'Happy' and 'lockdown' are probably two words that rarely end up within the same sentence these days. Particularly with the weather becoming colder and darker and the festive season fast approaching, it may be harder than before to remain positive and upbeat and not allow stress and anxiety to fill our minds. During this time, I think it is so important to make sure you're doing enough of what makes you happy to ensure you stay kind to yourself and keep a more positive mindset. We all have our own ways we enjoy to spend our spare time. However that spare time may be becoming a lot more prominent in our weeks than before, therefore leaving us feeling at a somewhat loose end. In this post I thought I would share some things I have been doing to help keep my body and mind feeling content. Hopefully this may provide some inspiration if you're feeling like you have exhausted your usual feel-good activities
Video calling friends and family
Perhaps the most important of them all has been staying in contact with those closest to me, so I've been making sure to speak to my boyfriend, friends and family regularly via video call. I have never been so grateful for the wonders of technology until this year. Being able to visually see somebody and speak like you are sat next to them is the nicest feeling when you are unable to be physically close. With having much more time on our hands it's a great time to schedule in these calls, especially those with people you've been meaning to catch up with forever as it always makes the hours fly by.
Planning fun activities as a group, like virtual quizzes or netflix parties, is another really fun way to spend an evening when it's not possible to get together in person. I find video calling someone instantly boosts my mood and lets us feel that bit of social normality, even if just for a short while.
Taking time to get cosy and completely relax
Since I have found a lot more hours to fill in my day, particularly at the weekends, having slow mornings and relaxed evenings has been something I have loved doing more. At this time of year, you can't beat getting all cosy in your bed or under a blanket wearing comfy pyjamas, candles lit and hot drink in hand - with your favourite Netflix series or YouTuber on the television. Bliss. Making the effort to really make this 'chill' time as perfectly cosy and relaxing as possible can make a huge difference for allowing your mind to switch off.
Usually, I'm not someone who enjoys lazing around or spending an entire day in front of the TV *unless it's watching Christmas films during the festive season, then we can make an exception*. However, I've found that taking the time to appreciate slower mornings and cosy evenings has been very refreshing and meant I've been getting much more sleep than usual, something I'm sure my body will be thankful for. Additionally, I've made sure that I feel completely guilt free for doing so. Since I'm usually such a busy-body, spending hours sat around often made me feel guilty and, subsequently, unrelaxed. However, I've realised that sometimes we need to make the most of a slower paced weekend to feel completely rejuvenated and positive for the week ahead.
Of course, not everyone is a YouTube and Netflix lover like me, but the same cosy, relaxing principle can be applied whilst reading, gaming or even online shopping! Which brings me on nicely to my next point...
Reading is something I really enjoy, but find it often gets neglected when my schedule becomes busier. During lockdown, I have been trying to spend more time picking up my book and getting lost in the pages, especially as a way to wind down and relax before bed. Getting engrossed in a fictional story can prove a good distraction for all going on in our real world right now, allowing some well-needed time away from facing reality.
Whilst this one will come as no surprise, since running is a staple in my routine no matter what the national circumstance, I find exercise to be more important than ever during a lockdown situation. I know you have probably heard it a thousand times, but the endorphins released from physical activity really are second-to-none in enhancing your mood. I find running gives me time to get lost in my own thoughts or simply enjoy the present. Afterwards, I always feel really good about myself and an instant mood boost for the rest of the day - something I think we could all do with currently!
Similarly to running, I often find walking makes me feel much better no matter what mood I start out in. Taking the time to enjoy being outdoors is great for the mind and soul and there's nothing to beat the slump of being stuck in the house all day than a good stretch of the legs. This is particularly true now that working from home has become the new normal. Getting outside and away from my desk for at least a short while during the working day is extremely beneficial to give my mind a rest and keep me focused for the afternoon. During Autumn especially, there can be some gorgeous walking locations right outside your door filled with a magical mix of all the warming colours. So, grab your walking boots, stick on your favourite podcast and make sure you're making the most of any daylight hours you can.
Cleaning and organising your space
I'm not just talking about a light dust here or a mirror clean there, I am talking a full deep clean. Yes, I am one of those people who finds cleaning therapeutic and there's nothing better to clear the mind than a spick-and-span, organised home. If you find you have an empty couple of hours then arm yourself with some seasonal smelling products, whack on a great playlist and put those elbows to work. Once you're finished and your home smells amazing, I promise you will feel a hundred times better than before - proud, satisfied and calm. As they say "a tidy house, is a tidy mind".
Baking and cooking
Baking appeared to be the entire nations way of dealing with the first lockdown, evident from the supermarket shortages ranging from self-raising flour to glacier cherries. But in fairness, I can completely see why. Baking is something that always lifts my mood, not only is it a fun activity to pass the time, but you are also left with the delicious, tasty treat at the end! To the same effect, with extra time on my hands I often like trying out new cooking recipes. There's something very satisfying about completely zoning out for an hour or so, focusing solely on getting a new recipe spot on and then enjoying every mouthful. It always leaves me feeling accomplished and productive - two things that make me very happy. I've even recently purchased a cook book that I'm hoping will provide even more inspiration for new dishes to keep me busy in the kitchen.
Aside from this, cooking doesn't have to always mean attempting exotic recipes or mastering new creations. I've loved making time to cook myself a nice brunch at the weekend full of all the staples; eggs, bacon, avocado, hash browns etc. Since I am massively missing going out for brunch, cooking this simple meal for myself is such a comforting, uplifting start to the day that adds that extra bit of enjoyment
These are the things I've been trying to implement regularly into my routine to keep me happy, and sane, during lockdown 2.0. Obviously, everyone has their own activities that bring them joy so whatever these may be, make sure you are making time of them. It's all well and good thinking "I need to use all of this spare time to be productive and furthering myself". But, if your mind and body aren't being taken care of you'll simply burn yourself out for a no more successful outcome. Be kind to yourself, we'll all get through this strange period in our lives one day at a time.
I'd love to hear what things you've been doing to keep yourself feeling happy in lockdown, share them with me in the comments!