Wellness tips for Quarrantine

We’ve all got different homelife set ups and however you’re managing being cooped up during lockdown, a small change to your routine or your mindset might be all it takes to improve your day.

Psychotherapist Roberta Musillo has compiled these tips for maintaining mental wellness during lockdown and with 25 suggestions to consider, at least one or two are bound to resonate. For example, have you got a self-care tool-kit? Has it got more than just chocolate and wine in it? How about taking some time to notice the good around you rather than being overwhelmed by the negative?


1. Stick to a routine
Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-­‐care.

2. Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have
Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Take the time to do a bath or a facial. Put on some bright colours. It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.

3. Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes
If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less travelled streets and avenues. If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows and blast the fan. It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits.

4. Find some time to move each day, again daily for at least thirty minutes
If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes, and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party!

5. Reach out to others, you guessed it, at least once daily for thirty minutes Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting; connect with other people to seek and provide support. Don’t forget to do this for your children as well. Set up virtual playdates with friends daily via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Kids, Zoom, etc; your kids miss their friends, too!

6. Stay hydrated and eat well
This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-­‐indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food. Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!

7. Develop a self-­‐care toolkit. This can look different for everyone
A lot of successful self-­‐ care strategies involve a sensory component (seven senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (comforting pressure). An idea for each: a soft blanket or stuffed animal, a hot chocolate, photos of vacations, comforting music, lavender or eucalyptus oil, a small swing or rocking chair, a weighted blanket. A journal, an inspirational book, or a mandala colouring book is wonderful, bubbles to blow or blowing watercolour on paper through a straw are visually appealing as well as work on controlled breath. Mint gum, ginger ale, frozen Starburst, ice packs, and cold are also good for anxiety regulation. For children, it is great to help them create a self-­‐regulation comfort box (often a shoe-­‐box or bin they can decorate) that they can use on the ready for first-­‐aid when overwhelmed.

8. Spend extra time playing with children
Children will rarely communicate how they are feeling, but will often make a bid for attention and communication through play. Don’t be surprised to see therapeutic themes of illness, doctor visits, and isolation play through. Understand that play is cathartic and helpful for children—it is how they process their world and problem solve, and there’s a lot they are seeing and experiencing in the now.

9. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and as much space as you can
A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone. Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best. It is important to move with grace through blow-­‐ups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.

10. Everyone find their own retreat space
Space is at a premium, particularly with city living. It is important that people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation. For children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed. You can make this place cosy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, beanbags, tents, and “forts”. It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.

11. Expect behavioural issues in children, and respond gently
We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next. Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns. Do not introduce major behavioural plans or consequences at this time—hold stable and focus on emotional connection.

12. Focus on safety and attachment
We are going to be living for a bit with the unprecedented demand of meeting all work deadlines, home-­‐schooling children, running a sterile household, and making a whole lot of entertainment in confinement. We can get wrapped up in meeting expectations in all domains, but we must remember that these are scary and unpredictable times for children. Focus on strengthening the connection through time spent following their lead, through physical touch, through play, through therapeutic books, and via verbal reassurances that you will be there for them in this time.

13. Lower expectations and practice Radical Self-­‐Acceptance
This idea is connected with #12. We are doing too many things in this moment, under fear and stress. This does not make a formula for excellence. Instead, give yourself what I and my colleagues call “Radical Self Acceptance”: accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or pushback. You cannot fail at this, there is no roadmap, no precedent for this, and we are all truly doing the best we can in an impossible situation.

14. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around children
One can find tons of information on COVID-­‐19 to consume, and it changes minute to minute. Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume (again 30 minutes tops, 2-­‐3 times daily). Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from children, they see and hear everything, and can become very frightened by what they hear.

15. Notice the good in the world, the helpers
There are also a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. It is important to counter-­‐balance the heavy information with the hopeful information.


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