Being in lockdown affects us all in different ways. We can be up and down emotionally. Some people feel stress in more physical ways. Our energy levels can be unpredictable and this can disturb our normal sleeping patterns. We might not want to eat, or the opposite happens and we eat more than usual.
Keeping moving can be difficult if you are in lockdown in a small apartment and going outside is restricted. But keeping moving is important for maintaining fitness, burning off restlessness and stress. Stress causes us to tense our muscles, which can lead to aches and pains. Headaches, constipation or the opposite can be reactions to stress. If you had a medical condition before lockdown, it’s important you keep up with any medication or treatments and Doctor’s visits (if possible). Look out for physical effects of anxiety.
If you have abruptly stopped smoking, drinking or other drugs and you're on medications your doctor needs to know in case it changes the way you metabolise the meds. Email or book a phone or video appointment with your Doctor especially if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Exercise can help relieve stress. When you are stressed your muscles can tense up and lactic acid builds up. A brisk walk or going for a cycle, even for just 15 minutes gets that lactic acid moving leaving a more relaxed muscle. If you can't go outside, walk up and down stairs. Find an online workout to follow.
If you have a full schedule of work, children to home school, animals to feed, it might be a struggle to fit in some exercise each day. But lockdown has likely stopped us moving around as much as we used to. Even short fast bursts of exercise can help relieve stress. Could you get up half an hour before anyone else and do some stretching, lifting, stepping?
To reduce a build up of cortisol (stress hormone) in your body, try meditation, search online about how to practice mindfulness, lie down and listen to relaxing music to relax your body. There are plenty of free guided relaxation exercises on YouTube.
Having trouble remembering words or names? When you're older and stress levels are high it can be harder to remember rarely used words or to remember names of people we know only distantly. You might worry that it's dementia kicking in. It can just be stress. Do some things to calm down. Keep your mind active with crosswords, scrabble, puzzles, card games, reading and even playing online games.
If your anxiety and restlessness is bad and you feel close to tears a lot and you don't know why, could it be that lockdown is triggering some past abusive experience you have lived through? People who have survived sexual abuse or people who have been held against their will may find enforced lockdown triggering. Sometimes even just one session with a counsellor to talk about this can be enough to help.
Lockdown might be preventing you from doing your usual form of exercise. Maybe you're not allowed to go swimming, or to the gym? Be extra careful if you're having to do something you're not used to like cycling or even walking. You might not have the muscle memory and automatic co-ordination straight away to get the same level of workout you're used to. On top of the stress of lockdown you could be prone to zoning out and that can increase your risk of injury.
Stuck at home, not able to go out - maybe you've taken the chance to do some repairs and maintenance around the house? Don't underestimate the stressful effects of the upheaval and uncertainty of what's happening. Part of our mind is always worrying about what's going to happen to the economy? Will the society we know be changed and how? If you go to use any powertool or chainsaw, or even go up a ladder - you need to have your mind 100% on what you're doing. Be extra careful!
It can be surprising how many people are having accidents or getting injured even though we're all in lockdown. An injury can make things tougher, especially if it stops you from being able to get out for exercise, or to the shop for food. If injury stops you moving around, and there's little else to do, it becomes harder to stay upbeat and positive. Your fitness can drop off. And, then there's a higher chance of putting on weight, which for some people can increase risks for other health conditions. Be careful!
Stress, especially mixed with fear, can cause your body to go into fight or flight mode. This releases hormones, makes your heart beat fast and body becomes tense. This is a natural reaction to stress but can be damaging to health if we stay in that state for prolonged periods of time. Talk it out, exercise and release it from the body. Find out the facts - are you are safe? This pandemic won't go on forever - it is temporary. Stretch and breathe.
With a lot on your mind it can be difficult to focus on something deeply like a non-fictional book that requires you to think deeply. If you're having difficulty focusing on a book or documentary or a heavy movie, switch to something shallow and light, such as a comedy.
Lockdown is a new experience for most of us. Even the researchers don't know for sure what the effects of this lockdown is going to be on our health and wellbeing afterwards. It's important to pay attention if you've got any unusual aches and pains or headaches. Don't ignore the signs. If there is something out of the ordinary, talk to your Doctor about it.
Reading can be a wonderful, healthy escape from the stress of everyday life. It can even relax your body by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles.
During lockdown feeling sad, anxious, worried about the future and afraid of getting sick is normal. As hard as it is we need to try to keep our emotions and mental health returning to whatever was normal for us before lockdown. Staying in a fearful state, or feeling blue all the time can become your new norm. If you're feel like you stuck in sad, or spiralling downwards, contact your doctor or a local helpline. Don’t put it off.
