Protecting Your Mental Health During Lockdown

Now the UK is in another lockdown, many people will struggle with their mental health. I wanted to write about some of the things I’ve done to cope during Lockdown, as I’ve barely been anywhere or seen many people since March.

First my freelance work dried up around March/April and hasn’t picked back up properly ever since, then if you follow me on Facebook, you will have seen my posts about just a handful of the jobs I’ve applied to, which have either turned out to be scams and/or tried to get free work out of me. Then the novel I had set for release in March and had spent a lot of time and money promoting, flopped. The pre-orders started off well and looked promising, but then they just stopped. On top of that, I’ve only seen some members of my family once since Christmas, and haven’t seen others at all in that time. I’m not writing this for sympathy, just to show that we all have our struggles.

I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on how to cope during lockdown, but I can tell you I practiced mindfulness during the first lockdown, did some yoga and signed up for some of the free exercise classes that were all over the internet. None of that stuck and I took to watching American Horror Story, finding it oddly therapeutic. At least I could tell myself, whatever was happening in real life wasn’t as bad as what was happening on the screen.

Out of the small amount of freelance work I managed to get, a lot of it was about health, exercise and weight loss. I now know everything about exercise, how to stay healthy and lose weight. I’m just lacking the motivation to do anything about it.

This time around, I’ll be trying to draw. I bought a workbook and have already started some poor attempts at the drawing exercises in there. I might even do a separate blog post in a week or two with some of my attempts. If nothing else, it might give you something to laugh at. I’ll also be carrying on with podcasting, and volunteering writing book reviews for an online zine, and reading  submissions for an online publication, as well as trying new ideas to make any kind of income.

Anyway, I’m not a great role model to tell people how to get through another lockdown, so I decided to ask other people what they’re doing to cope.

***

Being creative seems to be the one thing that most people I asked all mentioned. However, there are so many ways to be use creativity as a tool, to cope with the stress of lockdown and worry related to any number of things, whether related to the pandemic or not.

Nicola McConnell said she’s taken up knitting. She told me about the sense of achievement she feels when finishing a project. Katie Haigh is another person using her creativity as a way to cope and pass the time. She plans to keep busy with drawing, making things out of clay – such as pots – and painting them.

Some people are still braving the outdoors despite the cold. Adele Sullivan said she’ll be doing an hour of exercise each day, even though she finds it boring. Nadeem Zafar told me he’ll be running three times a week. He also mentioned home meditation sessions, light beer and spending more time writing. When I asked whether the pandemic finds its way into his writing, he admitted it did, but only occasionally. Most of the time, writing is an escape for him.

Speaking of alcohol, Jenny Berry mentions Gin as well as exercise and Netflix. Although I’m not suggesting anyone reading this should turn to drink, I’m guessing she means in moderation, and isn’t actually pouring it on her cereals at 7am.

Another suggestion is reading, especially if you have a particularly long to be read list. It’s also what Carolyn Batchelor says she’ll be doing, in addition to reviewing them, (by the way, this is a fantastic thing to do and really helps authors) keeping in touch with people on social media and doing crosswords.

I think keeping your mind active is probably an important thing to do, especially now with everything that has happened/is still happening this year. If you dwell on the bad stuff too much, it will only make things worse.

Ruth O’Reilly lists walking, being mindful of nature, journaling, reading, watching movies and putting her radio shows together – as things that will get her through this second lockdown. Ruth, who co-hosts the Sunday Teatime show on AllFm has managed to keep the show going from home, mainly by interviewing local people involved in creative projects around the Manchester area.

Writing pops up as a suggestion again, this time by Carolyn Crossley; she is currently doing NaNoWritMo. For those who don’t know, this is a challenge held in November, where participants aim to have the first draft of a novel complete in one month. Carolyn also lists walking every other day, writing haikus and keeping up with her daily affirmations on her blog. You can find the blog here.

Another person trying to make a positive contribution is Anthony Briscoe. He says he’ll be trying to keep spirits up, and finding humour where he can. He mentions the challenges of missing his family and facing a birthday in lockdown, which by now, many people can relate to. You can watch Anthony perform his show, Sold Out.

Other suggestions came in from Keri Moriarty, Grant Curnow and Nadia king. Keri says she is painting and even has two exhibitions in Bury. Nadia has reinstated meditation into her daily routine, is trying out new recipes, podcasting and walking, even if just a short distance. I think this is a great suggestion, as any exercise is better than nothing. I should also mention that Nadia’s podcast, the word bin is well worth a listen. You can find out more here.

Grant Curnow simply said, “Baby Yoda” and I can’t disagree. It’s almost impossible to look at Baby Yoda, and not smile.

I hope you’ve found something useful to help you through lockdown and beyond. I had more responses than I expected and couldn’t include them all in this already lengthy blog post. However, please feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestion.

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