For lots of people, the prospect of coming out of lockdown is exciting! It feels like an age since we were able to go out to see friends and family without having to worry about face masks, hand sanitiser and keeping an unnatural amount of distance away from our loved ones.
For some of us though, another big change in our routine after we’ve just got used to this new kind of normal may bring about anxiety. Will things ever really be the same again? Is it safe enough to ease restrictions? Can I remember how to socialise?! If my children are an example to go by… well, let’s just say I’ve had to re-teach them what’s socially acceptable again!
So, I’ve put together 7 tips for looking after your mental health post lockdown.
1. Control what you can and let go of what you can’t
This is a general rule for life but especially important to remember as lockdown restrictions ease. In times of change, things can easily become overwhelming. Accepting that there are some things you can control and some things you can’t, can help you deal with the craziness of life.
However, don’t let yourself get over-controlling, that can be equally as destructive! Try focusing on the things that are certain and go from there.
2. Pace yourself
Just because the restrictions are lifting doesn’t mean you have to throw yourself back out there. Take your time. If you don’t feel comfortable seeing everyone right away, then don’t. They will understand. Ease yourself back into socialising.
Build up your socialising gradually and if you struggle, set yourself small challenges to overcome. There’s no rush, just as long as you are moving in the right direction. It’s important not to burn yourself out by taking on too much, too quickly.
3. Speak to your manager at work
Since the pandemic started, work life has looked very different for many people. Experts think this will impact the workforce going forwards. Talking to you manager about your work concerns could mean you can make more of a transition back to work rather than going in full time immediately.
When your manager is aware of your concerns, they can help to accommodate you and build your confidence. As mental health has become more widely spoken about in recent years, work establishments are becoming more aware that staff work well when they are happy! Most should, therefore, be understanding and sympathetic.
4. Vary your routine gradually
As I mentioned above, many of us will have adopted a new routine to see us through lockdown. Rather than changing your routine straight away, work on varying your routine. Make small changes so that it isn’t a shock to your system when you begin to do more. Letting yourself get into a state of overwhelm will push back your progress so take baby steps.
5. Remember your boundaries
This might be especially tricky as we get excited to do the things we haven’t been able to for so long. We may even have forgotten our boundaries as we’re somewhat out of practise! In order to avoid overwhelm though, we have to remember our boundaries. Don’t say yes to everything right away and make sure you’re giving yourself what you need in terms of self-care. Again, take it slow and see how you feel rather than going ahead and booking too much in!
6. Focus on the present
Practise mindfulness. There’s no need to look to the future, just take one day at a time. If there’s one thing the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that we can’t look to the future with any certainty. Rather than getting anxious about that, try focusing on living in the moment.
There will be both challenges and opportunities as we come out of lockdown. Search out the positives that can be gained from this and focus on them!
7. Talk to people you trust
If you are struggling, one of the best things you can do is talk to someone. This could be a close friend or family member, or a professional person such as a counsellor. I always feel better after a chat with a friend.
Talking through your concerns can help you to understand exactly what you are anxious about in order to put your thoughts and feelings in order. From there, you can begin to implement strategies to help you thrive when the time comes.
Finally, it’s so important to remember that you are not alone. Many people will be experiencing anxiety due to the changing guidelines. I hope that these tips help you to maintain good mental health as the lockdown restrictions ease.
It feels like “normal” life as we know it was a life time ago. The days have all merged into one long day dream. I’m not quite sure if its a dream, or a nightmare. Or a mixture of both. I long for the normal days that we used to rush through, I long for them because I know now not to take them for granted. Despite this testing time, there are some positives that we can take from this. Here are 5 positives we can take away from Covid 19.
1. Learning not to rush through life
In these testing times, we have learnt how to be still. We have not had the need to rush through life, from plan to plan, exhausting ourselves and draining our energies. Life has suddenly become so much simpler.
