We all have good and bad days as we try to get through lockdown. But what are the best ways to look after your mental health during lockdown?
How to look after your mental health during lockdown
If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. I know from all my social media feeds that many people are finding this time difficult. The restrictions have eased a little recently, but we’re still living in a world where it’s easy to feel isolated, disconnected, there’s a whole host of emotions right now.
Which is why I want to share some of my tips for staying mentally fit and well during lockdown.
1. Try and stick to your normal routine
These times aren’t ‘normal’. Most of us have never known anything like it. But at the same time, for the sake of our mental health it’s important to try and keep things as normal as we can.
My advice is to try and remember what your daily home routine used to be like before lockdown and keep that going as much as you can.
If you’re working from home, that means having a wash, getting dressed and having breakfast before you get your laptop out. And whether you’re working or not, it’s vital you get some time outside. Remember, now we’re allowed to exercise as many times as we want! Routine is one of the best ways to maintain mental health and it helps us feel grounded while everything else is so crazy.
2. Don’t overload on the news
With social media and the 24-hour news cycle the news is non-stop. And at the moment, not many of those stories are good ones. So, for the sake of your mental health, it makes sense to limit your intake a bit. Pick a source of news you trust and follow it in moderation. It’s important to maintain perspective.
I also recommend that you don’t read the news on your phone before you go to sleep either. Between the blue light and the COVID-19 stories on social there’s plenty to keep you awake if you do. If you’re struggling with sleep, mental health charity Mind have some great tips for getting a good night’s sleep here.
3. Stay connected with loved ones
Not being able to spend as much time as you’d want with friends and family is one of the toughest things about lockdown. Physical distancing means no more hugs from a parent or friends when we need one most. Maybe you might live with people who look out for each other. But for those who live alone, feeling like you’re in touch with others is harder.
Of course, technology clearly has a big part to play in keeping us connected. Maybe you have weekly Zoom quiz nights or parties, or play games together on Houseparty. But in terms of mental health, even this might not be enough to keep us feeling happy. It’s also important you don’t overdo it on the screen time and try to make time for real-life interactions too.
4. Keep it real
How do you feel after a video call, or a few hours gaming online with friends? The social interaction is great, but chances are you also feel worn out at the end of it.
Here’s why. Being on video just isn’t the same as chatting to someone face-to-face in real life (even though it feels a lot like it). When we’re with someone in real life, they’re also using their bodies to tell us things non-verbally. On a Zoom call or on FaceTime, trying to fill in these communication gaps can be exhausting.
My advice is to use the new lockdown laws to get some real-life human interaction. You can now meet and sit down outdoors in groups of up to six people from different households, as long as you’re two metres apart.
5. Get moving!
It’s telling that as lockdown tightened its grip, more and more of us have got into exercise.
For some, daily exercise has just been an excuse to escape the same four walls for a bit. But for many of us it is also a great way to lift our mood, get the blood pumping, and the endorphins flowing.
You may be into running, working out in the park or cycling outdoors. But even if you’re not heading outside for exercise there’s still plenty you can do — there are loads of free workouts online. Fitness First have daily workouts on their Facebook page. PE with Joe Wicks’ daily 9am workout is the perfect start to the day. And I also recommend the yoga, bodyweight, ballet barre, AMRAP, dance, combat and boxing on GYMBOX. It’s all on their Instagram Live.
One last thing: It’s okay to admit you’re struggling
Don’t suffer in silence. Maybe you have people in your family who you’re happy to open up to. Or you might be lucky enough to have supportive housemates like I do. But not all of us do — and so it’s important to remember that there are also lots of places you can turn to for professional help and support.
The NHS is one of the best places to start of course, and they are excellent source of information on all kinds of mental health issues. Check out their guide to the various helplines and support groups here. Whether you want advice for your someone else or you’re worried about someone else, take a look.
You can read more of my tips on how to stay healthy, happy and entertained during lockdown on my blog.