With the implementation of new local restrictions, the impending anxiety of ‘lockdown 2.0’ and a general feeling of (for want of a better word) ‘meh’, looking after our bodies and practising self-care needs to be high on our priority list.
We know that it feels a bit déjà vu like at the moment, only this time we’re staring down the barrel of a long winter ahead with no picnics in the park in sight. The dark nights are rolling in, the rain seems never ending and the lingering sense that the world is a pretty scary place right now can often feel a bit too much.
It’s perfectly normal to feel ‘second wave anxiety’: a name that’s been given to the stress and angst felt by an impending second wave of coronavirus and a looming national lockdown. Just because we’ve already done this once, doesn’t mean we want to go through it again. The fear we feel for our loved ones mixed with the grief some of us have already felt isn’t something we want a round two of.
Firstly, it’s important to recognise and acknowledge your feelings. Give yourself credit where it’s due: we are literally living in a global pandemic. Everything is strange, sad, uncertain and ever-changing, and if you go to the shop these days without wearing a surgical mask, you’re the weird one! So, if you ask us, we’re dealing with things pretty damn well all things considering.
Whilst there’s lots that’s out of our control right now, looking after our minds and bodies by practicing some simple self-care techniques is very much in our control. We’ve pooled together some of the best things you can do at home to look after number one. That’s you, btw - you’re number one!
Set a routine
Having a solid routine to your day will help not only your body but your mind, too. In a time where things are changing thick and fast around you, having some structure to your day-to-day life can have a huge impact on how you feel overall.
Set a regular wake-up time. Go for a morning walk, or a morning run. Move that body and stretch those limbs. Set yourself a to-do list and don’t go overboard. Give yourself breaks; you can’t work constantly for 8 hours straight! Take a lunch break and try not to eat where you work. Make sure you include some time to relax every day, whether that’s with a yoga class, a Netflix show or good book. These things will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something, and you won’t just be sat down all day.
Exercise, exercise, exercise
You knew we were going to say this, didn’t you? We know that when the days get shorter and the darkness gets longer, it’s harder for some of us to find that motivation for exercise. But you know deep down how important exercise is, for both your body and for your serotonin levels. Gyms haven’t all shut down again yet, so if you’re lucky enough to still be in an area where yours is open, then head to the gym a few times a week to let off some steam. If this sounds like your worst nightmare, or you can’t actually go, then doing anything physical can get your endorphins up. Go for a brisk (socially distanced) walk with a friend, head out on a bike ride or if you’re brave enough go for a cold-water dip in the ocean. Anything to get your blood flowing.
You are what you eat is a saying we’ve heard numerous times and, on the days where we want a good old chocolate bar, are the days where we just want to ignore. Although, if we were actually a chocolate bar life wouldn’t be that bad…anyway, what we’re trying to say is, if you ply your body with unhealthy foods it’s going to affect your mood, your energy and your sleep.
Try sticking to eating fresh, vibrant food with plenty of fruits and vegetables mixed in there for a helpful dose of vitamins and minerals will do you wonders. Ensuring you’ve eaten a good breakfast each morning will mean you won’t get any mid-morning energy slumps and you’ll be ready for the day ahead. It’s also important to drink LOTS of water. Try making a habit of pouring yourself a tall glass of the good stuff first thing in the morning and drinking it before anything else to kick start your day.
Give yourself a pamper
Looking after your body doesn’t always have to be from within, because looking after the outside can feel equally as rewarding. Set aside one night a week to truly pamper yourself. Run a bath, or a hot shower and give yourself a good clean. Listen to some of your favourite music as you preen your exterior in any way you want. Paint your nails. Moisturise your body. Shave your legs. Don’t shave your legs. Trim your beard. Wash your hair. Put on a face mask (the wet, mud mask kind not the coronavirus friendly kind). Do whatever you can to give yourself that spa experience at home and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed, re-energised and well, like a human.
Learn to say no
Learning when it’s time to hang out on the sofa and ‘just be’ is a skill that lots of us aren’t very good at. We’re always constantly seeking to be as productive as we can be, whether that’s learning a new language, baking a fresh cake, reading a book that’s been on our shelf for months or upscaling some clothes. The thing is, this kind of behaviour can be exhausting. Sometimes we have to say no to things and give ourselves a well-earned night off. You can’t do everything, you just can’t. If you can reduce your stress by saying no, do it.
List your accomplishments
When time feels like it’s going way too fast, it’s easy to feel like you’re losing a grip on your hopes and dreams and let’s be honest, we might be in October, but it still feels like March! It’s fair to say that this year hasn’t been the easiest year to tick off all those things you wrote on your ‘plans for 2020’ page in your notebook. So, when your mind is feeling a little weary, sometimes looking at how far you’ve come can really help put things into perspective. Include past holidays, jobs, personal challenges and things you’ve overcome. Include the new things you’ve learned this year, the conversations you’ve got to have and habits you’ve finally knocked. We’re sure once you set your mind to it, we’re sure you’ll have a long list of things you can be proud of.
WORDS BY LAUREN WALLACE.