Looking after yourself and your family

Being asked to stay at home and avoid other people means that many people are feeling that it’s more difficult than usual to take care of their physical and mental health and well being.

There are things you can do to keep yourself and others as well as possible.

Parents have kindly shared their experience of Life in Lockdown with us. You can read 'Lives in lockdown; parents' accounts here.

Staying fit and healthy

Being stuck at home will be a challenge. But it isn’t all or nothing.

  • Staying fit and healthy is just as important as ever.
  • Regular exercise keeps both mind and body in good shape. We’ll all have to find different ways of doing that for now.
  • Even if you can't go to the gym or go swimming or do whatever you usually do to stay fit (your children too), there are other ways to exercise.

Some ideas 

  • There are workouts on YouTube that you can do at home.
  • Try a gym free workouts from the NHS.
  • There are other exercises you can do inside such as using tins as weights, and floor/chair exercises.
  • Go outside: walking, running and cycling are all good.
  • Just being outside or even standing at an open window helps your mental health too.

Remember that you still need to keep your distance from others when you’re outside .  

Looking after your mental health

There’s a lot of anxiety – for good reason because a lot of what’s going on is unknown, and there’s a sense of waiting for something to happen.

  • Fear of being out of control and unable to cope with uncertainty is understandable at a time like this.
  • Many people with pre-existing anxiety are finding it hard to cope.
  • We all need to look after our mental well being.
  • There are lots of tips to help people manage.

MIND has good information to help you cope.

Constant news and other info

The World Health Organization (WHO) information about looking after your mental health is quite technical but it’s worth seeing if any of it could be useful for you. 

For example, the constant stream of news would worry anybody so think about:

  • Limiting how much you watch, read or listen to news that makes you feel anxious and upset.
  • Checking for updates, if you have to, only at certain times of the day, once or twice, say.
  • Looking for information from places that you can trust (such as WHO or NHS inform)  You’ll then get facts not rumours. Facts can help you feel less worried.
  • Looking at all the positive stories about how people are helping one another: there are lots of examples.
  • Protecting yourself and supporting others. For example, phone neighbours or others who might need some extra help. When you help others, it helps them and you.
  • Working together with others in the community can help you feel that we can deal with this together: we’re not on our own.

Coping with feelings and reactions

Here are some good sites for helping you cope with your reactions and any feelings of panic, anxiety, stress, loneliness and so on: 

Talking to your children about Coronavirus

Your children may be looking to you for answers. They may see stuff on social media that makes them worried. Speaking openly with your children and answering their questions can reassure them.

  • Be open with them and ask them what they want to know.
  • It’s OK for you to say if you don’t know.
  • Be honest but tell them as much as they can understand/cope with.
  • There’s lots of fake information doing the rounds on social media so it’s worth checking reliable sources such as NHS inform.
  • Tell them facts not rumours as facts can make people feel less worried.
  • Remind them that you are there to look after them.

 Parents are role models for their children:

  • Your children take their security from you.
  • Although you may feel anxious yourself, try to find ways to calm yourself, so that you pass your calmness on to them.
  • What you do and how you behave affects them.
  • If you are helping others in your community, they will see kindness, just as they will see anxiety if you are panic buying.

More information about speaking with your children about Coronavirus:

Keeping in touch with grandparents and older friends/relatives

If grandparents or other family members are over 70 or have pre-existing health conditions, the kindest thing you can do now is to stay away from them. This is very hard for them and for you. But keeping your distance is best for their health and everyone else’s too.

If a family member or friend is over 70, pregnant, disabled, receives the flu jab for medical reasons, or uses mental health services, they can call the Scottish Government helpline. The helpline is for those at high risk of Coronavirus who don’t have existing support or internet access.

Helpline: 0800 111 4000 (9am - 5pm)

Some tips for keeping in touch:

  • Use your phones and tablets rather than visiting. Being able to see each other can really help. You may need to help them set up on Facetime, Zoom or Skype, for example.
  • For younger children and toddlers having a conversation may not be so easy but there are still things you can do together online. Try reading a book together or singing a song. You can even share food together - call ahead to arrange what to eat and then eat an orange or have a biscuit together on your video call.
  • Together app – video chat for families – means grandparents and children can read books, play games and more. The app is free for now because of Coronavirus.
  • You can set up online shopping for grandparents or do their shopping and deliver it to them (leave it at the door).

If you or your older relatives are concerned, you or they could speak to the Age Scotland helpline on 0800 12 44 222 for information, advice and friendship. It’s open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm