Just when you thought it was over, it wasn’t.
However, lockdown or not, we’re determined to make 2021 our year, even if it means devising a different blueprint for it. Simply put, prioritising mental health is our MO until the world somewhat gets back to normal. So, we’ve written down essential pieces of advice we think will benefit you, too.
For those of you who think this really is the new normal (us included!), this is for you.
Build an honest lockdown routine and stick to it
It’s a no-brainer why routines are important. It adds structure to your life, and structure is important to keep you disciplined and motivated. Plus, having a routine, especially a daily routine, helps your overall mental health to keep your mind decluttered.
Whether we notice it or not (or we’ve intentionally made one or not), we all have a routine we stick to. Most of us do something along the lines of waking up early in the morning, exercising, eating breakfast, showering, and heading to work or uni. More obvious examples of routines can be a weekend self-care routine, like going on a social media detox, meditating, putting on a face mask, or watching something new on Netflix by yourself. That’s what we’d call “traditional” routines, back when the world was still normal.
We’ve been in lockdown for a while, long enough to consider this may be our new normal for a time. Though hopefully not too long now that we’ve got the vaccine, it’s a good idea to adjust our routines to suit our current situation better.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: what does an “honest” lockdown routine mean?
In an ideal world, we’d be able to create a routine tailored for the lockdown that’ll keep us disciplined, motivated, stimulated, and in a relatively good mood. We’d all love to wake up early in the morning, work out for an hour, eat a healthy breakfast, take up new hobbies, and do all these productive things we hope to do while we’re in lockdown. But the truth is, for some people, the lockdown has had a profound effect on them mentally, to the point where it can be hard to create and stick to a routine. In a lockdown, the days seem to blend together, and before you know it, you’ve lost the concept of time, and you’ve spent the whole day in bed.
Cue the honest lockdown routine. It’s a simpler, “baby steps” version of your daily routine, one that prioritises and caters to the absolute necessities. Simply sticking to waking up at a specific time in the morning, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and eating a filling breakfast can be part of your routine. Throw in going on a walk for 30 minutes in there, too. Maybe even just drinking a litre of water every day, if you’re more of a caffeine drinker or you forget to drink water often.
That’s what an honest lockdown routine is. It strips all the bells and whistles and the “idealistic” version of how you think you’d be during the lockdown. It replaces it with keeping everything functional to start with—and that’s okay. It’s okay not to be on level 100 all the time, especially during times like these where many of us have limited resources. We can’t do everything we want to do, and being indoors for long periods can drastically change our moods. It’s okay to take baby steps and prioritise the necessities first, and then grow from there. Think of it as a reset on your “traditional” routine, where you’re building yourself back up again, ready to start being productive and in a good headspace on your own terms.
…but don’t forget to try new things
Don’t get us wrong—routines are good and healthy. But if you keep on doing the same things over and over again, no matter how healthy they are, it can do more harm than good. Baby steps are okay for the sake of establishing your honest lockdown routine. Still, it’s important to grow that routine to fit your current day. More importantly, it’s good to try new things and incorporate them into your routine. “Trying new things” doesn’t necessarily mean doing something daring or completely unusual. It can be something as simple as consuming new content, whether it’s a book, a magazine, a movie, or a series.
Why? Consuming new things helps stimulate your brain and keeps it from stalling. In a lockdown, you do fewer things, and you have more time. It’s easy for you to end up meandering and being unproductive the entire day and not even realise it. It’s easy to backslide and watch your comfort shows or stick to what’s familiar, and that’s fine, as long as that’s not all you do! It’s important to keep on doing something new and unfamiliar, so your senses are always stimulated.
Talk to the people you love, and talk about what matters
And, of course, communication is something that we take for granted. Yet, it is absolutely essential to us coping with this lockdown and the entire pandemic. Schedule FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Zoom calls with your friends and family. Have a movie night, an e-party (yes, that’s a thing!), or just have a weekly chat where you catch up and talk about whatever you want to talk about.
But there’s one thing you need to remember because communicating with your loved ones seems like an obvious coping habit. Still, it’s something most of us fail to do.
Be honest and talk about how you’re feeling. It’s one thing to have a movie night or gossip session with your squad, and it’s another thing to actually talk through your feelings and mental headspace throughout the lockdown. It’s important to highlight a sense of camaraderie and unity with your loved ones by venting and allowing yourself to talk through your negative emotions. There’s absolutely no shame in talking about how you may have been having difficulty trying to get through the days because of the pandemic because that’s how hundreds and millions of other people feel. Remember that your loved ones are there for you to support and validate your feelings, and that can do so much good for your mental health.
Keep these three things in your back pocket, know that you’re not alone, be kind to yourself, foster kindness around you, and you’ll be okay.