If your mood is changing quickly like a roller-coaster - up and down, let others you are in isolation with know how you are feeling. If you are on your own, phone a friend and let them know.
There are many online support groups. Groups all over the world are using video get together like Zoom to meet up and support each other. Don't be shy to join in. Not only might it help you - you could also help someone else.
Keep in touch with your support system. If you were seeing a counsellor regularly, if they are available to still 'meet' with you by phone or video chat - keep up with that. If postal services are still delivering mail, take some time to write to friends who are not on the internet.
Be careful that you don't become too withdrawn during lockdown. Watch out for feeling apathetic - just not caring much either way about things that are happening. It can help to keep up with your usual routine of getting up, having a wash, getting dressed and eating breakfast. Make a program for the day with times and activities.
Keep in contact with people. If you are on Facebook, focus on posts by family. Join in some of the funny things that people are doing such as the "Bin Isolation Outing" on Facebook. If you are alone make a regular time to talk on the phone with friends or family. Look out for others that might also be on their own.
Some Governments are suggesting people keep a diary of where they've been and who they've had contact with to help with tracing. Keeping a journal is a good idea. Note down your feelings as well and any thoughts you have about what's happening. It might be a useful story to reflect on once we get through this.
If you start feeling that things are hopeless or that things are never going to get better, talk to your Doctor or a counsellor. If you are doing anything to hurt yourself call a free 24 hour helpline.
After a couple of weeks of going without hugs, handshakes, a kiss hello and withholding physical affection or support from people if you're used to giving - that can make you feel sad. If you're in isolation with loved ones, make sure you hug each other more than you usually would. If you're out walking, you can't hug people but you can smile, wave, say hello, g'day.
Natural disasters and pandemics can be very unsettling and scary. Fear is a strong emotion. One way to lessen the strength of fear is to increase your knowledge and understanding of what's happening. Be prepared. Create a household response plan in case someone does get infected by the virus and have protective supplies ready.
Everyone is saying "Be Kind". There is a recognition that people are stressed out. Many people, especially essential workers in medical centres and hospitals may be feeling overloaded. It's a time to expect that people are more prone to forgetfulness and to make mistakes. Now is a time for compassion - trying to imagine what others are going through and feeling for them as well as for ourselves.
It is important for our long-term health that we manage stress as best we can. If your stress is related to depression, isolation or lack of social support, then treating the cause of these emotions is a pretty good place to start. Have a chat to your doctor about managing your depression and reach out to your friends, family and faith community for help and support.
Try to keep your days structured. Loosening rules and boundaries can mess up your routine, create chaos, confuse expectations and can make the day feel very long. Try to stay as close to your pre-lockdown routine as possible. Wake up and go to bed at similar times. Keeping your routines will help life feel a little more normal.
Re-label “I am stuck in my home” to “I can focus on myself and things that I usually struggle to find the time to do”. A mindset of feeling trapped or stuck feeds the anxiety. You might not be able to buy in the things you need to take up a new hobby, like knitting, but maybe you had some craft, art or wood working stuff lying around that you've not had time for. If you're a writer, try writing about what's happening. If you play an instrument, join in online with a live performance of your own for your followers.
Avoid losing yourself in the endless media coverage of the Coronavirus. Choose a couple of trustworthy news sources and limit your intake to an hour a day.
Try to keep your weekly routine as similar to pre-lockdown as possible. Adapt your exercise programme, do your housework on the same days. If you used to meet up with someone on a specific day, catch up online instead.
If you struggle with the belief that putting yourself first is “selfish,” know that putting your wellbeing first sets a powerful example for others in your life. Take the initiative to ask for help and be willing to receive help when it is offered.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, seek help from a professional therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. There is no shame in reaching out to a professional about how you're feeling and what you're going through. If you need someone to talk to, contact your free support helpline.
Spending time looking after, playing with and giving and receiving affection from pets or your other animals is a great way to relieve stress. Pets are great.
If you have a garden, gardening is a great way to stay busy and active, and it creates a sense of achievement when you see your garden thrive. Welcome warm days and escape into the garden for a picnic.
People who are in lockdown on their own are at greater risk of loneliness. For some people, their daily visit to their corner store or the bakery was their only human interaction. If you want to help others, reach out to local service agencies, or ask online if there is anyway you can help. The world needs more people who are genuinely compassionate.
The disruption to our normal routines and restricted freedom is stressful for some people. Heightened levels of stress can wear us down. Not moving around and using as much energy as we used to can also reset our energy levels to barely operating. Feeling low on energy or having little motivation to do anything can result. If low motivation drags on it could turn into melancholy.
Next time you're feeling depleted, have a glass of water before you reach for an energy drink. A common cause of low energy is dehydration.