When life resumes, perhaps we don’t need to go back to hectic times? Perhaps we shouldn’t overload ourselves with too many plans but not enough self-care. These quiet moments have taught me that rushing through life was not the right thing to do.
We should take time out to just chill. And whilst we are going through each plan, I will be taking it all in so much more now and really making the most of everything.
2. The World is healing
Whilst the rest of the World is paused, the World has been healing. The environment has had far less pollution due to less travel being made both on land and in the airs. We have seen pictures of Venice’s Canals being the clearest they have been in over 60 years.
In Wales, goats have been flocking the empty town streets. There is something special about animals reclaiming the World. Cows have also been reintroduced at Giant’s Causeway.
Through daily exercise, people have been connecting with nature, helping to boost their mental health and getting a better relationship with nature. Let’s hope that this relationship continues and that many people carry on caring more about nature.
Having less pollution has massively helped the environment. Years of damage are finally being undone. But it cant stop there. Thankfully many environmental charities are still working hard to fight for these issues and to protect our planet. Let’s hope that going forward all of this positive news on the environment isn’t undone. The sights of ruined beaches and littering have been upsetting in recent weeks, let’s not go back to old habits.
3. Spending quality time with family
How many times lately have we wished to spend more quality time with our children or our partners? Lock down is giving us this chance. Although my husband is still out working each day, I have had an abundance of time with my children. It has been lovely having them around every day.
For those you that are usually like ships passing in the night, this will give you an incredible opportunity to reconnect and spend time together. Play games, watch films, snuggle and be silly. Have fun. Be a unit again.
For those you that are usually like ships passing in the night, this will give you an incredible opportunity to reconnect and spend time together. Play games, watch films, snuggle and be silly. Have fun. Be a unit again.
4. Figuring out what bits of life are worth going back to
I don’t know about you, but this has given me much needed time to stop and reflect on where I am at in my life. What was working well for me, what wasn’t? What parts of my life drained me more than it gave me positives? What parts of my life left me feeling down, sad, anxious or upset?
I am starting to notice that I don’t miss certain people like I thought I would. That I don’t miss certain things like I thought I would. This is very eye opening. This time has allowed me to figure out what bits of my life are worth going back to, and what I can step away from in the future. I would thoroughly recommend you doing the same.
This time also gives a great chance to find out who your true friends are and who has made the effort at keeping in touch.
5. More appreciation for the ‘real’ heroes
What I have loved the most, has been to see everyone wake up and start to appreciate who really keeps the world ticking over. It’s not the footballers, the celebrities, and no, Batman didn’t come and save us. But our incredible front line workers, especially those in the NHS saved our backsides, and they are still doing so. They are risking their own lives, and not spending time with their family in order to keep ours safe.
Every Thursday at 8pm, the nation have been stepping out of their front doors to clap and make a noise for these fantastic heroes. Every single time I have been moved by this. Thank you isn’t enough, but it’s a start.
For anyone that has mocked supermarket staff in the past, I hope you have also had an awakening- because these people are the ones keeping us fed and watered. Again, they are working touch hours in a high demand job right now- and I’m sure the majority have had their fair share of abuse doing so. I am so thankful.
To anyone else working in sectors which are keeping the world going- thank you. Thank you for your bravery, resilience and selflessness.
It’s hard in such a testing time to see the positives. But we have to try, we have to look. Even if it takes more effort. In these dark and unnerving times, there are still the glimmers of light and hope. Just open your eyes to them. And don’t forget, let’s just take this one day at a time.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I am really struggling to listen to music right now. In fact, over the past few months, I have barely listened to any music. I can’t really explain why, other then every single song that I hear reminds me of “normal life”. The life I am missing so terribly right now.
The minute a song starts, it takes me back to some sort of memory from the past. Maybe it was a memory of friends or a holiday. But my mind becomes bursting full. It takes me back to the period in my life when I would have listened to that song the most. Whether they were uni days, or days not even that long ago. All I know is that it takes me right back to when this wasn’t happening.
