The media is full of headline grabbers, ‘Supermarket shelves left bare’, ‘10 dead after contracting COVID-19’, ‘Lockdown to continue for another 3 weeks at least’. Read too much of it and all you will want to is grab your duvet, curl up in a dark room and cry.
The whole world is going through an unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic and there is nowhere you can run off to and hide. Instead, many countries are being told to lockdown and not leave home. After 3 weeks of that already, how can we keep a happy mind, body and soul?
Well, stay with us and we’ll give you the secret to getting through these crazy times.
1) Keep to a routine
You’re not working, so why get up early in the mornings? Why not just lie-in instead? Sounds like a silver-lining in the scheme of things, don’t you think?
The circadian rhythm means our body is highly tuned in to daylight, darkness and other cyclical factors. Muck them up and you’ll start feeling groggy, lethargic and probably a bit low.
Now, we’re not saying go to bed at 7 and up at 7, with no deviations what-so-ever. Just try to avoid chaotic schedules.
2) Get enough sleep
Netflix has seen 15.5m new subscribers in the last quarter – almost doubling the prior quarters’ subscription growth. That is incredible! There is lots of awesome content to watch out there, but don’t fall into the trap of living for the next episode of Bosch or Tiger King.
To function properly adults typically need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
Get any less and you start creeping into – what I like to call – the ‘Starved of Fuel’ cycle. If your body lacks some shut-eye, it’s going to search for energy from elsewhere. Yep! You start craving sugary treats and greasy burgers… just watch your waistline expand!
3) Don’t drink too much
Now, if you have young kids, you’re probably so fearful of a hangover that you’ll never have to worry about this point. But for others, just because you might not need to physically go into work tomorrow doesn’t mean you can have that extra glass of wine or beer.
Aside from being pure calories in liquid form, alcohol literally infiltrates the brain and wreaks havoc, in all sorts of ways. It inhibits REM, a critical phase in sleep, dehydrates, giving you that banging headache and depletes your body of sugar, making you crave even more calories.
And with so many delicious alcohol-free alternatives no one at the other end of your Zoom call is going to know that your gin and tonic is actually a delicious mocktail.
4) Eat well
Put the right building blocks and nutrients into your body and you will feel better for it.
Think of the food pyramid- lots of green veg and fruit at the bottom. Grains and cereals come next. On top of that dairy products, so you can have some but not too many. You should eat meat in moderation, and finally eat only small amounts of fats and sugary foods.
And why not get on the lockdown bandwagon of baking banana loafs (a delicious recipe here: (https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/brilliant-banana-loaf) or making home-made pizzas? Or if you’re really keen, get into making your own sourdough starter!
5) Stay connected
As sociable creatures, lockdown goes against everything in our DNA. How we crave to see our friends and family! Virtual hugs just aren’t really cutting it.
Stay connected. The digital landscape in recent years has made things a whole lot easier to get in touch remotely. Hold your own ‘House party’, video-calling your best mates; music blaring, snacks, drinks and chat. Organise a book club, and get on a call every Wednesday to discuss the latest chapter. Or stick with the old-fashioned way of in-person conversation: sit on your doorstep and natter with your next door neighbour.
Talk about your worries. Laugh at the small stuff. Share lockdown distraction ideas. Talk, and be human. Don’t let Coronavirus get the better of you.
6) See sunlight
Remember I spoke about circadian rhythms? Well, alternating between daylight and darkness is really important to the body. Make sure you don’t spend all day indoors.
Coronavirus restrictions mean most of us are stuck at home, but sit by a window for an hour every day as a minimum. Ideally get outside. Breathe in the fresh air and let the sun hit your skin.
7) Exercise every day
Even if it is just a light walk, doing something physical will help clear the mind, build up those positive endorphins and make the bad seem easier to handle.
You don’t need a big space to get sweaty. How many star jumps can you do in a minute? Run up and down those stairs of yours and feel your calves burn! Flick on your tv and load your favourite online fitness coach for some motivational pep talks.
And if you’re struggling to think of how to fill your lockdown days, a little exercise easily chews up an hour once you’ve changed, exercised, showered and got dressed again. Super!
8) Block out negativity
The media is flooded with doom and gloom. Social media either tells tales of woe or how pretty/happy/amazing other people/their gardens/homes/baking skills are … and you’re left feeling just awful.
Switch it all off.
There is no need to subject yourself to such stresses. Pick and choose how you want to interact with the world. Don’t let it control you.
9) True facts only, please
If you do want to know more about Coronavirus, COVID-19, lockdown and how we are all coping, make sure you stick with the facts, from reputable sources. Be wary of fake news and click bait.
Boredom breeds creativity and there are many fraudsters at work, not only trying to scam people out of money online but also spreading stories of fear.
Think about how possibly inaccurate information could affect others too. Try not to share information without fact-checking against credible sources.
10) Keep a happy mind
Last, but definitely not least. Positive mental health is of the utmost importance in times of stress.
I’ve left this one till last because nearly all the tips above feed into this point.
The Coronavirus outbreak is very scary but steps are in place to manage it. However, some people may experience intense anxiety that can affect their daily life.
Try to focus on the things you can control, such as your behaviour, who you speak to, and where and how often you get information. If things do become overwhelming, accept your worries but speak to people you trust and can comfort you, fact-check to make sure your concerns are not fuelled from media hype, challenge your anxious thoughts or try to shift your focus with activities, like Mindfulness, breathing techniques or yoga.
And above all, follow steps 1 to 9 above.