How to get out of the lockdown blues

Yet another lockdown has been announced and I can almost hear all the many desperate voices saying “Oh no, not again!” Even though I expected this announcement, I admit that I noticed an immediate blow to my mood, a sinking feeling, worries coming up regarding my business, my clients and loved ones and I just needed a day or so to gather my thoughts and process upcoming feelings.

I’ve recently noticed that I’m not my usual happy self and feel a bit out of balance, so now I’m making an extra effort to look after myself, my mental health and emotional balance. Luckily, I’ve got all the knowledge and tools to help myself and others and have, in fact, been teaching them for years. Now, that I’m feeling much better, I thought I’d share a few tips that helped me to get out of the lockdown blues! Perhaps this will help you too!
Try my alphabetic ABCDEFGHIJ approach! Here is the short version of my favourite ten tips:

1. Acceptance is the key! Denial, distraction or ignoring a situation and especially our feelings towards it is not going to help. My motto is ”accept what you can’t change and change what you can’t accept!”. So, I can’t change this lockdown but I CAN change how I feel about it. After allowing myself a bit of time to accept, acknowledge and feel the feeling, I then move on, tap or dance it away.

2. Deep focused breathing is one of the best ways to regain calmness and balance. I love 7-11 breathing and heart-centred breathing. These wonderful exercises certainly help me feel better whenever I’m not at ease. If you’re not familiar with them, then just take a few minutes and focus on your breath, perhaps count to five or six with each in- and outbreath and observe the movement of your body. Most negative feelings put us into fight or flight, which means we can’t think clearly and might tend to catastrophise. Yet calm deep breathing takes us out of this cycle, helps us relax and get our positive brain power back. Do this regularly or whenever you feel anxious, sad or stressed.

3. Reach out and connect to others. A sense of connection is an innate basic need that we all have because we are social beings. This is not the time to crawl into a cave and wait until this is all over. You’re not alone and not meant to be. Let us all reach out to one another, talk to our loved ones, set up video calling, a WhatsApp group and share precious moments even if it’s in a socially distant or digital way.

4. Dance all your worries away! Nothing lifts my mood as much as putting on some of my favourite music and dance around my living room, normally only when I’m alone. I know it sounds crazy and it might take a few minutes to get into it but try it and perhaps get the whole family involved. I have friends who’d make a zoom party out of this.

5. Use EFT tapping! I love using EFT to tap on any negative feelings and released them. So, I label the feeling, focus on where it sits in my body, I measure its intensity on a scale from 1-10 to get clarity and then I say out loud “Even though this situation makes me feel …., I accept how I feel right now” and I tap through the points until I feel better.

6. Have some fun! I know it’s hard when you’re feeling a bit down but think of the things you enjoyed as a child. Be creative, use your imagination! It could be as simple as dressing up as someone else, find your old skipping rope, make a collage, watch your favourite film, eat your favourite food, bake a cake, write a story, dye your hair, repot your plants, dance in your living room…. The list is endless!

7. Focus on gratitude and count your blessings! If you get caught up in negative thinking, just say “stop!” Thoughts can spiral but we have the power to intervene. We can choose our thoughts consciously. By counting your blessings or naming at least five things you’re grateful for, you can shift your thinking from negative to positive. Start a gratitude list and add more items every day, put it on your fridge or above your desk and read it often to remind yourself of all the good things in your life.

8. Have a hug! The lack of human touch can have such a negative impact on our mental health. I know we need to accept the social distancing rules but if you have people in your household or social bubble, make sure you hug them and receive one in return, provided it feels safe! If it doesn’t hug yourself, hug a cushion or a teddy bear and close your eyes while imagining it’s a loved one or offer to take a neighbours dog out for a walk and pet the dog and play with him.

9. Use your imagination! Our minds are more powerful than we know. We can conjure up positive and negative images which then affect our mood. So why not use the lockdown to engage in some daydreaming or imagine a few wonderful scenarios that will make you happy. The aim is to feel good!

10. Do more of what brings you joy. This is in line with number six above. We can’t change the past, we don’t know what the future will bring, we just have this moment right now, so why not conjure up a few moments of joy, even if it’s just sharing your favourite anecdotes or jokes with someone or your diary.

Just to let you know, I’m at your service and love to help and inspire others. I’m available for online sessions and have a number of online products available. Feel free to get in touch.

Lots of love,

Sandy x

An alternative to New Year’s resolutions

How about a new approach to New Year’s resolutions? Let’s be honest, most of us don’t follow through anyway, right? After a few weeks the discipline wavers and we’re back to where we started. If you’re an exception, great! Congrats then keep going and see this suggestion as an add-on. If you’re not good at sticking to your NY’s resolutions, then let’s just not do them this year.