At times, I surprise myself with how well I am doing. But maybe it’s because I am in a weird sort of bubble that I have put over myself. A bubble where I have just pretended that life is paused. I just have to get through each day, doing my work, helping my children with their school work. Repeat.
It’s only when music plays that I realise that I’m not doing ok. I’m pretending. I’m pretending that things are ok when they’re not. How is this ok? How is being distanced from so many friends and family that I adore ok? How is not being able to pop to the shop for a little something ok? I can’t even order the birthday cards I want and need for my friends and family. When did that become such a complicated process? So no, it’s not ok. None of this is ok.
Music reminds me of that.
Music is the soundtrack to my car journeys
I have ventured out only a small handful of times in the past few months.
I remember the first journey out so vividly, I listened to music the whole way to our click and collect and the whole way back, singing my lungs out, feeling the sun warm my face through the car window. I felt tears prick my eyes. They stung. I tried to blink them back and stay calm. Don’t pop the bubble. If the bubble pops, everything sets in. It sets in how rubbish this is right now. Then I won’t be able to pretend anymore and I don’t know how I will cope then. I’ll go back to how I was at the very beginning, when I cried morning, night and day for a week straight. That’s why I formed this protective bubble over me.
Listening to the songs, I closed my eyes. I pictured life before this. A whole life so far of memories rushed by. The tears then rolled ever so slowly down my face. I couldn’t stop them.
They fell. I held the music close to my heart. It reminded me of a beautiful life I have led.
Suddenly those moments that I’d struggled in my past all just washed away. All that remained was beautiful, meaningful memories with friends and family both past and present. It felt good.
Then the car stopped. The music stopped.
Cleaning motivation delivered by the tunes
The only other times I have listened to music is when I have been washing up and tidying. Music is great for motivation to get me to clear up quicker.
Although on these occasions I have been less emotional, it has still been difficult to listen to music. It all still brings back so many memories. That’s why I have chosen not to listen to any recently. Maybe that’s wrong of me. Let’s face it- music has always been a great healer. Maybe it can heal now. But right now, it reminds me too much of “Normal Life”. And that feels so far off, that I need to stay in this bubble for a while longer.
Have you listened to music in lockdown? Do you find it helps? Or are you like me and it brings back too many memories?
Why do I think social distancing will have an impact on mental health? Read here.
These are strange times that we are living in now. “Normal” life as we know it has been paused and we are having to get to know a new normal; lockdown life. To begin with, I really struggled with this. I cried a lot.
Having never been a fan of change, everything was changing. I really hope that we never have to go through something like this ever again. The initial days were like an apocalypse movie. Shops were shut down all around us, as well as cafes, restaurants and pubs. Life was halting. It didn’t sit well with me and it created a wave of changes all around me.
Then my children stopped going to school and I was suddenly thrust into this new funk. I now juggle homeschooling whilst working from home. I have been working from home for the last year, but not with children surrounding me all day. The change has been difficult to adapt to.
I hated the thought of not being able to see my friends or family. To not be able to take my children to the park. To not pop into Costa for a brief catch up with a friend in-between clients, emerging from it’s burgundy shop smelling like strong delicious coffee. It’s difficult to think that for the foreseeable future that my children will be home with me, relying on me to keep them stimulated and to not get that all-important alone time I had gotten used to. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my boys, but I also need space and time alone sometimes.
Slowly, but steadily, I have gotten used to this new way of life. Well, as much as I can do. I am trying to implement a little routine into our lives, so that the boys can still do some school work whilst I can continue to do what work I do have on. Somehow, the days go by quickly. The weeks are going by quickly.
Now we are almost three months into this new life.
“Normal” life seems a lifetime ago. And I am not sure how we are going to get back to it. Will it be done steadily? Or will there be a rush back to it? No one knows.
All I do know is that I will never take anything in life for granted again. A simple trip to the supermarket, or coffee out with a friend. To book a table at a restaurant or shake someone’s hand. Never again will I overlook these simple incredible things.
