It’s been nearly a year since the first national lockdown in the UK, and there’s no doubt that experiencing lockdown during winter does make things tougher. Protecting your mental health is so important right now. I’ve always struggled with the change in seasons, so already I had a few things I would do to support my mental health through the colder winter months, so I wanted to share them in a single post…
Focus on the basics and build on that
Sometimes it can be easy to jump into a million and 1 self care things. I’ve found the most important things are often how much sleep you get, how much you drink, what you’re eating and exercise. They’re the pillars for everything else. In the last lockdown, I didn’t look after myself quite as much as I’d hoped. I didn’t exercise and found my mental health suffered for it. This time round I’m making sure exercise is at the top of my list, because I know for me that really gets me through.
If you’re not sure what to focus on, ask yourself this:
What makes me feel good every day?
Whatever crops up after a few days of asking yourself this prompt, start to prioritise those things.
Create a routine and rituals that serve you
Routine is everything. It provides structure to our days and it’s something positive that we can control. Everyone’s routine is likely to look different, for me having a routine means waking up at the same time everyday and following my morning rituals.
Keep in touch with loved ones
Although virtually it isn’t the same, it can make a huge difference to just pick up the phone a little more often. It helps you stay and feel connected to those you love most which is so important right now.
Limit how much news/ social media you consume
We’re not designed to constantly be on devices or consume news relentlessly. This has always been a big one for protecting my own mental health, even pre pandemic. It’s not ideal seeing constant messaging about the virus, especially first thing in the morning or last thing at night. I made simple changes like turning off notifications to all social media/ news sites and slept with my phone in a different room. This also meant I cut my screen time down and went on social media less.
Be honest and open about how you’re truly feeling
Honouring how you really feel and acknowledging it is often the first step to getting out of it. We’re good at embracing the positive emotions, but not so great when it comes to the negative. It’s almost like a weight gets lifted when you acknowledge what you’re feeling, instead of masking it. A few simple ways to do this is by sitting down and breathing, try to focus on your breath and come into the present moment, it’s amazing how powerful this can be to just connect with yourself and check in.
If the emotions you’re feeling don’t serve you, be kind to yourself. A bad day doesn’t mean you have a bad life.
Sing and dance
Just squeezing in a reminder to sing and dance. I know it can feel weird doing something that feels so joyful right now, but you can still have those joyful moments throughout the day. I’ve found having a good sing/ dance to really lift my spirits. I love music and I’m definitely embracing it more this lockdown.
Get fresh air and prioritise getting outside
I live in a city centre, so I’m not sure whether I can call it ‘fresh air’ but every morning I do an hour long walk and it’s one of my favourite parts of my routine. Although it can be tough to get out in the cold, it’s a good way to just decompress and get out of your own head for a bit. Find something that works for you that fits within the guidelines.
Create a joyful list
I have a little list in one of my journals of the things I can do at home that make me feel good. Whether it’s watching Netflix and getting into a good series or baking something from scratch. Write a list of things you know you enjoy doing and tune into how you’re thinking and what might serve you. You can also create a self care lift with all the things you can do to look after your mental health during lockdown. That way when you’re feeling a little stuck you can turn to your lists and get some inspiration.
Focus on what you can control
Finishing off with a biggie. Our minds can automatically create scenarios that don’t serve us. The one thing we can do is bring our attention to the things we can control. Increasing your self awareness can really help when it comes to shifting your thinking, and actually controlling your thoughts instead of letting them control you. If you are struggling with negative thoughts, and always find yourself thinking of things you can’t control, try to remember that your thoughts are not you. Acknowledge the thoughts you are having but equally remain positive that they don’t serve you.
It can be a tricky habit to get into, but once you start to focus your mindset on the things you can control, it gets easier and comes more naturally.
I really hope this little list has helped if you’re struggling with the winter lockdown.