To say this pandemic is pretty stressful is an understatement. Whether you’re working from home, home schooling or just trying to get by, here are 10 self-care strategies for lockdown.
You might have seen the phrase ‘self-care’ being keenly thrown around but in essence, what it means is, making a conscious effort to look after your mental and physical health. It means taking the time to be kind to yourself, focusing on what you need right now and working out how best to address that. Some forms of self-care are quite elaborate, like meditating for three hours a day or writing a journal about how grateful you are. Although these are brilliant, not everything fits everyone. For me, sitting down trying to meditate is such a difficult task and ends up with me getting frustrated because I can’t do it.
Below, I’ve listed 10 self care strategies for lockdown. Like I say, everyone is different but hopefully there’s something on the list that resonates with you and helps you to relax.
Read a book
Reading not only whisks your busy mind off into a more simple and imaginative world, it also takes you away from your screen for a decent amount of time. I enjoy reading, so I make sure that I always have a book on the go for bedtime when I need to switch off. It helps me to put my book down and focus on the story. Reading is a great way to gradually feel sleepy with the repetitive movement of your eyes as you read. And with Halloween around the corner, I’m getting stuck into ‘A Discovery of Witches’ by Deborah Harkness. I’m on book three and am hooked!
Disconnect from social media
Probably like many people, I was terrible at sitting in bed and mindlessly scrolling through my social feeds. This meant that any negative feelings I associated with social media were being brought into the room and hanging over me before sleep. It also meant I couldn’t sleep because my mind was in super processing mode. I even used the dimmer option but it didn’t work. Instead, I put a time limit on my phone so between 10pm and 7am, only phone calls and text messages are allowed. Also, on a Saturday and Sunday, I try not to be on my phone so much to give my anxious brain a break. I suffer so badly with impostor syndrome and comparing myself to others. Switching off on a weekend is so therapeutic!
Go for a walk in nature
I always thought this sounded a bit wanky but actually, it does work. Taking the dog for a walk up the mountain by us or in the woodland is so refreshing. I leave my phone at home and be sure to be fully engaged with my surroundings, with my partner and my little ball of fluff. It’s really lovely and being surrounded by greenery is really grounding too. A few weekends back, we took part in the Mind Charity #TheMindWalk and did eight miles, raising just over £120. We’ve never really taken the time to walk around and pay attention to where we live, which is awful because it’s so pretty. It’s not everyday you can live in a valley with a castle in the middle of town!
Listen to HeadSpace or an audiobook
HeadSpace, the mindfulness app, is great if you need a bit of stress relief throughout the day. The sessions last for five minutes and can get you to breathe away the stress. They also have stories which are very good at bedtime to help you drift off to sleep. Audiobooks are good too. The calming sound of someone’s voice can help you to fall into a deep sleep. And there are so many to choose from.
The best part? You can listen to them anywhere, at anytime. Perfect for surviving lockdown!
Have a bubbly bath
I love a bubble bath! I get my calming candle, dimmed lighting and smellies at the ready and have some quality time to myself. Unless the dog breaks in and stares at me but she gets fed up pretty quick! I love using lavender oil and lavender bubble bath/salts to help me to de-stress and a face/hair mask to give my skin and hair some lovin’. I would highly recommend the Lush Sleepy Cream/Shower Range – it smells like relaxation! It’s so important to take time like this for yourself during lockdown. We’re all so stressed and pre-occupied with the uncertainty. Schedule some you time so you have something to look forward to.
As someone who struggles with insomnia and BPD, sleep is so important in helping to regulate my moods. When I’m feeling in a high mood, I don’t sleep as much so I end up with my mind buzzing but my body exhausted. I try to make sure I have a good routine before bed so I can get the best sleep I can. I take anti-psychotic meds (Quetiapine) which give me awful restless legs so I take these an hour before going to sleep so they kick in before my legs start flailing. Listening to relaxing music or a story from Snoozecast is really effective for me. I can’t sleep in the silence as every little noise I hear, I panic about!
Change your bed
Who doesn’t love fresh bedding!? It sounds funny but changing your bed often will mean you feel so excited about going to bed that you’ll drift off quite easily. There’s something comforting about smelling something that reminds you of home and makes you feel relaxed.
Try oils like lavender or ho-leaf in a diffuser
My partner bought me a little oil/water diffuser and I absolutely love it. As does the dog, who stares at the changing colours but also the steam coming out the top! While we’re watching TV on an evening, we’ll pop a few droplets of lavender or ho-leaf into the diffuser and it helps us to unwind after a stressful day. Also, because the smell is natural and not synthetic, it is really refreshing too.
We all love to eat naughty food sometimes but it’s always good to try and eat most of the right stuff, most of the time. Because I struggle with binge eating (BED), being on a strict healthy diet all the time triggers me off. There is a saying ‘good food, good mood’ which I think is true. There are lots of people on social media talking about how eating well can help you mentally.
Binge watch a series on Netflix
Sometimes you just need an afternoon/evening in front of the TV. If you feel like it, do it. I used to struggle with not doing something because I thought I was being lazy but actually, I really needed the break. So now, I still feel a bit bad but I will binge watch a series on Netflix if that what my mind and body need.
Have a lie in
Again, because I was convinced that having a lie in was lazy, I was always trying to get up early to get stuff done, even thought I wasn’t sure what ‘stuff’ I was going to do. My partner drilled into me that if I want a lie in, that’s my body saying it’s tired and that I should listen. Now he wishes has hadn’t said that when he doesn’t see me until 11am on a Saturday morning!