Anna, a student at ARCH Recovery College, Durham, UK, has kindly written this post for us on how she is coping during this difficult time, sharing her own tips that you may find helpful.
I know that many people will be struggling with this self-isolation/ social distancing period. On this note I thought that I could compile a list of some of my favourite things to do at the moment to help you through this uncertain period. A little reminder is that this time is a new phenomenon which most people have never experienced before. Like so many quotes online have said ‘it is ok if you’re not the most productive at this time or if you’re struggling’. You don’t have to be the most organised or be really enjoying this lockdown period…. Remember we’re in the middle of global pandemic so give yourself a break!
Hartlepool and Stockton Mindskills Recovery College have been doing daily live videos to help people every day with their mental health. They are exactly like being in a recovery group setting, just from home, and are very uplifting. They are all available on their Facebook page. I honestly can’t tell you how much motivation I have got from these videos.
Good old This Morning– I have always loved watching this morning on the tv but it just seems so much more poignant at the minute- I’ve even started to schedule it into my daily plan. Seeing Holly and Phil laughing and joking as if nothing has changed provides me with an escape and a little bit of normality. Even sitting down with a cuppa and watching it for half an hour may be enough to lift your spirits – especially if you manage to land on the spin to win game or the daily contemplation of best bits with Holly and Phil rolling around in fits of laughter. Sometimes a few minutes of escape is all you need.
Music I am a one direction fan – always have always will be- and Niall Horan’s new album is definitely getting me through this lockdown. His songs are so uplifting and I’ve almost learnt all the words to some of my favourites. It is another thing that helps me get through the day. This is a prime example of how listening to a piece of your favourite music can bring you back to the present.
On this note there are so many Together At Home concerts that celebrities are doing at the moment. I have even had a little sing song as if I’m actually there in the audience. Some of my favourites have been Jessie J’s on Instagram, Niall Horans and Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello’s Together At Home concerts. Also if you haven’t watched Gary Barlow’s daily Crooner sessions on Facebook they are a personal favourite of mine.
Mindful Photography – Whilst on our daily exercise I have tried to hunt out the obscure and catch nature off-guard. It is such a good distraction technique to prevent your mind from wandering and focusing it on the present moment. It’s a little bit like a treasure hunt where you set off but this time you don’t know what to find and everything is a surprise.
Good old Netflix is also getting me through this period. I have recently binge watched The Stranger which is a SUPER gripping programme, something that has certainly kept me from ruminating about the current climate. The Vampire Diaries is also a personal favourite of mine and I will definitely be re-watching it! But if you don’t have Netflix there are so many series and documentaries that you could watch on the catchup channels.
Headspace – has literally changed my life. If you work for the NHS they are currently offering a free membership or if not they have put some more free meditations on their basic free plan to help everyone during this crisis under the title ‘weathering the storm’.
Walking – I really do encourage getting out for your one form of exercise. The mindful aspect of walking in nature, listening to the birds and taking in the sunshine is so uplifting. I also know it can get a bit frustrating being stuck in the same four walls and although we can’t really talk to anyone smiling at someone across the road could be enough to lift your spirits.
Reading – Use this time to get engrossed in that book you’ve been putting off reading. Even reading it 15 minutes before bed can really help you relax before your head hits the pillow. You could even put it into a daily schedule so that it becomes part of a routine.
Colouring in – I have always loved colouring in but it’s especially filling up my days now. I must admit that I do lose my patience sometimes but I’m really enjoying the mindfulness aspect of it. Even doodling on a piece of paper can be beneficial for the mind. There are so many posts about colouring in a rainbow or picture and putting it in your window which I have done. I love seeing people stop to read it on their daily walk.
Cooking new recipes – I must admit that self-isolation has really affected my eating patterns as I’m sure it has other people but I’m doing my best to rectify this. I’ve been trying to add more vegetables into my meals and just trying to eat healthier. Maybe try and plan what you are going to eat before you go shopping so you can get all you need in one go.
Stay connected – I have recently downloaded the Zoom app and have been using WhatsApp a lot to facetime my family members. I must admit that not being able to hug and visit family has really affected me but I know that social distancing is SO important. I can’t wait to give them all a big hug when this is over but for now I love having a video call with a loved one to look forward to.
Sitting in the garden – I know for some people even a walk can be too anxiety provoking at this time. Even sitting in your garden or yard can be so beneficial. I love listening to the birds and feeling the sun on my face. It really does bring you back into the present. If you don’t have a garden even opening a few windows and feeling the spring breeze can put you in a lighter mood.
Lastly, smile at a stranger – Social distancing and our current lockdown situation does not mean we have to lose our connections. Why don’t you smile or wave at that person across the road or even leave your neighbour a little parcel on their doorstep when you go for a walk. It just might make your day!
ARCH Recovery College student (Durham, North East England).