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Seeds from a dandelion clock blowing away in a gentle breeze

Bloomsbury blog How to function well day by day

Bloomsbury newsletter, 31 March 2020

A wellbeing plan

It is expected to have many and mixed feelings at the moment. Some of them, such as mild anxiety, for example, drive us into action such as buying the necessary things for ourselves and our family, maintaining hygiene, etc.

This is not bad in itself, but it is important to find the right balance. It is not good to avoid or overdo any activity. Save your strength for later stages, if the situation gets prolonged, as marathon runners do!

Let's remember all the things we can do and experience, even in this situation, as many of them can be positive.

Getting out for a walk, listening to music, reading, watching films, contacting friends, kindness and positive relationships with others.

It is important to be patient, kind, and gentle to others, especially not to judge those who are unfortunate to become ill.

Remember: no stigma!

Taking time out for coffee

In crises, it is common for us to experience shock first and then to adapt gradually. At the same time, not all people react in the same manner and it is important to understand that. We are expected to have ups and downs and our behaviours are expected to change. Let's be aware of everything around us! It is good if we can focus on what we can control, and not on what's beyond our control. We can control the things we can do for ourselves and our family - a schedule of activities at home or making a wellbeing plan.

Tips for making a wellbeing plan

Stick to your usual activities or adapt them to this situation:

  • Get up at the same time and go to bed at the appropriate time.
  • Don't set goals that are too ambitious.
  • Help children do that as well. Talk and agree arrangements with your teenagers, make a schedule with your children to give them structure.
  • Find a space where you can work. Make it your "place where you go to work". The same applies to children if they have gone back to school or university.
  • Stick to your usual work/study times.
  • Try to eat on time, as usual.

Connect with family and friends - talk, have video calls, video hangouts (Zoom/Skype) play board games, etc. Tell others how you feel and what you need:

  • Find a friend for support - someone you know and trust. Make sure your children can also connect with their friends online. If you have just one computer at home, agree on who will use it and when, taking into account the priorities of each family member.
  • Group work teams - many workplaces and schools are using these, meet regularly online and make arrangements.
Seeds from a dandelion clock blowing away in a gentle breeze

Do the things you enjoy. Read books you haven't had the time for, draw/paint, try some online dancing, singing, foreign language classes, watch a stage play or a concert on YouTube, sort old photos, do jigsaw puzzles, play with other family members, with pets, organize challenges, breathing exercises, meditations, or other exercises. Let your imagination run wild.

Reduce your immersion in information. We are constantly overwhelmed with information, messages, news.

Stress is a natural response when we are so overwhelmed from all sides. This also reflects on our body - we can feel tired and our immune system can become weaker. So, control your exposure to information. Separate fake from real news. We cannot escape the situation we are in, but we can adjust our exposure to the situation.

Monitor your moods. You can use this self-awareness scale.

Think about where you would put your feelings on the scale from 1 to 10. Let number 1 be the feeling of joy, and 10 be the state you are in when you feel really bad. Remember how you feel when you are happy (your thoughts, the feeling in your body, how you feel). Remember how you feel when you are unhappy (your thoughts, the feeling in your body, how you feel).

Prepare a plan in advance on how you will cope with feeling unhappy. Make a mini-plan: "When I feel unhappy, I will take a break, I will play my favourite song, I will call someone on the phone". By taking quick action you can help to make the situation easier for yourself.

Set up a time when you will start worrying:

  • For example, start at 5:15pm.
  • Later, when the time to worry comes, your worries might seem lesser compared to when they first occurred to you.
  • If you have made a deal with yourself to worry at a specific time, then honour that deal.
  • Don't plan on doing it before going to bed, and if worries or concerns do appear at that time, take a piece of paper and write them down.
  • Note down your concerns in the diary and over time a paradox will happen - the list of concerns will grow smaller.

Plan and have an awesome day!

  • Focus on what's happening right here and right now.
  • Include exercise in your daily schedule.
  • Practice gratitude. Write down one, two, or three things each morning for which you are grateful.
  • Celebrate your achievements at the end of the day. Reflect on all the things you managed to do throughout the day and be proud. Being relaxed and happy is also an achievement worth celebrating!

And finally, keep your sense of humour. Find the light in your situation, remember to laugh and bring joy to others. We are in this together.

Source: UNICEF - How to function well day by day