Lockdowns drive me insane.
This is how to deal with it.
This thing that happens when a country reports a certain amount of infections a day, when the government fears that the ICU will be overwhelmed, when regular treatment gets neglected.
The lockdown itself isn't that complicated, the rules change and you have to get used to it. It is the human response that makes it complicated.
Whether you think Covid19 is bogus, truly believe it is as dangerous as it seems, or you feel like the restrictions are overkill, we can all agree on one thing: lockdowns are stressful.
Staying indoors doesn't bother me. Especially in wintertime, I become a five layers-wearing cuddlemonster who spends her days watching the birds from the balcony with a cup of tea.
When lockdown strikes, it is everything else that makes me anxious and even gives me nightmares. It is the people in the shop who either refuse to keep their distance and force me to be at constant alert, or who are at constant alert themselves. My emphathy picks up on their anxiety. It is how some around me rebel against the lockdown, go out and come together anyway, forcing me to make a decision I've already made. It is the uncertainties, the constant threat of more measures. It is witnessing my country going in lockdown, and then watch the news report that the amount of ICU cases has risen anyway. It is seeing other people with masks on, and see how their eyes are droopy, tired. They're trying, but they are so tired. If anything, it increases my urge to stay home, to keep that stress out.
What makes dealing with lockdown stress so complicated, is that everyone reacts to the situation differently, and feels this stress for different reasons.
I still believe that people who feel aggressively fed up with the lockdown, are just responding to living in poor conditions. If we are to stay indoors all the time like rodents in a habitat, our habitats are too small. Read more about this here.
And while most people struggle with lockdown and isolation, some people actually thrive in lockdown, enjoying their time alone, being able to shed some obligations that were actually draining them more than a lockdown would. If you line up the most common reasons why lockdown and the corona time are stressful, they show you what you can do to reduce that stress. As we know, you have to identify your leaks, before you can resolve them.
1. Social isolation.
I don't always relate to this, but some people need frequent social contact, or their battery depletes. When such a social butterfly is robbed of their social routine for several weeks, if not months, they lose their energy. They become restless, and this in turn can cause a drop in motivation, appetite and moodswings.
2. A loss of routine.
If you're familiar with the power of habits and routine, you can only image what happens to someone when that falls apart. Some people thrive with a strong routine, and without this routine to tell them what to do and when to do it, their selfcare and motivation drifts.
"Why get dressed if I can't go anywhere." "Why bother showering if I'm just going to stay in my pj's all day." "I work at home, I can stay up later"
Loss of routine leads to a loss of control. Loss of control can spiral into neglect, which in turn causes stress and can crush someone's mood and motivation. Other people thrive being able to do everything at home. They enjoy the control of their day, adapt their routine to their biological clock, which makes it easier to manage their energy. But these are typically the people who are trained in disciplining themselves.
This is an aqcuired skill, we need consequences for our actions to stay on top of our routine. If you miss the discipline, your world falls apart quickly.
3. Getting trapped in your home.
If you're completely dependant on your environment, if all your health and productivity depends on whether or not you thrive in your safe haven, then most houses and apartments don't meet our needs. Even houses with a spaceous garden can start to feel like a prison after so much time. We are really just mammals, with mammal needs to move and vary our environment. It's also not a coincidence that the amount of domenstic abuse cases have skyrocketed this year. Abused partners can't escape, and people who normally get along fine, start to get on each other's nerves.
Also, because of the government order to work at home, care facilities have to cancel appointments with clients who's case is "less pressing", leaving victims who were ready to seek help, unheard.
4. Dealing with the details.
That this lockdown caused a division, is very clear. For a lot of people it is exhausting to read the news and perhaps feel that what you read is incorrect. Some people spend a lot of time debating other people, doing research and trying to understand the situation, and get frustrated with what others may think or if what the news says doesn't match their own observation.
Don't underestimate how stressful it can be to be unheard, to have to guard your boundaries.
When you feel like you know something other people don't, but nobody is listening.
Or, if you want to oblige to the rules so badly, but your family and friends keep crossing the lines and you feel pressured to do the same.
My instinct is to back off and hide away, others might have an urge to fight instead. If nothing else, this lockdown time proves how important it is to have a healthy environment.
Which brings me to the first tip I can give you reduce lockdown stress.
1. Change your lockdown environment to your needs.
If you're used to going out all the time, the limits that your home environment has might not bother you. But if you're stuck at home, suddenly you feel how some of your needs aren't met.
