Whilst plenty of us have faced stricter regional regulations over recent weeks, the whole country is yet again facing a national lockdown in a bid to lower the spread of COVID-19.
Whilst this lockdown differs from the last in that thankfully, schools are still open and this time around we have more of an idea of how it will be, it’s still going to a shock to the system for millions of us, who are now back in our homes for all of November or even finding ourselves back on furlough.
Here are 6 ways that will help you to make the most of this time, keep yourself occupied and productive:
It was bandied around a lot earlier this year, but it truly is vital to maintain or establish a routine as we begin to spend more time in our homes. Without one, it becomes easy for us to slip into bad habits, such as dwelling on our anxiety and negative thinking.
Make sure you get out of bed every morning at a reasonable time, which will mean you’re more likely to be tired at bedtime. Try and eat at regular times so you don’t graze throughout the day.
3. Keep active and keep moving
We all know by now that our mental health is intrinsically linked to physical health. The better we feel in our bodies, the better we feel in our minds.
Regular physical activity doesn’t just lower our risk of heart disease, stroke and some forms of cancer, it can also work to relieve stress and alleviate depression and anxiety – which can all be triggered by a sense of isolation and increased loneliness.
When it comes to exercise, the key is to make regular physical activity a habit. Many people took up walking or running during the first lockdown as a means to get out of the house. Of course, this isn’t always easy when you’re already very busy.
But the benefits of exercise, including improved energy levels, lifting your mood, promoting better quality sleep and increased fitness, strength and flexibility will actually make it easier to manage all the things you need to do, as physical activity improves motivation when it comes to tackling our to-do lists.
3. Social contact
In whatever way is possible, try to speak to your friends and family as often as you can. Share with others your feelings and fears – as its likely that you won’t be alone in them.
Also consider offering yourself up as a listening ear to your loved ones. It will provide you with a sense of purpose and give your day some meaning.
Try to find opportunities to laugh and indulge in shared humour. It will not only calm you down and restore happy endorphins – but allows for bursts of escapism.
Before the pandemic, we lived in a very different world. Many of us lived busy lifestyles and as a result, often put taking care of ourselves at the bottom of our to-do lists. Now many of us are finding that we have a bit more time on our hands, so we should use this opportunity to focus on ourselves and practise self-compassion.
Simple things such as spending our evenings exploring new hobbies, enjoying long baths or just spending time preparing our favourite meals will relax our minds, and give us some much-needed time out from the exhaustive situation we’ve found ourselves in.
Why not try giving mindfulness exercises a go? Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to take time for ourselves and be mindful of our thoughts and feelings.
Regular mindfulness practice can help relieve stress, improve your sleep, and enable you to regulate your emotions.
5. Look to the future
It’s important to keep in mind that this will end and at some point, and in the future restrictions will lift. While we can’t put an exact date on when that will be, and ‘normal’ might not be what we were used to before the coronavirus outbreak, eventually we’ll find ourselves in a new normality.
It’s important to not lose sight of that and to keep it in the forefront of our minds, especially when we’re feeling lonely. It’s also important not to lose hope, with recent news about successful vaccination trials, there is comfort to be found in knowing the end just might be in sight.
6. The power of perspective
When we’re feeling down, it’s easy to lose motivation or deprive ourselves of things that bring us joy, so we must work at pushing through our own personal barriers.
We’re living through a pandemic, and we must not lose sight of how extraordinary this is. By keeping busy and staying connected, we can make the most of this time.
This time will pass, and the future – which may feel uncertain at the minute – will bring with it some clarity and hopefully a renewed sense of normality as we begin to look forward to the new year.