There’s no denying lockdown 2.0 has been rough, leaving many of us feeling unmotivated and unlike our usual selves.
So, it’s more important than ever, during this unprecedented, yes I said it, unprecedented time that we take time each day to look after our mental wellbeing.
Below are some simple actions that can help you look after your mental health during this state of crisis we find ourselves in.
Illustration by Cindy Chen.
Going for a walk, however, you like it, a sluggish stroll or Kath and Kel speed walk can assist in maintaining a healthy mental state. Having been couped up in our homes for months and at times for 24 hours at a time, we have all experienced the impact staying indoors for long periods can have on our mental health.
Under the current lockdown rules, we've got an hour a day to get out and exercise. While the winter chills made this less than appealing, spring is now well and truly upon us, offering some sunshine and blooming florals to brighten the day. So, make sure you get out of the house, for a quick power walk or stroll, for ten minutes or the full hour, it's entirely up to you.
For when the weather is less than enticing, Youtube has an abundance of workout channels offering everything from yoga flows, to HIIT. These free workouts are ideal for in-between lectures or to wake you up in the morning.
Poor sleep can negatively impact our mental health, meaning those who experience insomnia or sleep deprivation are at greater risk of experiencing poor mental health.
Adequate sleep is crucial, especially during this time of increased stress. And a good sleep routine can help improve the quality of sleep we experience. Taking simple steps like turning all devices off before bed, not using your phone or computer a few hours before you go to bed, taking time to unwind and unplug, only using your bedroom for sleep, keeping the room dark and, if you’re like me, staying away from caffeine at night can all help us achieve better sleep.
Sometimes, when everything feels overwhelming, and you’re being hit with challenge after challenge, some time out to immerse yourself in someone else’s life is the perfect reset.
Spending an hour reading the finest fiction you can put you hands-on, or investing your time in a new series is a great way to give yourself some time out. If you’re not feeling up for a plot-heavy drama such as Ozark, a comedy like Brooklyn Nine-Nine or reality series is usually the way to go. I’ve been making my way through The Real Housewives Universe, travelling vicariously through the lives of the ladies who lunch/brunch.
Whipping up a cake or cookies to share with others or as a treat for yours truly, goes beyond taste to leave us feeling warm and fuzzy. During this period of lockdown/quarantine, I've remarkably improved my cooking and baking skills, expanding my repertoire beyond spaghetti bolognese (previously my signature dish) and finding the joy of baking, the pure bliss of memorising a recipe and seamlessly executing every step. Knowing it so well, I can blast my favourite playlist or podcast through my headphones and zone out to a parallel universe where I reprise the role of pastry chef, Jane, in Meryl Streep's It's Complicated.
So, to share the bliss of baking, I present my favourite choc chip cookie recipe (created by @deliciouslyella).
Choc Chip Cookies
100g plain flour
90g coconut sugar
A pinch of salt
A teaspoon of baking powder
100g of chocolate (any will do, dark vegan chocolate, milk baking chocolate, dark baking chocolate, I’ve tried them all and all are equally delicious)
35 ml of Almond milk
25g of coconut oil
Set oven to 190 degrees Celcius (fan-forced)
Set out 2 baking trays lined with non-stick paper
Melt oil in a pot on a low heat
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl
Add oil and milk and stir until you get cookie dough
Scoop dough out, shape into balls and then flatten on a baking tray making sure to leave space between each cookie.
Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the dough.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes and enjoy!
If you or someone you care about is struggling and in need of help during this time, please reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14. For more information and resources on mental health challenges visit Headspace.