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29.06.2020- Self-care Strategies for Lockdown Life

There's no question that life as we know it has changed beyond all recognition over the last few months, and there's no doubt in my mind that this huge period of upheaval has had and will continue to have a huge impact on our collective mental health and overall wellbeing for a long time to come. For me, one of the hardest things about living through the last few months (aside from the massive shift in routine and not seeing my friends) has been the sheer rollercoaster of emotions from week to week. No two days have been the same, and I've been surprised at just how much I've flitted between being angry, really upset and feeling surprisingly ok about things- something which in and of itself is a bit of a stresser! With that in mind, I've been paying a lot more attention to the little rituals of self-care which I've been using to help keep my anxiety in check as much as possible- nothing huge or dramatic, but just little coping mechanisms which have been helping me to take things one day at a time:

* Don't sweat the small stuff
Easier said than done, I know, but it does matter. In an age of constant rolling news and scrolling through our phones, it's easier than ever to be tuned in to the micro details of what's happening at the moment- and feeling like the bad news is never-ending. There's so much about the pandemic and lockdown which is out of our control, so I've been learning to let go of the worry I've been feeling about these things and instead focusing on what I can control- my own approach. Whether that's not going out as much as I'm technically allowed to, donating to charities to support them through this time or simply crossing a few things off of my own to-do list day-to-day. It's easy to get hung up on every little thing, but letting go of that is just as important for your own self-preservation.

* It's ok to say no
This is a big one, and super important if you're working from home. Being flexible is important, sure, but so is setting parameters as much as you possibly can, whether that's something as simple as making sure you get away from your screen for a regular lunch break or a post-work walk, and not responding to emails outside of your usual working hours. Similarly, if you're feeling the Zoom fatigue, it's perfectly ok to opt out of calls and quizzes- and I promise nobody is judging you for it.

* Fresh air is your best friend
I've been making sure to get fresh air as much as I can- whether that's a run in the evening or being out in the garden. It really does make the world of difference- and I've also found that moving my body has been a total tonic too- not just in terms of boosting my mood but also in allowing me to sleep better in the evenings.

* Embrace new hobbies or revisit old ones!
I've been on furlough since April and will be until August- with things beyond that extremely uncertain given the industry that I work in. Finding things to do when you're so used to working full-time is definitely a strange adjustment to make, but I've actually really enjoyed being able to completely focus on the hobbies I enjoy- from writing, to baking, to gardening. I'm also in the process of doing a few online course and trying to learn a new language- things which I would have never had the time to do before lockdown, so I'm trying to see these as little positives.

* Make time to switch off
Probably the most important one- tied to not getting hung up on the small stuff and saying no to things. Whether it's cooking an evening meal, going for a walk to replace the time that you'd usually spend commuting or stopping yourself from looking at screens at bedtime- switching off at the end of the day is key. I've found getting lost in a book to be the perfect way to unwind lately- and am delighted to report that my focus for reading seems to have come back!

What are your key coping strategies for life at the moment?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)


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