Coping with the lockdown blues
After many weeks and months in lockdown or heavily restricted, it’s quite common to feeling a case of the lockdown blues.
Less than 2 years ago, the very notion of having our movements and behaviours restricted would have been scoffed at, as something that could and would never happen, especially in this country.
Fast forward a little over 18 months, and we boast the World’s most locked down city, and with much of the East Coast still in lockdown, or very heavily restricted.
Freedoms we once knew, and once took for granted, now seem a World away with QCode check-ins, mask wearing, social distancing, vaccinations, curfews, travel distance limitations, threats of fines or imprisonment.
Once easily accessible regular holiday spots are now impossible to visit, without quarantining on arrival or return, or the fear of getting stuck in transit, and that’s if you can even leave at all.
Being isolated from friends, family, your workplace, your hobbies, sports and travel has been a real strain on people’s mental health. This has been exacerbated by the loss of employment, collapse of a business, illness or even death of a loved ones.
The challenge of maintaining a positive outlook has been a real one, let alone caring for our physical health, diet, education, employment and general health.
We have come up with a few tips and suggestions to assist you and loved ones get through these tough times.
Keeping a Positive Mindset
There’s no doubt it has been a struggle, more for some than others, but a huge culture change to the way we’ve previous led our lives. Many have suffered from depression, some have inflicted self harm or worse, while others wallow in the impending doom of the situation.
The important thing to understand is it will pass. There are countries in other parts of the World, who statistically have lost more people and far greater infection levels, already starting to enjoy the freedoms we once knew. It stands to reason that we will follow in due course.
Naturally, the sooner the better for us all, but it will happen. You just have to hang in there.
Constant negative self talk, social media posting, and getting worked up doesn’t do anything to improve your situation, if anything, its only your mental health that suffers.
We know the strong link between mental health and physical health, so in time it will become a self fulfilling prophecy.
Also be aware that if you are constantly negative, it drags down the people around you, your partners, your kids, your friends. Or they may just take a wide berth to avoid the constant negativity.
Find yourself things to do that make you happy, a hobby, a craft, listening to music, making music, painting, drawing, gardening, enrol in an online course, watch funny movies etc., there’s endless things you can do …… you are possibly working from home anyway, so that in itself should keep you busy.
More importantly, don’t shut yourself off from the world. Stay in touch with friends, family, work colleagues. There’s an abundance of technology available to facilitate that, whether it be messaging online, video chatting, or depending on your locality’s restriction levels, catching up on a social walk to coffee on the go.
The running joke for a lot of people, no pun intended, is the weight they have put on during lockdowns, or the loss of physical conditioning and fitness.
This doesn’t need to be the case, of course. whilst in some cases it relates to loss of motivation or some form of depression (see above section), in many other cases, people just throw their hands up in the air because gyms might be closed, or their community sports are in hiatus.
However, for maintenance or improvement of physical health and fitness, there are a plethora of things you can do with minimal equipment.
The obvious one is walk briskly or jog, get that heart rate up into the zone where it may have some fitness benefit, around 70-80% of your max HR, and do it for at least 30 minutes daily.
On your outdoor stroll you can incorporate steps, benches, playgrounds, hills, so many options for those who really want to make an effort.
If that’s not your cup of tea, kills two birds with the one stone, walk to the supermarket with your shopping jeep, or go for a walk to get your skinny latte, walk off those lockdown blues.
If you find it boring, don’t walk the same route every day, mix it up, Walk with someone else, grab your headphones and listen to your favourite playlist. Or jump on your bike and cycle at the same work rate and length of time.
If you’re a little more motivated, set up some mini HIIT circuits, even incorporate body weight exercises, push ups, sit ups, squats, burpees …etc there are so many. If you have a couple of dumbells, you can incorporate dozens more exercises. The higher intensity intervals will not only help maintain fitness levels, if done regularly, will even improve your fitness.
