So, how’s the lockdown going for you? Good days, bad days, days somewhere in between? Days when things seem bleak and others when you’re quite enjoying the “new normal”?
The lockdown is generating a wide range of feelings and emotions, including sadness, anxiety, anger and loneliness. It can be hard to believe the things we’re seeing and the uncertainty is disconcerting – even overwhelming. The more unfortunate among us, of course, are recovering from illness or are mourning the loss of loved ones.
Money worries or having to look after kids 24/7 can be stressful – especially if you’re also trying to keep your business afloat. Many of us are worrying about loved ones we can’t visit. People react in different ways and even our own moods can vary, day to day. It’s all perfectly normal, and, for many of us there will also be moments of fun, laughter, hope and optimism.
Staying healthy and happy
There are many things you can do to try to stay positive during the lockdown. According to Philippa Roxby, BBC News health reporter: “It’s really important to do fun stuff. Be creative. Think of things you haven’t done before that you’d really like to do”.
And, as highlighted on the NHS website, it’s vital to stay in touch with friends and family. “Maintaining healthy relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing,” it states. “Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family – by phone, messaging, video calls or social media – whether it’s people you usually see or old friends.” Even if you’re feeling OK, others might be struggling, so getting in touch could make a big difference to how they’re feeling.
Wanting to stay updated is fine, but avoid consuming too much news during the lockdown, because most of it won’t be positive. Limit your time on social media and switch off breaking-news alerts. Maybe watch something a bit lighter? Numerous musicians (eg Chris Martin, Paul Weller, Gary Barlow, Neil Young, John Legend and others) have been entertaining fans with virtual lockdown performances. Recently, Elton John and others staged a memorable virtual coronavirus benefit concert. You could watch a classic comedy movie.
Sleeping, eating and drinking
The NHS website reminds us how important it is to get enough good quality sleep, because it can make a big difference to our ability to function and cope. It’s also important to relax when possible, and you can learn relaxation techniques to help you deal with anxiety or stress.
We are what we eat, so it’s also important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. The Independent offers tips on how to eat healthily during lockdown. Ever made your own pizza or sourdough loaf? No? Then why not try BBC Good Food magazine’s top 10 foodie projects to try in lockdown. Also look online for healthy new recipes to try.
It’s best to avoid binge-eating and unhealthy snacking, while Glamour magazine offers tips on how to limit your alcohol intake, so that you don’t become a “Coronaholic” (hic!). With Britons estimated to be buying 20% more alcohol for home consumption each week, health experts are advising us to set boundaries for lockdown drinking and go a bit easier on the “quarantinis”. Make sure your drink enough water, too, at least six to eight glasses a day (ie 1.2 litres).
Get some exercise
During the lockdown, it’s also important to get some exercise, as it can keep both our bodies and minds healthy. Who can fail to have been inspired by the extraordinary exploits of Captain Tom Moore, who has raised almost £33m for the NHS by completing 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden shortly before his 100th birthday?
Since the start of the lockdown, Joe Wicks (AKA the Body Coach) has been providing online workouts for kids that would leave many adults sweaty and breathless. Joe’s online PE class videos attract millions of viewers and they’ve raised more than £200,000 for the NHS. The NHS website also features short workouts at home videos, while Wired lists the “best fitness apps to keep in shape while on lockdown”.
You could get some “dancercise” by turning your house into a pop-up disco – à la Sophie Ellis-Bextor (@SophieEB) – and get those you live with to also throw some shapes. For home-based lockdown yoga videos, with more than seven million subscribers, Adriene Mishler has become “YouTube’s biggest yoga guru”. While observing social distancing rules (ie remaining more than 2m or 6ft away from anyone you don’t live with), even going for a walk in the fresh air can work wonders, especially if you’re feeling a bit down.
Writing in The Guardian, psychology professor Lea Waters tells us that we need to savour the small moments, because it can help us to stay positive. “Even during lockdown, you still have many small moments to savour. The smell of coffee, the feel of the warm shower on your back and so on,” she explains. “When you stop to take in these moments, you are giving your brain a chance to process the pleasure, which boosts your serotonin – the feel good neurotransmitter that helps to elevate your mood.”
We are living in unprecedented times, when expecting to remain positive throughout each and every day is unrealistic. For many of us, there will be lows. However, it won’t always be this way. One day, hopefully soon, COVID-19 will be nothing more than a nightmarish memory. Maybe we’ll come out the other side all the better for what we’ve been through. That’s something positive to hold on to.