New year, new you!
It’s the start of a brand new year, usually a time for throwing out the unhealthy habits and lifestyle choices to make way for a new, healthier version of you with ambitious goals and resolutions. However, for most this January, it feels a little harder to conquer these things as we face yet another lockdown, resulting in many now hitting the ‘pandemic wall’.
Seeing the return of Blue Monday last week (supposedly the most depressing Monday of the year due to a combination of long nights, Christmas debts, failed resolutions and bad weather) it’s no wonder it felt more evident this time around because as a nation, we have started 2021 in lockdown and for the third time! Something we had all hoped would be a distant memory left behind in 2020.
My previous blog ‘How COVID-19 has modified our language’, touched upon how we have all adapted our lifestyles to fit within the restrictions of our new normal. With these changes, we faced many challenges across every aspect of life; mentally, emotionally, socially and physically. Throughout 2020 we were constantly feeling unsure of the future, anxious to leave our homes and worried about loved ones.
A sense of hope!
The news of an approved vaccination soon gave the world a new sense of hope. Was it possible that there could soon be a return to ‘normality’? Of course, it is never that simple but one can only hope!
The roll out of the vaccination will take time, and with the UK being plummeted back into lockdown as quickly as you could say ‘2021’, we soon realised that COVID-19 is still very much in control of our freedom and that we must continue to ‘stay safe’ in our everyday lives, a lot longer.
However, this time around we can see the light at the end of this dark and long tunnel. Over 3.2 million people across the country have now received their first dosage of the vaccine and the vision is to have all adults following closely behind by September.
It feels as though the hard work and dedication throughout this pandemic is now beginning to pay off. Thankfully, almost a year on, we are now closer than we ever have been to the return of our much-loved, pre-COVID, unrestricted lives!
Being a mother with a career has always been a goal of mine, to be a dedicated and hardworking role model to my children. However, being a career-driven parent and homeschooling my children was never something I envisioned doing hand-in-hand as part of that plan. The education of my children means everything to me, but saying it has proven a little testing at times would not quite cover it.
For many of us, we began our homeschooling journey during the first lockdown with an unrealistic approach, trying to complete every task set for our children whilst juggling work at the same time. For many working parents, this was a pressure cooker ready to explode. Personally, I quickly realised this approach was not achievable or realistic. I was putting additional and unnecessary pressure on myself to get things ticked off. At that point, I decided to re-evaluate my approach to lockdown life and by planning ahead, allocating time to set subjects and having ‘our’ version of school, started to feel these pressures lifting.
After all, we aren’t all qualified teachers, right? We can’t do it all. But what we can do is set realistic goals and make adjustments so that we can find the ‘best fit’ for our lives and personal circumstances.
Taking a moment for you!
With mental health across the country on the decline, and the number of adults experiencing depression, doubling since before lockdown, it is so important we recognise our personal needs and take extra care of ourselves. By making even the smallest of changes, you will begin to see a difference in your wellbeing. With this in mind, I wanted to hone in further on how you can keep your mind happy throughout lockdown # 3.
If we stand together we can really make a difference to the mental wellbeing of others, with simple acts of kindness and by offering our support where possible. Below is a list of actions we can all take in helping to stay positive and taking time for you:
13 Ways to Keep Your Mind Happy
Although we are unable to spend more than 1 hour outside each day, make sure to get out and do just that! Both exercise and nature release endorphins that are proven to help happy your mind and de-stress your soul!
Personally for me, walking and soaking up the beauty of the natural world, always helps recharge my batteries. Just listening to the birds singing, breathing in the crisp winter air and soaking up nature helps me appreciate the smallest of things in life. Taking some time on your own can help you to clear your mind.
2. Adapt your Routine/ Structure Your Day
It is important for everyone in the family, including pets, to follow a routine. Think back to life pre COVID; we left the house, did school runs, went to the office etc and a routine is key for the body and mind to stay on top form.
3. Work/ Life Balance
Establish a healthy work life balance. Maintaining a healthy work/life balance can improve your productivity and motivation. Now more than ever, we need to ensure the balance is kept between work and life as we have no escape from our homes.
4. Eat Healthily and Get moving
“You are what you eat.” If you eat a healthy, balanced diet, you will feel better and more energised. Furthermore, if you eat well, then it means your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs to function properly, which will improve your energy levels.
5. Limit Your News Intake/ Happy News Only
Negative news can be so draining on your mindset, especially when trying to stay upbeat. Try to avoid exposing yourself to negative media. If you like to keep up to date with what’s going on, why not try reading some ‘Happy News‘? Focus on news that motivates and uplifts you.
6. Switch Off from Your Screen
Screen time breaks are essential for your mind and body to fully unwind. Medical professionals recommend taking a screen break every 20 minutes. This can also help to prevent computer vision syndrome, which commonly manifests as eye strain and headaches. Take regular screen breaks and make the effort to replace this time with an activity that can help you to de-stress or un-wind. This could be as simple as taking a short walk, having a cup of tea, reading a book or simply taking a moment to appreciate the things in life that make you smile!
7. Write a ‘Happy list’ of all the Things That Make You Smile
Taking a moment to note down what makes you happy as a person and what brings a smile to your face can be a great way of learning to see the good in life, especially during these crazy times we find ourselves in. There are so many benefits to our health when we’re happy. Including; improved heart health, ability to combat stress more effectively, a stronger immune System, overall healthier lifestyle and increased life longevity. These are just a few examples of the benefits to your body when you smile!
8. Be kind to yourself
Cut yourself some slack, you are doing an awesome job! Taking time out for you and doing things that make you happy is a necessity in life right now! Look at your happy list and pick something off there to do! Make sure you are treating yourself kindly! We all need some self- love right now.
9. Stay Connected with Loved Ones
Staying connected with your loved ones is so important right now. Just a 5 minute catch up will uplift your mood and help you feel a little more content.
We all miss our loved ones so much and it’s hard to stay connected virtually at times with everything else going on but it’s so important to make the time to connect and catch up with the people in your life who mean the most to you.
10. Find an Outlet for Your Stress/ Embrace Your Emotions
Whether it’s a new hobby, taking a walk, a hot bath or listening to your favourite music, make sure to put that time aside within your routine for some self -love! Let out your emotions if you need to. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, everyone has their own struggles with lockdown life, no- one is judging you.
11. Take up a New Hobby
Learning something new can provide you with both a distraction and also reward you in so many ways! It is a proven fact that taking up a new hobby can help make you a calmer, more focussed, smarter, more considered person. This will help immeasurably with your anxieties and your boredom throughout lockdown.
12. Read a Book/ Listen to a Podcast
There are so many incredible podcasts available to us at just the click of a button! Want to learn a new language? Want to find new recipes? Meditate? Learn about true crime, history, music, art? Or just hear someone else moan about their life instead of hearing yourself?! Why not give it a go? There is so much out there and something for everyone!
13. Talk If You are Struggling
If you are struggling in lockdown with your mental health, reach out to your local Mind charity support group. Local Minds provide mental health services in local communities across England and Wales. Mind offer a variety of services to help you right now, you are not alone.
Enjoy this blog? Why not take a look at what 2020 has taught my lovely colleague Leigh-Ann Hewer below.
Or for an insight in to new year resolutions for freelancers that may be looking to assess their work targets and make 2021 a more successful year. See below link to a recent feature in Katherine Ducie’s article for Caunce O’Hara, business insurance brokers for Carnsight founder, Jessica Morgan.