If you're struggling to get through the day without a coffee or an energy drink, try introducing some magnesium into your diet. You can take supplements, or introduce magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, pumpkin seeds, yoghurt, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, dark chocolate and bananas.
It's a myth that exercise makes you tired - regular exercise makes you feel refreshed and energised. It even helps you to sleep better!
Even if you think you're too tired to do anything, doing something simple like getting up and walking around the room for a couple of minutes can have you feeling more energised.
Don't underestimate the benefits of a simple half-hour walk. If you can't go outside, how about a free online dance class? Check out Mark Wilson Dance on Facebook. Look around, there are many other fitness and dance instructors generously providing free classes at this time to help us all cope with being in lockdown.
Low on motivation? Write up a list of things to do. Set a goal no matter how small. It might only be to finish reading one of those books on your bedside table. Or maybe you can write a book. Keep moving! Aim for a half-hour of continuous movement - enough to break a sweat.
If lockdown has left you with some time on your hands, use it to do some dreaming about the future. Write in your journal: My ideal home would be... My ideal job would be... If I could live anywhere in the world, I would live in ... (and why would you want to live there?) If you won $1 million - what would you do with it? It doesn't hurt to dream.
If you were regularly getting high or drunk before and because of lockdown you can't - life might feel a bit flat and dull in comparison. It's not as easy to achieve such highs without drugs. One free stimulating activity is exercise, which if rigorous enough, can cause you to release endorphins, which trigger positive feelings and leave you feeling energised. So if you're ever in need of a mood boost, get up and get moving.
Mix up your workout! Doing the same thing day-in and day-out will get boring, making it hard to stay motivated. If you've been going for walks, try cycling instead, or follow a pilates class on YouTube.
It's so important to have some fun and to laugh. It may feel disloyal if you know someone who has died, or you feel for all the people who have died. But, having a little fun is about helping the living to stay sane. The children still need to play. They need to learn how to survive hard and depressing times. Allow yourself to laugh at the funny things people post on Facebook or Twitter or TikTok and Instagram. Join in if you can. Watch comedies.
Low energy and lack of motivation can be a normal reaction to lockdown. Our new routines and restricted freedom can increase our stress levels, causing fatigue. This should go away as we adjust, but if the low motivation is prolonged then melancholy and loss of morale can develop.
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day, but you don't have to do it all at once. Take a brisk 5-minute power walk, spend a few minutes going up and down your stairs, kick a ball around outside after dinner. If you have any games stored away, like bowls or darts, get them out and if you've got others in isolation with you, have a break to play a game.
Goal-setting helps with staying motivated. Set a target no matter how small and start working towards it. Think of things you would like to do for yourself and make a list e.g. paint my nails, learn to play the guitar, improve your putting, learn to bake, sort your photos, crack on with a small renovation project, sew masks.
Try to keep life at home as organised as possible. With so much disorder and uncertainty in the world, a calming effect can come from keeping things organised, predictable and clean. It gives you a sense of control.
Write down the things you need to get done today. What are the most important things you need to do? Which is the hardest? Do the hardest thing first, then your day can only get better.
There are lots of physical therapies and arts that help to relieve stress, build energy and boost immunity. Now might be the time to find a free instruction video to learn from. Some practices to consider are: Tai chi, yoga, meditation, mindfulness.
Everyone reacts to lockdown differently. Some people will be lapping up the extra time to sleep. Others might find it hard to get to sleep at night. The usual noises outside might not be there. If you’re not used to the silence of no traffic, no voices on the street, the silence of lockdown can be unsettling. Without your normal routines of getting up to get to work, or to get children to school, it can be easy to stay up late binging on movies every night. Social media can become all consuming. Too much or not enough or unsettled sleep can undermine you though, so check out our good sleep tips.
Try to find some natural ways to get a better deeper sleep before using alcohol, other drugs or sleeping tablets to knock yourself out.
The light given out by smartphones, laptops, TVs and other electrical devices has much more blue light than natural light. Blue light tells our body that it isn't time to sleep yet. Try to avoid using electrical devices for at least one hour before going to bed. Instead, read a book, magazine or listen to music.
Don't let friends and family keep you from getting a good nights sleep. Switch your phone to silent at night.
Stick to your usual sleep schedule of getting up and going to bed at the times you used to. Unless you didn't used to get enough sleep. If you didn't used to get enough sleep, maybe you can catch up now - have some sleep-ins, have an afternoon nap.
Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Think about the right temperature and the absence of noise and light. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Block out light.
If you're having trouble sleeping, try to avoid heavy meals, alcohol and caffeine (including tea and coffee) in the evening as these can all make it hard to fall and stay asleep. Too many drinks and the illness your feels at 3 in the morning will be waking you up.
