With over a third of the world’s population currently on some form of lockdown many people will be wondering how to stop themselves going ‘stir crazy’. But looking after your mental health is especially important during this time.
As a person who has anxiety and panic disorder, my mental health fluctuates regularly. I have found it particular hard during lockdown. Here in the UK we have been in lockdown for more than 4 weeks now and as the weeks have gone on I have found it easier to cope and manage my mental well being but it hasn’t been easy. There have been days where I couldn’t face getting out of bed. Days where I would just cry for what appeared like no reason and days where I felt ‘normal’. Of course there is no such thing as ‘normal’ during these times and finding a new ‘normal’ is what has helped the most.
Finding a New ‘Normal’
When the lockdown first came into place my job suddenly came to an end, I was furloughed and my days suddenly became very empty. This was one of the hardest challenges to overcome. It resulted in numerous days spent in bed hiding from the emptiness. I decided I needed to create some sort of routine for my day. I made sure I had an alarm set for the time I would normal get up for work, I got dressed and had breakfast but then what?
Hobbies. I looked at what I already enjoyed doing and what I would like to try. Then went online and invested some money in the resources I needed to fulfill these hobbies. I bought books that I’ve wanted to read for some time, I bought new video games, I bought jigsaw puzzles, I knew that keeping busy with a variety of hobbies was the answer. All of these thing were great for keeping me busy but I still felt trapped by the four walls of my house.
I looked at how I could make the most of the government guidelines on the lockdown. We are lucky in the UK that we aren’t confined to our homes 24/7. Making the most of the opportunities to leave the house without going against government regulations became the highlight of my days. I decided that it was important for my mental health to go to the supermarket twice a week. I also make sure that I go for my once daily exercise everyday, it makes the biggest difference to see other people (from a distance of course) and get some fresh air.
My Top 5 Tips for Improving Your Mental Health
- Keep in touch with family and friends regularly. We are so fortunate that we are able to stay in touch with those closest to us. I regularly Face Time with my mom and dad. I’ve played Cards Against Humanity online and even taken part in a pub quiz over Zoom for my uncle’s 60th birthday. It’s not as good as a hug from your nearest and dearest but it is certainly better than nothing.
- Keep busy. Think of all the hobbies and activities you would like to try but never have the time. Maybe you would like to read more or try your hand at baking. Having a variety of hobbies keeps your mind busy and stops boredom setting in.
- Keep a routine. It can be so tempting especially if you aren’t working, to have lie-ins and stay up late. Try to keep to your normal routine, keep your meal times and bed times the same so that you are well rested and stay physically healthy.
- Make the most of the time you have outside of the house. While it is important that we respect the government guidelines for social distancing and isolation, we are allowed to leave the house once a day for exercise. Take this opportunity everyday. Even if you feel tired or the weather isn’t the best, you will feel so much better for the change of scenery and the fresh air.
- Finally, my most important tip, find your purpose. By this I mean, find what makes you feel you have accomplished something. For me, this is helping other people. I have been working alongside Emma to provide Home School plans for families. I have been helping vulnerable family members with shopping and jobs around the house, and finally I have been working on some home improvements.
The past week has seen a dramatic improvement in my mental well being, not only because of all the things I have mentioned above. But also thanks to the love and support of my family and friends who have kept me busy with phone calls, Face Time chats and jobs they need doing.