I’m sure I’m not alone finding this lockdown pretty hard. Remember back in March 2020 when this was all new, we made Dalgona coffees, banana bread and thought it would all be over by the summer. It was tough, but like any good disaster film, it would be over and done with in the real life equivalent of an hour and a half.
Pre March 2020 terms like social distancing (social what now?), getting a test (don’t ask it might be embarrassing), wear a mask (this was for masked balls, fancy dress or robbing a bank) and super spreader (a man taking up too much space on public transit) are now as ubiquitous as our names.
We had a feeling of hope, and we were looking out for each other. Now almost a year later, we are fed up, and a lot of that goodwill in many sections of communities in the UK/US and other countries has turned into division. Many governments are making big mistakes and don’t seem to understand this a global pandemic. They can learn from countries who are doing better and making better decision with the same information. People are quicker to judge others than they are to judge and question those in power.
That said, whilst I feel a frustration that I and many people I know in many different countries are doing the right thing, there is so much out of our control, so in the spirit of what most psychologists say, we can’t change what others do, but we can control how we feel about it. So here are my tips on how to cope with Lockdown 2.0 (or 3.0. 4.0, 330.0 depending where you are).
- Try and keep to good sleep routines – get up and go to bed at more or less the same time every day.
- Get dressed, whilst it is tempting to stay in PJs that is counterproductive as it can make you feel lethargic. On the days I don’t do my hair or makeup in the way I usually do, I tend to feel less positive.
- Cook good wholesome food and avoid too much sugar and processed foods. But don’t deny yourself some treats, we are only human! Again a good routine with meals. I have started making a simple hot meal at lunchtime for my family as they are used to having this at work and school.
- When the weather is dark, gloomy and wet, try and get out in the fresh air. A short walk stimulates your brain and makes it easier to concentrate when you get back to your work/schooling.
- Listen to your body as well as looking after your mental health. Doctors are still open so don’t ignore any health issues.
- Use a daylight lamp to wake up to and during the day to keep energy levels up. Consider taking Vitamin D supplements.
- Do things you need to do before you do what you want to do, so the less pleasant tasks are not hanging over you.
- Keeping to routines such as household tasks and keeping your space tidy as helps with mental health. With a house full of all its people can create more mess, dust etc.
- Ensure that at the end of the day (if you have a child homeschooling), they tidy away their work in an organised way. This indicates the end of the school day and means the next day they are ready to get started. Without the differentiation of different physical spaces, this is important. Make sure they get exercise and screen free time during the day.
- Stop doomscrolling, only read the news a couple of times a day. Instead replace that activity with something more mindful like a craft, jigsaw or reading/listening to a good book or podcast.
- Watch YouTube or TV programmes which make you feel happy. Now it not really the time for all those dystopian films and programmes. I know many people hated it but something light and fluffy like Emily in Paris is perfect at the moment as opposed to watching Black Mirror/Years and Years/Handmaid’s Tale etc (although these are brilliant programmes).
- Look for uplifting and positive news (this is doing the rounds today – Amanda Gorman’s poem at Joe Biden’s inauguration, The Hill We Climb).
- Find some activities you can do with the other members of your household/bubble. My son’s teacher introduced us to Drawasaurus, which is great fun. We also enjoy playing a few rounds of Rummikub when everyone has finished homeschool and work for the day.
- Even though it is hard to see friends and family in person, keep in touch via FaceTime/Skype, messaging and calls. Everyone is struggling at the moment one way or another, so keeping social with real people and not just social media, keeps us feeling human.
- Take time for yourself and encourage others around you to do the same. No matter how much you like the people in your household, it is not normal to be all together 24/7. Try and find spaces in your home that work for everyone but be flexible.
- Motivate each other. I was dragging my heels about making this video about the centenary of hot dog vans in Denmark on Monday, I had all the excuses as to why I couldn’t do it. My son just fixed me with a hard stare and said just do it. He offered to relocate his school space so I could record the section in the kitchen. I am glad he motivated me, I try and motivate him in the same way, but that said his amazing teachers are doing a great job on that front, this time around.
- Remember you will have bad days and that is OK. We need to especially kind to ourselves at the moment as well as to others. We’re all doing the best we can within this Groundhog Day existence.
- Follow the rules and restriction relevant where you live. The sooner this is over, we can all enjoy a normal life again.
This is a personal list of what helps me but I hope these tips give you some food for thought.