Here we are again on this Covid roller coaster of plans being smashed to smithereens and entering lockdowns.
Whilst they’re difficult to navigate, I think they will just be a regular thing until we’re all vaxxed.
So, for those of you in lockdown, which at the time of writing is many more of you than I’d anticipated when I had this idea, I thought I’d share a few tips on what helped me to get through the big VIC lockdown of 2020 (and it’s ensuing smaller lockdowns 3 and 4).
Please share your own tips on managing a lockdown below in the comments, particularly for those living in the heart of Melbourne metro, having had stricter lockdowns than any of the rest of us (so far!).
(Caveat: By no means am I saying I’m a pandemic expert and always follow the guidelines and rules local to your residence)
Yeah yeah yeah I know.
It’s what everyone says and it’s hard to put at the top of the list. And some days you just can’t, and on those days just rest.
As someone who loves walking in the outdoors, walking with a mask on was hard to manage, especially as I also need glasses to actually “see” (the fog factor is real).
However, during lockdown I developed a regular indoor exercise practice. Create a ‘home gym’ if you have some space or a spare room. Don’t have weights? Use some canned goods. Don’t have a floor mat? Use a few towels. Need accountability? Book in for one of the bazillion online classes now available in a variety of exercise modes from all around the world on the Mind Body app.
One thing I told myself to push when I was low was “if I didn’t exercise yesterday I need to do some today”.
It only needs to be 30 minutes to have a positive effect on your body and your mind.
If you have a dog take them for a covid-safe brisk walk around the neighbourhood if you can.
Your mind is the trickiest thing to manage during lockdowns, and lowering your anxiety by getting rid of pent up heebie jeebie energy (that’s what I call exercise – getting out the heebie jeebies) is so helpful I can’t emphasise it enough.
As I said though, you won’t always be motivated and don’t punish yourself for not feeling up for it.
Remove the barriers to doing exercise at home by dressing in your activewear first thing, even placing tomorrow’s activewear outfit somewhere so it’s all done for you before the morning helps.
Know your barriers to wanting to exercise and find creative ways to work around them. It seems weird and kinda silly, sure, to trick yourself, but believe me, it can make all the difference when motivation is low.
You don’t need anything special to do a Pilates mat class online.
OK so I’m an avid reader already but during 2020 I became a voracious reader.
Everyone has a stack of books somewhere they’ve been meaning to read. Old classics from the op shop, books loaned to you by a friend, something you borrowed from a family member who knows what you like to read. Maybe like me you have a gigantic pile of brand new books. Maybe you need to treat yourself to a new TBR pile.
It doesn’t have to be academic reading, or even anything classed as literature. It just has to be something that allows you to relax your body, and let your mind wander to new places.
Early in lockdown I found some stories intolerable. Like I kept saying “I can’t believe these people can’t see what’s coming” in light of the pandemic. Be patient though, with the story and yourself, and you just might find a little relaxation and a little escape helps you to focus on something else for a while.
Rekindle a love for reading and discover the joy of books and pick up a good habit that will serve you beyond lockdown.
It also helps you limit the time you spend doing things that don’t really support your mental health; screen time, doom scrolls, news about case numbers. It will help you wind down at night, and stop you from being on Instagram comparing your life in lockdown to others who are able to move around freely, seeing people at events and so on.
If you’re not a massive fan of reading, make the above “crafting” and apply the same rules.
Right ok so yeah, easier said than done.
So just get it when you can. With working from home making things more flexible to most, and with some employers who have a compassionate understanding that your attention doesn’t have to be 9am to 5pm, see if you can get yourself an afternoon nap. Especially if you’re not sleeping well overnight.
Limit screen time! (as mentioned above) This is probably the hardest thing to do during lockdown when we all have our own ‘hand computer’ but try where you can.
If you have trouble sleeping, try an eye mask and some ear plugs.
Try a “white noise” app – I use this to cover up my chronic Tinnitus while I sleep and it’s become the most effective Pavlovian thing for me to do before I sleep. I hear the white noise and I immediately get sleepy.
Bonus points for using white noise while you read to help you drift off to a nice sleep.
4. Eat well
This is probably one of the toughest ones.
We all eat our problems at some point in time. If you don’t, well CONGRATULATIONS YOU’RE A STAR and will probably DIE WITH ALL OF THE POINTS.
Anyhoo, just do your best.
Eat small, regular meals. Make them tasty and healthy. Sit down at the table with other household members to eat and chat. Turn off the TV. Leave phones elsewhere.
Spend time enjoying the food that’s been prepared for you or by you. Have a chat with your household. Whinge about what’s bothering you and agree, it sucks. Talk about what you’re going to enjoy once the pandemic is better. Be there for each other.
Bake, make cookies and scones or a new cake recipe. Even try making sourdough if you want to be a cliche, because who cares.
Try some new healthy foods you’ve been curious about. Use the time to discover something new or uncover an old nostalgic favourite from your childhood or your ancestry.
Indulge, for sure, but make it the exception rather than the rule.
Get your groceries delivered where you can and this will help prevent impulse purchasing of foods that may not serve you best.
5. Go outside
This is not a simple one for those of you in apartment living, I get it.
If you do have an outdoor space, spend some time getting some fresh air.
One of the hardest things to feel is ‘safe outside’ but one of the most important things is getting some oxygen.
Maybe sit outside while you’re checking your emails on your phone, or even just grab a cushion and a towel and find yourself a spot on the grass in your yard.
Sunlight helps if you have some, but even just taking a few moments to breathe deep fresh air will give you an opportunity to check in with yourself.
Maybe do some stretches, some breathing exercises or simply sit and look at the sky. It’s all worthwhile.
Doing this alone also gives you a moment to yourself when you’re in a cabin-fever-why-won’t-these-other-people-leave-me-alone zone”
This is obviously the most difficult of all of the suggestions.
This is where technology has been our pandemic guiding light – everyone getting used to using online meetings via Zoom et al.
Schedule in calls with your extended family and friends. Make the time to sit and chat. Pop in some headphones, grab some craft to keep your hands busy if you think it will help.
Be warned though – there is a very real thing called “zoom gloom” – so don’t over do it. Even if it’s a half hour thing you do once every couple of days with people you miss, just make sure you’re not only checking in with your loved ones, but that you’re getting the human connection that you need.
Use the old-fashioned telephone if it’s easier. Write a letter! Keep communicating and stay connected to people who lift you up, inspire you, who love and support you.
Pat your cats or dogs, they’re helpful in so many ways.
Join the MGTH community for online hangouts and Q&A sessions to feel connected to other makers.
Let it happen, it’s inevitable.
Trying to stop yourself from feeling emotional during lockdown is not only pointless, it’s unhealthy. We’re all having a complicated time with the pandemic, but life also continues to present it’s usual challenges as well.
Lockdown can be fatiguing so please, just let the feels happen. Take time to cry. Let people around you cry. Allow the space, listen to yourself. Life is not always meant to be up. It’s meant to have ups and downs. We have to experience the lows to feel the highs.
It sucks, but if you don’t let yourself be sad and cry now and then, it sucks more.
If you know you have trouble crying watch a sad movie eg. The Notebook, Beaches, Titanic – then let it all out.
Don’t forget if you’re struggling with things more than you think you should be, and it’s all tears and no motivation or all anxiety and no smiles, you probably need to reach out and have a chat with someone.
Please always follow the most up to date medical advice, the latest government regulations and restrictions and take care of yourself and your loved ones.
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