Just when we thought things were settling down and we were getting used to the “new normal” things change. Again. And just like that, it’s back to staying home and all the anxiety that it can bring with it.
This time it does feel different though. We had more time to prepare for it, we know what to expect because we’ve already done it once, AND it has an expiry date on it this time. However, that doesn’t stop the old anxiety creeping back in, and for many folks out there, a month in isolation is a pretty daunting thought.
So here are my top tips for the next month-
- Get into a routine. Set an alarm, get out of bed at the same time every day. Go to bed at (or before) 10pm. Eat 3 meals a day, at regular times. Plan things to do with your time- reading, gardening, writing, etc.
- Try to minimise your phone/screen time for an hour before bed- this will help you to get a better night’s sleep and switch off from the stresses of the outside world.
- Exercise- go for a run, bike ride, walk, or do an online class (yoga is good). Exercise causes your body to release happy hormones which boost your mood. If you can get outside for your exercise, then that’s even better! Being outside, connecting with nature and getting fresh air always makes me feel a hundred times better.
- Meditation- Even just a few minutes a day of meditation can really help keep the anxiety monster at bay. If you aren’t comfortable to go it alone, try a guided meditation, there are many, many guided meditations online to listen to.
- Eat healthy foods- as tempting as it can be to reach for the comfort food, this will not help in the long-run. Putting good food in can increase energy levels, help you sleep better and won’t leave you with a sugar-crash or food-guilt.
- Drink water. Lots of water. Like 2 litres a day. Keep hydrated.
- Use your time to get ahead with work, studies, Christmas prep, housework. I know that for me, every single year I get to 24th December before I realise I’ve (yet again) not written a single Christmas card and wish I’d had the time to do so earlier. Do that now. Do those jobs you’ve been putting off- clearing out the cupboards can be really therapeutic. Recycling centres are still open this lockdown (check locally for details- our local recycling centre has a rule about only even number registration plates being allowed to visit on even dates and odd number plates on odd dates…)
- Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t compare your lockdown with an Instagram version of someone else’s lockdown. What people put online and what they really get up to are not the same. That person may have spent their whole day trying to get that one perfect photo before crawling back to the sofa to sit in their pants eating an entire tub of ice cream. We never know what is going on behind closed doors. Embrace the imperfect.
- Celebrate the little victories. My husband once bought me a pin that said “Not one to brag, but today I made it out of bed.” Find pleasure and happiness celebrating the small wins each day. If today you managed to pluck up the courage to text a friend or ask for help, be proud. If you tried something new, finally tackled that pile of ironing, got to the end of your book, managed to find a matching pair of socks, finally got past season 3 of Lost (did anyone ever manage that?!), painted your toenails, made time for some much needed self-care, celebrate this. Smile. Reward yourself. You’d be surprised how quickly these small victories add up to improved mood.
- Connect with people. If you are feeling lonely, guaranteed there are many, many others feeling the same. Seek them out. If you need help, ask for it. If you can help someone out, offer help. If we can’t connect in the real world, let’s connect virtually. Let’s talk to distant relatives, friends on social media, give a neighbour a phone call or text. Let’s check on each other and look out for each other.
One thing that is very apparent is that we are not in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm. Let’s all get through this together.