I am in recovery from an eating disorder, for the second time around. What makes this an unusual scenario is the situation we all find ourselves in- a global pandemic. The UK has been put into its third national lockdown which means all non-essential shops have had to close, schools have had to shut, and life as we knew it has come to an abrupt halt. We anticipated 2021 to be a ‘fresh start’ and hoped that we could put Coronavirus behind us, but unfortunately, that has not been the case. We are only 15 days in to 2021, yet 2020 seems to be repeating itself.
This situation is tough for everyone, not just people with eating disorders. Everyone has had to make sacrifices to protect themselves and their loved ones, and those sacrifices have impacted the mental health of the majority of people.
I have been trying to look after my mental health during this time, and so I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to sharing some of the ways I have been doing so in the hope that it can help anyone else who may be struggling (which, is probably most of the population.)
WAYS TO LOOK AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IN LOCKDOWN:
- Try to maintain some sort of routine, even if its just getting out of bed and into bed at the same time every day.
As someone who needs to plan everything and know what I’m doing every day, having a routine has been essential for my sanity! Every night I write a list on my phone notes of what I want to do the following day. Even the basic things that to other people don’t need to be listed go on there- take tablets, have tea, etc. Doing this allows me to feel more in control of my days and gives me a sense of productivity, even if the most productive thing we can do at the minute is get out of bed! I do get a sense of satisfaction when I complete each task, however small it might seem, and am able to delete it from my list to signal its completion. If I didn’t plan my days out I think I would really struggle to motivate myself to do anything and would feel like I was just wasting my days. So, if like me you like to feel productive, I highly reccomend planning out your days.
- Get out of the house at least once a day.
Another thing I NEED to stay sane is exercise. Even a walk round the block can help to clear your head. I have a little dog who needs walking twice a day so I’m lucky in the sense that she gives me a reason to go out for a walk, but even if I didn’t have a dog, I would still go out because I really do believe that walking is so good for your mental health, and physical of course!
- Clean & Organise your space.
I am a self-confessed perfectionist and need everything to be ‘in its place’ and organised. Once a week I do a thorough clean of the house (hoovering, washing floors, dusting, cleaning bathroom, sorting fridge), and every other day I hoover. It sounds sad but hoovering is genuinley something I enjoy. I suppose its because its become a part of my routine but I just know that its something for me to do every day, without fail. I tend to listen to a podcast while I hoover (is that weird?!) and I kind of just ‘zone out.’
- Listen to Podcasts.
On the topic of listening to Podcasts while hoovering, my go to shows are; Russell Brand’s ‘Under The Skin’, Elizabeth Day’s ‘How To Fail’, Fearne Cotton’s ‘Happy Place’, and The Metro’s ‘Mentally Yours.’ There’s something about sticking your airpods in (or whatever ear/headphones you own) and getting lost in conversation. This lockdown I have really embraced my interest in spirituality so if I could reccomend just one podcast for you all to listen to it would be ‘Under The Skin’, as its so insightful and really makes you appreciate life.
- Read books, lots of them!
I go through phases where I read loads of books in a really short period of time, or I don’t read a single book in months. Having loads of time in lockdown has given me no excuses not to read and I’m very happy to say that my reading game has been upped. I’ve read so many books and I’m still going. I am a very quick reader and can get through a book in 1-2 days, so, as you can imagine, my boredom has led to a lot of new books being read. In fact, I should probably own a share of Amazon by now. My favourite read of lockdown has got to be ‘The Greatest Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. If you’re interested in spirituality and general mind blowing concepts, you need to read this book.
- Workout, or don’t. Listen to your body and move in ways that fulfil you.
At the very start of lockdown back in March I decided to quit running. I had ran consistently, and, looking back, perhaps obsessively, since the age of 14, so a good 5 years. Being unable to train with my running club forced me to reevaluate my relationship with running when I was out pounding the pavements 5 days a week on my own. I would wake up dreading having to go for a run and it was then that I realised, as big of a part running had played in my life, it was no longer serving me. I quickly found a new form of exercise to enjoy, Pilates. I started off training 3-4 days a week with my Mum, following home workout videos on Youtube. We pretty quickly ramped it up to 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) and introduced core/ab workouts. Now we do a combination of abs, weights and, occasionally, Pilates. I like to think that I am getting stronger as a result, and I do genuinley look forward to our sessions. Not only is it exercising in a way my body enjoys, but it is also connecting with my Mum which sets us both up for the day.
Another habit I have picked up in lockdown is journalling, and it is a habit I’m keen to remain consistent with throughout my life. Every morning when I wake up and Evening before I go to bed I answer a couple of pre-written questions in my journal; ‘What are 3 things I am grateful for today?’, ‘Today’s Positive Affirmation’, ‘What made me Smile today?’ Journalling has had a positive impact on my life, encouraging me to appreciate the little things that we all too often take for granted. It is definitley an activity I would reccomend that everyone has a go at. You don’t need to go out and buy a journal, any notebook will do. I just write the questions in myself, leaving space underneath to answer them. I keep my journalling relatively short with just 3 questions, but if you want to spend longer on it, there are loads of prompts online.
Those are the main ways I have been keeping myself well, both mentally and physically in lockdown and throughout this Pandemic. I hope that this post has given you some ideas of ways you can positively and productively use this time. Remember though, it is okay if the only thing you do today is get out of bed. Times are strange at the minute and we need to be kinder to ourselves, and to each other.