2020 has certainly been an extraordinary time worldwide. With a second lockdown in full force and the improbability that anything will return to normal for a while, it can be a worrying time for everybody. The dark winter nights and cold days also certainly don’t help.
If you’re worried about your emotional health and about making it through this tricky winter period, carry on reading. Let’s see this winter lockdown as an opportunity to change our behaviors, if we need to, and become as creative and positive as possible.
Set a Routine
Routine through this period is definitely important. It can be easy to feel demotivated when you’re stuck inside and your social plans have been constrained. This is especially true now that the weather has taken a turn and the evenings are so dark! Try to make a clear routine that involves lots of short breaks as well as doing things you enjoy.
If you’re struggling to find your lockdown routine, then try using a time planning book. Planning out your week will certainly help in making sure you stick to it.
For me, living alone meant I fell out of the routine of cooking nutritious meals, and by mid-week, I was noticing the impact of this on my physical and emotional energy. By allotting a time on a Sunday to cook a batch for the week, I have definitely gotten better at making sure I have meals ready during the busy working week! I also use less pre-prepared solutions, which contain all sorts of ingredients I don’t need.
Stay in Touch
As humans, we thrive off interaction with others, particularly if your personality type is extroverted. It’s so important to stay in touch with colleagues, family, and friends – even if you cannot see them face to face. Make the effort to plan regular phone calls, or even better, video calls.
If you’re feeling miserable, it can be easy to hide yourself away from your support network, but don’t do it! You’ll feel a lot better by communicating and talking. You’ll almost end the call with a smile!
If you have time, becoming a community volunteer can be really fulfilling and keep you in touch with vulnerable people. I have friends who have done this and found it really inspiring! However fed-up they feel, helping someone who feels worse is a fantastic feeling.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, make sure you reach out to somebody for support. If you don’t feel able to, there are lots of professional organizations that can offer help.
Exercise and Enjoy the Outdoors
Exercise and nature are two things that have been proven to release feel good endorphins in your brain! Schedule a time every day to go outside. This is a perfect opportunity to take some time out of your day and ensure you get a lunch break away from your desk.
If you don’t feel like rigorous exercise, even a gentle, 30-minute walk can be extremely beneficial for your mind and body. Scope out an area nearby that has nice scenery and go for it!
If you want to try more rigorous exercise, there are a lot of free online ideas and apps for great home workouts. I use an app to track my runs. It has been a great way to challenge myself to improve my times, and the notifications remind me to take the time out of my day to do a quick run.
Regular yoga routines also contribute to great emotional health. Look online for one that catches your eye. They can be as short as 10 minutes and will focus on different areas of the body or outcomes. All you need is space – no special equipment necessary.
Try New Things
One of the silver linings of lockdown has definitely been all the new, creative ideas people have come up with to deliver their services virtually! I have a friend who has taken up online dance classes and is thoroughly enjoying it. Another one of my friends has become an avid knitter through an online ‘coffee and knit’ program for pregnant women!
With everything being a little bit out of sync, why not embrace it and try something new?! You may just find a new hobby or passion.
Start the Day with Something Positive
Start everyday doing something you enjoy! Feeling good and positive is the best way to set yourself up for a productive and happy day. This can be something really small. For example, I always wake up and turn on ‘feel good’ music. It immediately makes me feel excited and ready for the day ahead!
Other ideas might be listening to your favorite podcast for 10 minutes, going for a run or exercise session, or even making sure you make the time to enjoy a coffee in bed (another one of my favorites).
Look F0rward to Future Events
Make sure you book plans for your calendar that you can look forward to. This might even be something longer term – like a luxurious break or holiday when lockdown is over.
Don’t let the lockdown dampen the festive season – family and friends will be as adamant as you to make sure celebrations are still heartfelt and fun!
Be Kind to Yourself and Find Some Space
Remember, it’s an unprecedented time for everybody at the moment. It’s okay to feel uncertain or worried. Make sure you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be super productive.
Take the time to relax and do things you enjoy. This is also especially important if you’re working from home. It can be easy to let work invade time and space that would normally be reserved for your personal life and relaxation. Taking time for yourself might be something as simple as taking a long bath, doing your nails, or cooking something indulgent!