Simple tips to combat lockdown blues
Updated: Feb 25
The current lockdown is having negative effects on us all, regardless of our personal situation. Watching the news every day brings with it more grizzling figures of transmissions, deaths. It’s like wherever we turn, there is no escaping from the harsh reality that we find ourselves in.
Many people I speak to mention that lockdown feels like things have come to a grinding halt, but the daily stresses of life continue. Our bills still need to be paid, the children/family still needs to be fed (entertained and even taught), work still wants us to deliver and exceed our targets, and we also have to remember to check in on loved ones not within our support bubbles.
It’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in a dull haze. Or you could find yourself in a situation where you feel trapped. Whatever is going on in the world outside your home, the battle in your head can feel even louder.
There are some steps you can take to alleviate some of the pain and discomfort you feel.
Exercise. It doesn’t have to be training for a marathon. Even taking a brisk 20-minute walk in your local park can make a difference. Use that one outdoor visit you’re allowed and take that time for yourself. You’ve probably already watched all you wanted to watch on Netflix anyway. If you have a dog, even better. They’ll be happy to go out – sometimes thinking about others’ welfare is motivation enough. If you have the spare cash, invest in some kind of exercise machine. Looking through Amazon or ebay, I found a whole host of affordable machines, and plenty of videos on YouTube to help guide you through. Whatever you decide to do, sometimes just stepping out of the house to take in some fresh air makes the world of difference.
Cook. You don’t have to be a contestant on Masterchef or Bake Off to try your hand on a few new ingredients or recipes. There are also many recipe box companies who provide introductory rates to try. It makes a difference from the normal and has dinner sorted for a week or so.
Watch your diet. Cooking aside, it’s easy to be a couch potato and gorge on chocolates and a whole tub of Haribos (I may or may not be talking from experience here). And it’s ok if you do – we all have those days. But make sure it doesn’t become a habit. As well as exercise, a healthy, balanced diet does wonders for your mental health.
Invest in a new hobby. Even if you’re a terrible knitter or have never touched a puzzle since you were a child. Find something new and try it out. I rummaged through my cupboard under the stairs and found a 1,000-piece puzzle on Van Gogh’s Starry Night someone gave me as a gift a few Christmases ago. It kept me entertained for a good week and gave my eyes a break from all the screen time. I then found myself buying a few paint by numbers – yes, people I know laughed at me, but I know it kept me entertained in the evenings.
Read. And if you’re tired of reading, try audiobooks. There’s nothing better than a good book (or storyteller) to introduce you to a different world for a while. If you have children, reading them a bedtime book is also a fantastic idea. They’ll appreciate it, and you can bond over a new or continuing story every night.
Enrol in an online course. There are plenty of free courses online if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, and it’s a good opportunity to learn a new skill, even if it’s for your own interest rather than for your career.
Set boundaries. I found I couldn’t relax after my working hours because I kept my computer in the same place I relaxed in. I invested in a cheapish desk from an online shop, set up my laptop and now have a different space to work and lounge in. Just that small step has made a massive difference and allows me to step away when I need to.
Talk. It’s often said that humans are social animals, and we are not designed to be alone. Yet so many of us turn inward when times get tough. Added to this, there are only so many online Zoom quizzes that you can partake in, and many feel they’ve had their share’s worth during the first lockdown. But besides that, social interactions when you’re feeling low can be more daunting than when you’re not. It’s at these times we should be reaching out to people that we trust. Unfortunately, because of lockdown restrictions, many of us have been cut off from our friends and family members we would normally confide in. When the noise becomes too much, there is always a professional at hand who will be able to help you reframe your problems and help you out of the murky waters.
The above is by no means a failsafe way to manage the lockdown. Regardless of what you decide to do, make sure you’re taking the time to look after yourself. And if you’re struggling, reach out to a counsellor or psychotherapist to help you through some of difficulty.
During these difficult times, I am offering online and telephone counselling and psychotherapy. Contact me using the links above, or to find out more about how I can help.
About: Eleni Henderson is a psychodynamic counsellor and psychotherapist based in London. She works at a renowned North London charity offering counselling services and runs her own private practice in London, offering psychodynamic counselling and psychotherapy on a long- or short-term basis.