I have felt a sense of surreal wash over me the past few weeks, and not necessarily a bad surreal. Things are quite calm at home, there is no rush of life currently. We are just taking a day at a time. I don’t want to forget this feeling. Just living moment by moment, day by day.
As much as I want “normal” life to resume, I don’t entirely want to erase the simple feelings from this new experience.
Day by day, that’s the key. Keep busy in terms of filling your day with a mixture of self-care and productivity. Then schedule in calls with family and friends. And spend some time doing absolutely nothing. Because when normal life resumes, those moments will be rare.
It has been over a month now since I started self-isolation and practising social distancing measures. One whole long, feels like a lifetime, month. In this time, I have laughed, I have cried and on the whole I have had a huge sense of surreal wash over my existence. What have I learnt then from one month of isolation?
Time Has Little Meaning
We are trying to keep with somewhat of a routine. We get up, get dressed and begin the day with school work. We also have lunch, dinners and try and do the same standard bedtime routine that we are used to. There is some relevance to the day we are on, but even then that’s lost some meaning.
The weeks seem to go quickly on the whole. But the days seem to be long. It’s reminding me of the early years of my children’s life, the days are long but the years are short. That was the phrase drilled in to my head, and boy was it true. Even the bad days that seemed never ending, eventually ended and before I knew it another month had gone by. That’s what’s happening now.
Each morning I wake up, saddened by the prospect of another day without being able to see those I love. Without being able to nip out for a coffee and cake with a friend, or take my children out somewhere fun for the day to explore. The day goes on and on. And then it’s nighttime. I go to bed sad, knowing that it’s Groundhog day.
Then before I know it, I realise it’s been weeks since I last hugged a friend, or dropped my kids off at school. It’s been weeks of this new normal. Time has lost meaning. I can’t use dates to really plan anything, only the odd call or work committment to schedule in.
You Realise Who’s Important To You
During this time you realise who you miss and who you wish you could see. I have really missed my friends and family. I’ve been wishing I could just see them one more time for a 10 minute coffee.
The friends that have stayed in touch, that have called me, FaceTimed me, they mean the absolute world. I miss them all so much but I know that when I see them that the time apart will be worth it. Time apart like this makes you appreciate things more. Boy, have I appreciated those friendships more. I’ve realised just how much people mean to me and how lucky I am to have them.
If during this time, you find that you don’t miss things or people so much, that you feel calmer and better without them- I think that is really telling. Hopefully this time will give you the strength to walk away from anything that no longer serves you- this is something that thankfully happened to me before Covid 19, so I am able to process this time far better.
If anything this time has made me feel closer to some people. As we have faced these fears and emotions together, and been a bit soppier than we would have usually. I’m not afraid to tell my friends that I miss them, I love them and I am lucky to have them.
You Appreciate The Little Things In Life
I have taken so much for granted, without really even realising. I’ve always been a grateful person usually. But this has taken that to a whole new level. Who knew that we would miss school runs? Trips to the super market? Being able to order food or go into any shop? Who knew that the coffee shops would shut down so you couldn’t even just pop in for a take away coffee, let alone see and catch up with those you adore.
If anything, the little things in life for me now have even more meaning. I will never look at life in the same way again. I don’t even know how or when normality will resume, but I know that I will never ever take any of it for granted again.
In Dark Times, Stars Shine
For me, I am noticing how kind and beautiful some souls are. In scary times, always look out for the helpers. They are the heroes. They are the ones that shine brighter than any stars.
From Joe Wicks delivering the nation’s PE lessons, to the headteachers of my children’s school sending out regular reassuring letters. Sometimes, its the little ways a person can help that make a vast difference in these turbulent times. Our local community set up a community support system, meaning those that are self-isolating didn’t need to leave to go and get medicines and food.
