How are you finding lockdown 3.0? Many would agree that it has been the most brutal yet. The damp weather, the restrictions, the loneliness, the anxiety, and the sheer longevity of the pandemic have all combined to leave many feeling less than optimistic. Data just released by the Office of National Statistics shows that British anxiety is at its highest rate peak in ten years.
Many people simply miss the adrenaline of ‘normal’ life. With no stimulus such as events, travel, parties or meeting new people, life can feel very flat and bland. However, there are some positive steps you can take to make yourself feel better.
One of the most common complaints has been the apparent loss of control over your own life. Although it’s true that there’s little you can do about external circumstances, you do still have control over how you treat yourself and manage your surroundings.
You have control over the state of your home, for example. It might seem like a cliche to say that a clean and tidy home is important, but the science backs it up.
Researchers from Princeton University found that clutter makes it more difficult to focus because a person’s visual cortex is overwhelmed by task-irrelevant objects. A study from the University of California found that people living amidst clutter have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. As Darby Saxbe, one of the researchers, noted ‘(Cleaning) gives people a sense of mastery and control over their environment.’
If you’re focusing on job hunting or working on your CV right now, feelings of mastery and control are important. By decluttering and tidying your house you actively create an environment which increases your chances of feeling calm, optimistic, and focused.
Curate your social media and learn at the same time
The media we consume has a massive effect on our wellbeing, so simply unfollow anyone who makes you feel bad. Focus on accounts that uplift and inspire you instead. Suggestions? Gaba offers aurally appealing, bite-sized doses of spirituality and meditation. Marian Keyes is teaching people how to write a book.
You’ve probably already heard of Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast, but it is the best lockdown listen out there; an entertaining and encouraging antidote to a barrage of depressing news stories.
The rise of voice-notes has been an interesting tech effect of the pandemic. For example, this New Year’s Eve more than 1.4 billion WhatsApp voice notes and video messages were sent worldwide, 50% more than the year before.
It makes a lot of sense. Voice-notes are easier than texts, less intrusive than Zoom, less effort than a phone call and easier for users to pick up on tone, laughter, and subtext. They’re also a lot more intimate than typed words on a screen.
This may well explain the sudden popularity of Clubhouse. Billed as an auditory Instagram it allows users to drop in on conversations and ask questions to all sorts of interesting people. Again, the voice feature adds to the feeling of human connection, which makes it a good option during isolation.
If you’re feeling social media fatigue, try corresponding by handwritten letter instead. Printed words are for a public audience, written words are for yourself, or those closest to you. They are intimate and meaningful, and these days we could all do with a little of these things.
Write yourself happy
Not all writing needs an audience. If you’re feeling worried, sad, or angry, try venting at the page (way more forgiving than a person!). Often, the simple act of getting it all out makes you feel much better almost immediately.
Journaling is a powerful way to redirect your energy and attention towards the positive. Try writing, for as long as you can, on one of the following prompts:
- What do I need in order to feel better today?
- What has the pandemic taught me about myself?
- How can I use this time to create a life I love?
- This time next year I will be grateful for lockdown 3.0 because…
Above all be kind to yourself. It is totally normal to be feeling anxious right now. We are living through an age of uncertainty, and the human brain simply isn’t wired for it. But the best way to feel optimistic, connected, and confident is by consciously directing your thoughts and asserting control wherever you can.
Keep going, we’ll get there very soon.