If you live in an apartment, changing this is a challenge. You want to go outside, but odds are you only have a balcony, or maybe nothing. Your space is limited, you won't have access to the equipment to fitness. Line up what you need to make your space more for you. For example, I invested in some weights and a yoga mat, now that I can't go to the gym anymore. I took my books out of my hard to reach closet and piled them near my bed. It is an eyecatcher, and it reminds me to read while in lockdown. Make sure your fridge is filled with lunches, dinners, snacks and everything you love. Lockdown is a perfect time to try new recipes. It may seem small, but within an ocean of misery, something as simple as that can make life very exciting again.
2. Misery loves company.
If you're a social butterfly, talk to other social butterflies about how you feel. It won't be exactly the same, but you can get some of the social kick that you need to get through the week, from you and your friends relating to the things you feel.
Sharing your misery, agreeing on how you feel and understanding each other helps you to continue to bond.
For that matter, making future plans can help you feel better, knowing that your friends will be around, the idea of a better time than now will refresh you from the endless stream of bad news.
Just stay realistic, don't make plans for next week if the lockdown lasts five weeks. Start small, don't dream about a festival if it likely to be cancelled.
3. Entertain yourself.
Whether you're a movie lover, a gamer, a puzzle expert or a bookworm, there was never a better excuse to dive into your favorite form of entertainment, without feeling like you have to prioritize something else.
A lot of writers in my writer's group cracked down on their writer's blocks and basically raced themselves to the targeted wordcount of their projects.
It was definitely interesting to read all the facebook posts about how their productivity has gone up since they were locked up.
There is only one problem with that: this is a sign of a "panic-surge" that the stress from the pandemic can cause, which they channel into productivity. This can be great at first, but when that surge depletes when the initial panic subsided, the crash is soulcrushing.
So, be careful with channeling your energy too hard.
Instead, pull out that one thing you've always meant to do and never did. The jigsaw puzzle, the painting set, or other hobbies that you've never had time for, and balance this energy with plenty of rest and quiet time.
Using your creative mind is one of the greatest ways to reduce stress. Making or listening to music, and making drawings or paintings belong to our basic human needs. And for the gamers: yes, building a village in Banished or completing your achievements, can be considered creative too.
4. Limit your exposure to news.
I don't know about you, but constantly exposing myself to corona news gets to me.
Overtime, I can feel my anxiety around the news get worse. To prevent this, I check the news in the morning for about half an hour, and I know I am connected enough that if there is urgent or breaking news, I'll hear it. There is really no reason to keep my nose on the news all the time.
And I avoid the comments like the plague.
If you're sensitive to lockdown stress and covidstress, then there is no point in exposing yourself to information about it for any other reason than keeping yourself informed. It is not going to change anything, the internal dialogue you might end up having debating the details, will just exhaust you, and can keep your brain running long enough that you'll end up developing insomnia.
5. Take good care of yourself.
This one implies all the others one don't fall under the selfcare category. They do, but this is more of a reminder.
Take regular showers, groom yourself, maintain yourself. It'll help you feel better.
Give yourself a footbath or make your favorite food. It will bring you joy.
Exercise daily. Whether it is some relaxing yoga, fitness or even just some stretches to make sure you don't become stiff. Staying in shape and keeping up with your workout can be challenge if you can't go anywhere, take the challenge. Your body needs you to keep taking care of it.
Some countries encourage you to go out for bike rides and jogs, other countries throw whoever is outside without a permission slip in jail. Adjust to your lockdown and your needs.
6. Acknowledge how you feel.
Something that always ends up stressing me out, is pretending that I am okay.
Personally, I am more likely to become depressed if I go out of my way to feel better and pretend there is nothing going on, than when I acknowledge that I feel bad or upset and deal with it by taking care of myself and give myself what I need. This is usually time alone and time to think.
Lockdowns sucks, and it is okay to feel that. Forcing yourself to be upbeat and "look at the bright side" just raises your expectations which the situation could never possibly meet. Stay realistic, be aware of the timeline that the government maintains for your lockdown. The truth is, Covid19 might be around for a while, and so will all the problems that come with it. As some predicted, experts now expect this virus to become a seasonal thing. Which means, as each year passes, the impact of it will decrease in severity, but we will also start to get used to it.
No matter on which side of the debate you are, if you can acknowledge reality, it becomes easier to deal with. Modern life is hard, harder than we realize. For that, the advice I can give you is to be aware of your day. Especially in lockdown, we tend to drift through the weeks trying to get to a new place in the future, but that way life really passes you by. Every day, find something that you enjoy, be aware of your day, think of the sunset you witness or chew your food slowly to enjoy the taste. Try to live, life is hard enough already.
I hope these tips help on your path to find some rest. We will soon apply everything I've talked about in a way that allows you to fill in your life the way you wish. Until then, take it slow, take a deep breath, eat plenty and empty your mind before bed. Take good care of yourself, Love, Terri.