LOCKDOWN: how I'm looking after my mental health
Updated: Aug 14, 2020
Lockdown is a different experience for everyone. Some of us are living with a partner or family; some of us are on our own. Some of us are working; some of us are not. Everyone has their ways of doing lockdown, whether it’s baking sourdough bread, getting crafty with knitting or crochet, or just watching tons of TV.
For me, looking after my mental health is key. Anxiety is something I’ve had trouble with for years; isolation and depression can follow all too easily in a situation like this. I’m sure I’m not the only one. In the hope that something might inspire or resonate, I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve been doing to look after myself this lockdown.
Walking in the Park
I am lucky that near my house – well within the 5km radius – is a beautiful park. It has a gorgeous green oval, and another section that is more like a garden. I really enjoy going for a walk there, and I do it nearly every day. Something about the green space really nourishes me and I feel calm as soon as I arrive. I drink in the fresh air (still good even through a mask), enjoy the sunshine, watch the puppy dogs playing and the kids mucking around on their bikes. It’s the highlight of my day.
I have been a big fan of meditation for the last few years, but had fallen out of doing it regularly. Lately I have been revisiting this most helpful of practices, doing it almost every night. I find it wonderful as something to help me go within, quiet the mind and connect with my innermost self. It is here that we find the resources to replenish us, no matter what is going on in the outside world.
Consuming Uplifting Content
I have been carefully selecting the things that I watch on TV, listen to and read, ensuring they are uplifting. Aside from a few minutes of the news here and there, I mainly avoid it as I don’t find it helps in any way to be caught up in the dire and depressing stories from the world.
Instead, I listen to podcasts that make me laugh, and audiobooks or podcasts that are interesting or inspiring. I’m watching a lot of old favourites in terms of television and movies, as well as good old SBS Food Channel.
Taking It Slow
I think it’s important to recognise the changes in the needs of the mind and body in challenging times. There are days I feel serene, and days I feel less so; but whatever I'm feeling on the surface, I know that underneath there’s a lot of processing going on. Concentration can be suboptimal and I feel tired more than usual, and from conversations I’ve had with others, I’m not the only one. So I’m cutting myself some slack. If I take longer than usual to do something, like getting up in the morning, that's ok.
This is a big one for me, as living on my own, it would be only too easy to get really isolated. I let this happen during the first lockdown, and felt the after effects keenly. This time around, I’m putting in a concerted effort to keep in contact with friends and family, even booking in weekly Facetime or Zoom coffee dates. Every day I’m on the phone to at least one person, whether it's a scheduled chat or a spontaneous one. It's helping me feel connected, even if we can't be together in person right now.
Now, I would like to say that I’ve been making lots of nourishing food. I have certainly made some delicious and satisfying winter dishes, such as stews and soups, but admittedly I have also been consuming quite a bit of junk food!
I imagine I’m not alone on this one, either.
Still, binging on potato chips can’t go on forever, and so I am determined to make more of an effort to limit the junk and replace it with delicious, nourishing, real food instead. It's all about the balance.
Do you have favourite ways to look after your physical and mental health during this time?
Is there something you have time for now that you are enjoying doing, that you don’t usually do?
I’d love to hear from you about what you’re doing in your lockdown time.