Surviving Lockdown: Prioritise Self-Care
It is now almost one year on from the first lockdown and we are beginning to witness a decline in people’s ability to remain positive during these challenging times. Perhaps the novelty of staying at home has worn off. Maybe loved ones are becoming sick.
For many, the current lack of freedom is stifling and oppressive. We may all be riding the same rough seas, but we cannot deny that some are riding those huge waves in a Yacht…and others in a canoe. Before Covid-19, most of us lived far from simple lives. We were often burning the candle at both ends and trying to juggle our relationships, family life, social life, health and fitness and so on.
When the first lockdown hit, many were enjoying a sense of slowing down. It was nice to stop, to spend time with loved ones and to have no choice other than to stay still. We found ourselves living in much simpler times and whilst this was a far from desired situation for many, those of us who had the necessary support around us and a happy home environment were able to see the silver lining.
However, as time has moved on the situation has intensified. The most recent lockdown doesn’t seem to hold the same meaning it did before. Money might be running low, support is limited and we are feeling very ‘cooped up’ and as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
We’re asking: When will this all end?
Google have revealed that the search term ‘self-care’ is at an all-time high. Has it taken a pandemic for us all to realise how important basic self-care is? I would say so. The lockdowns have shown us that no matter how ‘good’ and ‘successful’ our lives were before Covid-19, circumstances are changeable and often out of our control. In an age that emphasises staying ahead, achieving success, keeping busy and ‘doing’ so much, it’s no wonder that so many people are struggling right now. Suddenly, we are back to basics. When we look after ourselves, we find it easier to ride the waves and move through unpredictability.
Prioritise basic self-care practices daily, with the help of these tips below.
1. Drink Enough Water
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? And it is! But how many of us actually drink the recommended amount of water daily? It is vital that we fulfil this basic need (daily,) in order to feel our best. We all know how important water is for our physical health, but did you know it helps us energetically too? When we are dehydrated, the pathways of energy within us become blocked and stagnant. We become not only physically tired and suffer from headaches, but our energy body becomes sluggish too.
Do some research to find out the correct amount of water for you, depending on your height, weight, environment and activity levels and commit to fulfilling this need daily. It’s important to drink clean, high quality water that is free from toxicity. I highly recommend investing in a water filtration unit to be sure the water you are drinking is safe. Reverse Osmosis water is a personal favourite. Begin your day with a large glass of water and start creating some healthy drinking habits!
2. Nourish Your Body, Mind and Soul
Focus on a healthy diet to experience optimal health. Nurture your body with fresh fruits, veggies and wholefoods and remember the 80/20 rule: Eat healthy, nourishing, nutrient dense foods 80% of the time and you will undoubtedly feel better. Stay away from ‘diet culture’ and unrealistic expectations. This is simply about nourishing yourself from the inside out and choosing healthy options, from a place of self-love.
Move your body daily, even if that means keeping it simple and going for a short walk. Exercising is sometimes the last thing we feel like doing, but you will almost always feel better after; physically and mentally. Find a form of exercise you love and introduce it into your daily or weekly routine.
Being stuck at home can increase feelings of fear and worry, so soothe your soul with meditation. Mindfulness is a practice which enables us to continuously and consciously focus our attention on the here and now. When we are mindful, we are not caught up in regrets from the past or fears of the future. We are here. Right now. In this moment. Mindfulness allows us to take each day at a time and invite a sense of peace and stillness into our every day living. Take time regularly to be still, using a guided meditation for support.
3. Create a New Routine
If you’re currently in lockdown, it might feel as though each day is a repeat of the one before. You may have lost your old routine, but it’s possible to create a new one; giving you a sense of focus and productivity. Try waking up, eating your meals and going to bed around the same time each day. It can also help to break the day into three segments and plan an ‘activity’ for each one.
Your activity in the morning might be to exercise or clean the house. In the afternoon you might choose to go for a walk or phone a friend for a catch up. The evening time is for winding down, so your activity might be to meditate or finish any jobs from the day that are incomplete, before switching off. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having unstructured ‘lazy days’ that are spent in pyjamas. However, if every day begins to look this way, it will start to negatively affect your mental health. Plan your day the night before, to increase productivity and feelings of motivation.
If you’re struggling for inspiration, seek out an uplifting documentary, film or book that will lift your spirits. ‘Gaia’ is a conscious media platform, dedicated to providing transformational media, in the form of streamed videos. Browse their library of spiritually based documentaries and films, to discover new and exciting perspectives. www.gaia.com
4. Connect with Others
One of the biggest lockdown complaints is loneliness. As human beings we crave physical contact and emotional intimacy with others. If you are somebody who is particularly sociable and outgoing, or you are living alone, then you may be finding this period of isolation exceptionally challenging.
Thankfully, we live in an age of technology and there are things we can do to increase our connection with others. Simple gestures such as saying hello to passers-by when you are out for a walk can increase a sense of human connection. Make an effort each day to phone family and friends. Video call loved ones and even reach out through social media to old friends who you wish to re-connect with. If you’d like to take it one step further, then why not organise an online quiz? Or a social media party?
If you’re feeling anxious, stressed or depressed, then perhaps this self-care practice is especially important. Reach out to others. Ask for help. Don’t feel as though you need to pretend that you are okay. Do whatever you can to keep your connection with others strong.
5. Keep it Simple on Bad Days
During particularly challenging times, focus on your ‘basic three’. Choose three simple practices or activities that you will commit to daily, even when you are feeling extremely anxious or depressed. You will see from the list below that many of these activities are very ‘easy’ and simple for the vast majority of us. However, if you do suffer from chronic anxiety or depression, then you will know that the simplest of tasks can feel daunting and overwhelming. Write down your ‘basic three’ and keep it somewhere close, so that you can reach for it any time you need it. Be kind and gentle with yourself.
Here are some ‘basic three’ examples:
⦁ Drink enough water
⦁ Make your bed
⦁ Clean your teeth
⦁ Wash your face
⦁ Take a shower
⦁ Open your curtains to let the daylight in
⦁ Connect with a friend
⦁ Get dressed out of pyjamas
⦁ Eat at least one hearty, healthy meal
⦁ Open the windows and let fresh air circulate
⦁ Go for a short walk or sit by the window, to breathe in some fresh air
⦁ Have a conversation with someone
Remember to give yourself the same care, comfort, love and attention that you so freely give to others. It’s time to be your own best friend.
With love and virtual hugs to you!
By Nicola Harrold