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

So here’s a different idea (which I started a few years ago):
Why not start with an empty jar and collect happy moment memories, success stories or pictures of events and positive changes happening in 2021?

Recipe:
Take one empty bottle or jar, have a few pieces of paper or post-it notes and a pen ready. Set an reminder on your phone or in your calendar to record at least two or three things every week or reflect each Sunday on what to record. No worries if it’s less than that, the idea is to keep counting and recording your blessings.

We could even record things like the end of lockdown, the joy of being allowed to see friends again, the pleasures of shopping or keep a record of how you’ve improved your home, your skills or hobbies, write down your favourite jokes or heart-warming moments when you felt moved or perhaps record an pleasant walk in nature with a picture, a beautiful sunset, a home-cooked meal that you enjoyed, a time when you laughed until your tummy hurt, a special gift you received, a zoom-party or joyful phone call with a friend. The list is endless.

Then at New Year’s Eve 2021, take out the bottle or jar and read all the notes on the happy moments of the year. If you do this with your family, have everyone pick their top three! Feel free to amend this recipe to suit your needs.

The point is to recognise and record happy moments throughout the year and then reflect on them at the end of the year. Do this and watch how your life will change over time. We all got so much more to be grateful for than we perhaps realise. Accept the challenge!

Photo by Oleg Zaicev from Pexels

The power of self-care and self -love

Nurturing yourself is important, especially in times of uncertainty. When the outside world seems crazy, turn inside. You’re a wonderful human being, who’s doing the best they can, given the current circumstances. Acknowledge how well you’ve done, how difficult it perhaps has been. Give yourself a hug and a pad on the shoulder. Life’s never been more different and unusual. We’ve been bombarded with lots of change, new rules and have been fed fear-producing messages. So, if you’ve been feeling a bit anxious, worried or just unusually tired, that’s absolutely normal. Many of us are a bit out of balance these days, trying to cope with the new situation and perhaps feeling a bit insecure about it all, or even overwhelmed. Yet one thing we often take for granted is ourselves. We expect ourselves to just adjust overnight, cope with anything thrown at us and deal with people around us, who are struggling, while we might be internally struggling too. I believe it’s important to acknowledge how we feel and become aware of our own needs too. Self-care and self-love are important and should not be forgotten. These last few months have been strange, and you’ve made it through! So, give yourself a big fat WELL DONE!

Wouldn’t it be nice to make yourself feel cared for and appreciated? Why not take a moment to thank your wonderful body, your brain with its amazing capacity to learn new things and your mind and psyche with its ability to generate a wide spectrum of emotions! Be nice to yourself and acknowledge how far you’ve come. Remind yourself of all the many good qualities you have. Make a list of things you’re grateful for. Switch to positive feelings and give yourself some love and appreciation. You deserve it!

A great tool that I highly recommend is doing daily affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements. Louise Hay, the queen of affirmations, wrote lots of books about the topic. Starting with that first thing in the morning is a great way of setting you up for a positive day. Think of a few things you like about yourself and tell your reflection in the mirror. Or see yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you. If you need ideas and inspiration, check out this website with new daily affirmations: www.louisehay.com/affirmations/   Today, 30th July says the following: “Today I listen to my feelings, and I am gentle with myself. I know that all of my feelings are my friends.” Wonderful words of wisdom!
Some people prefer their statements expressed as a process, e.g. ‘I’m feeling better and better each day.’ ‘I love myself a bit more every day.’ or ‘I love learning how to relax’. When you become your own best friend, nothing can stop you. It’s worth making a bit of an effort to love yourself more. If you love yourself, the world loves you right back.

Self-care goes hand-in-hand with self-love. It’s about setting boundaries, looking after yourself and taking a bit of ‘me-time’ out whenever possible or appropriate. A dear friend of mine introduced me to the idea of having a duvet morning. I love the concept! Every now and then, I just stay in bed an extra hour in the morning with nice cup of tea and a book, or a notepad if I feel creative, to brainstorm ideas or make my gratitude list for the day. If mornings aren’t possible, how about a duvet evening? There’s plenty of ways to look after ourselves, some people love having a warm bubble bath, chat to a friend, go for a nice long walk, meditate, try out a new recipe, write into a journal, light a candle or engage in crafts. The important bit is to make time to feel good. Even a 2- or 3-minute breathing exercise can help you feel calm and more balanced. Acknowledge that you’ve done enough and you are enough! Feeling loved and appreciated is an inside job. I hope this short article has inspired you. Love and light. Sandy