In many places, outdoor personal training is now permitted, even where gyms are closed. Grab a friend and share the cost of a PT.
There is not a pandemic on good food and nutrition. Don’t fall into the trap of ordering home delivery every day of the week. That is not only financially taxing, but also not going to help with everything we just spoke about in the previous section.
Interestingly, the fast food industry has gone gangbusters during the pandemic, especially those who deliver. Sure it’s convenient, but you can’t really use Covid as an excuse for poor eating.
Leaving home for food has always been permitted, so shopping for your normal groceries was, and is, always possible.
Rediscover the joy of cooking, it will keep you focused on what you eat, and also acts as a great therapeutic tool, keeping you mentally active. Experiment with different meals, follow some of your favourite chefs online. Try to recreate some of their dishes or come up with your own. Maybe now you will have time to make some of the things your previously rushed lifestyle limited.
Whilst its OK to treat yourself from time to time, remember to eat all those things we know are good for us – lean meats, vegetables, fruits, grains and cereals. Be sure to get a good cross section on vitamins and minerals through your diet, along with your macros, lots of fluids and fibre.
Don’t forget, drinking litres of soft drink, or should I say wine, throughout the day is going to do nothing for your health or figure. Aim for sugarless or low sugar options, or even water.
Poor eating can also affect your mood and general energy levels, so you’ll exercise less, lose motivation, and it can become a vicious cycle, then your lockdown blues will be harder to shift. Often the best way to kick start a health regime begins with selection of food.
Monitor your health
With the media saturated with covid talk, you could be forgiven for thinking every other ailment which can impact your health has become obsolete.
There are many cases of cancer and heart disease going undetected, or mismanaged, as people become more reluctant to see their GP.
Compounding this problem, a lot of GP’s and specialists are wanting to do online consultations instead, which is not ideal to physically examine you.
Make sure you are still having your regular blood tests for cholesterol, prostate, blood sugars, checking for lumps and mole changes as well as monitoring blood pressure. If you at all concerned or in doubt, see your GP as soon as possible.
If you are reluctant to get to the doctors, be sure to brush up on your first aid skills and knowledge, for those household mishaps.
Don’t leave monitoring those health issues until Covid is over, remember, we thought that was going to be a year ago.
If you are on prescribed medications for a health condition, be sure to get your repeat prescriptions once you run out.
Of course, exercising regularly and eating well will help a lot, but some conditions need close medical monitoring, irrespective of fitness levels. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Keep on top of your finances
For many people, this period has had a major impact on their financial situation. Perhaps you have had your work hours cut back, or lost work altogether, maybe your business is closed or suffering. There’s nothing like being broke to make you suffer the lockdown blues.
Maybe you are getting a few dollars from the government to support, but it may not be enough to meet your regular expenses.
It’s important that you keep an eye on your money, especially if your income has reduced. Take it easy with the online shopping, online betting and delivery meals.
For others this has been a great time to save money, with many regular expenses reduced quite heavily, such as travel, fuel costs, pokies, dining and entertainment.
Whilst we all want to go back to doing all those things as soon as we can, it has allowed us a bit of a spending and lifestyle reset.
Remember, much of the Government support is still deemed as taxable income, so you need to ensure you have enough set aside for tax time. Keep an eye on your credit card statements, watch that you aren’t paying interest through the nose on purchases.
Maybe even cut back further by considering cancelling or selling some of the things you are not using – like recurring direct debits for memberships, subscriptions, insurances for cars not being driven, look for cheaper energy suppliers given you are home more and using more gas and electricity.
And finally, communicate, communicate, communicate. As mentioned earlier, stay in touch with family, friends, colleagues by whatever means is available to you.
Particularly if you are feeling a case of those lockdown blues, these feelings can escalate into a depressed state. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Be mindful that your friends may be feeling the same way too, so touch base to see how they are coping.
Anyway, we hope some of these tips and suggestions help you get through this extended period of lockdown, restrictions, and beyond.
Take care and stay safe.