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5 ways teenagers can take care of their mental health during extended lockdown

Kelley Osman, wellbeing coordinator at Copleston High School in Ipswich. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Kelley Osman, wellbeing coordinator at Copleston High School in Ipswich. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

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Copleston High School wellbeing consultant Kelley Osman gives her advice on how young people can stay emotionally well during the coronavirus crisis.

The lockdown, while necessary, is a challenging time for many people. Picture: Time to change/Newscast OnlineThe lockdown, while necessary, is a challenging time for many people. Picture: Time to change/Newscast Online

With the UK-wide coronavirus lockdown extended for at least another three weeks to prevent the spread of the disease, all of us are facing a situation we’ve never encountered before.

Tough restrictions are necessary to protect people from Covid-19, which mean people are not able to go outside - unless for very limited reasons - and are unable to visit friends and loved ones.

In such a challenging situation where so many people are self-isolating, it is no wonder many of us will feel increased stress and anxiety.

And teenagers are perhaps under even greater pressure, as they are unable to see their school friends and their daily routines of lessons have been disrupted - not to mention worries about GCSE and A-level results, after this year’s exams were cancelled.

Copleston High School, in Ipswich, is one of many schools that has tried to guide young people through an unsettling and challenging period.

Its wellbeing consultant, Kelley Osman, recently wrote to all 1,800 of the school’s students, urging them to “establish and maintain your routines as much as possible” during the crisis.

The qualified mental health nurse says waking up and going to sleep as normal, as well as eating at regular times, will “help with your emotional help and keep necessary structure to your day”.

Although she encourages young people to “allow time to listen to your worry thoughts”, she encourages them to “be mindful of ‘moving on’” and says: “Try not to talk about the coronavirus all the time.”

Here are her five tips to help teenagers stay emotionally well during the coronavirus crisis:

■ Connect

Miss Osman says maintaining healthy relationships, despite the restrictions, is important for mental wellbeing

“Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family while you are at home – by phone, messaging, video calls or online – whether it’s people you usually see often or reconnecting with old friends or neighbours,” she said.

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“Seeing each other’s faces is important, so remain connected as much as you can.”

■ Be active

Exercise helps to reduce stress, improve sleep, manage weight and reduce blood pressure.

The government restrictions mean people are only allowed one form of outdoor exercise a day - be it a run, cycle or walk.

However Miss Osman has pointed to several online workouts that people can do at home, such as the NHS’ 10min shake-up games and five-minute morning wake-up routine.

■ Give

Volunteering to deliver care packages in the community and other activities to help those isolated during the coronavirus crisis can be “incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you”, said Miss Osman.

She urged people to remember the maintain a social distance of at least two metres if they are leaving the house, but urged people to think about the “importance of kindness on your mindset”.

■ Keep learning

“Learning new things is enjoyable, increases our confidence and is good for our mental wellbeing,” said Miss Osman.

■ Take notice

“Bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing,” said Miss Osman.

“It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger and make you feel more relaxed.”

Although the lockdown restricts people going outside, Miss Osman said spending time in a garden - if you have one - or even letting in fresh air by having the windows open can help.

■ Need help? Call The Samaritans on 116 123.


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