7 Ways to Stay Positive During Lockdown
If you've made it through the last 12 months with your mental health feeling strong, your motivation running high and your relationships at their best - please drop me a message because I would LOVE to know your secrets!
In all seriousness, this period of lockdown has been difficult for absolutely everybody, and whilst it's obvious that times are tougher than usual - I feel that in true British fashion we continue to adopt a 'stiff upper lip'.
The discussion around good mental health continues to grow, and it's important to safeguard yours now more than ever.
Typically, you'll find me with a very positive outlook on life but I've found this third lockdown particularly difficult. After a tough couple of weeks battling the motivation to simply look after myself, I spent this week reaching out to friends and mentors to help get me back in a more 'positive' headspace.
Here's what I've taken away - I hope some of these tips can help you too.
1. Deflect negativity
It’s no coincidence that our best days often start well, and our worst days feel like one problem after another.
I notice every day, just how easy it is to get caught up in the negativity of others. Even a simple complaint can spread, and I have on many occasions caught myself agreeing with someone who is voicing complaints, even when I don’t feel the same.
Whilst all emotions are valid, and it’s important to listen to those around you - it’s also important now more than ever to protect your own mental health. If you find a conversation taking a turn for the negative, try to divert and identify a positive in the situation. I try to practice deflecting negative comments with positive responses as often as possible. Whether it’s a neighbour, an Uber driver, your family - try to limit the amount of negativity you allow into your life where possible.
2. Practice Discipline
Practicing discipline builds self confidence, and I’m going to share why. Every time you tell yourself you’re going to do something, and then you don’t follow through - you let yourself down. If we did this to other people, we’d soon loose friends! Nevertheless, we do it to ourselves regularly and then wonder why we’re not feeling so great.
If you find yourself doing this a lot, try setting yourself smaller goals and practicing discipline with easier things that you know that you can achieve. Whether that’s stretching more, giving yourself more ‘me time’, eating better, going for a walk - practice small goals that you know you can easily achieve and you will soon find yourself growing not only in self confidence, but in positivity too.
There’s nothing more inspiring than achieving something you want - and it’s hard not to be positive when you’re feeling inspired!
3. Eating well
This one is something I’ve believed in the power of for almost ten years, and even now I still find myself struggle at times when I’m feeling down.
The reason we come back to unhealthier foods when we’re not feeling our best, is usually because they’re also foods that we’ve told ourselves taste absolutely amazing. Once your brain connects those dots, it can be easy to return to the foods that bring us pleasure, when we’re not feeling great as a quick-fix. However, the foods that we really need, when we’re facing adversity, is foods that keep up energised, healthy and strong.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy your favourite foods - just remember to prioritise foods that make your body feel good when you know you're not running at 100%.
4. Exercise - move more.
If you’re sat at a desk more than ever, the great news is there are a lot of easy ways to get moving that require very little time and effort but can make you feel amazing.
When you’re not feeling positive, it can be hard to find the motivation to want to workout regularly - but I’ve found accountability the solution to that.
Book onto a zoom class, tell a friend to join you for a distanced walk - or even subscribe to a YouTube series such as a ’20 day challenge’ where you have a time-based goal to hold you accountable. There’s plenty of personal trainers working online, and even just having a little dance on your lunch break can really lift your mood.
5. Celebrate your small wins
Celebrating small wins can be harder to do at home and away from the company of others - especially if those around you are going through a difficult time it can be really hard to vocalise your success without seeming insensitive.
Nevertheless, we are really lacking things to look forward to so it’s so important to celebrate when you (or someone in your family) achieves something.
Join a networking group, call a friend, post it on social media or even just toast yourself - but don’t forget to celebrate the small wins because they are definitely present every day if we remember to recognise them.
I’m so guilty of not doing this, and before you know it one week blurs into the next and it’s only when you look back that you realise just how far you’ve come!
6. Creative expression
Work can feel a little endless now, with fewer boundaries between ‘work’ and ‘’life’ and if we give too much of ourselves to our work, then we are left with too little energy for ourselves at home.
Also, if you are around family and going through a tough time it can be harder than ever to find a moment to yourself to express your feelings, without affecting those around you.
Creative expression is a brilliant way to relieve stress, and create a clear boundary for your brain between when you are at work, and when you are at home. Singing, painting, baking, knitting - their are hundreds of ways to get your brain into a creative space, and express your feelings in a way that enable them to leave your body so you don’t carry them through to the next day.
Regularly practicing this, can really help to manage stressful times and keep you feeling positive.
My final and arguably the most important ‘tip’ for staying positive during lockdown, is communication.
The number one cause of arguments is lack of communication, or miscommunication - and when we start to feel negative it can become difficult to want to open up and share how we feel because it is uncomfortable.
Nevertheless, if we keep everything to ourselves, we have to carry our stresses alone. Sometimes, just speaking about something out loud can help to provide a solution, or even rationalise something that was perhaps spiralling into a much bigger problem than it needs to be.
Sharing with others is therapeutic, and asking for help when feeling off your game is such a powerful and effective way to be lifted by others.
I'd love to know if you found this helpful, and if you did please share!
Some of the resources I learned from this week: