7 Great Tips on How to Stay Sane
My name is Ian, and I am one of the co-founders of the Wellbeing365 site.
From talking to a lot of people over the last few weeks, it has become apparent that many people are struggling with the strange circumstances we find ourselves in at the moment. I thought it might be useful for me to tell you a little bit about how my life has changed during the lockdown in the hope that you might be able to take some ideas from it and these might help you to better cope with the lockdown.
I should declare at this point that I’m not a professional writer so my thoughts might not flow as well as the other articles on this site, but I thought it was important to tell you my thoughts in my own words.
Before lockdown my life was incredibly hectic, I have interests in several businesses and also a busy family life. My typical day use to start around 6 am to clear my emails before meetings and then in the evening, dropping off and picking up children from clubs and activities.
I was travelling around the country 2-3 days a week and always busy. I’m telling you this so you will understand the contrast to lockdown where a lot of the activity has stopped, no travelling, no children’s activities etc.
Despite the massive change to my life over the past few weeks I’m coping well, and the reason for this is that I have evolved my routine to fit with the changing circumstances – the point here is that I still have a routine and that is important.
Tip 1 – Make sure you still follow a routine even if its very different from the routine you had before lockdown.
I still get up early but not quite as early as before; now I’m up around 7.30 am instead of 6 am. This is an improvement as I’m getting more, and better-quality sleep. Other people tell me they aren’t getting up until mid-day. However, these also seem to be the people who are struggling to cope with the lockdown.
Tip 2 – Take the opportunity to get an extra hour sleep each day but still get up at a reasonable time – staying in bed until lunchtime isn’t good for your mental wellbeing.
I still spend the majority of weekdays working and this for me is crucial, I don’t like sitting around doing nothing, and I suspect this applies to lots of people. I had an email from one of my colleagues who is furloughed, and it ended with:-
“The boredom of the lockdown is killing me”
Now, although boredom will never actually kill you, it will undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on your Wellbeing – I know it would have on mine.
I make sure that work keeps me busy for at least 8 hours a day, but it’s a very different work from before lockdown. There is no travelling, no face to face meetings and less people to deal with as a lot of my colleagues are on Furlough at the moment. For me, I’m spending my time on projects that will improve my businesses once lockdown is over.
I understand that your circumstances may be different from mine, but there will always be something that you can do that sort of classes as “work” even if it isn’t work in the conventional sense. If you aren’t able to get on with traditional work, then some ideas are as follows:-
- Planning and preparation work for when you get back to work after the lockdown.
- If you’ve ever thought of starting your own business, now is the time you should be doing all the preparation – especially with so much uncertainty about which companies will survive the lockdown.
- For those with children, then homeschooling is part of the daily work time.
- DIY work around the house and garden – all those things you said you would do when you had time.
- One of the things on my work list is to revisit material from courses that I’ve attended, things I learnt but never put into practice.
- When I was younger, I use to be into photography, a few months ago a bought a new camera with the intention of getting back into it. Guess what I got busy and never learnt how to use the camera, well now I have time and will be getting up to speed.
- Also, on my list for a long time was to learn to speak Spanish, so this is now part of the work portion of my day.
- Anything that you have wanted to do but never had time is a good candidate for filling the working hours.
During lockdown, you workinghours don’t need to be filled with just one task, you can have three or four different projects you are working on and that you split your time between.
Tip 3 – Make sure you allocate so many hours a week for work, and then fill those hours, even if it isn’t with everyday work tasks.
I try and exercise every day, and I’m successful about five days a week. Most days I go for a walk around the area at lunchtime, if the weather is good, I might walk for 3-4kms, if it’s not, it might be 2-3kms.
For me, it’s about making sure I do this regularly rather than trying to run a marathon. I usually listen to music or audiobooks on my walk to keep me focused and stop me from getting bored.
Three times a week, I also try to spend 20-30 minutes on exercises to help my flexibility and mobility, when you get past middle age, it’s very easy to lose these functions if they aren’t used. The type of exercise isn’t important, instead of walking you could go jogging, cycling etc., what is important is that it’s regular and consistent. This isn’t just about your physical wellbeing; exercise is also essential for your mental wellbeing.
Tip 4 – Make sure you set aside some time each day for exercise, this will keep your body and your mind in great condition.
I finish my working day around 5 pm each evening, and then we prepare the evening meal as a family and also do any jobs around the house. This is the time that we share with the children and socialise with each other.
Before lockdown we often eat at different times in the evening as we all had busy lives and were arriving home at different times, the children had afterschool activities and some evening activities, so it was impossible to coordinate a common time to eat.
Given that we are now limited to face to face socialising with just the members of our family, it has become vital that we have these couple of hours together each day.
Tip 5 –Set aside a couple of hours each day to socialise with other family members
Around 7 pm we settle down in front of the television for 3 or 4 hours, this is something strange for our family, before lockdown we use to watch a couple of movies a week, and that was all. We have incorporated TV into our daily routine now we are less busy, but we still keep it very much just to relax at the end of the day.
The temptation might be to spend the whole day in front of the TV; however, you’ll soon get to the “The boredom of the lockdown is killing me” stage if you do this.
Tip 6 – Keep TV time for relaxing at the end of your day, don’t let it take over your whole day.
The final thing I do each day is to write out a plan for the next day. This is a one-page list of everything I want to do and achieve.
The format isn’t important but what is essential is that you wake up to a plan so you can focus on the new day.
The human mind works best when it has a structure to follow – having a plan makes you feel happier and more in control.
Tip 7 – Write you plan for tomorrow before you go to bed
A summary of a weekday for me will look something like this:-
• Sleep – 8 Hours
• Morning Routines – 0.5 Hours
• Work – 8 Hours
• Exercise – 1Hour
• Family Time – 2 Hours
• TV & Relax – 3 Hours
• Evening Routines – 0.5 Hours
This then leaves an hour for whatever else needs to be done that day.
I genuinely believe that a well-balanced routine each day is helping keep my levels of Wellbeing high during these difficult times
Tip 8 – Follow a Balance Routine each day.
My plan for tomorrow is in the form of a list, but I also have another list that I keep. I have a list of things that I need to do once the lockdown restrictions are lifted. Somethings on this list may be as simple as getting the car serviced or visit relatives, but it also has more important things like planning my partners birthday weekend and booking a holiday.
This list is essential because it lets your subconscious know that you aren’t missing out on these crucial things – they are only postponed and not cancelled. Looking forward to what you can do after lockdown is over is an excellent way of keeping you optimistic.
Tip 9 – Keep a list of everything you want to do when lockdown ends.
Once final thought – some people I speak to are worried about financial issues during these difficult times. If you are one of these people, this is certainly not good for your mental wellbeing.
For most people, these worries are about the future and not the present. Most people are receiving at least 80% of their salaries, and in most cases, their costs will have fallen by more than 20% as a consequence of lockdown – no fuel for the car, no meals out, no school activities, no gym membership etc. On top of this, there are extensive payment holidays on mortgages, credit cards and loans.
If you are worried about the future, then please STOP IT NOW.
Nobody can predict the future and, in these circumstances, you can do little to control it so worry has no purpose and can only make things worse.
For those that do struggle to pay bills in the future, you won’t be the only ones, and there will have to be a higher tolerance while people recover.
For most people, the future they are worrying about is far worse than what the actual future will turn out be.
Tip 10 – Don’t worry about money problems that will probably never happen
I’m sharing my the details of my life under lockdown, and the ten tips, in the hope you might find some inspiration that will help you cope with lockdown and emerge strong and ready to live life.