The first lockdown was, among other things, somewhat of a novelty wasn’t it. For many of us it wasn’t too much of a stretch to keep upbeat with the sun shining on our faces as we deadheaded fragrant roses. Now that winter is here it takes a little more effort to wrap up warm and venture outside. If you live on your own, as 8 million of us do in the UK, motivating yourself can be tricky. So, how to keep our spirits up?
BAD NEWS/GOOD NEWS
Best not to dwell on doom and gloom news broadcasts – as we suggested in March last year, once a day to keep up with fast-moving events is ample. The rest of the time do happy things – watch a comedy TV programme or uplifting film, read an inspiring book – anything that will make you smile instead of fret. Like the joke above – made me roar with stress-relieving laughter!
WE HAVE TIME – LET’S USE SOME OF IT TO TREAT OUR TASTEBUDS
Although it may seem a faff to cook yourself something delicious to eat, it really is a good idea. And cheaper than a takeaway. Rather than knocking up baked beans on toast and scoffing it as you stand looking outside the kitchen window (ahem, I speak from personal experience!) make mealtimes something to really look forward to.
Instead of a ready meal on a tray as you watch TV (me again!) make something – perhaps with ingredients that you don’t usually buy – and enjoy every mouthful, mindfully, of the new tastes and textures.
If your chosen recipe is for two portions, freeze the second one. Or have a look at the meals for one recipes I suggested when we had our first experience of lockdown. Whatever you do, please eat a variety of different coloured foods… it’s good for your health.
DON’T BIN THE BLUSHER!
If I spend the day without make up I feel less happy than when I’ve taken two minutes to apply a quick bit of foundation and a dab of blusher. That way I don’t squirm every time I pass a mirror! My two current fave foundations are LFF and Trinny London – either of which makes me feel more healthy and look less scary when a delivery man knocks on my front door. A spritz of perfume can make you feel better too.
DITCH THE DRAB
Colour yourself happy. It’s amazing how much better you can feel if you consciously choose the brighter colours in your wardrobe. Joie top from Whistles and blue and white longline shirt from Artichoke. And, as ever, we urge you to check out the huge arrange of wonderful hues available at Kettlewell.
Whether that’s reading a book or cleaning the car, time flies by when you are busy and you get such a feeling of satisfaction when you have finished. Doesn’t have to be anything major – perhaps you’ve been meaning to put up a coat hook, tidy up a cupboard or two, or chuck out all those past their use by date items in your larder.
I have been lucky enough to have help with my housework for many years (thank you Janice!) but, due to this latest lockdown have decided to get out the vacuum cleaner myself for a few weeks until I get vaccinated. I know it’s a novelty but I’ve discovered that cleaning the house is not only very satisfying, it’s a mini workout too!
WAYS TO FEEL LESS LONELY
If you are on your own due to lockdown, it’s so important to remember that this situation won’t be forever. So how can you feel more connected in the meantime? Are you able to form a bubble with another person who is also alone? If so, you will be able to visit each other’s homes and have each other for company.
If that doesn’t appeal or you don’t know anyone suitable, you can still keep in touch with the outside world if you have a computer, iPad or mobile. For example, if you are 65+ you could try The Joy Choir – research has shown that singing can help lower stress, boost immunity and lung function, enhance memory, improve mental health, and help you cope with physical and emotional pain. I’ve signed up for it – can’t wait! Read more about The Joy Club here and get three months free membership.
Or you could play ScrabbleGo or any one of the 100’s of online games that can be downloaded free. There are also online clubs and virtual social events where you can ‘meet’ people from around the world.
Keep the radio on. Whether a music station or something like Radio 4 which specialises in spoken-word programmes – either will make you feel more connected to the world outside (and less alone inside your home).
Try not to spend much time on social media where people may only be sharing the good things that are happening to them. We all have good and bad in our lives, no-one’s is perfect.
KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR FRIENDS & FAMILY
Sounds obvious but, for example, create a regular routine of checking in with friends ie “Let’s do a video WhatsApp at 6pm every Monday”. Look up old friends from your past and re-connect with them. Most of us have more time to talk which means we can have a proper conversation with our friends, not just a “hi and goodbye”.
EXERCISE (YES, THAT OLD CHESTNUT)
If you’ve had a bad night’s sleep or wake up feeling a bit blue, don’t stop to think about it – wrap up warm and get outside in the fresh air. Even a 10 minute walk/cycle will make you feel more positive for the rest of the day. While you’re out there, stop for a second and listen to the birdsong – it’s so soothing.
The latest scientific research points to moderate levels of exercise being a ‘miracle drug’, not just for physical health, but for mental health, too. Interestingly, studies monitoring people over time show that those with lower fitness levels experience higher levels of depression and anxiety.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently updated their global physical activity guidelines. Basically any form of movement is better than nothing – see my post for suggestions. URL
If it is really bucketing out there, go onto YouTube and pick one of the 1000s of free pre-recorded exercise classes. My current go-to is Adriene who has an amazing selection of yoga to choose from… from mostly lying down for 10 minutes, to some more demanding sessions – just take your pick according to your mood. There’s a reason she has 9 million followers…
Volunteer to be a phone buddy. It’s amazing how helping someone else can make you feel better.
Last but definitely not least, we just want to say a massive thank you to every single one of our 10 million key workers – the NHS, staff at supermarkets, petrol stations, takeaways; transport and postal workers, refuse collectors and all the other essential services that we take for granted.