10 Ways To Keep Healthy, Mentally During Lockdown
It’s there. Every news channel you flick through. Every conversation you have with friends and family. Every time you think about leaving the house to carry out usual activities and then remember you can’t. Coronavirus has without a doubt shaken the entire world. Our life as we know it has ceased to exist.
It’s a scary time for everyone — no matter what your age or background. Even those who we look upon to be calm and resilient will without a doubt be worried for themselves as well as for their loved ones. The biggest impact I can already see in action is on our mental health and I think this is because we all feel the one same thing. Frustrated.
I can see it through myself where bouts of anxiety are presenting themselves physically and every muscle in my body feels tight. I can see it through certain family members who are restless and feeling like they need to be moving at all times to be proactive. I can hear it in friends who would normally be so upbeat but instead are feeling helpless, bored and struggling with the restrictions.
Some things are clearer to see than others and make it easy to adapt. Need to talk to friends and family? We have our phones. Need to still maintain our workouts? There are plenty of online resources for us to tap in to. But how do we keep our minds at ease?
I would like to share the following tips which I have found helpful to balance and keep me reassured in these testing times:
Meditation is a great addition to anyone’s day. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a whole bunch of time whilst balancing work and children, even 10 minutes first thing in the morning will have an impact. The aim of meditation is to ground your mind and to quiet those thoughts which are forever pacing back and forth in our minds. It can take a few sessions to truly feel the benefits but I promise that if you just persevere through the initial challenges you will see a big difference. With everything that is happening around us — not being able to see loved ones, feeling financial pressures and worrying about our health, it is so easy to start feeling overwhelmed. Meditation will help you to calm those nerves, approach issues with more clarity, boost your mood and improve your focus. Explore our Meditation section to learn more and get started.
2. ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE!
This is extremely important at the present time. Working, exercising, teaching and socialising all from home can really leave us feeling like there is no structure for our day. It is easy for everything to get jumbled and we tend to feel lost and disoriented. We can begin to feel like we are losing control of our time so it can be really helpful to set that routine up for your week ahead and prepare for what’s coming but also to ensure your priorities are not neglected. So, whether it’s in your diary or even your phone calendar with reminders, take some time out every week to plan your ‘you’ time, play-time with the family, connecting with others and your workouts. Another factor not to be forgotten is aiming to get up and go to sleep at the same time every day. Sleep can have a significant impact on our moods. The less sleep we get, the more space we create for worry so try to aim for a healthy 8 hours at the same time every night because this will carry you through the next day.
3. DISTANCING FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
This can be a really tricky balance to find. We are without a doubt the most connected we have ever been. Social media can play a positive role in challenging times where we interact with friends, exchange uplifting and mood-boosting posts, stories and support each other. However, you may have noticed already that your social feeds can also double up as another form of news where we are inundated with ‘fake stories’ being circulated, strong political opinions being expressed and a constant stream of people reflecting back on better times. It can be hard to escape the negativity that is sometimes being pushed through social media so really try to limit the time you spend scrolling through the various platforms available. Don’t compare the way you are approaching the current lockdown to the way an influencer might be portraying and try not to be tempted to read those extreme stories which are being shared. Focus on the honest, encouraging, funny and thought-provoking elements of social media which can help to elevate your day.
4. DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM THE NEWS
I know it’s hard to escape because the news is essentially guiding the way we live at the moment but we also need to try to not become so engorged with knowing every single story that is happening. As long as we know the core facts and any changes which we need to implement, that is enough. There isn’t going to be a breaking new development every 5 minutes. A lot of the news is padded out by drawing in different people’s experiences, their thoughts and what they are predicting is going to happen which of course can be interesting to know but can also have a detrimental impact if it’s not what we want to hear. So, do try your best to limit the amount of time you spend reading and listening to the news — you may find that by doing this you will be able to go about your day with a bit more positivity. Also, be careful about which news source you are reading. There are lots of articles out there which can grab your attention with their exaggerated headlines but have no truthful substance to them.
