23 Apr Self-care and looking after your mental health in lockdown
Are you avoiding the news? Do you feel a pang of anxiety every time you scroll through Twitter? Instead you turn to Instagram and Facebook, only to find they aren’t much better. With confusing statistics, the relentless news cycle, and with there being no expiration date on our lockdown situation, it’s only natural if you’re starting to feel a little overwhelmed with life right now.
If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to deal with emotions recently, then now isn’t the time to start slacking on your self care. But what does self care even look like in this weird time we live in?
Look after your body
Moving your body is something we have certainly taken for granted up until now. For those of us who are used to hitting the gym three or four times a week, isolation and lockdown can be unbearable to handle. Exercise and your mental health are intrinsically linked to one another, and if one of them disappears, the other may start to suffer.
You may be limited in terms of the type of exercise you can do and how much you can do, but if you’re self-isolating or stuck at home it’s important that you keep your body moving. While it may take more motivation than you think you have, we promise that once you’re done with a workout you will feel so much better. Exercise has incredibly endorphin boosting and stress busting properties, so why wouldn’t you partake?
YouTube and apps are your best friend here. You could stretch it out with an online yoga workout – try Yoga With Adriene for all abilities – or throw on a HIIT workout for some high intensity cardio. Or if it’s nice outside, why not head out for a socially distanced run? Anything to get your blood pumping.
Look after your mind
Stress can really weigh on you especially in unusual circumstances like these. It’s important that you try to relieve any build-up of negative emotions through healthy means. This could be yoga, breathing, meditation or calming activities such as reading. Try to spend time doing things that make you happy to help combat anxiety and depression.
Don’t let things pile up
It’s only natural that you might be feeling a little ‘stuck in a rut’ right now. We understand. But it’s important to not let your environment and home life grind to a halt. While you may not want to tackle that laundry basket or do some dusting, in a day or two there’s just going to be more washing to deal with and an extra layer of dust on the shelf.
And on the other hand, if things are feeling overwhelming don’t try to tackle everything at once. Head over to The Organised Mum Method for daily cleaning lists – that take no more than 30 minutes and come with a customised playlist – to help you deal with one room in your house at a time.
The same goes for chores and tasks. If you’re working from home, try not to let your work to-do list get out of hand; try and tick off a few tasks every day. You’ll only feel more stressed in a few days’ time when you realise things have piled up around you.
Sleep sleep sleep
For the majority of us, the current situation means no more strict alarms buzzing you out of bed at ridiculous o’clock. But regardless, most of us certainly aren’t getting the recommended eight hours of sleep per night, and perhaps even more of us are trying to sleep in an environment that doesn’t cultivate proper rest and restoration. Well now’s the perfect time to break some habits and improve things.
- Start practicing a proper bedtime routine. Try to start winding down at the same time every night so your body knows when it’s time to rest
- Avoid screens for at least an hour before bed, even ones with a blue light filter
- Take a warm shower or bath to help relax you
- Do something soothing such as reading, embroidery or an easy short yoga session
- Try spraying your bedding and pillows with a soft lavender scent
- Put on a meditation from an app such as Calm or Headspace to try and clear your mind
- Keep the room’s temperature between 15 and 22 degrees Celsius and keep it dark – the optimum sleeping conditions
Pamper a little
While true self care isn’t all face masks and coconut oil, it’s perfectly fine to pamper yourself every once in a while. In fact, we insist on it. Here’s a few quick ideas to give yourself a little much-needed TLC:
- Face masks – Dig out those old packet ones or make your own
- Hair masks – Coconut oil is perfect for this. Smooth a little melted oil on your hair and leave for a few hours
- Self-massage – Our feet do seem to get neglected somewhat. So why not, while you’re watching a little Netflix, give yourself a good old foot rub?
- Paint your nails – Treat yourself to a pedicure or manicure and a brand new nail colour
- A good soak in the bath – We’re not talking about a five minute maintenance scrub. We mean throw a bath bomb in there, light a candle or two and settle down with a good book
Undoubtedly the hardest part of lockdown is us being unable to see our friends and family as easily and as regularly as we used. Earlier in the year we used to be able to just pop in to our mum’s for a cuppa or meet our friends at the pub; it’s something that we took for granted. But that connection with other humans is not only something that we crave, it’s something that we need.
Use technology to stay connected with your friends and family as much as possible. WhatsApp for video calls, Houseparty for mass gatherings, Zoom for your weekly check-ins at work… there’s a whole load of ways to see your friends and family face-to-face.
Be honest with your family and close friends about how you’re feeling. If things are getting you down, don’t be afraid to let them know and have them offer help any way we can. Sometimes all you need is a friendly ear to ease the weight on your shoulders.