Family Wellbeing During Isolation
Looking after your mental health is vital, especially when you are safe at home. An unintended consequence of social isolation is that our mental health may suffer as we keep apart from our families, friends, neighbours and colleagues to protect each other. The good news is that there are lots of positive things we can do with our families to stay as physically and mentally healthy as possible. Keeping active helps our bodies remain healthy, our immune system strong and our minds in tip-top condition.
- Physical activity burns off stress hormones like cortisol, so we feel calm, centred and energised.
- Research indicates connecting with nature has a healing effect on our minds and bodies. A study revealed that patients recovering from surgery whose beds overlooked a garden recovered faster than those whose bed overlooked a carpark.
- Our minds tend to ruminate on the past, or fast-forward to the future, sometimes in a negative way. This tendency is often exacerbated during times of stress. An antidote is to intentionally focus on the present – by noticing what’s happening in our minds, bodies and the external environment with an attitude of kindness and curiosity.
- Laughing feels good, boosts our immune system and helps us keep things in perspective. Laughing with others strengthens relationships and, because laughter is contagious, we laugh more with others.
- In times of need, we often see the best of humanity as people dig deep, help others and be kind.
- There is ample research to show that deliberately focusing on the good things in our lives can improve our wellbeing. It’s easy to give in to our natural ‘negativity bias’, as our brains strive to protect us from harm, but we can counter that by deliberately focusing on what’s good, even during challenging times.
- Our minds need challenge and stimulation to stay healthy, which is why learning new things is vital to wellbeing.
- Connecting with others is an important way to boost mental health. Research shows that people who have the richest social relationships are the happiest; quality relationships have been linked to physical health and longevity and academic achievement in school students. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch. Let people know you care and make a special effort to contact those who may be more isolated or lonely.
- Character strengths are the positive parts of our personality that impact how we think, feel and behave, and are essential in supporting wellbeing. Research shows that recognising and working with our strengths increases our levels of happiness. We encourage you to complete the free VIA Character Strength Survey via the Institute on Character website https://www.viacharacter.org to find the strengths within you. Many of your sons will have already completed this survey – why not have a discussion with them about your different character strengths? Knowing and applying your highest character strengths is the key to being your best self.
The action-oriented activities below have a direct link to character development and can be undertaken to enhance family wellbeing. Each activity also has a related BBC Character Strength symbol to highlight the importance part character development plays in our everyday lives and positive interactions with others.