It’s only natural to be feeling a little anxious about this next national lockdown.
The first one, which was initially announced as a three-week precaution, turned into three incredibly long months.
So, it’s safe to say many of us are feeling a little wobbly right now.
Of course, we all learnt various lessons from the first lockdown as we came up with our own little ways to stay more positive.
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Whether it was cooking, crafting or Zoom quizzing – we managed to pass the time and come out the other side.
But having a plan and routine can have huge benefits for our mental health as we go into this second lockdown.
‘Making a routine and being organised will help with reducing overwhelm and feeling less anxious,’ says psychology and coach trainer Rebecca Lockwood.
‘Doing these things always helps in times of uncertainty because you create a certainty of what will happen with your routine. You will have a plan to follow and even if you deviate from the plan a little, you will still have some structure to your day and your plans.’
We asked experts to share a few ways this can be achieved…
Plan every single day
By giving yourself this structure to your day, you’re giving yourself a sense of control – at a time when everything basically feels uncontrollable.
Rebecca says: ‘Having a routine will help you feel better because you will know what is coming up and what you have in the dairy to do.
‘When people feel like they don’t know what’s coming up it can leave them feeling anxious and like there is uncertainty and unknown. When you feel like you have an endless list of things to do and it is all in your head it can feel daunting and overwhelming.
‘Just the simple act of writing it all down will help you to feel less anxious, less overwhelmed and more in control.’
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing every day, but following a plan will help you feel more organised and in control – as you’ll be aware of what’s coming up next.
Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder/co-CEO of My Online Therapy, adds: ‘As humans, we thrive off structure and routine, so whilst it can be tempting to lie in and stay in your PJs, try and think of creative ways you can spend your time.
‘Maybe try out a new hobby or learn a new skill you can do from home. Whenever we master something new it gives us a sense of achievement and helps us feel confident, competent and in control’.
Prioritise your morning routine
A bad morning can really leave a sour taste in our mouths for the rest of the day.
Dr Becky Spelman, a psychologist and clinical director of Private Therapy Clinic, says it’s really important to prioritise a morning routine – so you start the day off right.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Morning routine is extremely important as you’re starting the day, and starting the day in a positive way will help give you a nice mood boost from the get-go.
‘Often when people’s days don’t start out very well, it can affect them for the rest of the day.
‘Even if it’s just small things that you like to do in the morning that are good for your health and wellbeing – whether it be dressing the bed or drinking a glass of water – these small things which set you up for the day can have a really positive impact.’
Make to-do lists every day
We all know the satisfaction of crossing something off a to-do list and it’s these small but significant boosts which will help get us through daily life in this next lockdown.
Rebecca says: ‘You can create a routine by starting with a list of all of the things you have to get done. Start by writing it all down in a list. These can be things that you have to do each day and also things that you just know you need to get done. Whenever you think of something else you need to get done, just write it down with the list. ‘
This also comes back down to this sense of control. The more organised you are with your tasks, the more in control you’ll feel.
Use organisational tools
There’s a plethora of handy organisational tools out there – so don’t forget to make the most of them.
Rebecca says: ‘Using simple organisational apps on your phone is a great way to do this as you have your phone on you most of the time, so you can add to the list easily.
‘Using something like Trello or Google Drive also gives you the ability to share it with others if it is family trips or food shopping you are organising. These tools are also brilliant for sharing with team members in work and for business.’
Aim to tick off different areas of your life every day
Of course, the majority of us will be working from home during the winter lockdown, so it’s important to still get a work-life balance – even if you’re not leaving the house. As this is likely to improve your mood.
Dr Becky Spelman adds: ‘Make sure you schedule things in relation to your social life and also so you get a little bit of exercise – it doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise, it can just be walking.
‘But making sure that you actually tick all the boxes in relation to socialising, getting all your work done, getting a bit of enjoyment in your life and getting exercise is going to be enough to keep your mood regulated.’
Create a bucket list for life after-lockdown
‘Sometimes life can seem a bit mundane. We might get the feeling that we can only feel excited when we do something new or visit somewhere different. But try and take time to find joy in the small everyday things, whilst appreciating some of the things you may have once taken for granted,’ explains Dr Elena Touroni.
‘Write a list of the things that you’re grateful for in your life right now (e.g. your dog, a supportive family, your health etc.) and make a bucket list for when lockdown passes.’
Dr Becky Spelman adds: ‘Right now we all need to have things to look forward to in the future as that gives us hope and that is something that prevents us from feeling depressed.’
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