These times are dark, they are unsettling. But there will always be the silver linings. The kind people that help are the ones making this whole situation a whole lot better. They should always be remembered and appreciated after this.
All the key workers, bravely working throughout a time when they could be endangering theirs or their loved ones lives by just stepping out to go to work and keep the country running. Super market staff, NHS, fire fighters, police, lorry drivers, farmers, the list goes on- thank you all.
I have learnt a lot from one month of isolation. I have learnt that light can still shine in the dark times, that it’s ok if our usual modern day time and routine is washed away momentarily. Because all that matters is the people we love. Taking care of them, keeping them safe, keeping in touch. I know on the other side of this, that I will get to see those I love again. And I will never ever take them, or normal life for granted again.
What has one month in isolation taught you? Comment below, I would love to hear from you.
We are a few weeks into what I believe is a mixture of being in the Big Brother house, living Groundhog day and an apocalypse movie all rolled into one. It can really get to you when you look ahead and wonder how long we will be stuck here for. But, it is important to stay positive. I’ve decided to come up with a list of ideas of things you can do in isolation.
Binge on some boxsets.
I never usually have time to watch too much Netflix. Often, my list gets too full I can’t add any more on. Now is the time to indulge in the TV and get through my list. Have you got an endless list of films and shows that you’ve not yet had a chance to watch? Now’s the time.
Some great ones that I have viewed have been;
Love is Blind. This is so cringe-worthy but also hard not to watch. I got so hooked on it last weekend and watched it all within a matter of days.
The Tiger King. This is a new Netflix documentary. It’s less about tigers, more about complex lifestyle choices mixed with enemies.
Dark Tourist. This is also a documentary, but each episode is based on a dark tourist spot. My favourite episode has to be where they explore Japan where the Tsunami hit a few years ago.
Friday Night Dinners. This is the perfect thing to watch for some light comic relief. I’m so happy they have released a new series.
Read some books.
How many times have you wished to sit down and curl up with a book? Now you can. Challenge yourself to see how many you can get through during this time. Post your recommendations below.
By exercising, you are keeping yourself healthy and fit. Exercise also helps to boost your mental health as well as your physical health. If you are allowed, then take a walk or run outside. If not, try finding some YouTube videos to give you guidance for a work out.
Whether you have children or not, Joe Wicks is hosting free live PE sessions for the nation each morning at 9 am that you could join in with. Or search his YouTube channel and you will find more inspiration and videos.
Have you got an exercise bike that usually collects dust? Drag it out and start using it. You will thank yourself in months to come that you stayed active.
Get Baking or Cooking.
Now is the perfect time to start cooking using different ingredients. Rather than just popping something in the oven, why not look online for some new recipes and take the time and care of preparing a meal from scratch? This can be such a nice activity to do each day.
You can also get into baking. Bake yourself some nice tasty treats to enjoy throughout your week. You never know, you may even become the next star baker.
Here are a few things that we have cooked and baked recently:
Have you always wanted to do something for yourself that gets you in touch with your creative side? Maybe you’ve always loved drawing, or playing a musical instrument but you never usually get the time to do so. Now is the perfect time. Here are some of the creative hobbies I have enjoyed over the time:
Colouring In. Colouring in can be a very mindful activity. It helps you to drown your endless worries and thoughts, instead focusing on the beautiful colours in front of you. And not forgetting to try and keep within the lines!
Sewing. I was gifted a unicorn sock pack for Christmas from my brother and his wife. I started it weeks ago but it remained unfinished. But now I finally have time to finish sewing and completing it.
Cross stitch. I have always loved cross stitch. It calms me like no other hobby and I always love seeing my finished pieces. I have been making some time for this peaceful craft again.
Be Youthful and Play Video Games.
I have to say this has been one of my favourite past times of isolation. I have loved getting the Nintendo Switch out and letting my inner child free. I never usually can justify spending hours engrossed in a game when I usually have so much to do. But this has been the ultimate escapism for me. The games I’ve enjoyed are;
Pokemon Sword on the Nintendo Switch. I love the storyline to this game and now I am making it my mission to fill and complete my Pokedex. My boys love watching my play too so that’s been a bonus.
