The ‘Coping with Lockdown’ Balloon

A Step by Step Guide to Minimising Stress and Maximising Well-being

The accompanying sheet shows the ‘balloon’.  The ‘basket’ represents the fears /anxieties that can weigh us down and cause negative emotions (steps 1 & 2) Steps 3 & 4 are about reducing the size / weight of our ‘basket’.  The ropes represent things we sometimes do that can tie us down (step 5) and the balloon represents how we can maximise our potential (step 6 – 10).

Step 1:       What emotions do you feel rated out of 10? E.g. Anxiety 7/10 Frustration 6/10 Angry 5/10 etc

Step 2:       Identify the underlying fear that is causing your emotions e.g. I feel not ‘good enough); I might fail or feel embarrassed or ashamed; I might feel I’ve let myself or others down, I can’t cope…remember this is likely to be ‘F.E.A.R – False Evidence Appearing Real’ it’s not true that we are ‘not good enough’, and it’s not true that we can’t cope with our fears.

Step 3:       Identify ways you ‘escape’ or ‘attack’: i.e. What do we sometimes do when we feel stressed that actually doesn’t help in the long run? e.g. a) Spend too much time distracting ourselves on our phones / gaming b) Avoiding stretching ourselves or trying new things for fear of ‘failing’ c) Become obsessive or angry at ourselves or other people when actually we are anxious or frustrated…

Step 4:       Write up to 3 words to describe how you would LIKE to feel. (this is your true self)

Step 5:       Use your imagination: Who can you imagine is with you whenever you need them, so that you feel calmer and feel how you would LIKE to feel (our imagination is the most powerful tool we have, our bodies often don’t know the difference between reality and imagination)

Step 7:       Find your inner best friend – pick one or two phrases which you will repeat to yourself e.g. “I can do this; I always do my best; whatever happens I can ask for help and it will be okay; everyone feels nervous sometimes, it’s normal; comparing myself to anyone else is unhelpful, I am good enough just as I am”.

Step 8:      What can you be grateful for… gratitude is one of the greatest tools for changing how we feel, if we feel grateful it is hard to feel angry or sad.  In really hard circumstances we can still be grateful for our own strength and resilience, and for anyone who is trying to help us, or who we are trying to help; we can be grateful for having clean water, and food…

Step 9:       Some strategies I can use if I feel nervous are – a) ‘Square breathing’ – close your mouth and breathe in deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, breathe out slowly and hold your breath for a few seconds, repeat (this slows your breathing and tells your body to feel calmer) b) Talk to someone you trust c) Ask how someone else is feeling and try to help them (as soon as we help others we help ourselves as well) d) Use your 5 senses i.e. find a favourite smell that helps you to feel calm, listen to favourite music / sounds, taste comfort (but healthy!) foods, touch favourite soft toys, mascots, pets, clothes, look at a favourite photo / view to help you feel calm. e) Make a glitter jar with water and glitter – when you shake the jar this represents our emotions when we feel overwhelmed, we need to give them a few minutes to settle, just as the glitter does, before we decide what is best to do next.

Step 10:     The three ‘P’s’ of happiness are things that bring us Pleasure Purpose and Peace. Write down 5+ things that help you to feel at your best and seek them out or ‘reward’ yourself with them e.g. pets; playing a sport; riding your bike; singing; friends; doing a hobby; family; getting fresh air; exercise; baking, cooking, reading; drawing; colouring; journaling – anything that brings ‘air’ into your ‘balloon’!