By Emily Hartley
Keep calm and be happy…
I thought I would feel a lot more trapped and overwhelmed by lockdown than I actually do. But instead, I’ve been catching up on my favourite TV series, spending time in the garden, baking and going on walks, so overall I’m actually quite enjoying this ‘break’.
I am currently in a very positive mindset, although I know this could change at any moment, especially during such a bizarre situation.
Here are a few tips that I am applying to help me stay occupied and keep my mental health on the up during this crazy time.
1 Make an effort to look after relationships. Whether this is with parents, grandparents, partners or friends, try to look after the important relationships in your life. Perhaps use technology to virtually visit people outside household, I have found that it can be quite refreshing to speak to people outside those you are on lockdown with! You could even look at it as a way of building stronger relationships with those you care about.
2 Get up and get ready. With the lack of normality and nowhere to go, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get out of bed, but showering and getting ready is a great start and leaves you feeling more ready to tackle the day, usually resulting in increased productivity. Just try setting an alarm, for a reasonable but not crazy time, and get a bit of a routine going.
3 Get moving. According to the NHS website, exercise can reduce the risk of depression by 30%, so why not take a stroll (don’t forget to stay 2m away from people though!) or a jog if you like running? If you would usually go to the gym, try adapting your workouts to suit what equipment you have in your house or look on YouTube as there are plenty of at-home workouts to be found there.
4 Keep your diet under control! Admittedly I do feel a bit hypocritical suggesting this one but do you blame me when I’ve just come back from university and get the cupboards filled and meals cooked for me?! Seriously though, eating well does make a huge difference, physically and mentally, so it is worth a go.
5 Be sure to get enough sleep. Again, I do struggle with this one a bit, but it’s difficult to resist an episode of Tiger King, and another one, and another one… and before you know it, it’s 4am. This will mess up tip #2 though, so it’s worth switching off the TV a little earlier and waking up at a reasonable time the next morning – it is all about creating a routine! Sleeping late will only make you feel less motivated to wake up the next day.
6 Listen to music. A study conducted by the mental health charity, Mind, showed that when people listen to music they enjoy, dopamine levels (feel-good chemicals) go up by around 9%, so the link between listening to music and mental wellbeing is strong. Even better if you play an instrument because that’s a pretty good way to stay occupied too.
7 Take tech breaks, stop scrolling! There is no need to be looking at the news every five minutes, consume it in moderation! Try reading a book or watching a new TV programme to distract from the negativity of the situation. Try not to spend too much time on social media, even though it’s easy to get lost scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. It diverts the attention that would be spent on productive activities to mindless scrolling. According to The Independent, too much time spent on social media can lead to the development of anxiety and depression, so maybe resisting the urge to scroll and finding an alternative distraction could do a whole lot of good.
8 Focus on a hobby or learn a new skill. Now that we are stuck inside, it is the perfect time to try a new hobby, perhaps take up yoga, baking or even gardening whilst the sun lasts. Used to have a hobby but life got in the way, maybe due to a job or the kids? If you used to love painting, there is no better time than now to dig out the easel and painting set, it’s a chance for a bit of me-time.
9 Try not to drink too much. We all know that I don’t mean water! Believe me, I know how easy it is to go a bit heavy on the gin, particularly when drinking out of boredom or stress but try not to take it too far, it will only make you feel groggy next day.
10 Think happy thoughts. This is definitely easier said than done but it really does affect your whole mindset. Try and remember that lockdown will end soon and it is only temporary, so just try and look forward to what is yet to come.
At the end of the day, if all you have achieved is getting out of bed and having a shower, you did well. Take one day at a time and before you know it, lockdown will be over.
Keep safe and stay sane!