Mental Health #3: Can Lockdown Benefit Our Mental Health?

Mental Health #3: Can Lockdown Benefit Our Mental Health?

For the third article in our mini-series on Mental Health, Cara aims to rewrite the often negative narrative on mental health in lockdown.

Our screens have been dominated by news alerts ever since the first outbreak of coronavirus. At the flash of every notification, we wait to be informed on how many more people have died each day from this terrifying disease. We have diverted so far from our usual lives: working from home, leaving the house for essential travel only, and closing shops and businesses. During times like this, it’s extremely hard to sustain a positive attitude – and when we do, it can often feel selfish and unrealistic. However it’s so important that we try and find some sort of silver lining to keep our mental health in tact. But I appreciate this can sometimes sound cliché, and such advice doesn’t necessarily help to “fix” how we’re feeling.

In the midst of a pandemic, it’s hardly surprising that all we hear about is the negative impact of a virus that has completely changed our world. What else would we expect when our normality has been snatched from us? There have been so many conversations about the word ‘normal’: what it was, what it’s become, and when it will return. There has been talk of a ‘new normal’, suggesting that our lives will never be the same again – but thinking like this only encourages more negativity, as we compare our life to what it once was. There are numerous benefits of pointing out the good in a bad situation, and can help us to cope mentally in such strange times.

There is so much to be negative about, but what about the positives?

I am in no way denying the tragedies that COVID-19 has caused, turning our lives upside down. Taking so much away and leaving us with heartbreak, frustration and anxiety. Everyday is a battle, be that hearing all the lives that have been lost, new restrictions onto our lives, or being told to stay at home and kiss our social lives goodbye entirely. Life has moved online, and become remote – full of Zoom quizzes, online learning or working from home.

There is so much to be negative about, but what about the positives? We suddenly have more time to spend on our mental health and learning about ourselves. By using my time wisely and adapting my mindset, I’ve learned more about myself during the pandemic than ever before. Staying at home has become an excuse for many of us to be less motivated, less active and less inspired. Trying to find productivity and things to do that don’t make us want to crawl back in to bed can be a challenge, day in and day out. One thought that has really made a difference to how I’ve spent lockdown is the idea that this time is so unique to any period of our lives. Not only have we never experienced something like this, the chances are, we won’t ever again. We are being asked to stay at home to save lives, so why not make the most of it while we can? When the world returns to normal, there’s no doubt that we’ll wish we could stay in our PJs for the day, find the time to take up a new hobby, or become more active. So, let’s enjoy it while we can. And here’s a few ideas on how…

Save up the money you’d usually spend on your work commute towards a future holiday or a deposit for your first home. Working towards a goal in the future is definitely one way to stay positive and motivated. We could all do with spending less and saving more, and now is the perfect time. We’re not spending on our work commute or going to the pub after a shift, so why not put those pennies aside and start saving for something good?

Getting out of bed is a win, showering is a win, making breakfast is a win.

Although we might be staring at a screen all day, use your lunch break to get moving! Find a home workout or learn how to do yoga. Meditate for five minutes a day, learn the importance of breathing and mindfulness – I promise you’ll notice such a difference in your mental wellbeing.

We have more time to finish our reading lists. Keeping our minds active during repetitive routines is important to staying motivated. Why not cook those recipes from your favourite magazine? Trying something different might lead to a new favourite meal. Learn that language, finish that DIY project, do something for you. Alternatively, do something for someone else – give back to your community by volunteering or doing a food shop for your neighbour. In times like this, supporting each other is so important – you never know who might need a helping hand, or a socially-distanced chat.

There are endless opportunities, but of course some of our lives are still very busy – even at home. In this case, it’s crucial to take regular breaks for yourself. We are living through a pandemic, something so extraordinary and unpredictable. There’s no right or wrong way of dealing with life at the moment, so please be kind to yourself. It’s okay if it’s suddenly 4pm and you’ve only ticked off one thing from your to-do list. Celebrate that one thing. Getting out of bed is a win, showering is a win, making breakfast is a win. Alternatively, it’s okay if you haven’t even had time to think and your day ahead is non-stop – take ten minutes to enjoy a coffee. There is no expectation of you. Maybe you set up your dream business during lockdown, or maybe you lost your job. It’s about how you adapt and overcome the challenges, and celebrate the small wins. It’s about how you look after yourself. It’s about growing, and being better than you were yesterday. It’s about being safe, counting your blessings and being kind to yourself and those around you.

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I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was four and I started reading Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. Now here I am, a freelance journalist writing about everything that is important to me. Although I’ve not yet written a book, I love sharing my thoughts about important social issues and being a voice for those who need it most.

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