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Image / Editorial

Instead of trying to change your life during lockdown, make these five small changes

by Erin Lindsay
20th Apr 2020

If you’re finding it really difficult to get through quarantine this week, don’t put pressure on yourself to achieve great things — these small, daily habits will make a world of difference

The constant pressure to use your time during lockdown ‘effectively’ (whatever that means) can be exhausting. For many of us, especially those struggling with underlying physical or mental conditions, the Covid-19 measures have taken a massive toll on our abilities to simply survive every day. Getting up, getting dressed, and keeping ourselves fed and healthy sounds like the bare minimum, but when you’re six weeks deep in quarantine, it can start to feel like it takes maximum effort.

If you are one of the many people finding it difficult to find motivation day-to-day, don’t put pressure on yourself to achieve amazing things during lockdown. Big changes may not be realistic, but small changes can make a massive difference in lifting your mood and helping you to feel better about your situation.

These five habits to form during lockdown are not designed to put pressure on you — they’re simply a way to check in with yourself and make sure you’re keeping you and your surroundings as healthy as possible during this time. See if you can implement them from this week forward, until maybe you can add a few more to the list.

Cook one meal a day from scratch

Microwave meals, oven pizzas and takeaways serve as saving graces for us all at one time or another, but it’s not great to depend on them for all your meals. Take this opportunity of having more time at home to learn how to cook a few simple meals from scratch that will serve you long into the future and ensure that you’re nourishing your body as much as possible. Many pasta and curry dishes can be made in the one pan, and if you always have a few tins of chopped tomatoes in the press, you’ll have the base of a sauce. Remember to keep things simple and use cooking as an exercise in mindfulness — you can always add and experiment with your food as you become more confident.

Make your bed every morning

A messy bedroom doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when it’s all you’re looking at day in, day out, it can start to have a negative effect on your mental outlook. When you get out of bed in the morning, make making your bed the first thing you do. It’s a small task that you can tick off the list as soon as you wake up, and knowing that you’ve done it will set you up for a more productive day.

Spend (at least) ten minutes outside a day

Exercise and fresh air are of paramount importance right now — don’t use the pandemic as an excuse to spend all your time indoors. Getting out into the garden, if you have one, or just for a quick walk up the road and back is essential for your mental and physical health. We’re very lucky that the weather is great right now too — make the most of it, and make a daily walk or run part of your routine.

Clean one room

When finished up with work every day, choose one room in your home to deep clean. Take the time to make sure that any dust or grease is banished, that mirrors and windows are clear, and clutter is tidied away. Keeping your home clean and tidy may not be high on your priorities right now, but as we know from the bed making step, how your surroundings look can have a big impact on how you feel. This step can be especially difficult if you have kids or a lot of people in the house with you, but do what you can, and you’ll be happier for it.

Check in with one friend or family member

Quarantine measures mean that we are all further away from each other physically, but they can also serve as an opportunity to draw closer together emotionally. Every day, take some time to reach out to a loved one and check in with them — ask how they’re doing, and let them know honestly how you are too. Take the time to laugh over past memories together, or to plan future ones. If there’s someone you’ve been avoiding because of a fight or an awkward situation, hash it out and bury the hatchet. There’s no time like the present to strengthen your relationships, and it will have a massive positive impact on how you’re feeling.

Read more: To mask or not to mask: a guide to facewear during Covid-19

Read more: Opinion: ‘I have to say it – I am gasping for a night out’

Read more: ‘He’s a fighter’: the language we use around illness needs an update