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Keeping well in the lockdown

Caroline Quinn, ASCERT Keyworker shares her perspective on keeping physically and mentally well during the lockdown using the Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing.

For the past six weeks, I, like the majority of the country have been living a new kind of normal.  One that we have never faced before, nor did we think we would ever face in our lifetime. We’re being asked to stay at home and practise social distancing to help keep ourselves and others safe, which is understandably likely to change the way we connect with the other people in our lives. 

Over the past year I had been ‘staying at home’ as I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl and with only 20 months between her and my little boy I found I rarely seen the outside world as it wasn’t easy taking two out by myself.  Having finished my maternity a month before the lockdown, I felt like I had just re-entered the adult world before being asked to go back inside again, only this time is was different. 


Initially for me I felt like I had just reconnected with myself and other adults and then was robbed of this company, but I soon experienced a different side to lockdown.

My husband returned to work very quickly after both our children and worked 6 days a week.  Even though we always had dinner as a family, no matter how late, it is something that has been instilled in me – family meal time is so important.  Now as you can imagine the reality of dinner time with two toddlers isn’t something you would see on the front of a magazine or an Instagram worthy picture.  Dinner, bath, book, bed, (another book, a drink, another story, kissing a sore toe better, chasing the big bad wolf away….) literally a crazy two hours every evening. 

Lockdown hasn’t changed that, we still have those crazy two hours (if not more) but we are experiencing something we never as a family have had before – breakfast time.

We have all the time in the world now to enjoy breakfast as a family, nowhere to rush off to, no need to keep their hair Weetabix free, no rushing to get bags packed, lunches made or out the door for a certain time.  It’s also the one meal of the day where everyone is hungry and less likely to complain about what they are eating! When lockdown ends and we all return to the old normal, I will miss the time that we all stood still long enough to enjoy each other’s company. 

Be active

I have always enjoyed exercise, I used to run for fun until I broke a bone in my foot then found it difficult to get the motivation for it so instead I attended gym classes.  Again, this all fell to the wayside after having my children as I frequently used the excuse that I was too busy.  We are probably all aware of the Instagram challenges at the moment.  I have been challenged twice to run a 5k that once upon a time I would have found fun and would have completed straight away.  So I have taken this challenge to reconnect with my inner runner and complete the 5k with the hope that it will be the kick start I need to find my motivation and have some me time to clear my thoughts.  I’ll not be too hard on myself though, if my inner runner doesn’t want to be found I will still have accomplished my 5k through walking, and that’s fine too.   

Keep learning

When we first started working from home I wasn’t sure how I was going to get my hours in as my main job is working with young people in schools or other educational/youth settings.  I felt at a bit of a loss.  However, I have been adapting my skills and have joined the team in our new parent/carer support group.  I am using this opportunity to expand my knowledge and learn a whole new bunch of skills with the hope of being able to see situations from the parent/carers perspective as well as the young person.  I felt apprehensive about this at the beginning as for years I’ve worked with the teenager but I am so excited about this new chapter and seeing where it takes me. 


I’d like to think that those around me know that they only have to ask and I’ll be there.  I am fortunate to come from a big family so have always been use to and enjoyed lots of noise and a busy home.  I am the one who hosts Christmas dinner or any excuse to have a family get together so this year felt really weird that we celebrated Easter with just the four of us. It was strange not having to cook or clean up after double figures so we baked a chocolate cake and done doorstop deliveries to family who live within walking distance.  I’m very happy we did this as they have since returned the gesture and they are much better bakers than us.    

I am also a volunteer in my area for any vulnerable person needing assistance with essential items during this time as well as my own mum who I am blessed to live a stone throw away from.  I visit her door step every single day to ensure she has everything she needs, she knows she is loved and to me that’s the best gift you can give.   

Take notice 

For the entire 33 years of my life (excluding the three years where I lived away for university) I have lived in the same area and I am ashamed to say I have only started to truly notice its beauty.  Normally, I did not take the time to pause and look around.  For the past two weeks I have started to get up before my husband and children, just so I can have a coffee on the doorstep and take in the morning with no distractions.  This routine initiated by accident after my daughter got us all up at 5.30am, it was then that I noticed how quiet, calm and beautiful my surroundings were at that time so I made it my new thing to do.  A peaceful start to my day to gather my thoughts and reflect as I await my breakfast dates.

I think it is important to realise that now more than ever is the time for us to be proactive about creating and noticing the good around us.  Whether it’s savouring the moment, strengthening our connections or simply noticing the good in others around us or in our community.

Closing your day with a positive acknowledgement and looking for these silver linings can be a small step towards helping you take charge of your mental health and to potentially come out of this experience stronger. 

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