17 Ideas For Self-Care During Lockdown
Kat Melia, Reed Wellbeing’s Clinical Lead, writes:
Self-care has always been an important element of mental wellbeing but with the new realities that we all face during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, looking after your mental health is now more important than ever.
Although social distancing and self-isolating are important for preventing the spread of COVID-19 it is important to be aware of the potential psychological impact these restrictions can have.
It is totally normal to feel more sad or stressed than usual during these unusual circumstances. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations - this can be impacted by your job, background, family, relationships and community.
But the more steps you can take to safeguard your wellbeing, the more that you can try to control your stress and worry levels during this unusual time.
Stress can manifest itself in many ways, including:
- Increased feelings of fear and worry about your health and the health of your loved ones
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes to your sleep pattern or difficulty sleeping all together
- Worsening of health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
- Changes to your eating patterns, increased snacking or low appetite
Luckily, there are all lots of self-care options that you can try to mitigate these.
Self-care is anything that helps you to manage your physical and emotional wellbeing and usually includes small but purposeful actions that make you feel good.
If you’re not certain where to start, there are some suggestions for self-care below. Don’t worry if something doesn’t work for you, everyone is different and it’s all about finding something that makes you feel good.
17 Self-Care Suggestions
- Try to stick to your usual habits. Get out of bed at the same time each day, make your bed and get ready in the way you usually would for your day.
- Find time for a break. If you are working from home, make sure that you still take your regular breaks and avoid working long hours, late at night or on the weekends.
- Eat well. Try to follow healthy eating advice but, where this feels challenging, set simple goals to ensure good nutrition. This might be eating at least two servings of vegetables per day, taking a multivitamin or keeping yourself hydrated. Every little helps and good nutrition supports a healthy mind.
- Get outside - if it’s safe. Get fresh air by spending time in well ventilated rooms with natural sunlight and go outside wherever possible. A daily dose of sunshine has also been shown to improve mental wellbeing. Just remember to follow the government’s lastest guidelines on social distancing.
- Get moving. Exercise as often as possible if you can – getting moving can significantly boost your mood. Try something new that makes you feel good, such as dancing to your favourite music, practising yoga online or joining a virtual exercise class.
- Get good information. Avoid information overload by limiting the time that you spend on social media. With the constant news coverage of COVID-19 it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Try sticking to official government, NHS or World Health Organisation (WHO) websites to protect yourself from inaccurate or sensationalist news coverage that can increase anxiety.
- Stay connected. Staying in touch with people close to you is really important. You can talk by phone, communicate via letter or email or even try one of the simple apps listed at the end of this blog. You could use this time to catch up with people that you’ve lost contact with or set up buddy groups with your friends and family.
- Share and talk. Sharing your emotions and feelings with people you trust allows you to better support each other, based on how you’re really feeling.
- Self-develop. Learn a new skill or try a new hobby – this could include reading a new genre of books, trying your hand at art and crafts, trying a new form of exercise or cooking something you’ve never tried before. If you’re interested in learning something new – the Open University offers some great free online courses.
- Sleep well. Sleep plays a vital role in our health and wellbeing and getting good quality sleep is as important as how much you get. It’s easy to think that an alcoholic drink will help you get to sleep but the quality of sleep when you consume alcohol is much lower. This means that while you may get to sleep, you may wake up still feeling tired. Mindfulness, a regular routine and avoidance of screens and blue light can all support you to sleep better.
- Treat yourself. Long showers or a nice hot bath, pampering, time to relax and small personal rewards are all appropriate ways to mitigate the loss of things we enjoy doing but currently can’t - and help you keep feeling good.
- Soundtrack yourself. Make music playlists for different occasions – you could have one for relaxing, one for exercise and one for dancing, or for different periods during your working day.
- Get a mental workout. Keep your brain occupied and challenged by setting aside time in your daily routine for this. Reading books and articles or listening to podcasts will help, but you may also enjoy doing puzzles or brain training such as sudoku.
- Write down your worries. This is a really simple way to stop thoughts circling in your mind and helps you to prioritise which worries are within your control and which aren’t. You can’t control how others act during the outbreak or what the outcome will be, but you can control how you react. If you find this useful, going one step further and keeping a journal can also be a helpful way to unload and control your emotions.
- Be kind. Everyone is going through their own difficulties at the moment and everyone reacts differently to these – people that you know may seem more anxious, snappy, withdrawn or energetic than usual. Be understanding and be kind to each other.
- Be realistic. Remember - even if others are learning new skills or exercising three times per day that doesn’t mean than you have to. Small steps to improve your wellbeing are just as vital as bigger ones and comparing your journey to others can put extra pressure on you. If you don’t feel like being productive once in a while, that’s completely fine - it’s important to recognise what works for you.
- Learn to unwind. Try some mindfulness techniques – the apps at the end of this blog can support you with this but there are also lots of resources online. If you struggle to access these, try this simple technique as often as you need:
“Breath in through your nose to the count of four and out through your mouth to the count of eight. Exhale through your mouth with lips pursed, blowing gently, like blowing a bubble as this will help to slow down your exhale. Repeat this 3-4 times.”
Free Support Apps
A range of free apps can be downloaded for your phone to help with self-care. Why not try some of the following:
Audible – has a selection of free and paid for audiobooks
Calm – offers meditation and help with sleep
Catch It - provides mood diaries to help you better understand and manage your moods
Daily Yoga – offers instructions for learning yoga
Headspace – offers guided meditation and relaxation techniques
My Fitness Pal – helps you to track your weight and food intake
One You – the One You programme has many free apps that include the ‘Couch to 5k’ running app for beginners, the ‘Active 10’ physical activity app, the ‘Easy Meals’ to help you to choose some new things to try and the ‘Drink Free Days’ app to help you manage your alcohol intake.
SAM – support for anxiety management, self help and mood tracking
Smiling Mind – has mindfulness and meditation resources
NHS Smoke Free – contains support to quit smoking
Spotify – you can open a free account or purchase a full account to listen to your favourite music and podcasts
YouTube - look for dance routines, exercise classes or anything that interests you