While lockdown gives us time to slow things down a bit, it can be difficult without the fast pace of life and social interactions that we’re used to. It’s so important to take the time to check in with ourselves, but this can be tricky to start doing when we’re used to going a hundred miles an hour and begrudging ourselves every moment that we’re not being productive, active, or sociable.
Here are some ideas for how you can start giving yourself the time and space to feel grounded. While lockdown is a great time to start trying them out and seeing what works for you, they can be helpful any time you’re feeling overwhelmed, drained, or just a bit ‘meh’. Remember these aren’t a list of ‘shoulds’ – just some ideas to get you going on those days that feel a little grey.
1. Choose one thing and do it every day. It’s all too easy for days (or weeks!) to go by without anything to anchor you and mark the days passing. Choose one thing that brings you joy and promise to do it every day.
Here are some ideas:
Writing: 30 day writing challenge
Drawing: 30 day sketchbook challenge
Cooking: Open your favourite recipe book or website and make a list of 30 recipes you want to make, then do one a day!
2. Move in a way that feels good. Do whatever’s accessible and enjoyable for you. This could be a gentle stretch, a walk while you call someone you’ve been missing, or a bop around your room listening to music that makes you happy.
3. Connect with people. Lots of us are feeling a little lonely at the moment, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Take this opportunity to spend more time with people one-on-one and organise walks, runs, or bike rides with a friend or someone you’ve always wanted to get to know better. If you’re struggling to find people to connect with, try calling a family member or friend from home, or find a new community here! It’s never too late to start a conversation with someone new or get involved with a uni society.
4. Do something creative. With fewer events happening at the moment, things can feel a little boring. Choose a new project to fill your head and give you something to do with your hands. It could be something that you haven’t done in a while, like drawing or writing, or something completely new. If your friends and family celebrate Christmas, you could even try making some presents this year by getting into knitting, sewing or photography!
5. Get some fresh air. As it gets colder, it might get harder to find the will to leave the house, but fresh air and natural light can boost your mood like nothing else. This could just be by opening your window, finally facing the errands in town that you’ve been putting off, or wrapping up warm and going for a stroll somewhere green.
6. Make your space as comforting as possible. Having a cosy space makes all the difference as the nights begin to stretch out. While it might be the last thing you want to do, having a big tidy while listening to some music can make everything feel a bit more manageable. If you can, get something that reminds you of home or good memories you’ve had, like a special scent, fairy lights, or your favourite blanket.
7. Find warmth. There’s nothing as comforting as snuggling up in a fluffy blanket with a cup of tea and treating yourself to the trashiest thing you can find on Netflix. If things start feeling overwhelming, try to press the reset button by taking a warm shower and wrapping yourself in something cosy – while it probably won’t solve all your problems, it might leave you feeling more able to cope with them.
8. Make food fun. Lockdown has made food difficult for many of us in different ways. You don’t need to devote loads of time to it but try to bring some joy back into food if it’s become a tricky thing recently. You could try bargain hunting in your nearest supermarket and getting things you usually wouldn’t, taking an hour out to make your favourite recipe that reminds you of home, or treating yourself to a takeout every once in a while.
9. Get excited about something. Try to plan one thing every day that you’re actively looking forward to like a walk, a phone call, or a tasty dinner. It’ll help break up the day and give you more of an incentive to get out of bed in the morning. While it’s important to try and enjoy things in the present, it’s also okay to get excited about more long-term plans – maybe seeing family again or planning a trip for whenever lockdown is over.
10. Do something you’ve never done before. It might feel like life has ground to a standstill, but there are still so many new things to explore! You could go for a walk somewhere you’ve never been in Oxford (try venturing out to Summertown or up into Headington), get a takeout coffee from a café you’ve never tried, or start a series that you’ve always wanted to!