Living in lockdown isn’t easy, and if the idea of pushing yourself to achieve ambitious goals while struggling with the challenges of a global pandemic sounds too intense, you’re not alone. Right now doing the best you can to stay safe (and sane) is a great achievement, but if you’re looking for small ways to make this time a bit softer, read on.
Get into moving meditation. Yes, sitting down and focusing on your breath is still a powerful way to reduce anxiety and enhance self-awareness, but there’s also something to be said about zoning out to your favorite tunes while taking a brisk walk, cycling, dancing or going for a run. Carve out a few hours a week to get moving and your body, mind and soul will thank you.
React with care. I read somewhere that opinions are the lowest form of knowledge. Most have no research behind them and are rooted in personal experience and emotion. Instead of getting upset and feeling you need to respond to every little inaccuracy, consider your audience and the most likely outcome if you decide to invest your time, passion and energy in arguing with them. Will you have a philosophical discussion where you both come out with a higher understanding or just end up angry and exhausted by a lot of nonsensical back-and-forths?
Find your balance. You don’t need to avoid all social media and cut out all vices, but locate your 80/20 sweet spot in every area of your life and let that guide you. Does it mean you will always be able to exist in perfect balance? No. Will it remind you to breathe, pull back and keep you aware as you push towards burnout? Absolutely.
Schedule your check-ups. While self-care can be yummy and lush (massages and wine in hot bath come to mind), taking care of yourself goes beyond moon juice and spa days. When was the last time you had a mole check? Have you made an appointment for your annual pap smear? How often do you do your breast checks?
Stretch. You don’t have to become a Yoga devotee (but more power to you, if that’s your thing), but gentle stretching is a great way to improve posture, lower stress and it can even drain your lymphatic system. Try it in the morning as you wake up, after your shower, in the middle of the day and right before bed.
Give your look an update. Always in neutrals? Still wearing the same makeup color pallet you wore in college? Was your hairstyle popular on Friends? If so, it may be time to make a few style tweaks. As comforting as familiarity may be, it’s important to remember that only a few looks are timeless, the rest have simply run out of time.
Be gentle with yourself. We have lived under some form of lockdown for nearly a year, and dealing with a pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for some and unspeakable tragedy for others. The idea that we are all going to have the same opportunities and capabilities during this time is a fallacy and it’s completely unfair to compare one experience to another. Perhaps someone in a more privledged position can sit down and take one masterclass after another, but many are just doing what they can to survive, and that’s a success too.
Focus on energy, not age. JLo being sexy at 51 being used as a shock headline is only one of the thousands of pieces of evidence the world is age-obsessed, especially when it comes to women. Don’t get caught up in the nonsense. The reality is that some 45-year old’s who are in better biological shape than some twentysomethings. Having a birthday during lockdown?Pay attention to the amount of vitality you feel, not the number of candles on your cake.
Invest in a good skincare routine. This. Is. So. Important. Even the best makeup will look drab on unattended skin. The best route to beautiful skin is to make an appointment with your dermatologist to get a skin assessment and suggestions for two to three products you can use and count on (and follow their directions of use. But if you don’t have access to healthcare, there are plenty of articles and tips from derms online to guide you in the right direction.
Start a complaint diary. Every time you get annoyed, frustrated or angry at someone/something, write it down on a piece of paper or in the notes in y our phone and then assess your list at the end of each day. Look at your 7 day report at the end of the week. You will not only notice patterns but you will find that taking the time to log it will begin to lighten the mood. If you live with someone, partner up and share when you are writing. Before you know it, that passive-aggressive email will get an eyeroll, not the best of you.
Consume more green than white. We aren’t here to tell you to stop enjoying pasta, potatoes or deliciously warm sourdough bread, but we will encourage you to make sure the main percentage of your meals are fruits and veggies. Not only are they packed with nutrients, but some have also been linked to lower levels of depression.
Create small moments of joy for yourself. We all miss socializing, going to restaurants, taking a walk without fear of catching a deadly virus, but until the vaccine is rolled out to all of us, we will be living in our new normal. Instead of lamenting its difficulties, do what you can to create moments of joy for yourself. Grab a good book and make a cup of tea and give yourself 10 minutes of calm. Add lavander to a bubble bath. Schedule a weekly game night with your friends (online) or family. Set up the dining room, get dressed up and meet your partner for a “date” once in a while. Get creative and you’ll likely find yourself smiling a bit more.
Build success with small tweaks. While there is nothing wrong with indulging in Dry January or giving Veganuary a go, anyone who has gone from 0-60 in anything knows that, for most of us, without ironclad willpower and consistent support, quick and extreme changes tend to boomerang right back into old habits. If you’re looking to make lasting changes focus on making small tweaks every day. Atomic Habits by James Clear is a wonderful resource for how to do this and why it works.
Stick with consistent grooming. Look, no one is judging if you skip a shower or stay in pyjamas all day (it happens), but bathing offers numerous mental health benefits (including lower amounts of stress and anxiety) bathing and getting up and dressed for work (even if working from home) can boost your confidence and your performance.
Focus on gratitude. Every morning when you first wake up, think of six things you are grateful for and share at least one with another person (especially if it relates to them). Practicing gratitude has been scientifically proven to improve self-esteem, lower stress and can even help you sleep better.
Talk to someone. Human beings are social animals and writing out LOL will never be as enjoyable as laughing with a friend. Make an effort to log onto Zoom or pick up the phone to catch up with a loved one a few times a month. You won’t be the only one reaping the rewards. It is also worth noting there are a number of therapists who are doing zoom sessions, and many countries have free mental health support hotlines that are easily found with a Google search.
Write a mission statement. Resolutions are all the rage, but writing a personal mission statement for 2021 will help you to gain clarity and insight into who you are now and what is most important to you at this moment in your life. You may find that you discover new parts of yourself that inspire you to tweak your present goals or set new ones altogether after writing one (how exciting!)