No one could have predicted what this pandemic would look like. No one would have thought lockdown would last this long. And almost certainly, no one could have foreseen the effect it has had on a lot of us.
I still remember when we thought lockdown would last a few weeks. Since then there has been ups and downs in the form of uncertainties, being fed false promises, and Boris’ inability to answer questions in his daily conferences.
Though we, as a collective, have adapted well to this ‘new normal’, there is no doubt that it is taking a toll on the mental well being of a lot of people. Sadness is normal, and in a global pandemic you really can’t be blamed for having those ups and downs and whilst this isn’t something we can just switch off there are a number of things we can do to keep our spirits up. This isn’t a definitive list but more a selection of ideas and starting points…
Keep Communication Going.
Regardless of whether you are isolating alone or with family or friends there are going to be people that you cannot see, people that you miss. These people might be friends, they may be relatives that you used to see every weekend or even colleagues whom you saw every day but didn’t quite realise you would find yourself missing. But the solution is easy. All you need to do is call. Communication is something we usually take for granted but the lack of interaction since 2020 has really placed emphasis on its importance in regards to our mental health. Phone calls are usually the first port of call (pun) but post-Covid has forced us to take up video chat and actually, it is a lot more beneficial, especially in our current states, to see people’s faces.
Whatever mode of communication you choose, it’s a lot more helpful than we think to utilise these video apps whether it be Zoom, Google Meets or facetime. Interactive options are available too. It might not be your first choice but Facebook messenger has games that you can play whilst on calls, Netflix offer watching party services and maybe it’s time you picked up the X-Box or Nintendo Switch and just have an online game session with a few friends.
The hardest part is making the first approach and suggesting a catch up but not only are we all in the same boat but a lot of us have considerably slowed down our schedules so chances are they probably have a decent amount of free time to chat away.
Limit Your Social Media Intake
Social Media is already notorious for the way it makes so many of us feel worse. It can make us feel inadequate, lonely and just generally a bit rubbish. The pandemic has arguably made this worse. The need to see people or go out paired with celebrities posting their trips to remote islands isn’t going to do you any good. Neither is seeing Instagram models and the like posting picture perfect images when you’re at home in a tracksuit snacking 15 times a day. Just take a break, log out and go for a walk. Refresh your eyes.
If you’re going to stick with the apps then maybe consider a social media cleanse. Remove all accounts that make you feel inadequate, unproductive, or just generally negative. Looking at all social media apps, Tik Tok seems to come out on top in terms of popularity and the level of positive content that it emits. Same goes for Instagram Reels, they’re great for a laughter fix but knowing when to put it away is where we tend to fall short. It doesn’t matter how funny something is, after sitting in the same place for 2 hours solid, it just doesn’t feel all that great.
Not only this, for a lot of us simply replying back to friends has become a task in itself. Don’t feel bad about taking a few days to get back to someone and on the flip side, if someone isn’t responding to you instantly- don’t take it to heart – they’re in a global pandemic just like you, whatever it is, it’s probably not personal.
Pray or Meditate
If you’re religious you’ll know that praying is the most stress relieving, cathartic thing to do when you are feeling low. Whether you pray once a day, five times a day, or once a week, just take an extra five to ten minutes to spill out the entire contents of your brain. An extra five minutes can really make all the difference.
If you don’t pray, find a slot of time to meditate. Whether you light candles, play soothing music, or sit in complete silence… Just find what works for you and take that breather. For some it’s those early mornings when everyone is still asleep, maybe it’s late at night when the world is shutting off, for others it might be slap bang middle of the day to break up the chaos. Just take a minute, go for a lone walk, watch the birds, tidy your room, lay on your bed and just breath.
Meditation can be found in many different activities, find what works for you and take solace in it.
Find Something to Care For
In my experience this one has been the most effective. The chances are you’ve seen a lot of people take up gardening since lockdown, some have settled for indoor plants, and some have even gotten themselves pets. (Some have even had babies, I personally wouldn’t go that far, a Peace Lily is enough). The point is, having something to care for can combat loneliness without you realising it. Something as simple as having a potted plant in the house to water here and there can fill in those little gaps of the day where you’d otherwise be walking around aimlessly. Take a trip to B&Q for some really easy to look after plant babies. (I recommend snake plants for those who struggle with it). And if you’ve already mastered the plant world maybe take a little trip to Pets at Home…
Treat yourself. Bath salts, a new flavour of coffee, a harmless online shop for loungewear… There’s so many things to indulge in over lockdown. The truth is, right now, there’s not an awful lot to look forward to so why not take matters into your own hands and indulge a little bit. It can really be something as simple as popping into Tesco, buying a load of chocolate and a random book with an endearing title, going home, shutting yourself in your room for three hours and just reading. I might actually go do that now.
It doesn’t have to be so mellow though, there really is nothing stopping you from ordering a massive ballgown and waltzing around your house all day like Miss Havisham.
If it really is just too much…
Understandably it’s really tough for a lot of people right now and sometimes a good cry and tub of ice cream just won’t cut it.
Despite almost everything being shut there are still many places with their doors wide open for those that are struggling, offering help, whether it be in person or online.
If you should need it, visit Mind.org for some really helpful organistations. As you know, the hardest part is always making the call but once you make that first move the right help will come and you’ll see that things may begin to fall back into place.
If you feel that therapy is something that is better for you Mind.org also have a step by step guide on how to find the right therapist for you, along with tips and useful contacts.
And finally, my social media DM’s are always open, as corny as it sounds. Sometimes you just need a chat so genuinely please feel free.
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