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Day 1 – and so it begins

So, it’s day one of home schooling and I imagine that to most of you this is feeling very strange. Perhaps you’re feeling anxious about how you’re going to manage day to day, how you’re going to structure your time, how you’re going to cope without being able to see your friends. Perhaps your parents are feeling anxious and it’s rubbing off on you – it’s hard to feel calm when people around us are stressed. It’s going to be tough for parents juggling work and home and nobody is quite sure at this stage how it’s all going to pan out. We must be patient with each other and remember that we’re all in this together and we’ll all get through it together.

What we’re doing for your mental health…

At Dorset Mind, we’ve been working hard to adapt our services so that we can continue offering support when you need it. We are unable to work face-to-face but are looking to take our services digital. Perhaps this is a great opportunity for us to try out new ways of working.

Here are some of the ways of reaching you that we’ve been considering:

  • 1-2-1s and group support via Zoom – we can continue to offer you 1-2-1 support through the platform Zoom – it’s safe, secure, free to use and user-friendly.
  • Online Workshops – we can continue to offer our range of resilience building and mental health workshops online through webinars, presentations and maybe even Google Classroom.
  • Videos via You Tube – we can share calming breathing and grounding exercises, videos about managing your mental health, yoga and mindfulness sessions – to name a few.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on which of these would work best for you. Do you like the idea of video meetings, or would you prefer text chat? Would you join a group, or would you prefer 1-2-1 sessions?

We want to tailor our support to your needs, so let us know them by emailing

Keep connected and keep things in perspective

The weekend has been full of amazing, enlightening and funny stories online which have helped us feel connected and have kept things in perspective. Reaching out at a time like this, sharing concerns and accepting the support of others is a good way of keeping yourself emotionally well.

We need each other right now, and that’s OK. It’s a chance to bond with those directly around us, and to offer our support to and receive support from the wider community where we can.

Online resources

Some things I’ve encountered have been useful such as the fact that Audible are freely streaming a collection of stories for children and young people for as long as schools are closed. There are titles across 6 different languages so you can practice your French and Spanish while you’re at it! Audio books are a great way of keeping yourself entertained, especially if you find you’re having to take on your more-than-normal share of household chores while school’s out.

Establish a routine

I know it might sound dull, but you get so much more from your day if you have a structure to it. Days without structure can end up feeling a bit demotivating. A lack of purpose can let negative thoughts start up in your head and before you know it, they can spiral into a negative pattern of thinking that takes you right down that sink hole.

Dorset Mind Your Head practitioner Rachel has created a timetable aimed at primary school age groups that is a helpful starting point to organise yourselves around;

I have an 11 year-old daughter and a 14 year-old son. Using Rachel’s timetable as a template they created their own timetable that they both agreed on and were happy with. Here’s a picture of it (excuse the spelling, and the crossed-out section that used to say ‘Chores’!).

They’re taking it in turns to decide what kind of physical activity to do in ‘Active time’ and the creative time they can choose what they want to do – my son loves playing the bass guitar and my daughter loves designing so it’s a chance for them to create/learn the things they didn’t have time for before.

‘Work time’ is put aside for academic work that their school will be sending home. We’ve made sure we have plenty of breaks in our timetable, movement breaks are particularly important and working from home is a chance to get moving every 20 minutes or so. Just a couple of minutes of movement every 20 minutes will do you the world of good, both mentally and physically. If you can get some fresh air while you’re at it, that’s even better.

Eating healthy(ish)

Our version of Churros

We’re going to make sure we have 3 good meals a day, plus a healthy snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon. We all think this is a good chance to learn some new cooking skills, so far we’ve tried Churros (not so healthy but delicious, even if ours look nothing like the real thing), carrot hummus (we didn’t realise we had to cook the carrots so it came out a bit crunchy), hot chilli sauce and a strangely delicious lentil soup. We’re going to take it in turns to try new things.

We’ve also decided it would be good to set ourselves some projects. My daughter wants to focus on photography – here’s an example of some of the pictures she took on her phone from our little garden. Surprising how much there is in there that we hadn’t really noticed. Taking notice of the little things around you can make the world of difference to your wellbeing.

My son hasn’t decided his project yet but he has set himself some goals;

  1. A 30-minute daily workout
  2. Practice bass guitar for at least an hour daily.
  3. 45 minutes reading daily.

So far so good!

Down time

Xbox features too, but not more than a couple of hours a day. It’s a good platform to socialise on now that contact with friends isn’t allowed – it might not be the same but it’s the closest he can get to hanging out with them right now. Friendships feel particularly important when you’re in your teens so finding ways to keep that connection is an important part of staying well. But do stay safe online.

You may feel that online contact isn’t quite meeting your need for friendship during this time. If that’s the case then see if you can reach out to your family – parents, carers, brothers, sisters – you’ll be surprised at how much friendship can be found under your own roof if you look for it. Take time to get to know each other better, it’s something we don’t often remember to do.

If your family are really driving you up the wall already, maybe you can spend time with your pet if you have one? They are fabulous listeners and can provide a great deal of comfort when it’s needed. This past weekend saw more cat therapy in my household then we’ve had in a while. If you don’t have a pet, then even just nurturing a plant can be very beneficial. Go ahead and plant a seed, then watch it grow as you tend to it. It’s a very rewarding experience.

That’s all for now, I’ll be sharing more with you as we go on this journey together. In the meantime, stay well everyone, we’re here for you should you need us.

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