Lockdown 2 - a survival guide
On Saturday 31st October, the PM announced that England would be entering another national lockdown to cope with rising COVID-19 cases. Whilst the lockdown itself has been heavily debated, it is agreed that despite its brevity it could be tougher than the first lockdown due to the season. Short wintry days and dark nights are tough for everybody, but add a lockdown and the situation looks quite desolate.
Certainly, the situation looks bleak and many people are worried about the effects lockdown will have on their mental health. Particularly, people with SAD and other mental illnesses are likely to find it even more difficult to cope without the usual support available to them. Whilst the PM has suggested lockdown will end on the 2nd December this has not been confirmed and many have speculated lockdown will carry over Christmas and New Year; a depressing thought indeed.
I recently read an article detailing the lockdown experiences of people across the world who dealt with a winter lockdown earlier this year. One Norwegian, Ida Solhaug, a mindfulness researcher, has argued it is the UK's attitude to winter that is the problem. Ida believes that instead of viewing the season as something to "get through", we should embrace the beauty of winter and adopt a "positive winter mindset" as this will make all the difference. She also recommended to layer up and light candles around your home for some much needed warmth and light.
One perspective that has stayed with me is that of a young Chinese woman who returned to her native Wuhan for Chinese New Year and found herself in a two month lockdown with her parents. In this challenging situation, Yilang Zeng strove to see the positives of this unprecedented situation as "it might be the longest holiday together with your family". Of course the current situation is hardly conducive to a holiday feeling but it might well be the longest period of time families spend in each others company under one roof. Certainly, for me, this has been the case and with my sister going to university in 2021, it might well be the last time my family lives together for a substantial period of time.
The question on many peoples minds is how to make lockdown easier on their mental health; some have even questioned if it can be somewhat enjoyable. I recently wrote a lockdown survival guide for myself having been furloughed from work and aware that the situation was likely to affect my mental health. I thought I'd share it to help anyone struggling right now:
1. I will start by saying the main thing to focus on is getting through the lockdown; anything else is a bonus
2. Stay active; try and take a walk daily in the autumnal sun. If you are an early bird, head out as the sunrises, it is very picturesque and does wonders for your mental health
3. Take up a new or old habit! It could be reading every evening for a short while or taking up an old hobby to keep you occupied. Whatever it is though, do not pressure yourself. There was an intense pressure in the first lockdown to pick up a new hobby. If you did acquire one then that's fantastic news but try not to feel guilty if your main priority is on getting through the lockdown rather than becoming the local Usian Bolt or England's top jigsaw solver. I have a stack of books to read over lockdown that I have challenged myself to read and keep me focused
4. Become a creature of ritual; try and engage in at least one self-care activity per day so that it becomes a positive daily staple
5. Ring an old friend. While we cannot socialise in person, a call or facetime to a friend will make you feel 110% better and a little more sane!
6. Get dressed in the morning. I am trying to save the joggers and hoodies for the weekend and wear proper clothes, even if I'm only leaving the house to walk a very excitable labrador. I also did my make-up for the first time in weeks yesterday and it was an instant mood booster; life felt momentarily normal again as I carried out my pre-COVID make-up routine and I felt better about myself too
7. Call a friend! Whilst socialising in person may be a think of the past a call or facetime to a pal will make you feel 110% better and may preserve the last dregs of your sanity!!
8. Lastly, make some plans to bring some much needed light to the end of the lockdown tunnel. Even if it is just coffee with a friend on the 3rd December it is something to look forward to when lockdown looks bleak.
Try to identity the small and simplistic joys that lockdown has brought to your life; keep them in mind like a mantra and keep going - you've got this!
- Ellie x