Mindfulness Tips During the Lockdown
In these difficult times, it is important to keep positive and motivated, even when it is hard to do. It is important to take care of your mind and body and build connections with others. This will improve your mindset and mental wellbeing, even in lockdown.
Your mindset is a great strength you possess to make the most of new and challenging circumstances. Overcoming negative emotions is the key to building a foundation of positive thought processes.
Returning to lockdown has been a confusing and frustrating process for many individuals. Creating a self-care plan can help you improve your focus, health, and decision-making skills in these unprecedented times. It’s normal to feel different, intense emotions.
Developing strategies to manage those feelings will help you feel more in control of those emotional changes. Fear, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and stress are all extremely common, but can be managed. When life becomes stressful, taking time out of your day for self-care suddenly seems less important.
We neglect ourselves in favour of managing stressful situations. However, indulging in healthy self-care activities will actually help you overcome your stress and take better care of those around you.
Here are some self-care tips for you:
Follow your normal routine: COVID-19 is creating unfamiliar territory for many individuals; keeping your normal routine will help you feel more stable and secure. We have a tendency to change our habits when our circumstances change, but this is not always helpful for our brains. Lack of a normal routine can take a toll on your mental wellbeing, lead to increased anxiety, and potentially exacerbate pre-existing mental health issues. Sticking as closely to your pre-lockdown routine will help you feel more balanced and at ease. Make sure your daily routine includes a regular bedtime, consistent meal times, self-care activities, and appropriate work schedules. However, make sure you allow time for breaks and relaxation — these activities will help you feel more like yourself.
Get enough sleep: Sleep is crucial for proper physical and mental wellbeing. Your immune system cannot function properly without enough sleep — and during a pandemic, you need all the help you can get. Adequate sleep will help you combat stress, anxiety, and depression throughout the day. Stay on a schedule and try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
Find time to be active daily: exercising daily will keep your body in shape, and is also a great way to relieve stress. Regular physical activity produces hormones that reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mood, boost your immune system, and promote good sleep habits. Any activities that encourage regular movement will help, such as dance or exercise apps.
Eat healthy: Following a healthy diet is the best way to strengthen your immune system. Keeping your body healthy with good food is critical during lockdown. When our routine is disrupted, we have a habit of abandoning our healthy eating goals. Be mindful of what you put into your body; those energy resources will help you stay in tip-top shape mentally and physically. Eat full meals on a regular schedule, and avoid snacking and overeating. If you need a snack between meals, opt for some healthy fruits and vegetables or nuts. Following a normal eating schedule will help you avoid intense cravings and sugar binges. A well balanced diet will naturally help you steer clear of processed foods and refined sugar. Limit caffeine intake as well if you are feeling stressed; caffeine can make stress and anxiety even worse.
Relax and recharge: Taking time to step away from reality can help ease difficult emotions and worries, which will improve your overall well being. Relaxation techniques and meditation will help you deal with anxiety and stress. Take time to be by yourself, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Turn off your phone, find a quiet place to let your mind wander, and try to relax. You may even consider trying out some deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation. Some of my favourite relaxation strategies include taking a bubble bath, listening to music, reading a book, or just sitting quietly. Anything works as long as it helps you relax.
Continue to set goals: Just because we are experiencing a pandemic doesn’t mean your goals and dreams need to be put on hold. However, you may need to make realistic changes to those goals. Set realistic steps you can take each day to help you accomplish your goals. It is great to be motivated and ambitious, but remember that you don’t have to conquer the world on your own. Being in lockdown takes more of a mental toll on us than we like to admit, and that’s okay. Be realistic with yourself and your abilities, and do what feels good for you. Give yourself credit for moving in the right direction, even if those steps feel tiny. Some days are better than others — be kind to yourself.
Positive thinking: It is totally okay to have negative feelings and emotions during this time. Lockdown is stressful, and negative reactions to this situation are completely normal. However, there are also many positive things we can learn and experience during this time. Focusing on the positive, rather than dwelling on the negative, will help you feel more hopeful and happy. One practice to focus on the positive is to start each day by listing things you are grateful for. Try to accept changes as they come and keep problems in perspective — it will all be over eventually.
Express gratitude daily: It is hard to feel grateful for things right now — we all feel that way. Most of us are facing some difficult losses at the moment, whether it involves your health, finances, freedom, relationships, or professional goals. In spite of all that, there is always something to be grateful for. Gratitude is an extremely energetic feeling which allows you to focus your attention on the good things you have or that happen to you. You may be surprised at how your energy changes as you focus on gratitude and attract more positivity into your life. The easiest way to start is with a gratitude journal. Every day, you should make a list of things you are grateful for and focus your attention on them. Consider things you can do and not just things you have.
