It would be an enormous understatement to say this year has been stressful. It feels like some sort of dystopian film, and we all landed a starring role. Of course, everyone has had their own obstacles during the pandemic and it’s important to remember that everybody’s feelings are valid. So, try not to feel guilty about worrying – it’s normal and it will pass. But now we’re in a second national lockdown, it can be hard to maintain hope.
Over the last year, we did our best to help. We stayed indoors, socially distanced, washed our hands, wore our masks and waved to our loved ones through windows – and we should applaud ourselves for this. Because we did help. However, now we’re heading into a second lockdown, we may find ourselves feeling a sense of hopelessness. We did what we could, but maybe it wasn’t enough. We can continue doing these things, but how do we handle not knowing when this will all be over?
You should always allow yourself time to honour your emotions. If you’re upset, anxious or stressed – prioritise it. Talk to someone, journal, meditate, take a walk – do whatever you need to do to feel those feelings so you can move past them. Don’t ignore them. That way, you will be in a safer and better state of mind to cope. It also helps with recognising your triggers and what to avoid. Maybe don’t watch the news one evening or have a break from social media if it’s getting you down.
Remember – what is happening in the world right now is not your fault. We could never have predicted this and we can only do what is within our power – right now, that means staying safe. Be extra kind to yourself.
During the first lockdown, I found myself often feeling lonely. I would try and distract myself by watching my favourite movie or TV show, or listening to music, but I still found it difficult. I tried to imagine what it would be like when I got out. I tried to imagine the way I would hug my best friend when we both returned to school. Of course, upon returning to school, it hurts just as much to be able to talk in person with them but never touch them, but I try and remember that this won’t last forever. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I just need to focus on it even when it fades and gets dimmer.
Even though it sometimes feels like I am all alone, I know I’m not because I have a great many people who stand beside me, even if I don’t always realise it. And that’s what I want you to know: You may feel alone but you are not; there are people standing beside you who have your back, even if they’re standing beside you in silence.
As the UK enters another lockdown, there are a few things for us to keep in mind. Remember that if we got through the first one, it certainly means we can get through this one. Remember that self-care is important. You don’t have to put too much pressure on yourself and you should take regular breaks if you’re working. During your breaks, you can step outside for some fresh air, sketch something (which is something I have been doing a lot recently), play a board game, etc. In relation to self-care, make sure you are mindful of the news you consume. This means how much and how often. Also try to eat a balanced diet and take care of yourself properly, which means exercise and sleep.
What helps me most when I am stuck in quarantine is creating a timetable for the day. This helps keep the days busy and full of things to look forward to, which can help make your daily tasks less overwhelming. Above all, it also helps speed time up.
In addition to this, why not take the time to try something new? Pick up a new hobby or a habit or two. This can make your day a whole lot more interesting and give you something to feel hopeful about.
The most important thing to remember is that the hope we have doesn’t come from our surroundings. It comes from within us. We may be limited in what we can do right now, but there are still so many things to look forward to.
As I write this I’m coming out of a bit of a slump, so if you’re struggling during lockdown and feeling hopeless, you’re not alone.
I would like to share a few tips that helped me find positivity in the current situation. These might not work for everyone, but I hope there’s something useful you can take away.
Get your creative juices flowing! – Whether it’s onto paper, canvas, or flowing out through an instrument, letting out your emotions is a great way to express difficult feelings. Even if you’re not creative, or don’t think you are, start with something small, and don’t judge whatever comes out of your head. It will get easier the more you let go, and you will feel so much better afterwards!
Find inspiration - It could be music, films or books - whatever makes you feel motivated and inspired. I love watching films that take me back to my childhood, or just anything feel-good. They make me feel the same magic, wonder and optimism that I felt as a child. This improves my mood and helps me feel calm and inspired. If you’re feeling especially creative, you could also try making an inspiration board with some of your favourite quotes and images. Look at it every day to get a boost!
Write a gratitude list - Noticing what you have now can really help you remain hopeful and grateful. It’s not about ignoring your problems, but helping you to see a more positive outlook of what you do have, rather than what you don’t. There are loads of apps that can help you, with prompts and reminders, but you can also use a journal or any scrap paper. Start off by writing three things that you’re grateful for, then slowly increase it each day. Just like anything, it will get easier the more you do it!
Technology diet - Take a break from technology and watching the news. Constantly being bombarded with negativity and bad news can really impact the way you feel, and social media doesn’t always help, with some posts giving you a fake expectation of how you should look, feel and think. Keep up to date, but don’t overdo it. If you find it difficult to turn off your phone, or find yourself constantly checking the news and social media, fill your feed with accounts that share positivity.
Where to get help
If you're struggling with your mental health right now, you're not alone. Have a look at our find help page for information, tips and suggestions of where to get help, no matter how you're feeling or what you're dealing with.