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Lockdown The Sequel: the dos and don’ts for long winter nights


by Edaein OConnell
29th Oct 2020

Edaein O’Connell learnt some lessons in the first lockdown. Here she shares her lockdown 2.0 dos and don’ts


It’s the sequel none of us wanted.

A second lockdown was something we didn’t expect. One week in, we have five weeks left to go. The clocks went back and we spoke of the long winter in hushed tones. Now, the nights seem neverending.

The first lockdown came when spring was blooming, and the promise of new life made the future seem bright. A lockdown when the trees are bare and nature is practically sleeping is more difficult to navigate. We feel trapped. We feel helpless and frustrated. We want normality, but it’s too far out of reach.

However, like everything, there are ways to handle it. We’ve done this before. If this were a job, we would be old hands at it by now.

During the last lockdown, I tried and failed to be the quarantine queen. I watched Tiger King, made whipped coffee, baked enough bread to feed a small town, and prided myself on Zoom quiz knowledge. Simultaneously, I gave up on all of those things.

Instead of being hard on myself, I promised myself that this lockdown would be different. I know the dos and don’ts.

And here, I share them with you.

TV

Do watch Emily in Paris and anything that looks like cheese on a TV screen. Now is the time for fluff and easy watches that settle anxiety rather than enhance it. Our top lockdown picks are Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. You can forget Leo and Kate in Titanic because the original romantic duo is Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Trust me; these films will warm up the coldest of nights.

Don’t watch true crime, serial killers, natural disaster documentaries, and anything with terror in the description. We live in a time of emergency and should avoid adding more stress to our situation by consuming hard-hitting media. Psychologist David Morrison says, “When we choose our media consumption, whether TV, radio or podcasts, we must remember our bodies are under stress. We must balance the trauma of real-life with something more uplifting.”

Exercise

Do get out in the fresh air. Working from home means we are spending more time inside, and while we can only move five kilometres from our home, it has never been more vital to get outside. Exercise does wonders for mental health and can make us feel more in control of an uncontrollable situation. Whatever your method of physical movement is, make it a non-negotiable in your day.

Don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure. During the last lockdown, I began to despise home workouts. I realised I was exercising for the wrong reasons. In March, we all thought we would write the next great novel or build our dream body. The latter became a point of focus for me, and in the end, I gave up on exercise when I needed it most. Over the coming weeks, exercise for your head and your health; anything else is a bonus.

Food and alcohol

Do eat healthy nutritious foods but don’t forget to treat yourself. Lockdowns turn us all into contestants in the Great British Bake-Off, but I think we can leave the banana bread and sourdough starters behind. Keeping meals nutritious and straightforward is key, but remember the essential treats. Within the last week alone, a slice of coffee cake and tea was a real saviour for me. As always, it’s about balance.

Don’t use alcohol as a crutch. During lockdown 1.0, I found myself drinking every night. It wasn’t copious amounts, but it was enough to make me feel lethargic and, most of all, thirsty. It’s an easy habit to acclimatize with and one we shouldn’t punish ourselves about. I now limit my alcohol intake to weekends and subsequently have more energy as a result. Plus, I enjoy it more.

Zoom

Do keep in touch with family members and close friends. We are so lucky that we have communicative technologies at our fingertips. Although it’s not the same, video calling allows you to keep human connection alive. A simple cup of tea and a 10-minute chat with a family member or friends can do wonders for your mood.

Don’t feel pressured to get involved in an endless stream of Halloween themed Zoom calls and makeshift pub quizzes. Many of us would be happy never to see a Zoom invitation again.  Work situations may make them a necessity but we have a choice when it comes to extra-curricular video call activities. Keep your Zoom diary dates to the essentials.

Hobbies

Do make sure to keep doing what makes you happy. Whether this be reading, listening to podcasts, playing the guitar or yoga, put your hobbies to the top of your priority list. The activities that fill you with joy will be steadfast friends over the coming weeks.

Don’t feel like you have to learn how to juggle. One of the worst aspects of the first lockdown was the idea that we should learn something new. This second occurrence shows us that most of us are trying to survive, and that’s enough. We don’t need to learn French, how to play the drums or rollerskate. I tried to learn the latter in April, failed miserably, and felt terrible afterward. This time I will not make the same mistake. Getting by is just fine.

Social Media and the news

Do read the news and consume important information. However, limit the amount you consume in relation to your well-being. If you feel the news is affecting your mental health, it is best to take a step back.

Don’t engage on Twitter or in Facebook groups that continue the news cycle narrative. Currently, tensions are high and opinions are rife. It can be difficult to sift through the noise and find factual information. Twitter, in particular, is arduous.  I deleted the app off of my phone, meaning I have to access it through a search engine and enter my details every time. It feels like effort and I am less inclined to log on. My brain has thanked me for it.

Mental health

Do talk about how you are feeling. Sit down with a family member or phone a friend and be honest about your thoughts. Saying it out loud is the first step.

Don’t keep it in. You are not a burden, and help is there. The saying goes that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and couldn’t be more true.


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