It’s been a while since we had to adapt to a new reality. The reality that turned upside down for many of us. We didn’t know what to expect, but we certainly expected something transitory and short-lived. And here we are – four lockdowns after and still not knowing when everything will be back to normal. And whether it will come back to normal.
Let’s forget about ‘normal’. It looks like we have new ‘normal’ and it would be good to get used to this thought. The more we distract ourselves from thinking that something is unusual or unknown, the more likely we are to somehow fear it.
The pandemic did not treat everyone the same. Not everyone lost their jobs, not everyone has suffered from the misfortune of losing a loved one. However, everyone had to deal with uncertainty and stress.
So how to mind your mental health during a pandemic?
All the lockdowns I’ve been through were different. During the first one, I didn’t expect it to last long and for sure I wasn’t prepared for it. Now I understand that I had no clue how to take care of myself.
I got blurry in time, which ceased to be important because I didn’t have to get up to go somewhere. Usually, I was reading in bed all night then I was waking up in the middle of the day with a cloudy mind. I had no idea how to replace my gym training, cause I’ve never been a fan of workout at home, without equipment. So for more than a month, I didn’t do anything and my form started slightly spoil.
It took me a while to adjust to the new reality and in this piece, I’ll share with you what helped me dealing with lockdown anxiety.
Things that help you cope with life during isolation
I. Build a healthy and pleasant routine
Do not underestimate the power of routine. Well build routine is like a pillar of life. A good routine puts your mind in a certain frame, creates a structure. By introducing valuable behaviors into our everyday life, we can shape it as we want. After all, we are what we repeatedly do.
I don’t think I have to convince you how good routine changes everything – it is a massive thing! When I stick to my routine everything is going smoothly and everything has its place.
What works for me? I found that a cold shower and meditation in the morning helps with starting the day in the right way. I also try to reflect on things before I go to bed and this is like an evening ritual for me. I try to have my work done right after morning coffee, and usually, I focus on writing at least a thousand words.
Of course, I don’t follow it blindly and I do have exceptions from routine, as I still want to be flexible in my life. The thing is that having a frame helps with structurize life and be more efficient.
II. Move and eat healthily
We all know that eating and moving are the keys to keep a healthy body and mind, so I will not go into the details. It is simple: plant-based diet, restriction of processed foods, and at least 30 minutes of movement every day. How apply this to a life in isolation?
First, let’s dispel myths about movement and sport. To keep a healthy body you don’t need to run a marathon every week or participate in a triathlon. Studies show that moderate, but regular movement is the best for our bodies. Moreover, we don’t need to force ourselves into activities we don’t like.
In ‘The joy of movement’ Kelly McGonigal notes that
“movement will give you access to joy that will dramatically improve the quality of your life and help support mental health and meaning and belonging. It’s not a gimmick to get you to exercise so you and burn some calories. That’s not what it’s about.”
No matter what level of power or condition that you start with, exercise will help move you toward a more high-energy, positive state.
We don’t need a ‘workout’ to move. We can engage our bodies in an effort based on something else, something that brings joy; gardening, walking, or simple stretching at the end of the day.
And talking food, try to make some effort and prepare something you never ate before. It’s fun and you can discover new ideas and tastes. Or prepare a gourmet dinner, even if it is just for you, or for two of you. Pour a glass of favorite wine, light candles, and voila! Life is better already.
III. Take care of how you look like
It’s so simple. If you look shitty you feel shitty. There’s nothing more demotivating than stretched sweatpants or worn pajamas that serve as your outfit during the day.
It has nothing to do with vanity. How much effort we put into everyday things, even such as ‘decent look’, reflects our whole attitude towards life. As outside so inside.
I’m not telling you to glam up so you can sit in the living room looking like you just walked the red carpet. Just make sure you feel good about how you present yourself.
Good appearance is followed by good feelings. And good feelings towards ourselves are base to cope with mental struggles during a lockdown.
IV. Pick up a thing to do
Don’t let time go completely idle. Doing nothing and resting is important, but only when it occurs in between those things that you are doing.
We are not the same. We all like different challenges, other things turn us on. For me, reading and writing make my life sparkle, but you can find your spark somewhere else.
We are blessed that we live in the times that so many opportunities are available at your fingertips. Find a thing that will bring a bit of inspiration to your everyday life.
It can be anything; maybe you can start practicing yoga or learn how to dance, sing or play an instrument (lots of instructional videos to find on YouTube). Maybe you will catch up and finally read the books that lie forgotten or watch movies for which you did not have time. Maybe you pick some online course and learn a new skill (have you tried Udemy? So many things to choose from), or a language, or maybe you start to draw something just for fun. Possibilities are endless.
V. Stay connect to others
I’m the biggest introvert I known and I admit: even I need some social connection (well, except for the one with my life partner and the cat).
As much we need solitude from time to time (some of us more often), we are social beings. Even if we are forced to this separation, we still can contact each other. That’s what social media is for ( and you thought is for silly selfies!).
The situation varies depending on where you live. If you can’t meet someone face-to-face, install Zoom or use Messanger and stay in touch with your loved ones. Even having a coffee together in front of a screen will make you feel mentally stronger.
Of course, these are just a few, but important, things to pay attention in order not to go crazy during a pandemic. Do you have any advices you could share with us?