Recommended ways to approach a lockdown

At the time that I am writing this article, we are a few days away from going into a 28 day lockdown in the province of Ontario where I live. I am NOT here to debate lockdowns, Covid, masks or other conversations. I want to address something I noted during the first Covid lockdowns back in March and see if we might look at how we can better cope with lockdowns going forward.

In the first lockdown, there were many YouTube videos and articles challenging people to do big things from home renovations, learn a new language, read a book a week, start writing a book, and many other things. There was then a push back online with people saying that all you really needed to do is survive. I read one article where the blogger said that if all you do is watch TV most of your lockdown and that is what you need to do to survive than that’s ok. I heard people jokingly talk about the COVID 30 they gained weight from inactivity. I heard of many people experiencing mental health issues after months in isolation. I heard stories of students whose parents did not let them leave the house. Those same parents were then messaging me asking for advice as their kids/teens were struggling mentally. I heard of one family who did not have a single meal together the entire lockdown other than a family Easter dinner. They would daily just grab their food and each go to their separate rooms to eat. I heard of another family talk about all the TV series they watched and how they probably watched 8 hours a day.

I think these things are all mentally, physically, and emotionally unhealthy. Yes, we all need to get through the lockdown. Not having any structure, goals or intention for a month or more is not going to bring you to a good place. I hope that we can find a balance somewhere between having no goals to have too big of expectations. Like the difference between watching 8 hours of TV a day versus learning to speak a new language. So here are my thoughts.

Some protective things for better mental health are exercise, sleep, diet, meaningful social interaction, mental stimulation, and building up your spirit/soul. These things are needed daily. Small daily choices add up.

(1) Exercise – I recommend you try a walk around your neighborhood daily.Its so simple and has so many benefits. If its mild enough, get out your bike. Take up running or participate in an exercise video online. This can be dance, boxing or HIIT type and can include stretching, weights or bands (if you have them), or body weight challenges. I suggest 30-60 min a day.

(2) Sleep – Keep a regular routine and go to bed at a reasonable time. The daylight hours are short this time of year so my challenge for you is to not stay up so late that you are missing most of the sunlight. This is a stressful time on many levels and your body might need a little more sleep during this season. That is ok. Listen to your body and get it the rest it needs.

(3) Diet – This might be a good opportunity for you and your family to start to eat more healthily. Cooking can be a rewarding and productive hobby that your whole family can participate in. Stick to a routine of 3 meals a day and don’t slide into snacking all day on empty calories/junk food. Plan your meals around more whole not processed foods. Eat with your family. This builds unity and provides some interaction time together.

(4) Meaningful social interaction– Stay connected. Call on friends and sit or stand outside apart to chat. Take a walk with a friend. Bring family or friends something they like such as vanilla iced coffees ( my personal fav), cupcakes, etc. Someone I know was delivering pizza slices for their youth group which they said the students loved. Send one message (text, Snapchat, email) daily to someone to just check in and remind them how much they mean to you. Book phone, facetime, skype or zoom calls a few times a week with friends who build you up.

(5) Mental stimulation – New information and ideas can be inspiring. Look for some interesting documentaries, YouTube sermons, TED talks, and teaching on platforms like right now media. Consider borrowing from the library or buying a book that you are excited about and having a reading time each day. Consider turning off all technologies and read for 30 min a day. If you are a non-reader then try to read 5 pages a day and work up from there. Both fiction and non fiction books have value.

(6) Consider building up your spirit/soul. Some people find a set time of day to reflect, journal, pray and read scripture helps to set a positive, hopeful tone for their day. Practice gratitude and look for 1 good thing a day that you are grateful for and share that with your family. Be intentional to keep things light in these tough times. Try watching funny videos or comedies when watching TV as much as you can.

We all need to look at how we can do something daily for our body, mind, and our soul. Incorporate these practices for yourself daily and model them for your children. Depending on the age of your kids, you might have to be more involved in structuring this for them daily. Over dinner each night you could take turns sharing what everyone did that day in these areas. This is not meant to be an authoritative “What did you do today?” but more of seeing what people did and how it made them feel. Ask what they thought of what they did and if it helped. Ask what they think they might do differently. This is a way a family can show support of each other to cope with the limitations of a lockdown and keep everyone mindful of their goals.

I have 20 videos I made in the first lock down looking at how we can have better mental health in this COVID season. If you want to watch them, here is the link.

COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #1 – Exercise – https://youtu.be/b7F4qWOpv_w
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #2 – Sleep – https://youtu.be/w1I2gUUXYy8
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #3 – Diet – https://youtu.be/OwmWkmEaKE4
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #4 – Use Space – https://youtu.be/XFUy9eBMFg8
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #5 – Connection – https://youtu.be/HinSymtqtz0
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #6 – Less News – https://youtu.be/2xYN9K4ypF8
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #7 – Breathe – https://youtu.be/JUKJEDEuQCM
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #8 – Counselling – https://youtu.be/dvJDdBpGI6Y
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #9 – Schedule/Routines – https://youtu.be/Ooq0Z0zPa0I
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #10 – Read More – https://youtu.be/R9b5gZWIqNE
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #11 – Watch a TED talk – https://youtu.be/nUzecha5wDg
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #12 – Family Check-in – https://youtu.be/B6mnR93Lq90
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #13 – More Positive – https://youtu.be/h5JfiBgkHgU
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #14 – Limit Work – https://youtu.be/BVgfteTnHlE
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #15 – Give yourself grace & mercy – https://youtu.be/CN4O0vyMgUA
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #16 – “things we miss” jar – https://youtu.be/f3SpjFWq4TM
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #17 – Listen to Music – https://youtu.be/8ME5ddO3R4A
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #18 – Do Today Well – https://youtu.be/9julpwXOA6Q
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #19 – Family Dinners – https://youtu.be/dMjrCQDmvOE
COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #20 – Puzzles/Games – https://youtu.be/MMYFnmJFK7w

I hope these videos give you some ideas that we can all implement in our own lives and families.

About The Author

Brett Ullman

Brett Ullman travels North America speaking to teens, young adults, leaders, and parents on topics including parenting, mental health, sexuality, pornography, men, dating and media. Brett's seminars engage and challenge attendees to try and connect our ancient faith with our modern culture we live in. Participants are inspired to reflect on what we know, what we believe and how our faith ought to serve as the lens through which we view and engage tough conversations in our society today.

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