Lockdown Survival Guide: How to keep your mental health in check as we enter a winter lockdown
As we find ourselves working from home and unable to see friends and family once again, there seems to be one question on everyone’s minds: how on earth are we going to survive not only another lockdown but a winter lockdown?
Whilst restrictions are less severe than the first time around, this by no means makes the changes any easier to deal with. But now that we’ve lived through one lockdown, what lessons can we take onto the next? Below, we round up some of the best ways to make a second period of self-isolation – this time without the solace of sunny weather – more bearable and even enjoyable.
Stock up on supplements
Vitamin D is of the essence. Crucial for promoting bone health and strengthening the immune system, insufficient levels of Vitamin D can play a role in depression and other mental health problems. Needless to say, this supplement should be a priority in all of our daily routines at the moment. Most of the UK population has suboptimal levels of Vitamin D, and Dr Sophie recommends that everyone should take at least 2000iu per day; however, some people require more than this.
And don’t forget good old cod liver oil. Apart from the subtle glow, it offers our skin; Omega 3 is also key to better mental health.
Nail your sleep routine
The world is quite simply easier to face after a good night’s sleep. With many of us, working less now is the perfect time to implement a solid sleep routine. If you’ve been struggling to drift off recently, there are a few things you can try to help boost your melatonin levels (the sleep hormone). Start by switching off devices a couple of hours before you’re due to go to sleep. Blue light tricks the brain into thinking that it’s daytime and melatonin production is limited. Instead, spend some time before bed reading a book, meditating or enjoying a relaxing, lavender-scented bath. Relaxing activities will do wonders for boosting melatonin levels. Snacking on foods such as goji berries, walnuts, almonds, pineapples, and bananas will also give a little pre-bedtime melatonin boost and also make a delicious dessert.
Enjoy a daily dose of wellness
Punctuate your day with something that anchors you to the outdoor environment and connects you to someone else – a daily shared errand at an agreed time or a crisp morning walk with a neighbour, for example. This is especially important for those working from home, to prevent the daily grind from bleeding into the evening.
Make an everyday activity into an event – dress up for dinner or turn your family film night into a home cinema experience.
Set yourself a project
If the first lockdown taught us anything, it was how woefully unprepared we were for finding new ways of keeping ourselves entertained for months on end. But with some forward planning in place, you can nail down some concrete lockdown projects for distraction. Perhaps it’s the novel you never got around to writing or that online course you just can’t stop thinking about. It could be bulk buying enough jigsaw puzzles to get you through to next Christmas or painting your kitchen. Whatever it is, find something that gets you springing out of bed in the mornings.
Sign up for some newsletters
If you’re having a bad day and cannot face any more news headlines, a newsletter is a great way to stay connected whilst preserving your sanity. Try the Happy Newspaper for a summary of all that is good in the world, or subscribe to The What List which collates the best reads, watches and recipes as well as other interesting things that are going on in the world
Find new ways to connect
Think about all the creative ways that we’ve already found to connect. Get into the habit of scheduling video calls regularly with loved ones, so you always have something to look forward to. You might like to explore virtual book clubs or events or host some kind of activity like watching a movie together, playing Scrabble on Facebook, or even just a WhatsApp conversation sharing funny pictures with each other or talking about what you ate today.
The next few weeks are going to be a great time to rediscover the importance of the written word. Writing and sending Christmas cards to our loved ones can really change how we feel in that sense of isolation.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.