Whilst a lockdown may be in place to ensure our physical health, many forget how being locked away from interaction with other people can affect us mentally.
You may experience many different feelings during this lockdown; some of hopelessness, loneliness, loss of purpose, or just feeling a little down and lost as you try to figure out what is happening in the world right now.
Some have found themselves struggling more as we plod through our third lockdown in the UK, with the winter providing cold long days and little daylight.
This is why it’s just as important to keep your mind healthy as well as your body. It’s also a way of having control over something in circumstances that are out of your control.
Rosalie Harrison is a psychotherapist working with adults, couples and groups at The Retreat. This independent charity is a York-based mental health and well-being provider with over 200 years’ experience and a mission to deliver high-quality mental wellbeing services.
Tip 1: Acknowledge the difficulties
Harrison expressed her concern at how people’s mental health can be affected by the lockdown. “The first thing is to acknowledge what it is to be isolated from our friends and our family, to have life change beyond recognition almost overnight in March last year.”
“Human beings like predictability and routines; we like to know what’s going on and we like to feel in control of what happens to us,” Rosalie said.
Being in lockdown, the control over what we do, where we go and who we see has been taken away from us and is likely to be “very destabilising.”
Tip 2: Keep talking
Talking about your feelings with other people is important to maintain a healthy mental state.
However, due to social isolation, people have been struggling to do so when they’re not experiencing different environments away from problems they may have at home.
Make time to talk with friends and family on whatever platform you’re comfortable with – for example, phone or Zoom.
Tip 3: Zone your home
“A way to establish a routine is locating areas of the house for particular purposes,” Rosalie said.
“For example, eating in one place, working in one place and relaxing in one place so we get a sense of different zones.
“But I’ll have to emphasise how difficult it is to do this at the moment because we feel like we don’t have the resources. This is why we need structure; it can help us feel a little more contained.”
Here are some small changes you could make to create a routine for yourself:
Tip 4: Consume news wisely
It’s understandable that you may want to keep checking the news for anything that offers a glimmer of hope for when life will go back to normal. However, it can be damaging to your mental health to read lots of negative news.
Set times in the day/week to read updates and make sure you’re using trust-worthy sources such as YorkMix.
Tip 5: Exercise and stay hydrated
When we look after our physical health, it can have a big impact on our mental health. Try exercising for ten minutes a day with an online workout or going for a walk or run. Eating healthily and drinking plenty of water will make you feel energised and refreshed, but allow yourself to have a treat too.
Tip 6: Get some fresh air
Getting out into the world for a nice walk or run will do wonders for your mental and physical health. The fresh air will blow out the cobwebs and the sun will top up your vitamin D levels. Take the dog out for a walk and breathe in the crisp winter air, but make sure you wrap up warm!
Tip 7: Plan realistic goals
Create a morning and night time routine. This will get you ready for the day and then help you unwind in the evening. Plan tasks you’d like complete during the day and schedule a certain amount of time to do that activity.
Tip 8: Take time to relax
Balance the time between work, rest and doing something you enjoy. Take a warm shower or bath, watch a film, read a book. Do something that you take comfort in and let your body relax whilst doing so.
Tip 9: Get a good sleep
Easier said than done, granted. But getting enough sleep is very important to everyone’s mental health. It allows your body to recharge and leave you feeling energised for the day ahead. Practice a good sleeping routine to ensure the best rest – some excellent advice on this from the NHS here.
If you require more help or would like to talk to someone about your mental health, helplines are listed on the NHS website or are available online here.