Lockdown wellbeing from A to Zoom – how to lift your spirits and stay positive

It’s cold, dark and we’re all stuck indoors, so you’d be forgiven for wanting to hibernate.

Elizabeth Archer asks the experts for their top tips to help lift your spirits.

And breathe…

“By bringing attention to our breathing, we can cultivate a feeling of being in the moment,” says breathwork expert Melike Hussein ( breathzone.com ).

“Notice the gentle wave-like motion as your breath moves in and out of your body.”

Beware ‘dead’ time

“Cut out the ‘dead’ time – time spent scrolling on your phone, or eating or drinking mindlessly,” says Pamela Roberts, psychotherapist at The Priory Hospital in Woking.

“Set yourself goals for the day and tick them off as you go.”

What things are you doing to cope lockdown? Tell us in the comments below

Man using phone

Scrolling needlessly on your phone isn’t the best use of time

Capture it on camera

Go on a winter walk and take a smartphone or camera.

“Make a photo project of places you walk regularly and note the changes as the plants start to come into life again,” says psychotherapist Heather Garbutt ( heathergarbutt.com ).

Discuss with friends

Start a discussion group or book club online. “Pick a philosopher or a musician each week and discuss their ideas or work,” advises Pamela.

“Get involved with people who are inspiring and develop a routine together.”

Eat adventurously

Instead of the same old soups and stews, try some new recipes.

“Use winter as an opportunity to buy different ingredients and pour some love into making food you really want to eat,” recommends counsellor Georgina Lynch ( georginalynch.com ).

Focusing on the sunnier months ahead can help

Focus on spring

“Head out and bring early spring back – such as a branch with catkins,” says Heather.

This will remind you warm and lighter days are on their way.

Give thanks

Create a daily practice of evaluating what has been good about your day, what you can pat yourself on the back for, and what you can appreciate other people for.

“Do this in your own head or out loud with your family,” says Heather. “It’s a great way to build connection.”

Have a hobby

“Evaluate what floats your boat and make sure you do more of it,” says Heather.

“If you enjoy craft or cooking, stock up ready for winter with the resources you need and set a regular time to do it.”

Invest in hygge

Take inspiration from colder countries and practice the Danish tradition of hygge.

“Hygge is all about making yourself cosy,” says Jo Howarth of The Happiness Club.

“Lower the lights, get yourself some cushions, warm blankets and a hot chocolate, and snuggle down with your favourite book or TV programme.”

Jot down a list

“Write a joy list of 20 things that have happened in the last year,” says Rosie Peacock, psychologist and business coach ( rosiepeacock.com ).

“Take yourself back to each moment so you experience it again.”

Keep a journal

“Add the process of journalling to your day,” says Georgina.

“There does not have to be any reason, just allow your thoughts and feelings to unfold on to the page. This is a great way to get to know yourself better and to see beyond the things that hold you back.”

Learn a skill

“Look for free online courses you can take. You’ll find joy in learning new skills and acquiring knowledge,” says Pamela.

Take time to appreciate every moment

Make each moment count

“Learn to savour the moment. This combines both mindfulness and gratitude, and it is proven to boost our mental wellbeing,” says Rosie.

“Notice the sights, sounds and emotions of each moment, and be grateful for the little things.”

Nature is a healer

“Despite the cold weather and lack of light, get outdoors,” says Georgina.

“Whether it’s an early morning walk or run at lunchtime, make the time to be present with nature.”

Reading is a great way to relax

Open a book

“Why not read that book that has been sitting by your bed collecting dust for months?” Georgina adds.

“Make yourself a cuppa and curl up on the sofa, or take yourself off to bed early and completely immerse yourself in a good book. It’s a great way to relax.”

Plan for the future

Plan things you’d like to do when the Covid restrictions finally end.

“Why not plan a party to use your organisational and creative skills?” says mental health expert Mark Simmonds ( mentalhealthmark.co.uk ).

“Thinking about this will help keep spirits high.”

Quiet appreciation

“Focus on the good stuff that winter brings, for example, the beautiful patterns that the ice makes on our windows or grass, how gorgeous everything looks with a covering of snow, or how lovely and warm your big, cosy jumper is when you put it on,” says Jo.

Have a look through your book collection

Rank your library

Take a look at your bookshelf and pull out a few of your favourites.

“Use your emotional and rational criteria to assess which book is the strongest – this will strengthen your ‘judge’ creative muscles, and boost your mood,” says Mark.

Stick to a structure

In the winter months, the short days can make it difficult to stick to your usual routine.

“Structure and routine are critical things to have in place throughout the year,” says Pamela.

“Regardless of low mood, rain or shine.”

Take time for yourself

We need to prioritise looking after our feelings and needs.

“This means looking inside and asking yourself ‘What am I feeling?’ Acknowledge the validity of those feelings,” says Heather.

“Ask yourself what you need. You might not be able to meet that need right now, but you can acknowledge it and plan to meet it.”

Unleash your inner child

Use the opportunity to play silly games.

“Focus on playing games that make you belly laugh, the ones that tell you to dress up or pull silly faces. Find reasons to laugh,” says Jo.

Visions for the future

“Vision boards are powerful things,” says Pamela.

“Create a picture – physical or mental – of where you want to be and what you want to be doing, in three, six or 12 months’ time.

Do you want to change your job, your weight or increase your friendship group?”

Watching a chat show engages the creative side of your brain

Watch favourite shows

Instead of zoning out while watching your favourite TV shows, try to engage the creative side of your brain.

“Pick up tips for facilitating a creative discussion by observing chat-show hosts like Graham Norton,” says Mark.

“Or flick through the channels and become a TV detective by spotting common themes in the programmes.”

X marks the spot

Find a favourite outdoor place and visit it every day.

“Go out and feel the fresh, cold air as it enters your system. Let it make you feel awake and alive. Then savour that feeling of coming back home to the warmth,” says Jo.

Yes to meditation

“Dark winter mornings can make us want to stay in bed and forget the world.

“Instead of lying in bed worrying, use that time in the darkness to meditate,” says Jo.

“Simply close your eyes and focus on each breath in and out. Anytime your mind wanders off, gently bring it back to your breath.”

Zoom, zoom, zoom

Plan a mega Zoom party for your friends and family.

“The process of planning a Zoom party with quizzes and music uses all elements of your creativity,” says Mark.

“It also keeps you connected to your friends and family during a difficult time.”

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