I promise it’s not as hippy as it sounds
Whether it be the dreaded second lockdown that’s looming or the inevitable two-week self-isolation, this new way of life will naturally have repercussions for our mental wellbeing. The focus is so often placed on our physical fitness that our mental health is often quick to be neglected. In light of recent tragic news of Covid-related suicide, there couldn’t be a more pressing time than now to look after our mental wellness.
I am no expert, and I most definitely do not always practise what I preach, but over lockdown, I followed a technique to keep myself sane amid a sea of relentless newsreels, banana bread recipes and TikTok dances.
The approach I took was to do at least one thing per day to look after my mind, body, soul, and heart (I wish I could take credit for this schedule but it was very much a pearl of wisdom from my Mum!). Granted, it all sounds very hippy and needless to say I was pretty sceptical but at the point where I started to feel a bit low and my FOMO began to take hold, I conceded and gave it a go.
Each morning I took a moment to plan how I’d fill my day and how to fill my time effectively and in a way to benefit my mental health – there are only so many episodes of Friends to binge and so many ASOS orders one person can manage…(you’d be surprised!)
Something for the mind…
With my brain cells dissolving as the weeks with no lectures passed I could understand the importance of keeping my brain in gear. As a child, I could never have imagined missing learning things but I did begin to feel quite nostalgic for my uni work and having to use my brain!
Don’t get me wrong, by no means did I spend hours reading the works of Shakespeare or studying the laws of thermodynamics, however, the activities I did were as simple as 15 minutes practising a language on Duolingo or learning a song on the piano. These kinds of things just broke up the day and gave me a sense of accomplishment which I often lacked when stuck at home all day.
Something for the body…
The most familiar part of this process was looking after my body. This was my favourite part of the day as I found it the best way to clear my mind. As someone who is absolutely clueless about working out, YouTube was a bit of a saving grace as it gave me something to follow – big up Joe Wicks! I would also recommend the Couch to 5k app which took me from someone who hated running to someone who would now definitely give Mo Farah a run for his money.
Again, I found the feeling of achievement that comes hand in hand with physical exercise an antidote to my feeling of isolation and my frequent runs were the only time I had to myself to reflect and get out of the house.
Something for the heart…
As selfish as it sounds, doing something to make someone else happy gives you such a mental boost (as well as them!). The part of each day that cares for the heart can often be the tiniest gesture however perhaps the most beneficial – whether it be bringing someone a cup of tea in bed or sending a little care package to one of your friends.
Lockdown was an experience like no other where we were forced to adapt to living so tightly with our families and naturally, this at times was challenging hence why these small gestures of kindness are so important for keeping the peace! I really enjoyed giving one of my friends a FaceTime to see how they were or posting little letters to check in with them.
Something for the soul…
I am someone who isn’t spiritual at all, so I turned my nose up at this part but it’s not as “crystal ball” as it sounds. This part is all about letting yourself do things that you really enjoy even if it doesn’t feel massively productive. I often felt really guilty spending afternoons watching Netflix but allowing yourself time to be lazy and watch TV, go on your phone or have a nap is really rewarding for your mental health. It was easy in lockdown to pressurise yourself to be productive every day and I personally found myself constantly comparing myself to other people starting businesses, doing fitness challenges and getting jobs which was quite unhealthy for me. Allowing time in the day to do something pleasurable but that isn’t necessarily constructive helps maintain a positive mindset and I found actually motivates you more in times where you are trying to achieve something.
After nearly finishing a 2 week quarantine in my tiny uni house with 6 other people, putting this (and a lot of karaoke) into practise has been so helpful and meant that the dragging days with no Nero dates or trips to Blanc were that little bit more manageable!
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