Going into isolation and lockdown has changed our world overnight. Those who can, are working from home, some with children being home tutored and accessing educational materials online. Stepping out is restricted to only essential trips to the supermarket, walking the dog or a short daily exercise.
Nothing in our training or life’s experiences has prepared us for these times.
We can buckle under the stress and anxiety change brings, worry about how or when Covid-19 will come knocking on our door, or we can find a new purpose in life, focus on what we can control and stay positive during adversity.
Instead of regurgitating what we’ve been told by senior officials about staying home, staying safe, I want to offer you a few little nuggets of inspiration that you can easily apply to your daily life that you may find helpful, constructive and even productive.
1 – Schedule, Structure & Routine
We’re creatures of habit. We like routine. Think of your daily rituals when you were going out to work and the children attended school. Regardless of whether you were meticulous with your timekeeping and habits or happily going with the flow, if you dig (maybe not even too deep) you’ll find that your life had a structure.
That structure has now been demolished. Staying in pyjamas all day or having a duvet day in front of the TV can seem very appealing, especially if you’ve been very busy juggling work, kids, home and family up until Covid-19 surfaced. It may feel as though you’ve been handed a grace period and you can step off the rollercoaster and let your body and mind catch up. You’ve earned it. This blissful time is fine for a day, maybe two, or you could stretch it to possibly three.
But if you keep procrastinating and postponing tasks for later or tomorrow, because you have all the time in the world (after all we’re going to be in this lockdown for several weeks), it could have a serious impact on your mental and physical health.
Procrastinating leads to disappointment, feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Every time you postpone a task, a bit of your confidence, sense of purpose, psychological and emotional wellbeing is chiselled away. Gradually, like a dripping tap, we lose meaning and purpose and start slipping into depression.
TAKE CONTROL – establish a daily routine, set targets
- Get up every day at the same time
- Timetable week-day tasks – work, home schooling, exercise, leisure
- Plan weekend activities – games, family time, decorating, gardening
- Go to bed at a reasonable hour every day
Routine is important for all of us and particularly for those on the Autistic Spectrum. I’ll be writing a separate blog about this.
2 – Limit News Intake
Online, TV and Radio, there’s continuous coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic – news updates, discussions, debates, speculations, statistics. The constant exposure to news feed can have a detrimental impact on your mental and emotional wellbeing.
World Health Organisation (WHO) advises to “minimize watching, reading or listening to news about COVID-19 that causes you to feel anxious or distressed” https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf
- Limit news intake to once or twice a day at set times
- Watch or listen to the news from reliable sources
- Avoid hearsay, rumours, potential misinformation
3 – Exercise
Most of us know the importance of exercise and all it’s health benefits. How it lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression and dementia, and improves bone health and fitness levels. The NHS suggest we do 150 minutes a week of exercise, that’s 25 minutes for 6 days https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/
Exercise releases endorphins, a type of neurotransmitter that relieves stress levels and helps reduce depression. It can stimulate the release of dopamine and serotonin, giving you a sense of wellbeing, better sleep and contribute to healthier eating habits.
YouTube and Amazon Prime offers a catalogue of different exercise classes such as Zumba, yoga, HIIT (high intensity interval training) and the now famous Joe Wicks whom children and adults love. There are a number of Apps too including Couch to 5km or Walking Fitness, remembering to keep social distancing and following government guidelines to help you stay safe.
- Do one form of exercise every day
- Try something new
- Exercise alone or with your partner and/or children
4 – Healthy Eating
Boredom can trigger the munchies – I know, I’ve done it many times. It’s amazing what becomes appealing when you’re aimlessly looking for something to stuff in your mouth. As tempting as it may be, avoid sitting on the sofa, binge-watching Netflix, eating ready meals and snacking on unhealthy morsels.
The market is saturated with diet books, shakes and diet programmes. It’s a multi-billion pound industry. Many people have been on a perpetual diet having tried practically everything available.
Use this lockdown period as an opportunity to eat healthily rather than going on a diet. Explore healthy meal plans, different ways to reset your metabolism to help you feel good about yourself.
Dr Michael Mosley has appeared on many TV programmes talking about food, eating, diabetes, insomnia and exercise. I particularly like his approach as he always puts himself forward for tests and trials. One of his books, The Clever Guts Diet, about how to reset your health through balancing your gut bacteria has caught my attention https://cleverguts.com I felt revitalised, energised and healthier after following this new way of eating for 4 months.
Another one of my favourites is Jamie Oliver with his easy recipes that don’t cost the earth to produce, are quick and simple, and most of all easily achievable https://www.jamieoliver.com
- Choose to eat healthy foods
- Try different dishes
- Create a weekly meal plan
- Have fun and take time preparing meals
- Get everyone cooking – your partner and/or children
5 – Social Interaction
We are generally social beings. We tend to interact with someone at some point in the day or week. There are of course exceptions (I thought I’d mention just in case someone shouts out that I’m generalising a little too much).
There’s a difference between aloness and loneliness. We all have a need at some point for time alone (some more than others). We need time to gather our thoughts and rest our minds. Loneliness on the other hand can have greater implications – it can lead to depression, self-harm and impact on the ability to cope with life.
The lockdown has taken away freedom of movement. We can’t visit friends or family, meet work colleagues in bars, pubs or restaurants or have social gatherings. Children can’t have play-dates or join other neighbouring children to play outside.
We are however lucky to live in an era of technology where we can socialise and engage with friends and family online. Already many Apps like Houseparty have seen a massive increase in downloads. There’s Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp video and many more platforms that offer the opportunity for us to engage with others.
Now more than ever, it’s really important we reach out to those living alone and to friends or family we’ve been too busy to meet. For families with children, it’s vital your offspring maintain contact with their school friends – help them stay connected. School will be a strange place when they eventually return, staying in contact will make it easier for them to reintegrate.
- Keep in touch with family & friends via video calls
- Arrange drinks and a chat meetings online
- Plan virtual dinner parties regularly – introduce a theme
- Remember to call someone who lives alone
The lockdown is also enforced confinement. Those not used to being around each other 24/7 can experience high levels of tension. Frustrations escalate and arguments take a life of their own. I will be writing separately about this in another blog.
|During this time of crisis, I will continue to offer sessions via FaceTime, WhatsApp & Zoom|