Lockdown has become a rather unwelcome addition to our daily lives over the last 9 months. When we entered the first national lockdown in spring 2020 it was a very new and unsettling concept and I think many of us expected it to be the only instance. We are now in the reality of a third national lockdown, a trilogy none of us wanted to see. Some of us might even look upon the spring lockdown with a weird kind of nostalgia. Whilst we were heavily restricted, at least the days were longer, the weather warmer and national morale far higher. I am, however, a big believer in the idea that it is always possible to see a positive in any situation and I think there are a few things you can do to make lockdown life a more pleasant experience. Hopefully some of these small changes to your daily routine help you too!
Let me start by saying that I am not going to preach to you on the best ways of home schooling. I am not a parent so I cannot pretend to understand the difficulties of juggling home working and home schooling during a national lockdown. Instead, let me link this article from someone who is far more informed on the best ways to manage that task. With that in mind, here are some of the things that have helped me get by and even enjoy day to day life in the current circumstances.
This first recommendation comes straight from the mouth of hypnotist and behavioural scientist Paul McKenna and it is something I have been doing for a while. Essentially, try and start your day by stating three things that you are thankful for. They do not have to be particularly big things. Today I am thankful that I had a good night’s sleep, an enjoyable breakfast and the weather is a little warmer. If you can think of a few more, even better! Doing something as simple as this shows you that, no matter how bad your day was, you still found things to be thankful for. It gives you the mind-set that the world is not an inherently bad place. There are always good things to be found.
Current lockdown rules permit you to go outside for exercise in your local area once per day. I would go a step further and say you should go out once a day if you can. A major issue of working from home is the lack of segregation between the work environment and the home environment. You log off at the end of the work day but you can still feel like you are at work because your settings have not changed. Getting some time outdoors can really help disconnect you from a Groundhog Day style feeling of repetition and no escape. This is a much less tempting prospect when it is cold outside but do it if you can. You will enjoy the change of scenery and arrive back home in a much better mood. You might even be thankful to be back inside afterwards!
Exercise and going outside can be treated separately. If you want to run outside the obviously the two are combined but do not underestimate the benefits of an “at home” workout. I know I prefer working out at home when the temperatures drop in winter and working out in your pyjamas is an underrated experience. Whichever way you choose to do it, I highly recommend trying to exercise at least 3-5 times a week. Exercise promotes the release of endorphins in your brain, making you feel great and accomplished by the end of the workout.
The Smell of Spring
This is a rather simple one. One of the things keeping me going during this lockdown is the knowledge that spring is right around the corner. The days are getting longer and every day brings us a step closer to warmer weather and sunnier skies. If you are looking for a morale boost, try and bring spring into your home. A bunch of tulips from Lidl and a spring scented candle for Home Bargains can instantly make your home feel fresher and brighter, especially on those dull winter days.
Social & News Cut- Off
Segregating yourself from social & news media is a big one for me. There is a negative correlation between mood and social/news media use. The next time you load up Twitter or your news app, take a step back. How much of the content is positive? You will be shocked at how much the negative outweighs anything uplifting. Scrolling through that on a regular basis means you are constantly exposing yourself to the doom and gloom. Pull yourself out of it for a little while and seek some positive stimulation. Occupy the time you would normally spend on Twitter with something that makes you happy. I look at pictures of the Lake District, play with my dog or read a bit of a book. It definitely makes me feel better than scrolling the despair of a Twitter feed.
This is a trickier one. We are locked inside and bored and that often leads us to head to the fridge for something to do. Unfortunately, eating lots of junk food doesn’t make you feel good. It triggers a quick spike in blood sugar and a subsequent insulin surge. The result is a quick drop in blood sugar, leaving you feeling tired, irritable and hungry once again. A healthier and balanced diet makes you feel far happier as your body processes the food in a much better way. Healthy food is energising and can make a big difference to your day. Frequent eating is not a big issue, it is common in a situation like this. As long as you ensure what you eat is mostly healthy you can eat away and still feel good for it.
Create an Occasion
One of the things we can feel deprived of in lockdown is the sense of occasion we get from going out to dinner, a trip to the cinema or a few drinks in a bar. With all hospitality closed it is very difficult to get that type of excitement but that does not mean we have to miss out. Pick one or two nights each week where you treat yourself. For us, Friday night is treats and movie night. We open a bottle (or two) of wine and enjoy something decadent before relaxing in front of a movie with plenty of popcorn. It is something to look forward to each week and it really kicks off your weekend in the best possible way.
Go Easy on Yourself
The last tip is the most important. This is not an easy situation and there will be times when you slip up and eat 7 packets of crisps. While you should not make a habit of this, go easy on yourself when you do. Your mental health is the most important thing and if you feel like you need to give yourself a break, do so. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others when you need a boost. We are all in this together.
Dr Sam Moxon is a biomaterials scientist, and his expertise falls on the interface between biology and engineering. His PhD focussed on regenerative medicine and he now works on trying to improve on culture techniques for human stem cells, so that we can gain a better understanding of how diseases like Alzheimer’s manifest. His work at The University of Manchester looks at 3D bioprinting with stem cells. Outside of the labhe hikes through the Lake District and is an exert on all things Disney.
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