I hope you are finding ways to stay safe, well and comforted during yet another lockdown. Somehow we will get through this again, even when we are needing to be socially responsible and stay physically separate. Here are some strategies.
Innovate to Stay Connected
I do encourage that we innovate around meeting for walks and talks within our bubble (or using your telephones to stay in contact whilst on a walk). Enjoy online coffee catch ups and where able, meet up at local cafes for a stand up coffee and chat. Sometimes we can be unable to think about any of these ideas, and equally important some of us are too worried about being outside during lockdown, so the online catch ups are one way to stay connected.
The impact of exercise or movement (versus being sedentary) is really important for health benefits, particularly when you are able to be outside amongst nature, trees, water, parks, beautiful landscapes in your neighbourhood… anything that brings you that sense of joy in something beautiful. Vitamin D is another benefit so roll up your sleeves for 10 minutes of skin exposure during earlier hours of the morning.
My single best advice is to increase the amount of fresh (or frozen) vegetables and fruits in your meals. Enjoy creating your meals as this triggers release of dopamine, a lovely feel good chemical. Also there is the quality of being of service via the community benefits of supporting local eateries. Amongst your community will be many in the hospitality industry and I do hope you can support them in some way… connection is key.
Aim for 8 hours. Try to sleep before 10.30/11.00pm.
The two factors of choice and control are removed during lockdown so implement these into your lockdown life by choosing what and how you will live your days during this time. Be kind and show compassion to yourself. Have something positive and enjoyable to look forward to. This increases positive chemicals like oxytocin and reduces the stress ones like cortisol, and both are important for sustained health, not just to deal with the unsettling nature of COVID on our lives but also to contribute to better immunity.
COVID Lockdown Routine
A COVID lockdown routine could look like this as an example:
Waking time: gratitude for being healthy, the sun rising, your home and food in the fridge/pantry.
Morning: maintain as much as you can of usual life re eating breakfast, showering, making your bed, attending to work or helping children with schooling.
Lunch/Afternoon: Eating really well and taking time to connect in with others during a short walk and making contact with friends or saying hello to passers-by. Take some rest too, even just for 5 minutes in the afternoon, as our elevated stress whilst adjusting to any change will benefit from quiet time. Look forward to your plans for the evening.
Evening: Writing down your meals for the week can help reduce mental load that is impacted during increased stress. Have some time before bed for quiet contemplation about what you have enjoyed in your day.
During the day: Tune in to when you are feeling upset or stressed and centre in on taking care of your emotions arising from those events. In my line of work as a psychologist, I emphasise the importance of connecting in to our emotions and taking care of them, rather than avoiding or dismissing them. In brief, it is good to take a moment to i) focus or concentrate on our body, ii) notice and describe our physiological responses, tensions or emotions, iii) use any range of techniques including mental imagery to take care of our emotions so they and you both feel safe, comfortable, protected and taken care of, for example place your feelings in a ‘safe space’.
Here is a wonderful clip from the movie Inside Out that encapsulates what is useful re taking care of versus avoiding emotions.
Here is a practical YouTube on maintaining positive psychological and physiological health and immunity.
Australian wellbeing messages including from Health Minister Greg Hunt.