5. TALK TO OTHERS ABOUT TOPICS NOT RELATED TO CORONAVIRUS
We can’t help it; everyone we know has been affected by the virus in some way so how are we not supposed to share our thoughts and experiences? Whilst it is good to include a gap for discussing this during catch-ups, it is important to be mindful about how much time we spend ruminating and debating what the future holds only in regard to the virus. We should also be considering the positives and what we want to look forward to once this period is over. Are there any big changes you would like to make to your life, any travelling you want to do once it is safe, what is the first catch-up with your family and loved ones going to look like? These are also really important and uplifting conversations to have. Rather than focussing purely on the countdown to the end of this phase — what have you taken away and learnt from this time? Emotions play a big part of this conversation too. If you feel like the restrictions in place are having a negative impact on your mental health, energy levels and you feel scattered — open up. We can tend to compare our spirits and approaches to others and this can sometimes make us feel like we are not as strong as our friends and family members but if you open up and are vulnerable with your loved ones, you may be surprised. Hard emotions are easily suppressed, when we are the only ones who know about them but when people come together and are honest about their struggles, it can really take a load off your mind and help you realise you aren’t alone.
6. TREAT YOURSELF
You deserve it! Give yourself some time to self-indulge. Whether it’s devouring your favourite dessert, watching a movie, having a bath — even having a nap. Take care of yourself because sometimes it’s the small things that can have a huge impact.
7. EXERCISE AND TRY YOGA
It is important to incorporate exercise into our daily routine. Not only is it good to strengthen ourselves physically but when we do exercise, our body releases endorphins and serotonin (the happy chemical) which boost our mood. If we exercise regularly, we are able to help reduce our risks of becoming unwell, can think more clearly and rejuvenate our energy levels. Even taking a 20-minute walk outside in the fresh air (if possible) will do you some good. There is also a wide variety of online exercise classes available for all abilities and I would thoroughly recommend looking at some yoga classes. Yoga is a perfect workout because its two primary focuses are on strengthening your body and also working with your breath. At heightened times like the present moment, we can help ourselves by re-balancing our mindset, loosening up any tension in our muscles and really focussing on how we feel within.
Not sure where to start? Click here to get a FREE yoga practice for anxiety relief.
8. CREATE SPACE IN YOUR DAY FOR REFLECTION
Although it may not seem like something you have to dedicate time to, reflection is a crucial aspect of life. When we take the space to think about how we are feeling in all the areas of our life, be it with our jobs, our relationship, friendships and life experiences, it is really important to ask yourself if you are happy and to think about any changes you want to make. This is the path to evolving and ensuring you are feeling fulfilled. Something which is also important is to remind yourself of everything you do have. This can be difficult with the challenging times we are living in so journaling can help make the process easier. Something as simple as writing down a couple of things you are grateful for at the end of the day will have a profound impact on helping you to take on the weeks ahead in a more positive manner.
If you are able to find some free time during your day, reading is an excellent way to have some much-needed TLC time. Dive into some comedy fiction on the overwhelming days when you just want to forget about what is going on in the ‘real world’. Perhaps start on some self-development books if you feel as though you need to rearrange some things in your life. For those days when you are feeling less motivated, pick up an autobiography which can help you put things into perspective. Whatever it is that you like, try and incorporate some reading time into your week as a mechanism to exercise your brain and reduce stress.
This can go both ways. Spending more time at home allows us to rummage through the snack cupboards more frequently and sometimes we can find ourselves overeating without even realising it. On the other hand, we can also find that we are not eating enough if we are experiencing stress, low morale and feeling out of sync with our usual routine. It’s important that we strive for a well-balanced diet because it can have a really big impact on the way we feel. Skipping meals can cause our blood sugar levels to drop which in turn can cause us to feel lethargic and irritable — we have all had those ‘hangry’ moments so try and eat regularly to avoid getting yourself into this situation. Eating too many foods with excessive saturated and trans-fat, sugar and salt levels might make us feel good in the moment but you may notice that big drop in you energy levels not too soon after and we can become sluggish. So, try to ensure that every day you are getting a good amount of protein, vegetables and fruit in your diet but also don’t deprive of yourself of any treats — everything in moderation is best.