The Covid19 crisis is still with us and now we are heading into winter. Here are seven tips for lock-down anxiety to protect your mental health during this seemingly never-ending pandemic.
In the beginning of the Covid lock-down I kept a journal. It is one of those beautiful hardback stationery books that you never really want to write in because inky words wouldn’t match the beauty of the object. I decided that I’d use it because there was suddenly lots of time and I thought it would make a good document to look back on once the crazy days of lock-down anxiety were over.
In the journal I wrote up recipes of all new dishes I had tried (I pretty much worked my way through Rukmini Iyer The Roasting Tin. Just brilliant.
There were funny things people said, spaces for photos, lots of Captain Tom, new movies and TV shows tried and rated and so it went on. Except now the book lies unused. This isn’t fun anymore. Now it’s hard to find the positives. This crisis is becoming very hard to bear.
Now autumn is here and there is a storm raging outside ripping the yellow and red leaves off the trees. And today, as I write this, the clocks have gone back, so when I thought it was nearly lunchtime it was only coffee time. It is going to be a long day. Followed by a long week. A long month and a long winter. Which brings me to my first point on how to tolerate this intolerable situation:
Lock-down anxiety tip 1: Minimise your news intake.
It’s Covid 24/7 on all news channels and apart from the slight hope of a vaccine some month soon, it’s all bad news and bumbling politicians. Avoid or at least minimise your intake.
Lock-down anxiety tip 2: Be aware of what you CAN control and what you can’t.
So Trump is infuriating – but you don’t get to vote. It’s up to the American people if they want him for four more years. It’s not your call. Your chance comes on May 2nd, 2024. Hold your fire until then.
You cannot control who will get Covid and who will live and who will die. But you can control your own hygienic responses and stay as safe as you can. Life isn’t fair and nothing you can say or do will change that. It has been ever so.
Lock-down anxiety tip 3 Consider Purpose and Pleasure.
I’ve written about this before and make no apology of saying it again: Every day consider, ‘What’s my purpose and what’s my pleasure?’ What chore, task, help-out, can I undertake and then how will I reward myself? This simple lesson is from Prof Paul Dolan, literally the Happiness Professor, as he has spent his academic career researching what makes humans happy. And the answer is – Purpose and Pleasure.
Lock-down anxiety tip 4: Try and live in the day.
Get through each day hour-by-hour, finding and taking moments of joy wherever you can. Don’t overthink your existence. If you get to the late evening and you’re okay, you’ve done really well.
Lock-down anxiety tip 5: Use your 5 senses every day to bring you pleasure.
Each day find something sensual to touch, to taste, to listen to, to smell and to look at.
A chocolate biscuit with your tea this afternoon; candles in the living room now the evenings are drawing in…(and turn off the lights). Enjoy the pleasure of a towel off the heated rail after a shower. And yes, it does mean sexual self-care too.
Lock-down anxiety tip 6: Stay connected the best you can.
If you can’t meet in person, still do activities together but now online. Book an online session with a mate and together do some baking, crafting, online shopping, wine tasting. Even do your own Gogglebox and watch a TV show together and talk over it online.
Lock-down anxiety tip 7:Remember this will end one day.
Seasons will still arrive. Put some tulip bulbs in the garden or a pot, so they signal when spring is coming. Put away your summer clothes and bring out your chunkiest jumpers and fluffiest slippers. It’s time for bobble hats and scarves, electric blankets and hot chocolates. Cease the season.