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Surviving your family 24/7

If you're teetering on the edge of sanity already, check out our expert guide from local Wellbeing Coach and ZenMuma - Jackie Heffer-Cooke. Most of the ideas we love, but giving up the booze - eeeek, really Jackie??? 

So here we are, inside what feels like an episode of Black Mirror. Life has changed overnight, and the latest social isolation rules mean we are now pretty much in lockdown.

We love our families dearly BUT the thought of 23 hours a day, sharing the same space for the unforeseeable has me in a permanent hot flush. We chatted to Jackie Heffer Cooke aka ZenMuma who has spent years digesting and teaching the psychology and philosophy behind meditation and yoga. Here are a few of her useful wellbeing tips to keeping sane and not killing anyone (joke!)


I know I am starting with the obvious one, but it is true!

Like you, I have just spent at least the last 10 days living in the stress response. When this happens, we are in what’s called the Sympathetic Nervous System – that’s the nervous system that isn’t kind to the body’s systems, including the immune system and the respiratory system.

When you breathe deeply with a full lung breath, the body believes it is relaxing, ‘chilling’ (even when it’s not) and puts us into the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). With this come the feel good hormones, endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin etc, giving your immune and respiratory system a much needed boost!  


Exercise releases endorphins and serotonins too and keeps us in the super important powerhouse which is PNS. If you can exercise outdoors in your garden, the fresh air gives your lungs a boost, the sun an injection of Vitamin D and the freedom will cheer you up!

There are loads of free online classes popping up including Davina’s ‘Own your Goals’ and Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) daily PE sessions for kids. See our feature on 5 on demand exercise classes.


Find your tribe and tap into them. Our family has just experienced a group WhatsApp chat for the first time ever! There are lots of community FaceBook groups and WhatsApp groups popping up offering support. Plus local PE, Pilates and Yoga teachers are offering online classes. I’ll be doing weekly Instagram and Facebook Lives on ZenMuma every Tuesday at 12.45pm.

Seek out what you like and use it as a connective tool to others.


In the words of the great Dr Seuss: “Oh the places you go” 

And when you’re alone there’s a very good chance 
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants 
There are some, down the road between hither and yon, 
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.” 

If we think too much about the future right now we will feel anxious because we don’t have the answers. If you let your mind go off wandering you may take yourself to some dark places.

Pull Back. We just don’t know what any outcomes are yet and while we can all do our bit through social distancing, we can’t control the big picture. So, keep coming back to the present moment using any method that you can. When you are out for your daily exercise, enjoy the feeling of the air on your skin; when you are eating – enjoy the taste of the food in your mouth; when you are laughing – be in it and allow yourself some humour.  

Stop drinking (erm I beg your pardon??)

You might not like this one but maybe just for a while, stop drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a relaxant, but it is also a depressant and anxiety is not a good mixer with alcohol. Short term it may cause rows, long term it may make you feel miserable.


Our brains like routine – we all find it comforting, particularly children. Get up for breakfast and eat together. Discuss ‘what to do today’. Try and get a mix of arts, crafts, exercise, reading, music, chat. Keep a bedtime routine as much as possible and stick with it. It’s very grounding.  

Get creative

They say Shakespeare wrote King Lear whilst in lockdown during the plague. Think of all the things you could do!! 

Maybe learn a new language – 12 weeks is a long time and you/they can celebrate with a holiday when everything gets back to normal. 

For the academically inclined there is access to some of the best university courses here and overseas through organisations such as

Out of office

Just because you may be working from home you have to work constantly. Have strict rules for yourself, when you work, and when you don’t. And stick to them! See our guide to working from home!

Break-out space

Just as we are social creatures, we need our own space too. When things get on top of you, you need to be able to tell your loved ones that you need time-out. Then take it. Listen to music, chat to your friends online, breathe, meditate, whatever works for you – but have your ‘go-to’ space.  


You might not feel like it at times but don’t forget to love your family. You want them to be safe, happy and to feel loved. We will all lose our cool occasionally. Take a deep breath, take your time out and do the things that calm you down and make you happy. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a cuddle when you need it too. It’s the best practise possible.  

Founder of the online ‘resource for calm’ ZenMuma Jackie Heffer-Cooke is offering FREE yoga from her ZenGarden at 12.45pm every Tuesday. Tune in to ZenMuma FaceBook and Instagram and to join in! 

Find more ideas here


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