Being on ‘lockdown’ and staying away from others can be a lot harder and more challenging than we probably could have imagined. The majority of us come into contact with people many times a day, even if we aren’t ‘socialising’ we come into contact with strangers all the time. From a visit to the shop, collecting a coffee, getting some petrol, visiting the gym, most of us have some form of social contact daily. For most of us staying in either alone or with just our families can feel very strange and difficult.
There are things that can make this easier, less stressful and anxiety provoking. Here are my top tips:
Routine, routine, routine!
This is more important than you probably realise. Firstly, distinguish between your ‘work’ days and your ‘off days’ if you can. Having a timetable will make your day go quicker and give it structure and purpose. Remember to factor in breaks, exercise and fresh air. These are all more important than ever, especially with the added stresses this pandemic brings. Take your time over things that you would normally rush, take time to find the recipe, chop the ingredients, do those hobbies you’ve never had time for.
Limit the News and Social Media Feeds
There is only so much that can happen in a day. Checking and rechecking can become addictive, destructive and all consuming; at the very least keeping your stress levels high and not allowing you to function. Also it is best NOT to check it upon awakening, you are likely to set yourself up for a stressful day, or before you go to sleep at night, we know that blue light can hinder restful sleep and that together with anxiety provoking news is not going to help you sleep well. Sleep is super important now more than ever to help you be calm and productive in the days ahead. I was listening to a podcast by Dr Judd who used the analogy of negative social media being like socially sneezing over people. This is a great analogy at the moment as we have all witnessed the sharing of the empty supermarket shelves causing more and more empty supermarket shelves. He describes it as a ‘social contagion’ whereby we are sneezing on others brains causing panic; the panic pandemic! Limit social media and unfollow/unlike people or groups that spread negativity.
Out of your head and onto the page….
Many suffer from anxiety and already know techniques to help. However for many this pandemic has caused new and unfamiliar feelings of anxiety. If you are feeling anxious I would highly recommend writing down your thoughts and feelings either as you wake up or before you go to sleep, or both! Many keep paper or a journal by the bed for this reason. By offloading these feelings you can set yourself up for a productive day or good nights sleep. This can be even more important if you have more limited social contact and haven’t been able to talk things through like you would normally.
We all know that movement and exercise is good for our physical bodies, and it is widely known that it is good for our mental health. Whatever it is that you enjoy, timetable it into your day. You could dance to music, skip in the garden, there are loads of FREE workouts online now across loads of genres, many now streamed live, so you can join in with others ‘virtually’. Go for a walk, run or cycle, get off the beaten track if you can to avoid others and make sure you keep your distance if you can’t. While you are outside, make the most of it, take time to really appreciate nature, pay attention to what you see, birds, trees, flowers, use all of your senses, deep breathe the fresh air, be in the moment.
Social media and the internet have had a bad reputation over the last few years and sometimes with good reason. But where would we be without it now? Use the phone, email, Zoom, Facetime, Skype to stay in touch with your family and friends. Speak to people everyday. The possibilities are endless, our local pub is arranging virtual dinner parties and quiz nights! If you know of those who aren’t so technology savvy please pick up the phone and give them a ring and have a chat. Just because we are separated it doesn’t mean we have to be isolated.
Touch is important.
This is tricky while we are all socially distancing, but touch is still important, take time to cuddle your loved ones that you can at home, and don’t forget your pets. Giving them lots of love and attention is not just great for them but for you too!
There is no doubt that this is going to be a challenging time for most of us. Many are worried about their loved ones and many are concerned about their livelihoods, keeping their businesses going and paying their bills. However, there are some positives if you look for them. We will get to spend some quality time at home with loved ones and learn to appreciate things that get forgotten about in our busy and hectic lives. Try to appreciate the benefits of this time while you can as it will soon be just a memory we can tell future generations about.