There’s no doubt about it, coronavirus has completely changed the world. But what about the positives that lockdown has brought us? Whilst we crave some aspects of our former lives, we are also seeing how the pandemic has transformed our mental health and the way we think about our daily rituals. Now that we’re moving into post-lockdown life, it’s worth remembering the good habits that have got us through the last 3-4 months. Here’s my lockdown lessons and the habits I’m taking with me into the new normal.
8 Lockdown Habits To Keep
A daily gratitude journal
Restrictions may be easing (here in the UK) but I feel that it’s never been a more important time to focus on positivity and gratitude. There’s still so much bad news everywhere we turn and life isn’t exactly going to go back to the way it was in a hurry (at least I hope not anyway.)
Practicing mindfulness is really important to me and so getting in the habit of writing a gratitude journal came really easily. It feels good to embrace (and fully notice) the things I’m lucky for during such a worrying time. I tend to journal every morning at breakfast. I find it sets me up for the day and puts me in a positive headspace. Here’s what I note down:
- 3 things I’m grateful for
- Things I did well that day (these don’t have to be big things – they can be as small as cleaning the house or getting dressed)
- 3 things to aim to get done the next day
If someone had come to me last year and told me I’d be an avid meal planner in lockdown, I straight up wouldn’t have believed them. You see, I tend to live in the moment and so never really understood the benefits of food planning. But oh how wrong I was. It took my personal trainer (the lovely Ellie from El’s Belles Fitness) to show me the light and now I’m hooked.
Meal planning makes my life SO much easier. It takes the thinking out of the equation and I feel more focused when I go food shopping too. I even avoid the sugary snack aisle 99% of the time now – who even am I?
Every Sunday, I sit down and plan out my week of food including snacks. I print out a template, write it all down and then I stick it on the fridge. P.S. It’s not always perfect and things do get moved around but it’s the process that counts, right?
OK, so this is a biggie. I’ve really challenged myself during lockdown to get braver in the kitchen. Again, I was encouraged by PT Ellie to ditch ready-made sauces, packet foods, etc and make fresh alternatives.
My goal has been to understand exactly what goes into my food by simply making it myself.
For instance, I couldn’t contain my excitement when I made my first batch of white sauce to go in a fish pie (it was actually tasty AND edible so bonus points to me for that.)
Much to my surprise, I actually really enjoy cooking and I get a kick out of making stuff from scratch. Who knew it could be so rewarding? Answer: probably everyone but me.
I’m yet to tackle homemade bread but it’s on my list. Wish me (and the local fire department) luck.
Getting out into nature
I’ve always been a nature lover but pre-lockdown I was definitely guilty of not spending enough time outside. But the nice thing about everything being shut is that I’ve gone on more walks, hikes and runs than I ever would have done if life was ‘normal’.
I guess all the spare time I’ve had has a lot to do with it *waves at fellow unemployed people.* But in all seriousness, nature benefits my mental health in more ways than one. It has taken this to happen to help me understand how important the outdoors is to me.
Nowadays, even just a 30-minute stroll with the dog and a good podcast fills me with so much joy. A daily walk is one thing in my day (other than exercise) that I carve out just for me and it’s totally worth it.
This one has got to be the most significant change for me. Although gyms are technically back open now, I still feel a little uneasy about going so my home workouts are here to stay (at least for now.)
I thought I’d get bored doing all my exercise at home but hey, it’s not actually that bad. There’s something so satisfying about relying on my own motivation to exercise at home. Just me?
Lockdown has also changed the way I feel about working out in a lot of ways. I’ve come to understand that even just 10-20 minutes of cardio or yoga a day is enough, whereas before I didn’t really see the sense in that (why was I making it harder on myself?)
Youtube, in particular, has been a god-send for getting variety into my workouts. This strength training video is one of my faves:
If I told you that pre-lockdown I had never listened to a podcast before, would you believe me? I’m not proud of it but it’s true. The good news is that I started listening to them a few months back and now I couldn’t do without them. This is one habit that has well and truly stuck.
I can talk about Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail podcast until the cows come home (not only is she SO nice but her voice is like heavenly harp music to my ears.) I’m in love with her concept that our failures are in fact our successes and that they’re not these massive shameful things we shouldn’t discuss. I’ve also been listening to Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete podcast which is beyond inspiring and has helped me in making my own career decisions during lockdown.
I think I’ve read more books in the last three months than, umm, ever! The strange thing is I’ve always loved books but my busy schedule would often mean I wouldn’t have time to finish them. This is a perfect example of another priority that the pandemic has helped me to bring forward.
Reading has totally relaxed me during lockdown. I love nothing more than sitting down with a good book and a highlighter at the ready (I tend to graffiti my books because I just can’t get enough of a good inspirational quote.)
Although it’s not quite the same, I do really enjoy an audiobook too. There’s something about an author telling you their story in their own voice that brings a story to life. I particularly loved listening to Frankie Bridge’s book ‘Open’ recently.
I’m currently reading ‘The Comparison Cure’ by Lucy Sheridan.
Investing in my personal development
Lockdown has kickstarted a huge discussion around the importance of personal development. I think it’s great! It’s a subject we should definitely encourage everyone to talk more openly about.
I’m lucky in the way that I love to learn and I’ve had the time to invest. During lockdown, I’ve managed to finally complete my Subediting diploma (woop!) and I’ve also signed up to free SEO courses, life coaching webinars and digital masterclasses.
The point I’m trying to make is that I have come to appreciate the value in training myself. After being made redundant back in March, I know all too well how quickly the security of a job can be taken away. My experience has taught me how important it is to keep working on myself and my skills outside of day-to-day work.
It’s all too easy (and sometimes comfortable) to rely on our 9-5 lives and so we push these investments on the backburner. Heck, I know I have. So my promise to myself going forward is to prioritise learning and studying new things. Not only that, but I want to get in the habit of not feeling guilty for investing in myself (I know a lot of people who will be nodding their heads right now!)
And there it is – my lockdown habits to keep! Have you got any new lockdown habits you’d like to share?
More mental health blogs
- Social Media Detox: What Happened When I Logged Off For a Month
- 14 Motivational and Inspirational Quotes to Live By