There are a lot of things that you can do to ensure you're looking after your mental wellbeing. Some easy things you can do include:
going for a walk or run can help get rid of all that pent-up energy and can leave you feeling much calmer
hanging out with friends
taking some deep breaths and calming down - deep breathing can help to relax the body and calm you down
trying to avoid smoking, alcohol and caffeine
speaking to someone you trust about how you are feeling
getting some good sleep, as a lack of sleep can affect your general wellbeing
The HSE have some really good advice on your mental health, including where to find support and services. You can find all that information here
Getting enough sleep
Sleep is really important for your mental health and wellbeing. Most people need between 5 to 9 hours sleep a night. The ideal amount is 8 hours, but everyone is different.
We all need to look at our sleep pattern and habits. If you’re regularly struggling to get a good night’s sleep, there are a number of things you can do to improve it.
don’t have any drinks with caffeine in the afternoon
don’t smoke or drink alcohol before bed
go to bed and get up at the same time every day
avoid looking at any laptops, phones and other screens for an hour before bed
make sure your bedroom is completely dark
have some great advice on sleep and looking after your mental health.
Coping as a parent
Every parent finds parenting difficult. There can be days when it feels like everything is a struggle. Be kind to yourself and make time for yourself. Some of these tips might be helpful for you.
don't worry about maintaining the perfect home – cleaning can wait if you need a break
if you're having a difficult day, try to take a moment and start again
pick your battles – don't try to change everything
give your child the space to make mistakes and learn from them
take opportunities to socialise or relax – ask your partner or friends and family to help you free up some time for yourself
don't feel guilty for leaving your child with your chosen childminder – you know they are being well looked after
The HSE's website mychild.ie
is a great resource for more tips.
Connecting with others
Good relationships are hugely important for your mental health. It can take courage to meet new people but it can make a big difference to how you feel. You may need to think about whether you want to meet new people with similar interests or just give something back to your community or society.
Some of the following organisations can help you:
If you decide that you would like to get involved in volunteering but you are not sure exactly what you would like to do, then a good place to start is Volunteer Ireland. They can help you find what kind of volunteering suits you.
A Men’s Shed is a place where men are able to gather and work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in their own time and in the company of other men and where the primary objective is to advance the health and wellbeing of the participating men.
There are GAA clubs in every community. The Healthy Club project empowers clubs to deliver health and wellbeing information and programmes directly to their members and to the wider communities that they serve. Find out more here.
Creativity and your mental wellbeing
There is increasing evidence that the creative arts can contribute to promoting good health and improving quality of life for people of all ages. Being involved in creative activities can help us to connect with others or to learn new skills which are important ways we can look after our mental wellbeing.
When we talk about the arts, we include visual and performing arts, such as traditional craft, sculpture, digital art, text, dance, film, literature, music, singing, gardening and the culinary arts.
Getting involved with the arts can have powerful and lasting effects on health and there are many ways to engage in arts and improve your mental health.
See Creative Ireland
for more information on where to encounter creative arts in your community
Most of us are aware of the physical health risks of smoking, but research shows that smoking also affects your mental health. Quitting smoking can be hard and lots of smokers try to quit a number of times before they are successful.
If you have just given up recently you should know that it's normal to feel angry, low or anxious. Many people use cigarettes to cope with different emotions - such as smoking in a stressful situation. You also may have used cigarettes to block out your feelings. When you stop smoking it can be difficult to manage these feelings without a cigarette. Some tips you can try are:
focus on what is good about you and your life
try to turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts
take deep breaths
use the four Ds recommended by the QUIT programme
istract yourself by going for a walk or talking to somebody
elay until the urge passes
eep breathe 20 times
rink a glass of cold water
For more help follow the QUIT programme on Quit.ie
Think about your drinking
A lot of people find their mood improves when they cut down or stop drinking. This may come as a surprise, as it's common to feel that alcohol gives you a boost or relief.
Drinking, hangovers and poor sleep can reduce your energy and productivity. A break from alcohol can get you motivated to get things done.
It is always safest not to take drugs, as they can have a pretty big impact on your mental wellbeing, as well as your physical health. Drugs can affect different people in different ways, so it's important to make sure you know the facts.
from the HSE is a one stop shop where you can find out everything you need to know. It includes information on all type of drugs and their side-effects, both short term effects and the impact on your longer term health. The website has information for teens as well as parents. It can also point people to services for drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation, and family support services.
Covid -19 Home and Family
Adapting to being full time at home can be challenging, for all the family. Trying to balance working from home, with home schooling kids, to also becoming a chef, PE teacher, and filling the gaps of their friends, can take its toll. Here are a few simple tips to help your family get through this time.
