How to Develop Your Lockdown Resilience this Winter

It’s not too late to learn some lockdown resilience, in fact you might need it now more than ever. Whatever your circumstances or however you’re feeling about life right now, these are some tips which can help anyone.

What a year this has turned out to be. The March 2020 lockdown was bad enough; an unprecedented way of living that nobody was prepared for, plunging everyone into social, financial, and wellbeing situations that would have immediate and long lasting effects.

After a brief return to partial normality in the summer, when we could go out for drinks in the sunshine, eat in real life restaurants again, and see our friends, it’s perhaps no surprise that reports of a second wave have come in. And with it, the spectre of a second lockdown.

10pm curfews in pubs and restaurants, local lockdowns, and restrictions on seeing people from other households. People aren’t happy and you can’t blame them.

But while people have been quick to jump on social media and say that if the government have deemed it safe to go back to work then they’ll see their friends and family thank you very much, the key thing now is to develop some lockdown resilience that’ll help you long term not just on Saturday nights.

Lockdown resilience: What is it?

When we talk about resilience we mean coping in a crisis or a period of major change. Resilience is all about adapting effectively so that you can bounce back. These are good life skills to have at any time, but they’ll come in especially handy this year.

When we think about developing lockdown resilience we need to think about how we are going to prevent or limit the stresses of lockdown from impacting on us too negatively.

Identifying and using some positive behaviours and coping mechanisms is crucial to help us function under pressure. There might be a number of ways lockdown impacts your life, and while financial and physical health changes can’t be solved overnight, building up some emotional resilience during this time can and will help.

Try taking on board these tips, read up on emotional resilience, speak to friends and family to find out what they’re doing, and make up some of your own.

Acceptance

One of the key factors in building resilience is accepting change. Yes you can be angry at the government (I’m permanently angry at them) but save that anger for the ballot box and practical action, and instead use your emotional energy right now on yourself.

No amount of tweeting what you think of Matt Hancock is going to make your personal situation any better in a second lockdown so you need to focus on your own coping mechanisms and equilibrium, not channeling an unhealthy amount of your emotion into dwelling on how unfair it all is.

When we are faced with a big change, it’s important that you accept the change instead of resisting it. Change management is a big industry, for example in workplaces where there’s mass redundancies or takeovers. Those who accept the change more readily are those who will adjust better. They are the more resilient ones. So this is what we are aiming for in life right now.

That doesn’t mean that people have to agree with workplace redundancies or takeovers, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you have to agree with the way the authorities are dealing with this pandemic or the economy or the safety of the public. It means you accept that a big change is happening to you. This is going to be an important part of building lockdown resilience.

Nurture yourself

I don’t just mean throwing on a face mask for a pamper. But let’s never underestimate their power. Nurture your emotional wellbeing, your physical wellbeing, your mental wellbeing.

• Take up yoga
• Do a short course on Future Learn or Duo Lingo
• Get online counselling
• Get round to reading some books or listen to audio books
• Keep a journal – diary style or gratitude, whatever you fancy
• Get enough sleep or if you struggle, build a peaceful bedtime routine so that you at least get to switch off and rest
• Develop a new activity routine – a morning run or evening walk
• Meditate
• Draw or paint or create something with your hands, even just a colouring book or word search
• Find effective ways to develop your confidence
• Practise mindfulness
• Yes do a face mask, why not? What have we got to lose at this point…

To develop some lockdown resilience you need to be in the best shape you can be and I don’t necessarily mean doing home workouts every day. I mean that even if you are physically unwell, that you try and nurture your emotional wellbeing where you can. Or if you feel yourself begin to struggle mentally, perhaps keep active to lower the effects of stress on your mind and body.

Embrace the opportunities that a second lockdown might bring. Again, this doesn’t mean you agree or are looking forward to it, but that you’re learning to roll with it. That’s real lockdown resilience.

If lockdown stops you from seeing friends and family then you can nurture those friendships in other ways (bring back all those Zoom quizzes) but also think of it as more time for yourself. We might never get this chance again. Use it to nurture yourself mind and body.

Evaluate your relationships

Look at the connections around you. Work colleagues, study partners, house mates, family, friends, children, or just someone you’re talking to regularly.

