*Disclaimer: I'm not a health professional and do not intend for this article to be taken as health care advice. This is just my experience and story. If you require urgent mental health help or just need to chat, the NHS has several services that can help here.*
As we enter the UK's 3rd lockdown, many of us now have our day-to-day routines down to a T and are plodding our way through January. Practice makes perfect, after all.
However, if you've lost all motivation and just want to stay in bed (which is also fine, if that's what helps you get through this), this article may just give you a little bit of direction from someone who has previously been forced to spend a lot of time at home.
At the age of 12, I was hit by a car whilst walking home from school. The impact was forceful and sent me flying through the air like a rag-doll, leaving me unconscious in the middle of the street.
Miraculously, I didn't break a single bone and after a night in the hospital I was sent home and told that I could return to school the following Monday.
Unfortunately, a very different reality occurred. Although all my bones were intact and I had only a few visible cuts and scrapes, I had hit my head. Hard. What followed was years of ill health, loneliness and isolation.
I never did fully return to school, and by the age of 14 I left completely. A lot of my young teen years were spent in bed, on the sofa, or at some kind of medical appointment.
Over the next 10+ years, with help from my health practitioners and family, I gradually learnt how to manage my daily routines and rebuild my mental and physical strength. I now live a normal, healthy life (most of the time), and, despite initially being terrified at the thought of being isolated again when Covid first hit, I have found the past few months really quite ok.
My health is very different to what it was when I began my recovery, but the tips below - although not revolutionary - are so vital to my day-to-day life that I have always kept them up ...and they may just help you too.
1. Make a routine and stick to it
Your routine should be personalised to suit you and your needs, and not be over-ambitious. A sense of achievement (i.e. getting out of bed!) can do wonders for your mood and motivation. An example of my morning routine is this:
- wake up at a semi-regular time and enjoy a nice coffee (I love good coffee and looking forward to it every morning definitely makes getting up that little bit easier)
- make showering an enjoyable experience (I recently posted about this here)
- get dressed in comfy clothes that fit well and make me feel good
- prepare and eat a tasty, healthy breakfast
2. Get outside everyday
Now, this can be hard and sometimes requires a huge amount of motivation, especially during the dark, winter weather we're currently experiencing, but it is so, so important.
(When my health was at it's worst, there were some days when I just didn't have the physical strength to get outside. If this is you, even just sitting next to an open window for some fresh air can help.)
If you have a dog - we got our little poodle, Lola (yes, I named one of our Luxury Hydrating Lipsticks after her, I'm that person), to give me some purpose and encourage me to get outside - then you don't really have much choice in this matter.
But if not, a 30 minute walk will make a huge difference to your day. We all know the benefits of vitamin D and movement, so I'm not going to list them here, but just know that even a slow stroll around the block is a great start.
3. Find a hobby
When you're at home all the time it's easy to find yourself with some spare time on your hands with nothing to do. If you're a busy parent or work a very stressful job, this probably sounds like heaven, but if you're prone to boredom and get itchy feet when you're in a creative rut it can really effect your mental health.
I've tried many 'hobbies' over the years, many of which lasted for a grand total of 3 minutes before I gave up and was left feeling even more annoyed than when I started.
Cooking - and eating - however, was something that I could always get behind. I love food, and eating healthy and nutritious food loves us back, so it's a "win win" situation. Reading recipe books, watching cooking shows, or just finding pleasure in a piece of chocolate are all equally valuable and mean that I can partake in my 'hobby' no matter how exhausted I am or what my motivation levels are.
My passion for make-up and skincare also came about when I was recovering at home. I would spend hours researching different cosmetic ingredients, looking at pictures of by-gone supermodels and actresses, and studying the make-up in old Hollywood films.
This love affair with make-up is what I credit as the beginning of Juni. Without those countless days in bed with nothing to do but think about the eyeshadow I would one day wear when I eventually went out again, I would never be where I am today.
You never know, the next hobby you try during lockdown might just turn into your dream career one day, too!
4. Make your home a peaceful place that you love
It could be your bedroom, the kitchen or even a cosy corner! Wherever it is, having a place that you find enjoyable to be in is essential.
A tidy, organised space fulled with all your favourite things is bliss. Whenever you've had enough, you can just go there and sit and feel a sense of peace - play your favourite music, light a candle and enjoy your surroundings.
Being organised also helps you tackle the more difficult days as you're not having to rummage through overflowing drawers to find a pair of jeans that fit or a hairbrush. A clean space is a clean mind.
5. Prioritise rest and sleep
For me, sleep was, and still is, an essential part of recovery. Even if you feel like you've not done much with your day, our bodies still need adequate, quality sleep and practicing good sleep hygiene (I know it's boring!) will make a huge difference to your energy levels and mood.
I try to make going to sleep a nice experience; a warm comfy bed with fresh sheets, silky pyjamas, a good book, a large mug of herbal tea..
It goes without saying that not everyday is a breeze and sometimes even the simple things, like having a shower and getting dressed, just don't happen, but setting the intention and recognising your achievements is incredibly important.
For anyone who is struggling right now, I sincerely hope that tomorrow is better and that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.