08/01/2021 Keeping Spirits Up in a Lockdown

A third lockdown? No, you’re not dreaming and yes, we are in 2021. 

I had anticipated this as I’m sure many of you did. That being said, it didn’t seem to make it any less of a bitter pill to swallow. I don’t know about you but somehow the last lockdown in November, a mere 4 weeks, seemed almost harder than the first looong ‘stay home’ period.

In the first lockdown we enjoyed some beautiful weather which really helped keep my spirits up. The same cannot be said about the second which was full of miserable, dark and wet days. I felt so much more drained as the time I spent indoors increased. To hear the news of a third one in winter time with no set end date, I found myself a little apprehensive of the weeks that lie ahead.

If I wanted to avoid that tired, sluggish feeling of November, I knew I would have to make some changes. Here’s what I’ve decided to do to ensure a happy me in lockdown no. three.

Make a plan for the week ahead.

Everyone has been talking about the importance of routine when it comes to mentally getting through these tough times. For many people, myself included, uncertainty and the feeling of not being in control triggers anxiety. Creating a routine or having a plan for the day ahead helps you take charge of the things you CAN control. 

I’m a big fan of to-do lists but I’m definitely guilty of being over-ambitious with what I can get done in one day. Rather than setting myself a start and finish time for the day and time slots for tasks, I tend to just think, “well it will take as long as it takes.”

My downtime, in normal pre-covid times, would consist of plans with friends or family most weeks. I would snap up any free weekend or evening I had as an opportunity for socialising. To suddenly find myself mostly confined to the house without plans was a shock. I’ve felt recently like I’ve been wasting my free time rather than making the most of it.

So, on Sunday evening I decided to make a plan for the week ahead. This consisted of a big thought shower detailing everything I wanted to do including work tasks, chores and self-care rituals. I was really keen to plan out my “me time” as my mum would call it (which is something she will tell you she doesn’t get enough of). I used an A4 piece of paper and got my coloured Sharpies out. I even ended up doing little doodles. It felt like a childlike activity but I decided I didn’t really care. Then, underneath I plotted out the days of the week assigning different activities to different days and time slots. This wasn’t going to be a rigid regime (even though it may sound like it) but more of a guide which I could be flexible with.

So far, my plan has given me more structure than a to-do list and a better balance of work and play. It’s felt less like a “week in lockdown” so I think I’m definitely on to a winner!

Get ready for the day.

This is quite a radical change for me to be honest!

Getting ready, by which I mean getting washed/dressed and making myself look half-presentable, has always been the last thing I would do before leaving the house, or if I wasn’t going anywhere, the thing I would do just before lunchtime. This isn’t because I spend the entirety of my mornings lolling about (I only do this on the odd Saturday or Sunday) but because I just always end up getting stuck straight into jobs and before I know where I am it’s 11am and I’ve done a couple of hours of work in my pyjamas and dressing gown. I never intend on getting ready so late. I always say to myself, “I’ll just do this one last thing,” but one last thing is always a long thing or leads on to another thing.

This week, I’ve tried getting ready in a morning before launching into the day. I’ve felt better in myself just by making the effort to actually do my hair and put clothes on first thing. No more walking past the mirror before midday and thinking “what a state!” It’s kind of lifted my mood. AND I’ve not had to endure the shame of answering the door to the postman or woman in a dishevelled state praying that they won’t think I’m a slob.   

Less screen time, more reading.

I’ve found myself gravitating more and more towards the TV and my phone during the pandemic. With nowhere really to go when work or day to day tasks are done, I’ve been at a bit of a loss. I’ve caught myself on numerous occasions returning to my social media feeds 10 minutes after I last checked them. What do I think is going to have changed in 10 minutes?! It’s just become a bad habit which I don’t even take any pleasure from. As for the TV, I’ve realised there is only so much Netflix I can watch in one stint without getting fidgety or losing interest. This usually results in me going back to my phone!

Well, I’ve decided enough’s enough and I need to get out of that rut. No more sitting listlessly for long periods of time looking at a screen!

I ordered myself three new books this week. Nothing captures the imagination or provides escapism quite like reading does. The books came the other day and I’ve already devoured nearly a third of one. I feel so much better for stepping away from screen time!  

Get more fresh air.

I touched on the topic of the importance of fresh air over on my Facebook page this week. During the last lockdown when the weather was so uninviting, I found I could go a good few days before realising I hadn’t had any fresh air! The side effects were not good. I felt headachy, lethargic and fed up. Usually by the time cabin fever was starting to set in I would stop and think, “Oh, I haven’t been outside in a while!” 

Getting some fresh air is such a simple thing you can do to feel reinvigorated and yet I’d forgotten all about it. This lockdown I have vowed to get outdoors more even if it is only for a walk around the block. I’ve been out a few times this week and have really benefited from it. This has gone hand in hand with another aim of mine which is to get moving more. Ordinarily I would be doing umpteen classes a week. With me not going out to classes, I’m well and truly out of my exercise routine. I have been doing some home workouts but compared to the amount of physical activity I would normally do, it’s quite a change of pace. Getting more fresh air means more walking so to coin an old phrase i’m, “killing two birds with one stone!” More fresh air and more exercise means I’m feeling better physically and mentally.