Lock-down strategies and ways to stay sane!

Right now every trainer, psychologist, life coach, herbalist and their uncle have been doing blogs, vlogs, articles, TV Interviews and short operatic musical dramas about how to make the best of this COVID-19 lockdown.  While I don't want to add to the noise out there, I figure if this helps one or two people get through it then it's worth writing.

Being cooped up inside can be tough, even for introverts like me.  It brings a certain level of stress into life.  This is before we even get to the prospect of illness, job and financial insecurity, trying to manage kids and animals that are out of routine and stressed themselves, and trying to help other friends and family members who may not be able to manage in this situation as well as us.

Here are some strategies that may help reduce the stress you could be feeling.  Firstly, breathe.  In particular, try square breathing.  It's a technique that I've used in the past when feeling anxious.  It's simple.  Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold that for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, hold that for 4 seconds.  Repeat for 5 minutes or so.  There are a bunch of good things that controlled breathing does for our nervous systems to help reduce anxiety but also the physical act of concentrating on something other than what is stressing us out can be helpful too.

Having a routine is another way to keep anxiety and stress at a manageable level.  Humans are creatures of habit.  Ever checked that you have everything you need before leaving the house and can't find your phone?  You look everywhere in the house and then realise that you put it in your left jeans pocket rather than your right? Like I said, habit.  With this in mind, try to keep to a routine similar to what you did prior to this whole lockdown scenario.  

If you usually exercise first thing in the morning, keep doing that - you can still do bodyweight workouts at home, or if you have a trainer they may be live-streaming workouts to their clients like I am doing.  There are also a huge number of bodyweight workouts available on YouTube as well.  Do you usually have a cup of coffee at 10am and read the paper?  Well do it - you may not be able to get hold of the paper but there are plenty of news websites and daily quiz sites you can visit.  Do that instead.  Keeping a routine even if it is somewhat modified can help you to keep a sense of control.  Which is vital in a circumstance that feels like we are anything but in control.

Getting some exercise is also a good way to reduce stress.  Just because we have to be distancing ourselves socially right now doesn't mean you can't train - see the paragraph above for examples of how.  Raising your endorphin levels (which happens after exercise) is never a bad thing.  Especially when we are in circumstances that may feel unusual and unsettled.  Also, using this time to foam roll and stretch may be useful - these are things that most people neglect a lot of the time, but now, time is something that most of us suddenly have in abundance, so use it to do something that your body will appreciate.  

Next, eat good food.  You may have an overwhelming urge to sit in front of Netflix and eat your way through the confectionary aisle of the supermarket (after all Easter is almost here and there are novelty eggs aplenty out there right now).  Try and eat whole natural foods where possible as opposed to processed foods.  Also, there is probably more opportunity to snack than ever before especially for people working from home - you probably aren't used to the pantry and fridge being so close at hand.  Just try and be aware of what you're eating and the volume of food especially.  Drinking plenty of water is always a good thing as well.

Avoiding isolation is paramount too - physical distancing doesn't mean social distancing too.  This may come down to things like phone calls, skype catchup sessions, Facebook messages and the like, but don't let yourself get isolated from your support networks.  Everyone is in the same boat right now, and it seems like people are pulling together to help each other through, so don't feel like you are being a burden on others by wanting to keep in touch.  Make sure you reach out to those people who may be isolated themselves too - older friends, neighbours and relatives, people who live alone, also people working in essential jobs - especially health, emergency and security service workers right now may need some support even if it is just a message saying thanks for everything they are doing.  

These are strange and worrying times for many people.  We are all looking for ways to get through this odd period in our lives.  I hope that this long and rambling post helps someone weather the storm a little easier.  If you want to get in touch to talk about anything mentioned here please do so via my website and I will do my best to help you out.  Stay safe, stay home, stay healthy, and care for one another.  


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