Talking to Kids
When speaking to our children about Covid-19 staying calm is really important. While we need to be honest with our children we need to make sure to not frighten them. Remember children may be hearing the news on tv and radio and seeing news reports and so may be very concerned.
It’s important that they know that they can talk to you over any fears that they may have and that these fears are acknowledged.
Using child friendly resources to teach them about the coronavirus and steps that they can take to protect themselves will give them a sense of confidence and responsibility, and that they too have a part to play.
As we all adapt to this new situation it is very important that we maintain a structure on our day.
Depending on your circumstances you may need to be more creative with scheduling your working hours. Working from home and taking care of children is honours level multitasking and will need careful planning and sometimes creative solutions. Either way shaping a good routine and schedule will be key in making sure that all bases are covered.
This is especially important for our children. Plan your days or even weeks in advance to make sure everyone knows what they will be doing and when. It will also allow you to mark of times during the day when you are working and that the children will need to be a bit quieter.
Try to find your own space in the house to work. – While this is not always possible, it will help to keep a separation of work life from home life.
Try to schedule the kids screen/reading/nap times to the same time everyday so that you know you are available to work in that time.
Make sure to schedule breaks from work
Ensure you leave the house everyday
If your kids are not already home schooled the current situation could be a huge upheaval for them. Some simple planning can help them adjust to their new normal without too much disruption.
Keeping a schedule and a routine is key to smooth home schooling. Getting up and getting dressed at around the same time in the morning helps to set the tone for the rest of the day.
Planning what work needs to be done in advance will help in getting it all to run smoothly. It will also help kids to work better alone and avoid confusion.
Planning regular healthy snack and exercise breaks will help to maintain concentration and co-operation
Home schooling does not just have to be about school work. This time is a great opportunity to teach your children some wonderful life skills. Get them involved in housework, in food preparation, gardening and general chores around the house.
It is also important to incorporate reading and creative time into your daily routine.
Limit screen time – too much screen time can be detrimental to mood and behaviour. However a short amount daily can give some welcome relief to allow you to work or relax yourself. Making your kids earn their daily screen time, through completing their school work and household chores can be useful leverage to have also.
Now that more of our time will be spent at home, it is a great opportunity to get creative. Doing something creative can help improve your mood and help you to unwind. It can be something simple such as
Write a short story
Draw or paint
Learn a new song/instrument
Do an online dance class
Upcycle some old furniture
Cooking or Baking
Being creative with your children is also a lovely way to spend time together and boost your children’s confidence.
We are bombarded with information constantly through TV, radio and social media. It can become overwhelming for both you and your family. While it is important to keep up to date with the latest messages, it is also important to step away and take a breather. Schedule a time every day to check your social media, and the latest news. Relentless checking can lead to increased anxiety and stress. Misinformation and rumour can cause undue distress to both you and your children so make sure that you rely on trusted sources.
There are various things that can help you to switch off and help you relax.
Exercise - great to relieve stress and improve your mood
Practise relaxation techniques
Read a book
Do an online yoga class
Facetime a friend for a chat
Watch a funny film or TV show
Being around each other all the time, combined with worry over illness, children, money, or sick relatives, can increase stress levels and put a strain on relationships. We need to really take care of ourselves during this time to ensure that we don’t get overwhelmed and take it out on each other.
Try and find some quiet time for yourself each day, even if its just for a few minutes
Watch your alcohol intake
Make sure that you get enough sleep – being tired can make you very irritiable
Understand that your partner is probably having the same worries as you, and may prefer to deal with it in a different way
Make time to talk alone together about any fears or worries
If you are both at home, make sure both do their share of the housework/childcare
Stay connected to other family and friends via phone, or video calls
While we all love our children and families dearly, being around each other 24/7, especially if that is not your normal pattern, can be stressful and cause tensions to rise. To avoid daily battles, here are some simple tips to keep everyone on good terms.
Keep to a schedule and routine – Kids need to know what they will be doing next and when. It will help avoid confusion and reduce tantrums.
Understand that they might be anxious and fearful about the current situation. Talk to them, acknowledge their fears and reassure them.
Make sure they get enough sleep – its important that they go to bed around the same time as they would if they were still going to school.
Exercise – kids need fresh air and exercise. Not only for their physical health but their mental health also.
Make time for yourself everyday – even if its just a few minutes
Play with your children everyday – bad behaviour from a child can often be merely attention seeking. To a child, any attention, even negative attention is better than none at all. Get on the floor, make the lego, colour the picture, it will increase your bond and make some memories.
Parent positively – Its so easy for us to punish our children when they misbehave rather than reward them when they do good. Put the emphasis on the good behaviour. A hug and a kind word will be far more effective than punishment.
Let them make some of their own decisions. This will increase confidence, independence and let them learn from mistakes.
Pick your battles – sometimes you need to let it slide.