Our member Natalie Phillips is encouraging families to be easy on themselves during the latest coronavirus lockdown.

The lockdowns have brought with them a range of pressures and challenges to people’s everyday lives, such as home-schooling, working from home and loss of routine and interaction.

But Natalie says the latest lockdown, which comes during the winter, feels tougher than pervious lockdowns.

This lockdown feels harder

“I think this time around the lockdown and school closures seem to be hitting a lot of children and families harder,” she said.

“In March we were new to this and although it was a very different way of living, we had more resilience as we’d not been subjected to social restraints for so many months.

“This lockdown appears to be harder to manage mentally as we’ve been under limitations for long. In my clinics I’ve noticed teenagers in particular are starting to feel the effects of not being able to socially interact.”

Natalie, who is a psychodynamic psychotherapist working with children, young people and families, has put together some advice to help families and children during lockdown.

Lockdown tips for families and children

Be easy on yourself.

Try to remember everyone is facing challenges. They may be different to yours, but there are many difficulties that everyone is struggling with.

Try to find time every day to have some self-care. That could be a walk, a bath, listening to music, calling a friend, painting a picture, baking or learning a new skill. This is so important as we can easily lose sight of what makes us happy or relaxed when at home all day and not in our usual routines.

Many people have taken up a new hobby or interest in the previous lockdowns and I think this has been helpful for relaxation and a sense of accomplishment.

Exercise for body and mind

Exercise is important. Even just a 10 minute walk around the block or a few yoga stretches can change your mood and is so helpful for the mind.

Make plans for the end of the lockdown. This is a tough one as it can be difficult to envisage this but it will end and some sort of normal life will return. It’s a lovely thing to do, to plan for some little things to do once we’re able.

Younger children might benefit from drawing and writing things to post to their friends. Something that can keep them connected to their friends is to draw a picture of their classmates or school and put it up in their bedroom. This helps to remind them they have a social life to return to.

How does counselling help?

Counselling and therapy can help in many ways during this difficult time. I think the biggest benefit is to have the time and space to think about how you’re feeling about the lockdown and what it means to you.

Many of my clients are able to really focus for the hour they’re with me. We think and reflect on how they’re managing and what things they need support with.

The lockdown can be overwhelming and it’s important to take time to sit and think about what we’re doing well and what we’re benefitting from.

Counselling can also help to think about strategies for managing anxiety and worry about aspects of the lockdown. It can provide practical tools for people to feel empowered to do at home.

Counselling can free up a client’s mind to enable them to prioritise what’s important and to try to take control of things. In a time when many aspects of our lives are seemingly out of our immediate control, this can seem vital.

Find a BACP counsellor near you by visiting our directory.