These are crazy times and it seems inappropriate to write about travel. When airlines are under immense pressure and many countries around the world are under lockdown, it seems cruel to taunt people with travel. Posting dreamy pictures of exotic destinations or in-depth travel guides to cities that we cannot currently visit just doesn’t feel right. Furthermore, all my immediate travel plans have cancelled, as I am sure they have for you, so I have less inspiration for new content. I keep expecting to wake to discover this is all a dystopian nightmare but unfortunately, this pandemic is frighteningly real.
So today I’m going to share with you what I am doing to cope with the stress of the coronavirus lockdown. Hopefully, some of these ideas might help you too. These coronavirus lockdown survival tips also help me to avoid thoughts of travel destinations which are currently off-limits.
My lockdown survival guide incorporates several elements. After a few weeks of following this routine, I can say I’ve transformed from a blubbering anxiety-ridden wreck (who knew that my normally steely determination could dissolve so quickly) to a seemingly happy and measured individual (suffering intermittent bouts of blubbering!)
Government guidelines allow one outing a day for exercise. Whether you are stuck at home with kids, teenagers or other adults, I would argue that the best thing you can do for your mental health at this time is to take advantage of this freedom. Things may become more restrictive in the future, as they are in other countries. Whether you go for a light walk, a run or other outdoor session, it will undoubtedly help to maintain a positive frame of mind. This was me just before the lockdown on 23rd March.
If you do choose to take some exercise outdoors, please be mindful of social distancing. I’ve been maintaining my usual running regime but am finding it difficult to social distance. When I’m on narrow running trails and entire families insist on hogging the entire path it can be exceptionally difficult. Please be observant and encourage your children to move over when you see other people. That way we can all stay safe and help to stop the spread of this horrible virus.
Running for mental health
I honestly believe running (which I love dearly anyway) has been my greatest therapy during this time. When I’m focussed on a speed interval that requires all my effort just to breathe I’m not thinking about anything else. I am not imagining the horrors our medical staff are privy to, the rising death toll or the prospect of dying alone. No, those thoughts just haunt me during the night.
I know how important exercise is to my mental wellbeing so we bought a treadmill. Just in case I need to go into full-on isolation or lockdown becomes more restrictive. You can buy your own treadmill on Amazon, but hurry, if you leave it until lockdown becomes more restrictive, you will probably find it difficult to find any in stock.
Yoga and meditation
Whether you are an experienced yogi or a complete beginner, now is the time to kindle a practice. With extra time on your hands and possibly elevated stress levels, yoga and meditation may prove to be a useful tool in your coping toolbox.
There are a bunch of online subscriptions you can sign up for and most of them offer a free trial at the outset. I’m particularly loving Yoga International but you can also opt for Yoga Anytime, and Gaia. There’s a bunch of free resources on YouTube and I’ve heard positive things about Yoga with Adrienne.
First thing in the morning, I head to my mat, light incense and work out the kinks in my body. Trying to awaken those balancing muscles really focuses the mind. When I’m wobbling on one leg, trying to avoid head butting the ground, I’m not thinking about ‘what if doomsday scenarios‘.
Again there are a ton of free resources on YouTube but you can also download apps to help you. I personally love Tripura Mandala, which has a selection of Yoga Nidra videos. These are perfect for relaxation immediately before bed. Less a physical yoga practice and more a meditation, the calm voice of the narrator is hypnotic and usually eases me into slumber in no time. Sadly, I’m having to repeat the experience more than once throughout the night as my monkey brain conjures up desolate possibilities.
Oh wow. This sounds simple, right? Take a moment to really focus on your breath if you are feeling anxious. You may notice how it is short and ragged. Instead of using your entire diaphragm, you are likely breathing through only the upper part of your chest cavity. It’s truly astonishing the difference it can make to your mood and physical wellbeing when you take the time to breathe deeply and fill your entire chest with fresh air.
You can buy plenty of books on Amazon which explain the different breathing techniques and their benefits to you. There are also apps on Itunes that you can download to help. Just a few minutes of breathwork can make the world of difference to your anxiety levels.
It’s far too easy to focus on all the things we can’t do at this time when there are still so many things we can do. The prospect of being locked up in my house for months on end was depressing beyond belief to me just a few weeks ago.
I knew that I needed to change my mindset if I was to have any chance of surviving this episode with my sanity and marriage intact.
I took the time to make a list of all the mundane jobs around the house that I could focus on.
Most of these tasks are jobs I would normally avoid like the plague but it’s becoming quite satisfying to tick off jobs. My kitchen cupboards are now organised and my clothes drawers are neat and orderly (course they will revert to a shambolic mess after the crisis passes I’m sure).
Those landfills and charity shops are going to be squealing with excitement when I finally get to offload this stuff afterwards.