When there are not enough hours in the day, we can be tempted to cut into our sleep time. Not being able to sleep well because of disturbing dreams can be a sign of anxiety. Not being able to sleep much at all, can be a sign of depression. Talk to your doctor if you're having problems getting to sleep or staying asleep.
If you're exhausted and for months before lockdown were running on little sleep, having an afternoon nap might be a good idea. But limit how long you nap for. Late naps can make it hard to fall asleep later in the night. Avoid napping after 4 pm.
If possible, get some fresh air and sunlight during the day. This can help with sleep. If you can't get out to look at flowers or animals, search online for video tours of farms and gardens. There are also many online tours of museums and art galleries around the world.
Working or studying in your bedroom can make it difficult to ‘switch off’ at bedtime. If you can't find somewhere else in the house to work, try to separate the 'work' area from the sleeping area. Throw a sheet over the computer at night and make sure it is turned off.
Talk to your pharmacist to see if there are any herbal teas or supplements that can help calm your system and help you sleep. Avoid watching movies in bed. Read or listen to music instead.
Feeling tired can be physical or psychological and can be both. If you're tired but can't sleep, it's okay to sit and watch some TV or lie in bed and read. Your body still needs rest even if it can't be gained by sleeping for 6-8 hours a night.
Electronic devices can upset the natural sleep cycle. Turn mobile phones, iPads or tablets off when in the bedroom or, if you are using an app to fall asleep, filter the blue light. There are many apps available that can help you fall asleep and that can monitor the quality of your sleep.
For some people, eating patterns have totally changed during lockdown. People who used to eat out are having to cook. Meals might be yummier leading to eating more than usual. Or, meals might not be as appetising. Feeling down can lead to eating for comfort, and it can lead to loss of appetite. To upset things even more, lockdown may have reduced your physical activity.
Watching TV at night can, out of habit, trigger the desire to snack. Try to occupy yourself with something that keeps your hands busy, such as folding laundry, knitting, or shuffling cards.
If you're finding it difficult to resist the urge to snack while watching TV, try changing your position. Grab a pillow and lie on the floor, it's a lot harder to snack while you're lying on your stomach!
Have some low-calorie and sugar-free snacks prepared so you've got a choice when you find yourself walking to the fridge multiple times throughout the day. It's cliche, but if you've got some prepared carrot or celery sticks, cucumber slices or a few olives at the ready, it makes it easier to keep snacks small. Make sure you breakfast, lunch and evening meal are satisfying.
Google is a great tool when you need to find a recipe, particularly if you're on a budget or just want to make use of what you have on hand. Take some of the effort out of cooking - let google find your next meal for you.
Instead of eating straight out of the box or bag, put a portion into a bowl. This will help you to avoid mindlessly finishing off the whole bag!
Quick fixes to lose weight don't work. It's important to be persistent and consistent instead. Being consistent does not mean being perfect, there will be days when you decide to do something other than your planned exercise and meal plan. It just means keep going. Try, try and try again.
Boredom, anger or stress can all drive you to eat and eat and eat. Foods high in fat, sugar and salt seem to be the most satisfying when we're under stress. Some foods are comforting because it's what we were given when we were children and were sick. It might be ice cream, chocolate, KFC or MacDonalds. What are other comforting things you could do instead? A hot bubble bath? Watching a funny movie?
Lots of nutrition guidelines advise eating mostly vegetables. If you don't have your own garden and getting fresh fruit and vegetables has become more difficult, don't feel bad about eating canned and frozen vegetables. Canned and frozen vegetables contain the same amounts of goodness. They can also be cheaper than the fresh version of the same vegetable depending on the season. If you are ordering food to be delivered, be sure to include some canned foods to ensure you keep your vege intake up.
With restaurants shut, we're all having to cook for ourselves. If you miss a certain food, try making it yourself. Recipes for almost everything are online. You can also search for fat-reduced or sugar-reduced versions of many cakes and dishes. As long as you can order in the ingredients and you can afford them, use this time to learn how to cook a wider variety of dishes.
Not everyone can afford to put a big meal on the table every night. Not everyone is going to feel like cooking every night either. Don't feel guilty is every now and then you all just have cheese grilled on toast one night. There are a lot of frozen quick foods that can be quickly heated up: pizza, frozen chippies, sausage rolls, corn cobs, meat pies, a frozen curry and rice. It's not great to do this every night, but once a week to give the cook a break is okay!
Many small local businesses may not survive lockdown that has forced them to close. If you can afford it, consider helping local efforts to help these small businesses. Perhaps the butcher is selling fresh meat and delivering? And the local vege shop? Some restaurants, cafes and bars are selling gift vouchers that can be redeemed once they reopen.