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Looking after yourself in Lockdown

24 April 2020

7 mins

The country has been in lockdown for over a month now. That doesn’t mean it has become the new norm – for many it will still feel strange and bring with it a mixture of emotions and challenges to tackle.

How you’re feeling may change day to day, but know that however you’re feeling, it’s likely that others in our Loughborough Family are feeling a similar way. That’s why we are focusing on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our community – because now more than ever, we all need support.

Over the coming weeks, as we all continue to adjust to our new life in lockdown and beyond, we plan to share advice and guidance on a variety of topics that may help you to manage the days ahead. From keeping motivated to not putting too much pressure on yourself. Staying connected to others to exercising from home.

We also plan to share the experiences of individuals from across our community and how they are coping with the new way of working and living. Are you on furlough and want to share your experience of how you’re using your time? Maybe you’re looking after young children and trying to work and have some good ideas on keeping little ones entertained. Have you found your own coping mechanisms in all this strangeness or developed a routine that works for you on a day to day basis? We’d love to hear from you and share your story with others to provide reassurance and guidance.   

If you’d like to contribute contact Sophie Dinnie on to discuss further.

In this first post we provide some general guidance on ways to look after your wellbeing daily.

1. It’s ok not to be ok

Sadness, frustration, anger and fear – you might find that you’re experiencing a mixture of emotions at the moment. And that’s ok. It’s completely normal and expected at this time. We’ve all been forced to make changes to our lifestyle, we all have loved ones that we worry about, and we all feel uncertain as to what the future holds.

When you’re feeling this way make sure you take time to breathe and focus on the things within your control.

Idea: At the end of every day take some time to reflect on the positive elements of the last 24 hours.  Try writing down three good things that have happened or three things that you’re grateful for.

2. Get out and about (if you’re not self-isolating)

Exercise has always been promoted as a key tool for reducing anxiety and calming your body and mind. Under current restrictions we’re allowed outside to exercise for up to an hour each day, so if you can, make sure you’re using it. Whether it’s a run, a bike ride or a steady walk, the opportunity to move and the change of scenery will have a positive effect.

If you’re not feeling up to heading out, just a walk around your garden if you have one or throwing open the windows to let in some fresh air can help.  

Alternatively use online exercise videos to help get the much-needed endorphin rush.

Stay tuned: In the coming weeks we plan to bring you some exercising at home tips from several athletes based on campus.

3. Stay in touch

We may not be able to see our family, friends and colleagues but we can still speak to them. Pick up the phone for a chat or stay in touch virtually – day to day contact with others can help to make life feel a little more normal and it can help to talk about how you’re feeling.  

The coronavirus webpages have more information about the ways in which you can stay connected with colleagues and friends at work. We’ll also be doing a dedicated blog post on this later.

4. Give yourself a break

Many people are finding that staying home means they have extra time on their hands and are using the opportunity to get some jobs done around the house or even develop new skills. Although this can be a great way to fill your time and keep your mind occupied – don’t feel bad if you’re not.

There’s nothing wrong with taking this time to rest and relax and slow life down. Some days may feel productive, others less so. The priority should be whatever is best for your own personal wellbeing – putting extra pressure on yourself is the last thing you need right now.

This mentality also applies to your work. We’ll be covering motivation and prioritising wellbeing during stressful times in the weeks to come.

5. Don’t compare yourself to others

The last point leads in nicely to our next – don’t compare yourself to anyone else in terms of how you are coping and spending your time.

The presence of social media in our daily lives makes it very easy to compare yourself to others generally, even more so at a time when you could be feeling low and not at your best. You might think that others are coping better than you but social media is often a highlights reel. You don’t always get the full picture.

Also remember, we might all be on the same journey, but we’re not in the same boat. During lockdown, we all have different commitments and priorities. You might be looking after children or caring for a vulnerable family member or friend. The challenges we all face daily are different, meaning that everyone’s experience of lockdown is different.  

6. Take some time off(line)

With the above in mind, it’s also worth giving yourself a break from or managing your time on social media as well as news channels. The constant stream of information and insight into what others are doing can be exhausting and lead to repetitive negativity and fear. Manage your time to allow only short bursts of exposure to keep you up to date.

7. Consider your diet

Nutrition is an important part of looking after your health and wellbeing. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables will help with how you’re feeling but it’s also important to make sure you’re eating properly with regular meals. This will help with how you feel generally and keep you in a good routine. Staying hydrated with plenty of fluids will also help to keep you feeling at your best.

8. Turn the music up

Listening to music can help to relieve stress and worry, encourage relaxation, improve your mood and help with your overall wellbeing. We’ll be talking more about how music can and is helping in a future post.

9. Breathing exercises

As we said before, making time to breathe can be a very effective tool in looking after your wellbeing. This calming breathing technique from the NHS can be practised anywhere at any time to reduce stress and anxiety and help clear your mind.

More to come: We’ll be sharing an at home yoga routine in the coming weeks, which also includes a focus on breathing.

10. Get some sleep

Not just any sleep though, good sleep. You might find that during lockdown you’re suffering with sleep disturbance. Professor Kevin Morgan from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences has put together his top five tips for getting better sleep.

Further support and guidance available to you

Whatever you’re struggling with during lockdown, there are services and resources you can access from both the University and external providers.

 The Yellow Book: Staff members and students now have access to this inspirational resource – an online tool containing a wealth of tools to support your journey to positive wellbeing. You can access the site with your normal log in details.

Health Assured: This new Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) provides resources and unlimited support to help you tackle the physical, mental, financial and social challenges in your life.

NHS – Every mind Matters:  This site has tips to help if you’re worried about the coronavirus.

Mind: The mental health charity has advice about coronavirus and your wellbeing.

You can also access a range of services from the University’s Student Services and Occupational Health teams.

Health and Wellbeing

Wellbeing means being in a positive physical, social and mental state. Wellbeing is important to us as happy, healthy people who achieve harmony in their work / life mix are more creative, productive and help to create a great place to work.

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