By SARA ELLIS OWEN
Easing of Lockdown
I took my family to the funfair on the weekend. This was our first family trip in what seems an eternity.
As I looked up and to watch them screaming (mostly with delight) the irony was not lost on me as to what a rollercoaster they’ve had these past 18 months. Admittedly they haven’t had serious exams to contend with, but they’ve been in and out of school and disconnected from their peers and teachers, other than through a screen. My son scrutinizes his sporting and Fortnite abilities, while my daughter scrutinizes the clothes she wears and where she fits amongst her peers within her friendship circle. No one is immune from the effects of lockdown and no one is immune from mental health issues.
I run a Pilates studio and I find that young people are still reeling from the effects of lockdown. A recent study (the Oxford ARC (Achieving Resilience during Covid-19) study, launched in May, found teenagers consistently reported higher levels of anxiety and depression than parents. There are easy ways you can help your children and yourself, through this challenging time.
What can you do to help?
Mindful breathing techniques.
The most common, and effective, breathing technique involves the 4-7-8 rule. Inhale through the mouth for 4 counts, hold your breath for the count of 7 and exhale completely for the count of 8. Repeat the cycle three times or until you feel a sense of calm.
Walk outside before bed.
Taking a walk outside will help the brain produce endorphins, which are neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood. Both being outside and walking can work together to create positive changes in the overall state of mind.
Do Pilates regularly.
Yes, it helps to increase muscle strength and tone, improve flexibility and posture, but, just as importantly, the use of the breath helps find mindfulness in movement. By focussing on the breath pattern, the worries of the day are put on hold, and the body reconnects with the mind. All of my teen clients remark at how much better they feel after their Pilates class from a physical and mental perspective. Having the chance to unplug from the stresses of life, exams or social anxiety, while they find length and strength is key.
My mission is to make young people’s lives better. They deserve to take care of themselves and future proof their mind (and bodies) against whatever life throws at them. I’ve found Pilates is a healthy way to deal with stress and learn healthy movement habits they can use for the rest of their life.
Thanks for reading!