How to cope with lockdown and stay strong
Kipling’s famous poem If starts, "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…". Our human reaction to big changes of the sort we have seen is naturally, to notice what is lost. For now, when we are told not to travel, to stay at home, to keep our children at home and work differently, it is normal to have a keen sense of loss and rightful indignation.
It is really important to keep mentally and physically strong at this time.
Keeping our spirits up may sound like an add-on of negligible benefit but it is key to coming through any crisis successfully.
While much has changed, there is still plenty available for the taking. Being aware of the things we can still do and making time for things we enjoy is vital to staying resilient.
How to keep yourself balanced
Based on Abraham Maslow’s Theory of Human Needs (1943), I have put together a list of things that we as human beings need to keep ourselves balanced, healthy and strong.
1. Drink water
Make sure you are well hydrated. Dehydration makes us feel tired and lethargic, leads to poor digestion, dry hair and skin and fluid retention. Drinking water, fruit juice and herbal teas flush out toxins and keep us healthier.
2. Eat nourishing meals
Make sure there is a good mix of vegetables, cereals, proteins and grains in your diet - while also enjoying the occasional burger and chips.
3. Get a good night’s sleep
Though it may not seem important to keep your usual bedtime routine, getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night is one of the basics when it comes to health. When we are not sleeping well, other aspects of life are affected.
4. Seek out laughter and conversation with other people
Human beings need a sense of belonging – whether that is to a family or a group of friends or colleagues. The rewards we get from talking to others and just being around other people are immense.
Even if you feel low, try not to withdraw from others. If you live alone keep your connection with those in your support ‘bubble’. If you are shielding or isolating, see people online or talk over the phone.
5. Make a goal
We humans thrive best when we have a purpose. Try not to let more than a couple of days go by without doing something purposeful, however small. It could be going for a short walk or stocking up on groceries. It could be painting a feature wall or redesigning a room in your home. Having a project or mission keeps the human spirit alive.
But be gentle with yourself – it's fine to put your feet up and enjoy some TV or leafing through a magazine too.
6. Tone down the negative
While you may want to keep aware of what is going on in the world, listening to nearly every broadcast about the pandemic is demoralising. Only you know what is right for you and will sense when it’s getting overwhelming. Keep it in moderation.
7. Embrace creative hobbies
We still have music, art, and nature at our disposal and this is a perfect time for letting your creative spirit run free. Whether you draw, paint, colour in, take photographs, play the guitar, sing, dance or work in the garden, there is so much creative opportunity to be enjoyed. Self-expression makes the soul smile.
8. Exercise - the ‘E’ word
We are all different and not everyone likes to exercise. After many years of groaning at the mention of the word, I have found the kind of exercise I enjoy. Whether you like to walk, dance, swim or lift weights, there will be an exercise that fits you, that you can look forward to and benefit from. Exercise doesn’t have to consume your life but, to be truly mentally and physically resilient, it needs to play a bit part!
This time in lockdown, arriving at the start of the new year is an opportunity to rethink our lives and consider what we really enjoy and what we were putting up with before. We can use this time to reassess and reset our lives.
Find a counsellor or psychotherapist dealing with anxiety
All therapists are verified professionals.