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As we go through this third lockdown, it's important not only to protect your body but also your mind.
Self isolation, quarantine and lockdown have become frequently used terms in everyone's vocabulary nowadays. With the end of the Christmas holidays, many of us have come back from other countries, either to get away from the monotony of our lives, or simply to see loved ones. Consequently we had/have to quarantine to avoid the risk of infecting others. However, the idea of being shut off from the rest of the world is worrying and lockdown as now become the new normal for may around the globe. The new lockdown that has been introduced in the UK bans household mixing and demands the closure of non-essential shops, schools and gyms.
On the one side, this self-solation is good for our physical health, preventing us from catching the virus and eventually giving it to others who may be more or less vulnerable than us. On the other hand, it's presenting a challenge for our mental health. The Campaign to End Loneliness revealed that approximately 9 million people in the UK have often felt lonely, with many finding it hard to maintain lasting social connections with others. Another study undertaken by the British Red Cross in 2017 found that a fifth of the population didn't have friends or people to turn to in moments of need.
As we follow the "stay at home" guidance, there are few simple steps that you can take to protect both your mind and body. <br>
Making a list of things to do has always been a remedy for those who feel overwhelmed by the challenges of everyday life. So, despite the fact we're stuck at home, it's important to create a sense of output. This sounds a bit trivial, I know, but let me explain.
It's important to create a timetable for each day. This can include anything: housekeeping tasks, DIY, finish reading all the novels you started ages ago and left pending, or even trying somehting new or engaging in a new hobby, such as reading, playing an instrument or painting.
By making a timetable we reproduce that external time represented by our workplace, which occupied our lives before lockdown, and it can also help us fight against that absence of purpose that accompany our lives in self-isolation. Do you remember when you used to take breaks by walking to the water-cooler? This can be replaced by simply walking to the tap in your kitchen.
This can be different for everyone: one might set a timer, or create a to-do list. Remember though, don't beat yourself up if you can complete all your tasks in one; you can always do more the next day.
Although the new lockdown restrictions mean that you cannot attend that spinning class that you booked ages ago, that doesn't mean that you cannot keep yourself fit outside the gym. Working out has an extremely positive impact on your mental wellbeing, possibly mitigating those negative thoughts that permeate our minds in such a difficult time, such as low-self esteeem, anxiety, depression and social withdrawal.
Exercising is good for your mental health because it sends endorphins around your body, which can help us switch from a negative state of mind to a more optimistic one. You don't really have the space in your house for a run, but you could keep yourself fit by following a workout routine online. Some good people you might want to check out on YouTube are:
There's also a number of home workouts apps such as:
It's clearer now more than ever why loneliness is is used for hardened criminals. Social interactions help you maintain a healthy mind, and bring relief in those difficult moments of our everyday life. Without this social element, feelings of anxiety and depression can easily occur.
We know in this lockdown making friends it's a harder task. however, this doesn't mean that you have to shut yourself from the outer world and its people. One of the benefits of our digital age it's the possibility to connect with people wherever your are in a matter of seconds.
It's extremely important to keep social contacts external our homes everyday - whether it's over the phone, Skype, Zoom, Meets, talking to our neighbour from our kitchen window, or simply messaging on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Keeping in contact with someone may help us get out those difficulties we are experiencing and even talk about, but it also allows us to focus on positive things, so that you're not just beating yourself up due to those difficulties the situation brings.
You could create a WhatsApp group, formed by your family members or your friends, or even people from your local community: this will help you to check on them at different times during the day and see how they're doing, as well as share some coping methods that are working for you. <br>
Of course the presence of social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as 24 hour news, means that we're never alone, there may be some benefits in limiting our media exposure during these testing times.
One of the most common tendencies for people during this pandemic is the anxious tendency of catastrophising. This implies that people go straight to the worst scenario possible, and a lot of the material that we find on social media and on the news contribute to feeding these negative feelings. It means that if we get into the mind-set that our loved ones may get terribly ill or die, this will worsen our anxious feelings.
Therefore, if you're on your own at home, instead of spending you free time scrolling through your phone in search, consciously and unconsciously of bad news, put on some comfortable shoes and go for a walking in non-crowded places to avoid overthinking about the situation.
You can't do it, then take deep and slow breaths to repress your anxious thoughts. You can help yourself doing this by downloading apps such as Breathe2Relax which shows us what are the types of breathing that are scientifically proven to calm us down.
Remember that laughter can be a remedy against anxiety too! Perhaps you could replace worrying news with a funny Netflix show, or YouTube video, which may help you ease the tension. Take your time to find a new hobby, such as craft, drawing and painting, or even the crosswords to distract your mind from the bad "vibes" that come the news.
It's normal that this virus is making us feel as we're powerless and out of control; this is because as humans, we like to think that our lives are proceeding in a way that we can control, and the virus gives us the impression that none of knows what will happen with this.
A way to cope with this is to accept the fact that we have no control over the situation.
We have to be resilient and strong during this period, and worrying that you won't be able to deal with it will just make things harder for you. it may sound weird when I say that if we let ourselves feel these emotions, they will pass more quickly.
I know, it's easier said than done. If you really have this strong desire for information, try to consult authoritative websites such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), for more reliable information that will keep you update on the circumstances, helping you keep things in perspective without degenerating. <br>
As the panic reaches the highest levels around the UK, a lot of us have been stockpiling. Whether you're turning into a baker, clearing the flour aisle, or you think you need 20 packs of toilet paper to get through a number two, people are shopping at alarming levels.
We all know good food is essential for coping with life during lockdown. So before you reach for that third chocolate digestive, remember that a key aspect to remain mentally healthy is keeping a balanced diet. Although our instinct may be comfort eating, we need to make an effort and reach out for foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as green tea, fruit and vegetables.
So, try to avoid the fridge as much as possible. Many of those who work from home have found that the snacking temptation is very popular; so removing any distractions can be an invaluable way of warding those extra isolation pounds. <br>
Weighted blankets rely on deep touch pressure to regulate our mood and improve sleep; it rebalances our hormones levels leaving us calmer and less stressed. The full-body DTP of a weighted blanket kicks a series of important chemical reactions in our body into gear, The first is an increased production of serotonin, known as the happy hormone.
Serotonin is the hormone that makes us feel good, which has an enormous impact on our wellbeing and quality of sleep. Increased serotonin corresponds to increased time in REM sleep: helping us get a healing and restorative sleep at night.
Serotonin is also a precursor of melatonin, a hormone which controls the sleep-wake cycle: weighted blankets help supercharge serotonin levels and, in turn, boost melatonin levels too. So if low melatonin is keeping you up, snuggle under a weighted blanket and you'll soon be drifting off the dreamland.
Weighted blankets are also extremely helpful in reducing stress levels. As seen previously, using a weighted blanket can increase good hormones like serotonin and melatonin but it can also reduce others, such as cortisol. Too much cortisol leaves us feeling stressed, high-strung, or wired all day long. So getting yourself a weighted blanket can help you get through these tough times, especially with the new lockdown restrictions.