LOCKDOWN: How I'm looking after my mental health seven weeks in
Updated: Sep 25
In my last blog, I spoke about the different ways I had been looking after my mental health in lockdown. A little over a month later, and seven weeks into Stage Four lockdown, I thought I’d follow up and share how I’ve been going and what I’ve been doing.
Lockdown for Melbourne has certainly been a marathon, rather than a sprint – and it’s not over yet. It’s vital we keep looking after ourselves, recognising that our self-care needs may be different and perhaps greater than usual during this time.
This is what self-care looks like for me right now. Perhaps something in here may resonate with you.
Daily Visits to the Park
As I mentioned in my last blog, I have been going to the park daily, enjoying the exercise of walking, the fresh air and the greenery. It has truly been such a balm to walk along the tracks and take my time enjoying the trees and springtime flowers.
Now that we are permitted to sit in the park, I have been taking time in my daily outings to do just that. I find sitting, or – let’s be honest – lying on the grass incredibly healing and relaxing. I connect to the earth, get grounded, and my thoughts grow quiet.
Sometimes I take my journal and write; other times I read a book. And sometimes I do nothing at all.
I have been meditating almost every day of this lockdown, and it has been such a joy. If ever I’m feeling a bit anxious or edgy – which is quite often – or just a bit out of whack, even a five minute meditation can make a huge difference. Sometimes I do a guided meditation, and sometimes I just listen to nature sounds; I just go with what I’m feeling.
If you are looking for a great resource for meditation, I recommend the Insight Timer app. It’s free and has a huge range of meditations available. I particularly enjoy the nature sounds. The other night I put on a full hour of rain and thunder to help me get to sleep, and it worked a treat.
3 Minute Dance Parties
Sometimes you just need to shake it out. If I ever need a lift, I just pop on a great song and have a dance around the living room, or the kitchen while I’m cooking. Sometimes one song is enough to give me that lift. Other times I need to keep going for a few more – or maybe I’m just having too much fun and want to keep going!
As I mentioned in the last post, I have been putting in a concerted effort this lockdown to stay connected with friends and family. It’s been really lovely learning to utilise technology to keep in touch in ways that I hadn’t tried or used much before. I have really enjoyed speaking on Zoom or FaceTime, speaking on the phone, and corresponding via email. In some ways I feel more connected than usual, as we have more time to speak than we usually would, and are placing a greater value on that time spent connecting.
It’s true that sometimes connecting over the phone or internet has its challenges, such as poor internet connection, or background sounds like wind or traffic making it hard to hear on the phone. It can make interactions more tiring if these are an issue, so I’ve found it important to pace myself, ensuring I can unplug and rest after a call if I need to.
Like last month, I have been doing my best to make good, nourishing food; however, I am still allowing myself a few extra treats here and there. There are days when you just need a lift, and sometimes a chocolate biscuit is just the thing.
Here’s how I see it: the minute we tell ourselves we can’t have something, we want it more than ever. This leads to bingeing. If, however, we allow ourselves a little bit – in moderation – then we are much more likely to stick to having just that small amount and not go into a full binge.
I embody this philosophy, which as I see it, is just working with human nature.
This is a strange time, and it has not been an easy year for any of us. I have been really trying to tune into what I need each day. Some days I’m really not up for much; other days I feel more motivated. For the days when I’m not feeling so good, I let myself go slow, taking as long as I need to do things. Maybe it means spending more time on the grass than walking when I go to the park. Maybe it means ordering take away rather than cooking. Maybe it means spending the afternoon on the couch watching TV. If I honour myself this way, it’s usually not too long before I feel better again.
How have you all been going?
Has anything changed in the way you’re caring for yourself over the course of lockdown?
Is there something that you’re finding particularly helpful in terms of self-care?
I’d love to hear from you.