As we embark on at least another three weeks of coronavirus lockdown here in the UK, we are probably all feeling very different about the prospect of what still feels like a very alien concept. Some of us might be quite happy pottering at home, while others will literally feel like a prisoner in their own home. However you are feeling, it’s likely you’ve experienced some bouts of anxiety, worry and stress, and let’s face it, there are many things to be concerned about.
The effects of what is happening globally right now stretch far and wide, and as many commentators suggest that there will be a significant impact on mental health, it’s never been more important to take care of ourselves. We are by no means mental health experts here, so if you are experiencing serious issues at this time, please do consult your doctor. For those who are dealing with a more manageable level of anxiety or stress, then Jessica Rose Williams is sharing a few ways in which we can nurture our minds and bodies during this difficult time…
I keep catching myself wondering if I’m enjoying lockdown more than I should. Of course there are things I miss, things I want to return to the way they were before and of course I have worries and even feelings of guilt that creep in from time to time, but on the whole, I’m ok. I put my lockdown positivity down to three things; being an introvert who naturally veers towards a quiet life of solitude, the privilege of being able to stay home unlike my mum who is an intensive care nurse and finally, and perhaps most importantly, I put it down to taking good care of myself right now.
This pandemic has created an abundance of uncertainty and so much is out of our control. It’s understandable for us to be feeling all the feelings and if you’re anything like me perhaps you find loving yourself is the hardest when you need it the most. It’s all too easy to practice self-compassion when life is going our way, but it’s during times of struggle we need to love ourselves the most. Nurturing our mental health and well-being is never out of our control. We can always choose to love ourselves and I believe not only us but the world around us benefits as a result.
I wanted to share some small but impactful ways we can all look after ourselves during lockdown. Life is still happening to us and we still deserve to feel joy.
Power of positivity
Positive thinking isn’t just woo woo fluff. Science has proven it works. When we constantly focus on the negative we look for more negatives and this is how we fall into a downward spiral. On the flip side if we focus on the positives we will look for more positives. This quickly escalates into an overall positive attitude which is a much happier place to live. Sure we’re in lockdown and maybe we aren’t working as much if at all as a result, but that also means we get to spend more quality time with our pets and family.
Tolerance through boundaries
My husband and I have worked from home together for the last 5 years. It’s been a slippery slope of ups and downs but we’ve finally found our groove since laying down some boundaries. Designated areas, shared calendars and compromise have been the key to our success. He knows when I’m recording my next YouTube video so he doesn’t shout down to tell me we’re out of soap and I know he’s in deep work mode during the mornings.
Focusing on what we can control and what hasn’t changed
A lot has changed since our lives turned upside down and nothing fuels anxiety like uncertainty or change, but it’s important to remember that a lot has remained the same. Focusing on these constants has helped me calm my anxiety significantly. Each morning I remind myself that the sun has still risen like it always has, the birds are still singing and the tulips in my garden are continuing to bloom.
We never grow out of our need for routines. Just like children we thrive in them and even the tiniest routines can anchor us and hold us steady during a storm. This might not be the time to develop a superhuman 5am morning routine but it’s certainly the time to place gentle bookmarks throughout your day. Try to incorporate something that truly feeds you as opposed to something that looks good on Instagram or is popular. For me that’s choosing to exercise each day even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Sweating doesn’t look pretty but it definitely feels good and my mental health is thanking me for it.
Feeding ourselves well, getting the sleep we need (7-9 hours as adults) and moving our bodies in a way that feels good are the pillars of self-care. This golden ratio sounds basic but will do more good than any candlelit bubble bath ever could. So often we neglect the basics when they are exactly what we need. Always start with the basics and then you can build your personalised self-care rituals from there.
A list of small but impactful things to try at home right now
- Give yourself as little to do as possible
- Keep a gratitude journal and write down one to three specific things you’re grateful for each day
- Talk to friends, family or someone you trust about how you’re feeling
- Enjoy guilty pleasures without the guilt
- Take five minutes to stretch out your body
- Lower the expectations you have of yourself right now because you can’t do it all
- Try a co-working hour or two via Skype if you’re feeling lonely
- Dive into creativity in any way that feels good
- Look to the future, dream some new dreams and then write them all down
- Video call family and friends to feed your connection needs
- Watch your news intake as too much negative news isn’t healthy
- Meditate via a YouTube video or a wellbeing app like Headspace
- Exercise that works with your breath like yoga will connect your mind body and soul
- Celebrate every tiny win because even getting out of bed to greet the day is worth celebrating
What are you finding helpful during lockdown? Share your tips in the comments so we can all try them out.