Although things have eased a bit, we are now in our eighth week of lockdown. Our pre-lockdown daily routines eliminated and replaced with new ones, like online meetings and exercise classes. But there are ways to hold on to as much as what we value as ‘normal’, and why that’s good for our health.
The unknown of disruption
Unknowns bring anxiety,
Anxiety and stress are completely normal reactions at this time, and there are physical ramifications to the mental strain we’re all experiencing. Stress results in inflammation which impacts our health, digestion and sleep.
The safety of having routine
We love routine and find safety in it. When things are difficult as they are, maintaining habits and rituals makes us feel calmer and more comfortable. Routines help keep anxiety at bay. Maintaining old pre-virus routines like walking the dog every morning can be calming, along with creating new ones like sitting down to a family lunch everyday if you’re all at home.
Creating boundaries around working from home are also important. We don’t all have a home office, therefore create a routine of setting up your workstation every morning and then dismantling and putting it away at the end of the day. Getting your living space back signals to your brain that you’re done, and that boundary allows you to let go of stressors.
Flexible in change
Previous habits can be maintained but in different ways. Your exercise class may no longer take place at your gym, but can be streamed into your living room, and you glass of wine or beer with friends can still take place over zoom. Hobbies and passions are important during this time.
Staying social and maintaining relationships is important to our health. Research tells us that social isolation and loneliness are associated with higher levels of several markers of inflammation.
Connect with people you haven’t talked to in a while by picking up the phone; a telephone conversation is more powerful and personal than a text. Enjoy Facebook, Houseparty or Zoom parties with friends, be they quizzes or virtual dinner parties.
Make time to keep your exercise routines going even though the gyms are closed. More of us are spending time sitting, working from home and not walking. Exercise boosts mood and keeps anxiety at bay. Getting outside in natural sunlight can be beneficial to our circadian rhythms and boost our vitamin D levels. Just 20 minutes outside every day can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Make time for spiritual practice and self-development
Spending time in reflection or meditating benefits mental health. Keeping a journal of thoughts and feelings can have huge benefits during this unprecedented time and writing things down can help clear the mind of worry and anxiety.
There are meditation apps available in which you can find your little piece of calm on a daily basis. Meditation is a powerful antidote to anxiety, helping is stay calm and sending our bodies the message that we are safe.
New time on your hands?
With life so changed without commuting and events being cancelled, some of us are finding extra time on our hands (although some are busier than ever with things like home schooling).
Instead of using that time scrolling through negative news stories, play around with hobbies you’ve wanted to try but haven’t had a chance to, like painting or playing an instrument. YouTube is a great source of learning videos and will leave you with feelings of accomplishment and pride.
You may be itching to get back to some sort of ‘normal’ life, but one day you will lookback on the positive practices that you put in place during these challenging times.