The nationwide lockdown period has meant we’re all having to make major adjustments to daily life, halting normal social interaction and bringing on a variety of different emotions.
During a time where going out and interacting with others is significantly limited, many people find that feelings of anxiety, stress or depression become stronger or more difficult to relieve.
Whilst research has not definitively found benefits of keeping our minds active in terms of its cognitive function, keeping busy through hobbies, learning skills and puzzles is a good way of managing the change in circumstances, learning something new and, ultimately, leads to a better quality of life. We’ve put together some ideas for simple things you can do during this time to improve your outlook.
Create a new routine
For some, the loss of a daily routine can be enough to throw other aspects of life out of balance or leave you feeling like you have less control over things. Plan your day and start with a basic routine, even if that just means waking up at your usual time, getting dressed and ready for the day and planning meals for the day. With more time at home, consider spending more time preparing food and cooking – doing these things you might not usually have time for slowly can be calming and more enjoyable.
You might find planning your time out visually on a planner or whiteboard helpful for sticking to it. When you’re happy with the basic structure of the day, you can think about adding in other activities, such as time to learn something new. The key is not to expect too much of yourself early on; it’s a big adjustment that everyone will react to differently.
Switch off and read
Staying at home more can often mean finding yourself spending more time on a phone, tablet, laptop or watching TV. Whilst these things help keep us connected with others, some find the effects of too much screen time can be detrimental to their physical and mental health, causing headaches, disrupting sleep or increasing feelings of anxiety or depression.
If you find yourself feeling more irritable after spending a lot of time using a mobile device, try to plan time into your day to ‘switch off’ and enjoy something else like reading a book or listening to a podcast.
Hobbies and skills
Many people are discovering that right now is a good time to finally start learning a new hobby or skill. Perhaps there is something you’ve always wanted to try, or something you’ve previously enjoyed but not had the time for? Spending time learning a new skill or focusing on a hobby or craft is a great way of concentrating your mind on one thing, rather than thinking about other areas outside of your control. Plus, you’ll feel satisfied at the end for having done or created something for yourself.
We recently highlighted some breathing exercises that you can do to relieve feelings of anxiety and tension. These guided relaxation exercises help to focus your mind on yourself, your body and your breathing, bringing attention to parts of you that may be feeling tension or where you may perhaps be breathing shallowly (which can escalate feelings of panic or anxiety).
If you found this exercise useful, you might also enjoy apps such as Headspace. Through short, daily exercises, you can learn how to build mindfulness into your daily routine, be more aware of yourself and boost your happiness.