What started as a guide to battling the post-holiday blues has quickly evolved into a guide on getting through the Covid-19 pandemic, or what I’m referring to as the ‘lockdown lows’. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that the outbreak is causing chaos all over the globe. With increasing restrictions and laws in place to prevent the spread, our mental health during Covid-19 is falling by the wayside.
Many of us are experiencing social isolation, disrupted routines, loss of employment and income, higher workloads for frontline workers and increased levels of stress and anxiety – all inevitably damaging our mental health.
It’s also hitting the explorers, adventurers and nomads of the world hard. Our adventures are limited by restrictive travel advice, border closures and quarantines. With all our focus on prevention and survival, now more than ever is the time to be taking care of our wellbeing. So here are some of my tried and tested strategies* to overcome the post-holiday blues lockdown lows:
*Yep, I’ve tried and tested these when I’ve been feeling low and they have helped, although I’m sure there’s researched evidence to back it up somewhere, too!
1. Do the opposite
Do the opposite of what the lockdown lows tell you to do. In other words when the lows tell you to stay in bed all day – get up. When it makes you feel alone – connect with friends online or on the phone (social distancing, thank you). When it tells you that you don’t feel like doing anything – do something productive or fun. Essentially, whenever the lockdown lows encourage you to do (or not do) that will have a negative impact on your mental health – do the opposite!
2. Craft a new routine
Losing a sense of your routine is another side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. I’ve found having a structured routine is really helpful in battling the lockdown lows. If you’re unable to work, visit people or go to the gym, then make it your mission to seek out alternatives.
Connect with others online (try video calls, gaming and live streams), follow a home exercise program or go for a daily run. Be as innovative and creative as you can in finding ways to replace or reinvent your usual daily doings. Write up a daily or weekly timetable and stick to it as best you can. We’re creatures of habit and a routine can improve your wellbeing, as well as reduce stress and anxiety. Aim to sleep and wake at the same time everyday, practice good sleep hygiene and be sure to schedule in self-care, too.
3. Find a meaningful activity
I think one of the best methods for stopping any type of lows – whether it’s your mental health during Covid-19, post-holiday blues or life stress – is to find activities that bring us happiness and meaning. Use this time as an opportunity to explore your interests and find new hobbies that you can do from home and solo. The thought of taking up a new hobby can be daunting, so if this is the case for you then think simple; read a book, listen to a podcast, sing and dance like no one’s watching or get baking.
4. Keep future focused
A silver lining to all these constraints is that we have more free time on our hands and in some instances will even save money. It’s just as important that we build positive experiences in the long term, as it is to make them happen day to day. An easy way to remain future focused is to make plans for the next week, month, or year. It can be as simple as scheduling in call dates with your friends, researching your next trip destination, setting goals or even writing bucket lists. I find a little bit of daydreaming can be good for the soul.
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5. Look after yourself!
Look after your body by eating well, keeping active and maintaining the basics even if you’re home alone. Feeling good on the outside can help you feel good on the inside. You could also take care of your mind by practicing meditation, even if just a few minutes per day. And look after your soul by doing things that bring you joy and help you connect with others.
I appreciate that none of these things are easy to do, and we all have days where we just feel like doing nothing. But hopefully there’s something here to help everyone look after their mental health during Covid-19; even if it’s just a simple reminder that you’re not alone and “this too shall pass”.