talk to someone about how you are feeling
Whilst it is normal to feel worried, if you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and speak to someone you trust, whether that’s a friend, a family member, a teacher or a helpline.
Stick to your normal routine
With so much uncertainty in the news, sticking to your routine can really help maintain a sense of normality. You might want to add extra activities into your day that make you feel calm, but try to keep to your daily schedule as much as possible. Having a healthy routine can have a positive impact on your thoughts and feelings. This can include: eating healthy meals, physical exercise like walking, running or stretching, getting enough sleep, and doing things you enjoy.
Find things that help you feel calm
Like at any other time, it’s important that you are not only looking after your physical health, but your mental health too. Think about some activities that can help when you are feeling overwhelmed, like breathing techniques, writing down how you feel, playing music or talking to a friend. For some ideas, have a look at how you can make a self-soothe box, or these coping techniques. Often things that distract you will help ease feelings of anxiety but try to avoid turning to unhealthy stimulants for example too much screen time.
You might be asked by your school, college or workplace to stay at home for a period of time. If you are living at home, talk to your family about how this will work and share your feelings with them, if you can. Think about what you might want to do during this time, how you will stay connected and how you would prioritize your wellbeing. Planning might help reduce any anxiety or troubling thoughts.
Dealing with self-isolation
Think about who you can keep in contact with and how you can use apps such as WhatsApp and Zoom to talk to someone face to face. It is important that you talk to people you trust during this time and continue to stay connected.
Maintain your routine as much as possible by getting up in the morning and going to bed at the same time. Eating regular meals and staying hydrated will help also, as well as taking breaks throughout the day to talk to someone or do something that you enjoy. If it is possible, try activities in your home that get you moving, like yoga or dancing.
It is important during this time that you keep acknowledging how you are feeling and do this regularly. This could be by writing them down in a journal, talking to others, doing something creative, or practicing meditation. We know that things might continue to feel overwhelming or scary. It is good for you to talk about this where possible – know that you can say ‘I feel anxious about…’ whenever you need to, and as regularly as you need to.
You may find that you need extra support, so think about who you can turn to. It could be someone you know, or a helpline that can talk to you about how you might be feeling.
Helpline services available
Provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis (for older children)
If you need urgent help text P2B to 85258
Phone 0800 1111 (24 hours)
Chat 1-2-1 with a counsellor online
Phone 0808 808 4994 (24 hours)
24 hour confidential listening and support for anyone who needs it.
Phone 116 123 (24 hours)