As an extrovert lockdown has been a very challenging and difficult time for me. I thrive off being around people, and socialising is one of my all-time favourite hobbies.
I was thinking the other week; if this pandemic hadn’t happened, where would I be today? How would I be feeling? Even though it has been a rollercoaster of emotions, I have truly had time to reflect and work on being the best version of myself. It’s not just me – I know so many of my friends and strangers do the same thing and it is wonderful to see such wholesomeness.
Ever since the lockdown began, the thought that really gave me comfort was everyone being in the same boat. Luckily, I can work from home so that helped my sanity, however I could really feel myself struggling most days until there came a point I realised my mental health was deteriorating. I felt flat almost every day, I felt really lonely, and I was feeling anxious about the future.
Instead of looking forward to things which could potentially change for the better I was constantly wishing time away, reminiscing and worrying if things were going to get worse. But I knew I had to keep on moving and get through the toxic thoughts, which is easier said than done.
Once I realised I had to adapt to this situation, my brain went from 100 miles per hour to regaining control again. I thought to myself there will be some things in life which will completely be out of my control so instead of panicking and worrying about it (completely natural human behaviour may I add), I can try and focus on the present and most importantly… relax, breathe in and out, because this feeling won’t last forever.
So, moving on to a more positive note, there are a lot of things that have helped me pull through lockdown and made it more bearable. I’ve compiled a list for you to check out:
Comfies- As much as I love dressing up, doing my hair and putting on make-up, it has been extremely refreshing to wear relaxed clothing and letting my skin breathe. I have made more of a conscious effort to pamper and self-care with inexpensive skin products and I am sure guys you can agree with me on this, but how nice is it sometimes to not put any products in your hair or spend a whole 45 minute ritual styling your hair (my hair is extremely thick and sometimes takes longer).
Gardening- I have never been a fan of gardening, in fact I used to have a little inside cry every time my parents would ask me to help out with the garden. I know bit dramatic right? But I decided one day to take it up as a little project and before you know it, I began renovating it. I bought new garden furniture, plants, lighting and little finishing touches to make it a snazzy hang out place. You can never trust the British weather but as we had a few mini heatwaves this motivated me to make the garden look and feel enjoyable. It also felt like a mini work out which helped me keep fit and exercise regularly.
Staying connected- Whoever said it’s the little things in life that make the biggest difference is bang on the money. I am so blessed to have such amazing friends in my life who I can class as family. We started organising quizzes and catch-ups over Zoom, I lost every quiz (and there were a lot of them) but it was super fun and cute to catch up regardless. Although it felt a little weird constantly having to see your loved ones through a screen, the feeling of loneliness wore off. It is always nice to check in with the people around you, as you never know how they might be feeling and if they have had an off day. Maybe mix things up and even send them a little card through the post?
Walking- Daily walking is an excellent form of daily mindfulness. Being stuck in the same four walls everyday can really take a toll on you, which is why I started walking every day after I finished work. There were some days I would walk for 30 minutes and then other days over an hour, but even a 10 minute walk can really boost your mood. You not only feel amazing physically but also mentally. Another nice idea would be to encourage your friends who have dogs to go on a walk with you, because not only do you have company, who doesn’t love some animal therapy? (Also, how adorable is this picture of the pup?!)
Cooking- I am no Ainsley Harriot as much as I aspire to be, but I am a big fan of cooking (when I have the whole kitchen to myself and no one in my way). I started cooking a lot more, new and old recipes. Nonetheless it was exciting to grab fresh ingredients, and experiment with different spices and it was even more satisfying when it tasted better than expected.
Going off social media- Sometimes we just all need to switch off from technology and social media. One of the best decisions I made was deleting a few of my social media platforms and, surprisingly, I have not missed it. I wanted a little break as it was extremely overwhelming to see and hear what was going in the world, especially when majority of it was negative, but I felt the improvement in myself when I hid my phone away. As they say: out of sight, out of mind.
There is one thing I have noticed during lockdown that has really stood out for me, and that is how much time and empathy people have for one another. Whilst I am out on my daily stroll I notice every stranger I cross paths with gives me some sort of acknowledgement, either a smile, a wave or even a quick two minute conversation asking how my day is. These are moments that actually count and will always stick with me.
Taking all this into consideration, I still get my down days but then I also get my good days. During this unprecedented time there is a lot of uncertainty, but the key for me is to just take each day as it comes and not put any pressure on myself; I don’t need to feel guilty if I am being productive or not. Sometimes it is okay to not feel okay because no matter how tough things or situations are, it’s the little things in life we can be thankful for. It’s an achievement in itself that we can get through each day thinking how grateful we are for what we have and, going forward, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.