50 ways to stay positive and avoid boredom in lockdown
Updated: Mar 4
The negative impact that the pandemic is having on our mental health is being widely documented.
You can't now do a search for mental health articles on the internet, without hundreds of posts about the worrying trends and stories repeatedly showing up and clogging our news feeds.
I wrote about this in my post about psychiatric medications, and I stand by my thoughts once again.
I think a proportion of the problems aren't depression and other mental health issues but more likely feelings derived from the pandemic's restrictions and complications. This is where we need education, and I know I keep repeating myself but it's just so important.
In amongst all these terrible reports, (which in themselves do our mental health no good,) I am doing my best in years! The restrictions don't phase me in any way at all because I am habituated to being isolated from people and unable to take part in things because of the years of suffering that depression has burdened me with.
Just to be able to get out of bed without a monumental, mental battle, being able to put my socks on without feeling like crying, and leaving the house without an enormous confrontation with my self-doubting mind; honestly, just being able to get through a day without these terrible struggles is enough for me!
Deriving pleasure from the smallest things like going for a walk or listening to music is, after experiencing the horrors that I have, quite simply incredible.
I believe that what I have discovered can help others at the current time. It's all to do with deriving pleasure from smaller things and in more subtle ways.
When I was seriously depressed and couldn't think of anything to live for, I would hang onto the smallest shreds of hope to keep me alive, desperately clinging on to anything I could.
I have no idea how I managed this, but I have learnt an important lesson, and now that I am 'out the other side,' life is offering me so much more than it did even twenty years ago, before my 'psychiatric safari' even started.
We've got to take ourselves out of this crazy virtual world that has us staring at iPads and iPhones constantly and start living in reality by appreciating things in the real world again.
Taking all this into account, I found a nice article which lists fifty ways to stay positive and beat boredom in lockdown. I am going to discuss a few of them now, mostly those that interest me, and then attach the full article at the bottom of this post so that you can benefit from the other ways too.
* Engage with nature
I have been banging on about this recently but I really believe that nature has so much to offer, especially if you have a mental health problem. There are physical benefits gained from light exposure and fresh air, and it has been scientifically proven that people that actively engage in countryside pursuits have lower levels of anxiety and stress. I am walking for at least an hour a day, even in the bitter cold, but I am disappointed to not see more people out and about, especially as I am walking at lunch-time when you would think people could take an hour off to get outside. I know where they are though - staring at a screen inside!
* Vary your workouts
Apart from riding and walking I have never been interested in doing any other forms of exercise, however, last week I joined in with my sister's online kettle bell class which, to my surprise, was really good fun. There's the obvious physical gains from working out but there's also the social aspect if you are engaging with a group. Try something new and you might surprise yourself like I have!
I have been journaling and blogging for a few years now and I would definitely recommend it for anyone but especially for those with mental health conditions. In doing it I can recognise the fluctuations in my mood ( with bipolar disorder, essential) but it also somehow lessens the horrors of one's mind by taking the thoughts out of the brain and dumping them on the page. Try it and get back to me!
* Learn a language
I have been keeping myself occupied by learning French again which I am really enjoying. There are some physical gains to be made in the form of the creation of new neural pathways which can only be a good thing.
Learning a second language is also thought to delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease so get to it! Duolingo is a great app for languages - you can even add your friends and track each other's progress, I also use the Michel Thomas speaking tool, watch French films, YouTube clips and listen to France Info radio station while I write the blog in the mornings!
The take-out point is - be imaginative and try to get back to the real world more regularly rather than spending hours in front of a computer screen!
If you would like to read the full '50 ways to stay positive in lockdown' article you can find it here.
I will be taking tomorrow off as usual for my own mental health but will be back on Monday.
Please keep the suggestions and comments coming. In the future, when I have enough input, I would like to be able to devote a post a week purely to debate and discussion.
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,