Breathing exercise: Practicing deep breathing techniques will help you feel more calm and at peace. Breathing is one of the most powerful stress management techniques we have; we are never without it. Breathwork even stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls the parasympathetic (automatic) responses of the body. Your relaxation response improves as you practice breathing control. Deep abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing helps destress the body and teaches you how to balance inhalation and exhalation.
Meditation: Meditation is a powerful tool for your mind, body, and spirit. Meditation triggers your body to release chemicals to boost your immune system. During lockdown the first time, I challenged myself to deepen my meditation practices. This was the perfect opportunity to try something new as I healed from my breakup. The goal of meditation is not to stop the mind, but instead to shift its attention somewhere else. Meditation allows you to choose what thoughts, experiences, and healing habits we focus on. It allows you to pull yourself back into present awareness, creates a new state of presence, and allows you to focus your mind at will.
Stay busy: Distractions from negative thoughts can help ease anxiety and depression. Be willing to experiment with new hobbies you have never tried before. Lockdown provides the time to try all the things you never had time for before. Is there a closet you’ve been meaning to clean out, or a craft you have always wanted to try? Art can be very therapeutic and can help you cope with anxiety and stress.
Be kind: Treat people with kindness during this time, and be supportive of others. During this lockdown, it is hard to feel like a part of a community. Acts of kindness can help you feel a sense of belonging. Thank those who are putting their lives at risk for your safety day and night. Consider those who could benefit from a little extra generosity. And in general, just be kind to others. Even if you don’t know them, even if their beliefs and values differ from yours, even if they make you angry. Be kind.
Limit news exposure: It’s always a good idea to be informed about the current situation, but there is a limit to what is healthy. Constantly watching the news or following articles and updates can get overwhelming. If the news is making your anxiety and stress worse, limit yourself to only checking news updates once a day. Constant updates and obsession with the news can increase your fear and anxiety, which is detrimental for your mental health. Limiting social media exposure will also help you avoid rumours and false information that will only make you more concerned. Check the sources of your information, and limit your exposure to sources that may not be reliable. A healthy amount of scepticism is always a good idea when it comes to the internet.
Learn new skills: As adults, we are usually much too busy to learn new skills. Now that lockdown has provided us with that extra time, it would be wise to invest it in learning something new. Even if you only use the same amount of time you used to spend on your commute every day, that will make a difference. You could sign up for a course or training in a skill you have always wanted to learn. Maybe you have always wanted to play an instrument, learn photography or other artistic skills, or learn a new language? There are plenty of free and inexpensive options to broaden your horizons, learn something new, and have fun!
Spend time outdoors: We need to spend time in nature now more than ever before. It is beneficial for both our mental and physical wellbeing. Nature restores your body, mind, and soul. We feel more at home when we are surrounded by the materials our bodies are created from. Nature can help you feel more connected to the earth and other people, which will help you feel happier. Spend time outside whenever possible — going on walks and hikes, visiting a local park, even just enjoying time in your own backyard. If you are high risk and can’t go outside, consider finding a few houseplants to take care of.
Stay in touch: Even if you need to stay home and social distance, do not allow yourself to become isolated. Human beings are social creatures, and we all suffer when we don’t get the connections we need. We are all struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness. If you have to stay home, make an effort to talk on the phone or email your friends and family. If you know someone who is living on their own and can accept visitors, consider stopping by or giving them a call. Virtual connections are still connections. The internet is a vital part of staying connected in today’s world, and it can go a long way in helping you not feel isolated.
Serve others: It is completely understandable that we feel somewhat powerless in this new situation. We are fearful of the future and overwhelmed with the demands placed upon us. Now more than ever, we need to focus on providing value to others and the world in general. Service is a natural mood booster and will help you feel better about yourself. Find small ways to serve others daily, even if it’s just sending a text to check in on a friend. If you have elderly neighbours, check in with them and see if there are things that need to be done around the house or if they need errands run. And if nothing else, staying home and social distancing is a great way to protect others.
Support family members and friends: If you have friends or family members who are high risk and need to self isolate, check in on them virtually. Quarantine gets extremely lonely for all of us, so check in on your loved ones regularly.
Keep things in perspective: This is a strange and unprecedented time, but things will return to normal eventually. Keeping things in perspective can help you to make good decisions and take care of yourself and others.
And finally, remember that you are not alone. This won’t last forever. Stay safe, be kind, and support each other. We will come through this, and it will make us stronger.
Sending you loads of love and positive thoughts.