How are you feeling? I mean really, how are you doing right now? The current pandemic has plunged the world into truly uncharted territory, and here in the UK, we’re still in full lockdown and life has changed substantially for us all. With the current situation in mind, we thought we’d deviate from the types of blogs we usually write and share some tips on how to build resilience and enhance your wellbeing during lockdown instead.
We all have different coping mechanisms and will be dealing with varying degrees of worry and anxiety right now and our moods may be fluctuating more than usual - one thing is certain, lockdown is tough to deal with.
As well as changes to our routines from being furloughed, looking after children, being unable to work from home or even those in key roles who are still leaving home for work, most of us are dealing with huge changes to what we do and the way we do them.
Change, and in particular, sudden change can knock us off balance. The loss of our old familiar routine is just one aspect that contributes to how we’re feeling and coping. Add to that a gnawing sense of uncertainty and fears over the health and wellbeing of friends and loved ones as well as the fact that many of us are facing financial uncertainty as a result of being furloughed or no longer having a job at all.
It’s no wonder then that lockdown is proving challenging on many different fronts. The good news is, in any situation we can adapt and find positive coping strategies to get us through. Below we highlight a handful of tips to help boost your resilience and improve your wellbeing at this difficult time.
1. Maintain your fitness
With gyms and swimming pools closed, many of us have been left floundering, wondering what to do to maintain fitness levels. Some have turned to jogging, riding bikes or walking, but for those who aren’t comfortable exercising outdoors a home fitness routine could be the answer.
If you’re a member of a gym, you’ll probably find that they are still running classes online that you can take part in at home. YouTube is packed full of workout videos from HiiT to beginners yoga, Amazon Prime also has a decent selection of workout videos, and if you have kids, of course, you’ll already be familiar with Joe Wicks live PE lessons!
Brisk walking is a pretty decent cardio workout, especially if you try and vary the terrain, so take advantage of your permission to exercise outdoors daily, if you can’t get out or don’t want to leave home, then even gentle stretches and things like marching on the spot or walking up and down stairs will help get your step count up and will have health benefits.
2. Give mindful meditation a try
During testing times it’s easy to let the negative emotions build-up, often without consciously realising what’s happening. From a pervasive sense of loneliness or a lack of direction, to health concerns or feeling overwhelmed, we’re all experiencing a complex set of emotions right now, so make a habit of regularly checking in on how you’re feeling.
Here’s a very simple mindfulness meditation technique that’s easy for anyone to do, and it takes just a couple of minutes to complete.
Sit or lie somewhere comfy and quiet close your eyes. As you breathe slowly and deeply, focus on how your body feels, and notice anywhere that you feel tension in your body. Use your out breath to relax that tension, slowly scanning your body starting from the top of your head, down to your feet.
Next, consider how you are feeling emotionally, and sit with those feelings for a while before taking a few final deep cleansing breaths and opening your eyes.
For more practised meditators you might want to stay with the breath a little longer and once you’ve done a body scan you can turn your attention to the external world. Focus on each sound you can hear, on any physical sensations and smells you’re aware of and focus on each one for a while before letting it go and allowing your mind to drift on.
Meditation is a wonderful thing to do when the sun is shining, so if you have a garden or yard, make the most of a warm and sunny day by sitting in the sunshine and taking a few minutes out to meditate, the warmth of sunshine on your face and a gentle breeze can really enhance your awareness and anchor you in the here and now.
Meditation is scientifically proven to lower the heart rate which can make us feel calmer and more centred, so even if you’ve never done it before, with a bit of practice it can be a super-effective way of enhancing your feeling of wellbeing.
3. Reframe boredom
For those currently out of work or furloughed, you might find you have time on your hands and no real clue what to do with it! There really is only so much Netflix binge watching you can do before a sense of boredom creeps in, but actually, having time to think, to be, to learn, to create, can be immensely positive.
When your mind idles it creates a furtive ground that allows creativity to blossom and it can also help you work through any problems you might be facing, as with fewer distractions, it’s easier to hear ourselves and think.
Idle time can be very good for us, so if you find yourself fed up of the TV, the house is already gleaming and you can’t face yet another Zoom chat with family or friends, why not use the time to think?
From mulling over problems to making positive plans for the future, don’t think of yourself as feeling bored, think of it instead as feeling chilled, and just remember back to all those times when you were rushed off your feet and would have given anything to spend an afternoon with no pressure and no agenda - enjoy it!
4. Eat well
Hands up, who’s been comfort eating more than usual during lockdown? Hands up who also got a bit of a shock when they pulled on a pair of jeans for the first time after weeks of bad eating and slobbing around in leggings or sweat pants?
Eating more of the wrong things is a pretty common stress response, and whilst now isn’t the time to chide yourself if your healthy eating habits have slipped a little, focusing on nutrition is still important.
Many of us are enjoying having extra time on our hands and even those who are still working no longer have a laborious daily commute to contend with, freeing up often several hours a day. This time can be used to cook new things and experiment a bit!
Planning meals in advance when we’re all trying to shop less frequently is a big help, and even if you’ve never planned meals and shopped for a whole week or more in advance before, now is a good time to embrace change and develop new healthier eating habits or level up your culinary skills!
Pull out those cookery books or jump online and you’ll find heaps of recipe inspiration so embrace your inner Nigella Lawson, and cook up something delicious and fresh as often as possible.
5. Learn something new
Got a guitar or any other instrument gathering dust that you’ve always wanted to learn to play? Always fancied doing a spot of drawing or painting? Perhaps you want to learn and new craft skill? Whatever it is, lockdown is a great time to learn something new!
Depending on what you want to learn, there are heaps of resources open to you. From music lessons over Zoom, to YouTube tutorials and the humble book. Think of something you’ve always fancied doing, or something you’ve been meaning to learn or improve at and use lockdown to your advantage.
6. Random acts of kindness
One of the positive things to come out of this is a greater sense of community that many people are reporting. Social media is full of heart-warming stories, from the fundraising efforts of Captain Tom Moore to notes from strangers through doors, rainbows in windows and donations to food banks.
If you’re crafty, make something for a friend or neighbour to put a smile on their face. Send someone a letter. Get involved in a fundraising activity, volunteer to help out in your local community or just smile at someone in the street.
Your random act of kindness can be big or small, but doing something selfless for others is an effective way to boost your own mood, so get creative and think about how you could put a smile on someone’s face.
Coronavirus Help & Advice Resources
- Tips for maintaining a healthy headspace amid the Covid-19 pandemic
- Coronavirus and your wellbeing
- Covid-19 advice and information NHS UK
- Age UK advice and information on Coronavirus
- How to keep your kids active during coronavirus lockdown
That’s it from us for now, stay safe and take care x