4 Ways To Beat The Lockdown Blues
This COVID-19 lockdown has many people feeling depressed and unmotivated.
Unmotivated to do physical exercise which in turn can lead to feeling unmotivated and feeling depressed. A viscous cycle that is not good for mental health or physical health.
This blog will offer some ideas on how to break that cycle.
I’ve been talking to many clients and friends about this, and from the list of ways that people have pulled themselves out of their slump, I’ve noticed some recurring themes.
Best results seem to come from activities that include one or more of the 4 attributes below.
Increasing your heart rate
It doesn’t need to be formal exercise if the motivation just isn't there.
It could be as simple as walking faster than necessary to get to the shops for your milk.
House cleaning / tidying / rearranging also fits the bill.
Play also offers a great opportunity for getting the heart rate up and has the obvious benefit of being fun. Simple stuff like throw and catch games with someone from your household. Fish out that frisbee from under the stairs.
Having a defined end point
Your chosen task needs an end point.
…eg walking to somewhere for something rather than walking nowhere in particular for the sake of it. The purpose of the walk could be as simple as to listen to an entire album or podcast, or to have a natter with someone on the phone.
This applies to exercise too. Give yourself a defined end point when not feeling motivated. A plan to do “some exercising today” is less likely to happen than a plan to “do 3 sets of push ups and 3 sets of squats while dinner is cooking”.
The latter example has a defined time to occur and you know exactly how far to go before stopping, so you won’t finish it feeling like you should have done more (building a stick to beat yourself.. counterproductive).
A creative endeavour like painting or writing may never feel finished, so the risk is you won’t feel that you’ve ‘succeeded’, and ticked it off your list (more on that later).
To get around this, set an alarm on your phone and plan to just keep going until it interrupts you. You can always ignore the alarm when the time comes if you like, but if not, you have an out, and you’ve completed what you set out to do. The box has been ticked. Satisfaction is yours.
Getting immersed in a task or pass-time works great. Anything that makes time disappear.
Creative pursuits are great at offering immersion.
Things like model making, painting, graphic design, origami, TikTok videos, anything.
But remember the benefit of having an end point mentioned above.
Very detail oriented non-creative tasks work just as well.
Examples like organising your wardrobe / shed / garage, or cleaning up your computer’s desktop or clearing out that hard drive.
Anything from tasks that you would perhaps normally avoid, to tasks that you might use to avoid what you should be doing (procrastinating)... these can all be great fodder for taking your mind off everything for a while.
Progress, or satisfaction
In the long term, an important component of happiness is the feeling that we are progressing.
So something like learning from an online course, acquiring a new skill, or improving at something you are already doing, are all great ways to feel that sense of progress.
In the short term however, we need to feel that something has been done successfully. We need that satisfaction of ticking a box and putting it behind us. "I have accomplished what I set out to do".
It can be as simple as doing the dishes, or a jigsaw puzzle, or making a killer playlist.
If I can spot one overarching principle that makes any of these things possible it’s this: Take it easy on yourself… lower the bar.
Don’t try to pull yourself out of a slump by planning something epic. Pick something simple, doable and enjoyable, and start there.
If you know someone who might be having a tough time, get in touch with that person. Send them this blog, or a gift, or just make a phone call. It will benefit both of you.