Importance of routine
Now I’m no mental health expert but after my mum passed (and I was living in what felt like a black hole with no escape) I was surprised at how quickly I became feral. Washing, dressing and general day to day activities became a real challenge. I was depressed for the first time in my life and thankfully the last (I hope!)
Working from home routine
Lockdown means we don’t see anyone other than our immediate family and it can be easy to start neglecting these basic things. For me, getting up on a workday and choosing my work outfit is an important part of trying to maintain ‘normality’. It also should ease the transition back to normality after this crisis passes.
It makes me feel good about myself and grateful that I’m still working (if you have lost your job or income as a result of this, please know that I feel for you! If you haven’t already check out all the government support options that have been made available and see if you qualify. Good luck!).
Routine also helps me to avoid thoughts of boredom and gives me purpose. This is a rough idea of what my routine looks like currently;
My daily lockdown routine
|7.00 – 7.30||Rise|
|7.30 – 8.00||Yoga and meditation|
|8.00 – 8.30||Get ready for work and eat breakfast|
|8.30 – 6.00||Online meetings and other work stuff|
|6.00 – 7.00||PT or running|
|7.00 – 9.00||Dinner, relaxation time and physio. This might involve watching TV, a nice bath or reading and chatting to friends online.|
|9.00 – 10.00||Go to bed and meditation|
I know you are all super envious of my rockstar lifestyle now!
Shout out to my personal training studio
My PT studio is doing an awesome job of creating live workouts so we can continue to do our strength and cardio sessions at home. Check out Bodyplanners as they also write regular blogs featuring mouth-watering recipes.
Look at this banana bread created by Rachel of Bodyplanners. OMG, how flipping amazing does that look? I have never baked bread in my life but am going to give this a whirl. I will compare photos afterwards for a laugh!
Of course, one benefit of lockdown is that I do not have to bust a gut to get out of bed at 6.30 for my personal training sessions. I can do them later in the day or evening. I’d rather start the day with yoga at the moment.
Eat healthy homecooked meals
As we are at home more often, we have more time to prepare slow cooker meals. We are enjoying creating different meals and saving leftovers for the following day.
Cut yourself some slack
If you happen to be someone who is now working from home and trying to homeschool kids, do accept that some things will slip. That’s fine. When this is all over and we survey the carnage and human cost we will realise so many things don’t matter.
It doesn’t matter if your kitchen looks like a bomb site, nor does it matter if you work 7-3 instead of 9-5. You will need to find a routine that works for you and allows you to emerge from lockdown as unscathed as is humanly possible when you are spending 22 hours a day living on top of one another.
Take time to connect
Now we have no entertainment outlets to reel us in, many of us are finding we have extra time on our hands. This means we can reconnect with friends or family members we barely speak to normally. Schedule Skype or FaceTime calls with loved ones. Not only does talking help to allay any fears, but you will possibly enhance your relationships in the long run.
Even during my working day, I’m finding my conversations are much more meaningful. We are really taking the time to enquire into someone’s wellbeing.
Learn new skills
Maybe now is the time to take up that course you’ve been putting off. Set yourself some simple goals and look up what’s online. There are tons of online learning platforms and courses which you can sign up to, many for free.
I’m fully planning to become an expert on Lightroom and Photoshop just as soon as I’ve finished spring cleaning the house.
I know this may seem difficult when you can not go on holiday, attend weddings, races and other fun engagements. However, if you are healthy and at home with loved ones that is something to be thankful for. Make your list and take the time to reflect daily about the positives and any other insights you can gain during this time.
But what if despite all this your urge to travel is still niggling away at you like a bad itch? What can you do then?
I have two suggestions to address this issue. Take the time to dive back into your old photo albums and reminisce about bygone trips. Bring back warm sensations of the sand beneath your toes, the sun on your skin and that incredible cocktail you sipped as you watched the sunset. It might give you some inspiration for future plans. My thoughts immediately drift to the this trip to Zanzibar where we indulged in fabulous wines at sundown.
Secondly, enter the ‘From Miles To Smiles lockdown travel quiz‘. Escape for just one hour over the Easter weekend and test your knowledge of our amazing planet. Click here to sign up as numbers are limited. It’s free to register but please consider making a donation to the NHS Charities Covid Fund. In the interests of disclosure, the only prize is kudos and a virtual trophy!!
Firstly, thanks for making it this far with me and my ‘heart on a sleeve account’ of how the lockdown has impacted me. I truly hope this finds you and your family healthy physically and financially. I’d love to know how you are coping with lockdown.
Also, do let me know if there’s anything you’d specifically like to see on the blog. I am sure my aversion to travel writing will not last.
Until next time #staysafe and #washyourhands.