Whether we embraced or rejected the idea of social distancing, of working from home and of not being able to do all the normal things we used to take for granted, this year took a hit on our well-being and even without knowing this we were affected by our change in lifestyle.
Even the toughest people I’ve known admitted that it was not easy to go through the lock-down period, to be unable to visit their family and to completely give up your social life. As we see an increase in the number of cases the anxiety that we might be going on lock-down arises and we need to make sure we don’t forget about ourselves.
Disclaimer: I am not in any way a certified therapist so all the advice is given from my own experience and should not be taken as medical advice.
1. Separate work and home life even if those happen in the same place
It’s easy to just pick up the phone and reply to an email that arrived after hours, or maybe even open the laptop and do a quick check-up on the project that was just launched today. You could even stay a little late to finish something since you are already indoors and don’t have real plans for the day.
Even if those look harmless and you think might actually help you, will only come to bite you in the future. You need to rest, you need to disconnect from your work and let your brain rest for a few hours. Also, in the long run an expectancy for you to continue to be 100% available could be created and when you would like to enjoy your personal life, you could start seeing some negative feedback from your team, boss or company.
Learn to set a fixed schedule and unless something is really burning, try to follow it. Even if it’s your company, you should avoid burnout. The situation is stressful as it is, don’t add even more pressure to it.
2. Cut yourself some slack
There is a 70-30 rule that we should always follow and accept that none is capable of making good decisions all the time. Try to get to be at 70% for the good decisions and leave the 30% for mistakes. This can be applied to all the areas in your life, from nutrition, to sport and work.
Constantly being on the pressure of making the best decision and being responsible can be exhausting, so make sure you give yourself room for mistakes and you don’t blame yourself for those.
3. When in doubt, exercise
Sport will really help you in more ways than you think. Apart from the obvious calorie burn and overall well being, it will also release dopamine that is the hormone of happiness. So whenever you feel down or a little blue, try to do a workout routine to lift your spirit.
If you are working from home and your daily activity has been reduced to moving around the house, exercises will help you stretch, relax and offer you a good break from work.
4. Shower, make-up and dressing up for the day
Easier said than done, this part is usually ignored since none will be there to see you. Even more in the days where you don’t have to turn the camera on. Yet this is a big waste of energy when it comes to your wellbeing.
Getting ready, making yourself pretty and preparing for the day is a ritual that you, like me and everyone else, has followed your entire life. Giving up on this, letting yourself down and never leaving the pajamas will drain you of your energy and will make you feel down. Perhaps none is there to see you, but you are. And it is your opinion that matters the most, so don’t skip this part in the morning.
5. Avoid binge eating when bored
We are all guilty of this, we are staying indoors more than ever, we are not allowed to go out to eat in big groups or at all. We are close to the TV, so what better way to spend the time than eating something to lift our mood. Even if this can also fall into the 70-30 rule, you need to make sure this is not happening all the time.
Unfortunately, unhealthy food could give you a boost of energy (sugar rush) that you will not need and you will feel restless for a longer period of time. Not to mention that if you eat junk food before going to bed, you will twist and turn for half of the night and wake up tired.
Again, try to avoid this, while not putting a lot of pressure and guilt if you do it every once in a while.
6. Don’t cut yourself completely from social life
This one is tricky since you need to protect yourself and the ones you love, but you also need to socialise and be around people. Humans are social beings, we cannot live all alone and it is very unhealthy for your brian to distance yourself completely from others. Try to meet with friends, family every couple of days. Go on a picnic outdoors with your colleagues. Have a zoom call with people that you cannot meet or are far away from you.
If you are single, use a dating app to talk to someone and try to create a connection. Anything but becoming a loner. Sometimes the risk of catching COVID-19 is smaller than going into depression. So try to find a balance.
7. Don’t lose yourself on social media and endless movie series
The same as with junk food, what you see is going to affect you in more ways than you could imagine. Since we have more time to spend indoors, Netflix and never ending dramas has become an alternative to everything else that we used to do. Same with social media, scrolling until you reach the end of the internet. Watching youtube posts one after another, using the suggestions when you are up to date with your favorite youtubers and so on.
All of these are taking your energy, mentaly exhaust you and spike your anxiety.
So during this time, finding alternatives that you could do indoors is the best solution for relaxing, watching a real movie that has a sure ending after 2hours, reading a book, cooking, drowning or painting, meditating or playing with your pets/kids. Doing a DIY project or writing in a journal are all alternatives to consider.
Keeping your screen time under 2h per day is important, you do not want to lose yourself on social media all day long, find healthy alternatives that can bring you joy and relax your brain instead of exhaust it.
8. Have a self-care day
We all need to feel pampered, so even if perhaps you don’t feel safe to go to a salon, that doesn’t mean you cannot bring the salon to your own bathroom and enjoy a little bit of home made spa. A face mask, a hair mask and a little bit of foam in your tub, along with a glass of wine could be a great way to start your pampering day.
To complete the atmosphere some nice jazz music can make you disconnect from all the craziness from the world.
9. Avoid reading or watching the news all day
Yes the situation is not the greatest, yes there might be an economical crisis coming in the next year, yes there are people dying and riots happening. But you do not have to constantly listen and see this all day long. If you cannot go a day without watching the news, that is ok, you can take your daily updates, but don’t do it the first thing in the morning or the last thing you do before going to bed. Try to stay away from all the negative things that are displayed on the news all the time. There are still good things out there, there is still hope for a vaccine or a treatment, the economy will bounce back, there is no need to despair.
10. At least 30 minutes spend outside
With fall here, it might be even harder to spend a lot of time outdoors, but it is mandatory for our body to stay outside and get oxygen, vitamin D and some sun to function properly. Walking for half an hour in the park, having a cup of coffee and reading a few chapters outside of the house, on a balcony or a terrace, jogging or just wandering the street of your neighborhood, are all simple options that you can take.
It is the simple things that make a big difference, items that you might think are not that important but have a big impact on your mind. Also, we should never disregard the impact the pandemic had on our lives. Most of the things we used to do are with restrictions, we have lost a lot in the social area, we don’t see our friends or colleagues, we forgot how to have fun and we had to adapt to a new normality. Taking care of ourselves and making sure we don’t get burnout during this time is important.