When something like lockdown hits – or maybe another big life change like ill health, after graduation, becoming withdrawn, leaving your job or being on maternity leave – what role do these people play?

Friends

It’s not about how many friends you’ve got or how long those friendships are. And sometimes, if I’m honest, it’s not even about quality of all your friendships.

It’s perfectly okay to have mates who you go out with for brunch or cocktails but you can’t talk to them about your depression. Likewise, it’s perfectly okay to have friends who you don’t get to see face to face very often but you can tell them your deepest fears.

There’s no template for friendships. They’re a result of both circumstance and different peoples personalities. So having lots of good quality friendships is just a lucky bonus, not an achievement. Please don’t feel you need lots of friends or very close friends to get through lockdown or to build emotional resilience during this time.

Maintaining any friendship on the other hand is an achievement. And now is a good time to re-evaluate your friendships and perhaps make some difficult decisions about which ones are worth maintaining.

Have a think; have you only been giving your energy to people who want to go out all night? Do they text you to see how you are in between? Do they only talk about themselves?

You probably know the signs to look for, and you’ll know best what matters most to you, but during lockdown we get the opportunity to look at friendships under a different lens and make sure that the connections we have are strong and worthwhile.

Family

Similarly family relations; what difference does lockdown make to how we get along with them? Who depends on you and who can you depend on? Are you feeling resilient enough to deal with someone who is coping very badly with lockdown? Are you depleting their resources by constantly moaning or being negative?

There can be some tough questions to ask yourself but we need to be realistic – do we want to build resilience or do we want to flounder?

Partners

Our closest loved ones play such an important part in our life that it’s crucial that you can rely on them for support and encouragement at the best of times never mind during a pandemic.

Even people we talk to on a casual but regular basis – are they a positive influence on your life and how you are feeling right now?

Are they helping you develop resilience? Are they someone who helps you to feel secure and to take things in your stride?

The answer might not be to dump them, but in good times and bad, we need to know the person we love or are considering entering into a relationship with has got our backs. In the meantime, if you think they’re lacking in this department then do some extra work on your other relationships and friendships to patch up that gap in your support network. After all, plenty of us get along swimmingly without a significant other in our lives – but if they’re there, they should be contributing to the good vibes.

Reach Out

Once you’ve evaluated the connections you’ve got, hopefully you’ll have a good idea of who you can reach out to. Not only who to reach out to but what to say, and what you need from them.

For instance, do you need someone to:

  • go for a walk with to help you get out of the house
  • help you with your CV if you’ve lost your job
  • get a few friends together for a Zoom quiz night
  • speak to about budgeting or financial difficulties if your income has been affected by the pandemic
  • just be a listening ear when you need it
  • have a proper belly laugh with reminiscing on old times
  • stop you spiralling when you feel like you can’t cope and anxieties are getting the better of you
  • plan holidays and events that you can look forward to in the future

Tune into your own needs, what brings out the best in you and helps you to move forward not back, and don’t be afraid to ask.

If you can develop your resilience you’ll be in a better place to help others too. Remember the saying you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Know what and who to block out

It’s easy to get overwhelmed during a stressful time and when it’s a global situation it’s difficult to escape it. Whether you’re trying to stay safe at home, working on the frontline in the NHS, stuck in uni accommodation, or just trying to go about your normal business in a not-so-normal world there’s a lot of noisy input from many sources that can mess with our equilibrium. 

Don’t be afraid to delete Twitter, stop watching the news, avoid getting into debates with your grandad about the rights and wrongs of pub closures, mute Karen on Facebook who shares all those conspiracy memes. These all have a way of creeping up on you and weighing you down in their own way.

Lockdown resilience: The take away

Life’s full of big changes and 2020’s lockdowns are new territory for most of us. Look after your mental health by developing some emotional resilience with these tips:

• Accepting change (regardless of whether you agree with what’s happening or how it’s being handled)
• Nurturing yourself physically and mentally with self development, relaxation, getting creative, improving your confidence, learning a new skill, or keeping active
• Re-evaluating your connections and identifying who you can rely on in your network and what you might need to reach out to them for
• Block or mute any input which is too overwhelming or disturbing your wellbeing

Good luck and be well x

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