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Coronavirus: How to survive a lockdown with your family

Fiona Gray

Fiona Gray

Thursday, 19th March 2020

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Coronavirus: How to survive a lockdown with your family

So, a lockdown with the family is looming. How do you deal with it? In the midst of Coronavirus, shifting perspectives can be essential. Quarantine and lockdown to kids might sound like an elongated snow day at first, but they can find themselves quickly feeling bored and trapped. Instead of seeing it as a quarantine, what if we were to reframe it as a summer holiday camp - say... Camp Corona. When kids go off to summer camps it is often incredibly fun, there are new rules and a new normal is created! Whether you’re reading this as a parent, a teen, a caregiver, a friend, or a housemate...here are some tips to maintain your mental health during this time.

So let’s introduce Camp Corona, which has a slightly different vibe to your usual Summer Camp...we are going to have to be intentional about creating a new way of being in this climate! Lots of events are being cancelled, things that we might normally love to do aren’t currently possible! Some people are going to be feeling more anxious, on edge, or get cabin fever! Here are some tips to have a successful Camp Corona (consider writing your own camp rules together as a family!)

Finding purpose and meaning!

COVID-19 is impacting all of us in different ways, bringing up different fears, anxieties, or feelings. In your family, there are likely a number of different experiences and concerns. It can be really important to create space to check in with what different people in your home are feeling. Once we have worked out what we are feeling, we can work out what we might need!

  • E.g. Someone might be feeling afraid and hopeless. For this person, it would be important to find ways to feel hopeful and useful….maybe it would involve going through their wardrobe and donating clothes, or sending a letter to a friend.
  • Someone else might be feeling bored and lonely, perhaps they might find it helpful to make a list of activities they like to do or don’t feel like they normally have time for!
    Paying attention to what you are needing, will be a good clue to the theme of your camp! In my house, some feelings were of disappointment around cancelled activities...so our camp theme has been based on fun and connection!

How long is a day?!

Boundaries are really helpful at keeping different parts of our lives separated. You’ll have to think of new time based boundaries to replace the old ones.

  1. Be thoughtful about getting dressed even if you’re not going to work/school -it can be a helpful way of mentally preparing to be working.
  2. Creating specific work areas, or putting things away at the end of the day helps us to create separation for ourselves and those around us.
  3. Consider your screen time use! How much time reading the news is helpful? Equally, making sure that you facetime and talk to colleagues, family, or friends, staying connected is really important. Screentime setting apps can be a great way of holding you all accountable, and encouraging a healthier relationship with our devices!

As parents, it’s important that you also practice what you preach!
Identifying time based boundaries as a family/household would be a good conversation to have together. When we don’t have boundaries it can feel like our day just blurs into one, which can start to feel draining and emotionally tiring.

Listen to your body

We might not be used to spending quite so much time with our family without seeing friends, or going to work! Each of us has a different home life, so it’s important to be aware of yours and others around you. Be intentional about taking care and remembering to help your body relax. When we help our body to slow down, we anchor ourselves in the present.
Without commutes and school drop-offs, these can be helpful times of days to substitute with trying these activities.

  1. Sensory activities: taking a bath or trying some You-Tube Yoga.
  2. Active mindfulness: playing a game, walking, cooking/baking.
  3. Centering activities: taking deep breaths, doing a meditation.
  4. Fresh air: go for a walk, bike ride, even opening the windows! Being outside helps our body produce endorphins (which are the hormones that make us feel good.)
    Ending the day: sometimes as a family/household you could practice sharing your highs, lows, and gratitudes. This is a helpful way to create some space to share together.

Social Isolation?!

I am grateful today for technology. Staying connected to your friends, family, and colleagues is going to be essential for our wellbeing. When we spend time with people we love it releases the hormone Oxytocin (makes us feel loved) and you still need this! So make sure you're checking in with others and having a laugh or finding out how they are managing. This will be affecting people in lots of different ways!

Is Coronavirus the only thing in the world?
Youtube and Netflix have been preparing for a long time for such apocalyptic times - they are ready with an enormous supply of funny videos, documentaries, binge-worthy shows! It can be really important to give your mind a bit of a break from talking about Coronavirus, let your brain relax! Pick a new show to watch as a family, and ask your teen what funny videos they’ve watched that day.

It makes sense to feel a bit grumpy, sad, lonely, worried, or scared about what is happening. These feelings are important, and we need to take care of them! We also need to help our feelings find movement and create a new (temporary) normal! Let’s make sure we take good care of our emotional wellbeing. So enjoy planning ahead for your Camp Coronavirus, take care, play well and be kind to yourselves!


Fiona Gray

Fiona Gray

Fiona Gray (MBACP) is a psychodynamic psychotherapist who works with children and teens at a school in SE London, as well as with individuals in her private practice in Central London.

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