Get ready, it’s time to google how to mute on zoom, consider panic-buying a home gym and subscribe to another streaming service: lockdown two, electric boogaloo. With the second national lockdown looming in the U.K it’s an important time to go over some of the best ways to maintain your mental health during these unprecedented times.
First things first, it’s essential to keep busy and try to find ways to provide meaning in your new routine. Meaning is obviously subjective and what is emotionally fulfilling for one person might seem pointless to another; it’s all about finding what works for you. A few examples are cooking, gardening/maintaining plants and home decor/DIY. All of these are activities that take time and effort but provide you both with a project and a tangible end result. They all offer outlets for creativity too, which is another important part of maintaining mental health.
Another core component of mental health is keeping up with exercising. At this point it’s beyond a cliche to say that one’s mental and physical health are linked and, of course, it’s far more complicated than that statement implies but, the reason this idea is so ubiquitous is because there is truth to it. Incorporating some form of regular exercise (especially if it involves fresh air and Vitamin D) can be hugely beneficial to one’s state of wellbeing. You don’t need to be installing a full home gym but resistance bands, online classes, yoga and jogging or walking are all great ways to maintain fitness and keep personal demons at bay. I find exercise almost unparalleled when it comes to clearing your head and pushing away intrusive negative thoughts.
Although distraction tactics are important, as is trying to remain positive where possible, the significance of recognising the difficulties of the current situation should not be overlooked. Everyone needs to give themselves time to breathe, time to be idle and time to be overwhelmed by the situation. Keeping busy is great but you can’t ignore the very real concerns thrown up by a second lockdown; it’s often beneficial to vocalise these concerns with other people so to both better understand your feelings and share the sense of discomfort that is pretty much universal right now.
Finding things to look forward to is really difficult due to the uncertainty presented by another lockdown and the constantly changing national landscape. However, even the things you’re looking forward to seem small, they can make the days seem a bit less mundane. Specific scheduled calls, professional sports and hobbies that take time (baking bread for example) are potential things to look forward to during lockdown.
Discovering new hobbies where you can recognise a process of improvement can be a really satisfying activity during lockdown. Learning a new language is a great example of something you can do with apps during lockdown where you can clearly measure your progress. This pastime also gives you the opportunity to look forward to a post-lockdown holiday where you can showcase your new linguistic skills. Another good option is to try your hand at a musical instrument. This could be a first effort or picking up something you haven’t done since school; either way it’s a chance to unleash your creativity and see yourself progress.
Finally, it’s important to embrace the new forms of social interaction that become commonplace in lockdown. I know we’re all sick of Zoom quizzes by now and the first lockdown wore us all out but it’s essential not to let those feelings lead to isolating ourselves. Online socialising may not hold a candle to in person interaction but it’s a necessary component of a healthy life at the moment.
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