IN the first in a series of guest articles, former teacher Sarah Wray - who now runs Live Well Consultancy, working to improve mental health in schools - has shared her advice for looking after your wellbeing in lockdown...

After weeks of ‘lockdown’ many of us are experiencing highs and lows.

The uncertainty of how long lockdown will last, how we will move forward as a nation and how it is impacting on us as individuals, financially, socially and emotionally, all affect our well-being.

We can spend emotional and mental energy trying to battle these things, causing us to feel stressed and anxious.

Accepting that these are unprecedented times and at this moment we have little certainty or control over these circumstances, but we do have control over how we look after ourselves and our well-being.

So, here are five tips to support your well-being:

Keeping a routine – As the weeks in lockdown go by, our routines can slip – but keeping to a routine helps us to function better. Sticking broadly with the same bedtime and get-up time each day will help the quality of your sleep which is needed to re-boot the body and brain each night. If you are working from home take regular breaks and ensure you stick to a ‘clocking off’ time to separate work and leisure time.

Keeping physical – Being active positively impacts on both physical and mental well-being. Getting out in the fresh air and sunshine for a walk every day increases your body’s access to Vitamin D which boosts energy and the feel good factor. 

Keeping talking – Remember it is ‘physical distancing’ rather than ‘social distancing’. As humans we need social contact to thrive. Make sure to have contact with people each day, especially if you are living alone at this time. Talk to people rather than messaging; use facebook or video calling to see people; share worries but also share some laughter. Laughing releases endorphins which enhance positivity! 

Keeping perspective - Limit your exposure to the news and social media. Check in once a day to keep informed of the latest facts and advice and then switch it off. Constant exposure will keep you on high alert and draw you into a vicious circle of anxiety and worry.  

Keeping well – Acknowledge when you may be having a ‘low’ moment and be kind to yourself, knowing that it will pass. Decide what you need to do to look after yourself at this time, maybe take some time out to read, bake, garden, go for a walk, ring a friend, something to nurture you. Extend that kindness and compassion to others around you who might be having a ‘wobbly moment’ too. If the ‘low’ moment doesn’t pass, then seek support. Remember it’s ok to not be ok. Remember looking after your well-being during this time is even more important than usually – it’s not selfish, it’s a priority. We are living in uncertain times but we are in it together. Remember this time will pass and if we can come out the other side with established good well-being techniques then we will come out even stronger.