Mario Kart. A bit of harmless fun, I have spent hours whizzing around the race tracks and escaping from the real world for a while.
Two Point Hospital. Who can remember Theme Hospital? This game is essentially the same and I am hooked.
Plague Inc. I used to have this on my phone, but I decided to download it again. It’s very apt for the current situation, and it is a bit addictive too.
Have a Clear Out.
Now is the perfect time to go through your house and have a clear out. You can choose a room a week, gut it and then decide what you need to do. Does it need a deep clean? A paint? Or maybe it could do with some new home touches- like a new storage solution, or a new wall canvas. Now is the best time to get your home up to scratch.
Think of those jobs that you never usually have time to do in the home- NOW is that time.
Reflect on life.
This isn’t time to dwell, but it is a great time to reflect. How was life going for you? Was there something that you’d love to change now? Now is a great time to reflect on where you’re at in your life and where you want to go.
Perhaps your job has been getting you down, you could always use this time to job hunt, or broaden your skills and knowledge. Is there an online course you could take up? This is a great time to get studying and learn something new, then you can use this for a job hunt further down the line.
Or maybe you had toxic relationships or friendships? There is nothing more cleansing than having to distance yourself from everyone. It is now that you can really reflect on who is important in your life and who is not. Then when we are able to get back to ‘normal’ life, you will find it easier to stay away from those that bring you down.
Whatever was bringing you down and affecting you negatively in life, this is the best time to distance yourself from it and never go back. However, if you equally feel like something is lacking in life, now is the best time to consider how to get that in your life.
Touch base with loved ones.
Calls and FaceTime is what has been getting me through these past two weeks. I have tried to call or video call friends each day, if not a couple of times a day and it has made the world of difference. Every time I get to talk to a friend, or family member, it helps me to feel more connected to them and it really boosts my spirits.
I really miss seeing my friends in person, but this time has given me a chance to really reflect on what amazing people I have in my life and I know we are going to have the best time on the other side of this. In the mean time, I am thoroughly enjoying every phone and video call we have. Try scheduling some calls into your days.
Plan for your future.
As mentioned above, this is a great time to plan for the future. Is there a skill you want to take up? A holiday destination you want to go to? Plan for what you want life to look like when we get out of this.
Do you want to be more or less social? Take up a new hobby? Find a new job or career?
What do you want to do to treat yourself and your family after this? Where is the first place you will go?
Although we can’t put a date in our diaries for anything, we can still write a list of plans that we want to do.
Catch up with life whilst practising self care.
How many times in the past year have you wished for life to slow down? Before this, I was always so busy and I kept saying to myself, “Next week life will slow down and I can spend time on myself”. Only that never happened.
Until all of a sudden, life was forced to slow down.
Although I am now juggling work and children, I have still got a little extra time on my hands and I am still able to begin practising self care more regularly. I have started going on a daily run. This is something I would never have had the time or chance to do.
What self care can you partake in? Start today. You will soon feel a huge difference and hopefully going forward, it will soon become routine so that when life does resume, we still prioritise it.
There is something quite magical about being still and observing life as it is. Or just being still outside in the garden and noticing nature around us. Nature is healing. Earth is healing.
It is deeply heartbreaking that so many people are suffering or losing their lives in these upsetting and turbulent times. It is time to be still, to acknowledge everything we should be thankful and grateful for. To take a big breath. This is life, this is history we are living. We are brave, we can get through this.
I hope that this blog post has given you some ideas on what to do during this time of isolation. I seem to have a few good days, followed by a few very down days. It’s only natural for our feelings to be turbulent and all over the place, just like life is. Ever since I have suffered with anxiety, I really struggle to adapt to change. The only thing I can do is take one day at a time and focus on what I can control; and that’s all of the above.