The past couple of months have turned many people’s lives upside down. You may be in total quarantine, ‘intelligent’ lockdown, or social isolation mode. Whatever your circumstance, you’ve had to adapt to changes that may be less than ideal, changes you would never have considered possible last year! As time has passed you may have devoured the entirety of Netflix, given your hair an unadvisable trim, argued with your quarantine-mate, perfected your banana bread or just Zoom-ed all your pals while horizontal on the couch.
But, for many people the end of lockdown is not yet in sight. With so much anxiety in the air, it is easy to feel simultaneously panicked and paralysed, unsure of what to do. This feeling of helplessness can stop you from taking the steps to live your lockdown life to the fullest. With people reporting much higher levels of anxiety and depression in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to start caring for yourself both emotionally and physically.
We have compiled a list of the Top 5 Ways to Stay Centred in Lockdown, to help you along in this strange new world. Stay strong!
Maintain A Routine
Ok, so this may seem like a boring one to start with, but working to maintain a routine is very important. You may have noticed the days seem to be blurring into each other without shape or form. Well, it is up to you to sculpt that form! This is where you can take control of life, at a time where it is easy to feel powerless. Try and get up around the same time everyday, perhaps set an alarm, and don’t snooze it! Once you are up, start your day.
Plan a timetable that suits you, whether that includes a daily exercise session or observing proper mealtimes (not eating peanut butter from the jar while staring into space!) If you are working or studying at home, set up a special designated area for this to happen, rather than slump in bed or on the sofa. When working from home it is hard to separate work tasks from leisure time, meaning you’re never really ‘working’ or ‘relaxing’, leaving you in an uncomfortable limbo. Making a clear differentiation can really help. If you want to go overboard you could even decorate your desk with a pot plant or framed pictures of family, for the full ‘office’ effect!
To practice mindfulness means to fully connect with the here and now. It is tempting to dream away the present, and imagine all the things you will do when lockdown is over. However, if you look at it from another angle, this is the gift of time. Time that perhaps you longed for when life was busy and frantic. Experience yourself and surroundings with a ‘beginner’s mind’, in the moment, rather than worrying about the past or future. Some methods to help you be mindful are very simple. Such as:
- Breathing exercises— When we are anxious our body responds by making us breathe faster and shallower. By breathing deeply in and out, you are directly combating the physical symptoms of anxiety. Start by breathing in through your nose for 4 seconds, then out through your mouth for 8.
- Acknowledge your feelings— Maybe you are sad. That’s ok. Rather than trying to ignore or belittle your emotions, acknowledge them. This makes them easier to work through.
- Focus on what you are doing— Why not try really zooming in on the details of things you might usually miss? (you have time after all!) When listening to music, really listen. Pick out the bass line, the emotion in the vocals, where it builds and falls. When eating, really taste your food— recognise flavours and ingredients. Especially if you cooked it yourself!
Microdosing on psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic truffles, has been proven to have positive effects on mental health issues. Many of these issues such as depression, anxiety and substance dependence have seen an increase since the pandemic began. Psilocybin microdosing, due to its natural serotonin mimicking qualities, is becoming an increasingly popular choice of treatment for these conditions.
Of course, microdosing is an excellent self-care method even if you do not suffer from any of these issues. Microdosers often report higher levels of creativity, focus, energy and emotional connection. Everyday activities are just a little enhanced. If, perhaps you are feeling rather stagnant and bored, microdosing could be the key for you to reconnect with your environment. It might inspire you to continue the projects you began at the beginning of lockdown, or even just reconnect with the world at large. As it is so easy to feel disconnected, as if underwater, at the moment, this could be the key to regaining your vitality.
Find out more about microdosing here!
Connect with friends creatively
You’ve probably been Zoom-ing and House Party-ing, and if you’re old school, Skype-ing with all your friends and family. This is a great start, as studies show that even virtual eye-contact can be a close second to real life interaction. Video calls with loved ones can produce up to 80% of the oxytocin associated with actual physical contact.
However! It may be time to mix it up a bit. Be honest, probably not much has changed since you called your best friend yesterday. Many people are coming up with ingenious ways to socialise and keep themselves entertained during lockdown. Here are some examples:
- Write letters— With the pace of life slowing down, wholesome habits have begun to resurface, arts and crafts, baking bread etc. Why not take some time to write a far-off friend a letter or a postcard? The personal touch goes a long way to making someone feel special. Additionally, part of the enjoyment is in the anticipation. You will find yourself looking forward to the arrival of the mail everyday, waiting for your friend’s reply.
- Email chains— Many people are using the humble email chain to share things with each other. From recipes and poems to music playlists, if it can be emailed it can be done. You might end up with a collection of 20 of your friends ‘signature’ recipes, portraits you’ve done of each other, or a collaborative quarantine playlist!
- Quizzes— Pick your video chat platform of choice, gather some friends and host a quiz! Plan each round: General Knowledge, History, Pop Culture, The Simpsons… anything can be a category. Some people have even reenacted famous scenes from movies for their friends to guess! The only limit is your creativity…
Of course, for many the only time you are allowed outside is for exercise or supermarket trips. This has meant that people who previously weren’t gym bunnies, have started running or working out, just to be outside. This is a good thing, as for most people life has become a lot more sedentary since lockdown. If you can, it is nice to run in nature, especially as Spring has well and truly sprung, and pollution levels have reportedly gone down.
If you want an extra exercise fix though, why not start an at-home regime? All genres of exercise class are available on Youtube! From a calming yoga and meditation class, to more of a bootcamp vibe, to the classic Jane Fonda workout, fitness can be achieved from home!
Missing equipment? Improvise! Tins of beans or tomatoes can be used as weights, or a soft rug as a yoga matt. Maybe by the time quarantine ends you’ll be able to do a headstand…