Simple Steps to Ease Lockdown Anxiety
Taking control of the little things in your life can make a big difference to your day
While the world outside changes in ways we never thought we’d see, it’s easy to get lost in a spiral of anxiety. But taking control of the things in my own little world can ease the tightness in my chest, making my little corner of the planet a tranquil place to be.
Rather than heading straight to look at a screen, in the morning I make myself a cup of coffee and I sit by my patio doors listening to the birds chirping at each other, to the rustle of leaves, look up at the sky and the trees that line my street. Perhaps I watch the shadows dance if there’s sunshine streaming through the window, noting how the light catches objects in the room. Even though I live in London, there’s nature and beauty to be found between the concrete and sound of sirens. The mornings feel peaceful, and my 7.30 am cuppa by an open window, as I feel the breeze on my face, allows me to focus on the day ahead.
Then, even if it’s just for five minutes, I move my body – whether it’s a dance workout I’ve found on YouTube, or ten minutes of yoga (I love this to invigorate me and awaken my muscles) or a quick aerobic session in my bedroom.
Once I am showered, yes, I put my joggers on, but I always put on some jewellery, my hoop earrings have become part of who I am, my signature style, and I squirt a little perfume on my neck and wrists to signal the start of my day. It keeps me grounded to who I am.
Every Saturday morning, I clean. Put my music on loud, rubber gloves at the ready and scrub, polish, hoover, put my piles of clutter away…
I lose myself in the actions. Wash away how I feel with bleach. Soothe my soul with polish. Brush the cobwebs out of the corners. There’s something wonderfully cathartic about watching the dirt of the week being magically scrubbed away, as I sing and dance to my favourite happy songs.
I put fresh sheets on my bed. A task that usually lurks right at the bottom of my to-do list, I now relish. I sniff the gorgeous smell of laundry detergent. Get a fresh pair of PJs to put under my pillow, and I know how much I will love getting into bed later that evening.
If you haven’t read it, get some inspiration from Mrs Hinch: Hinch Yourself Happy. She too uses cleaning to control panic attacks and anxiety. Turning your home into a sanctuary and safe space is more important than ever. So enjoy the process of it, too.
I try to stay focused on the micro, rather than the macro. If I focus too much on all the things that are out of my control, I feel totally overwhelmed and every little worry I have turns into a catastrophe. At the beginning of the lockdown, I was checking my phone constantly for news updates and had notifications constantly coming from lots of different sources. I found myself worrying about every single headline, and I knew that I had absolutely no control over them. And although I know that worrying won’t fix the world’s problems, I couldn’t stop.
So I switched off my notifications, and I felt so much better. Instead, I look for news when I am in the right headspace, rather than being triggered by something I wasn’t ready to see. I usually find my news fix in the morning, definitely not just before bed as I know I will overanalyse and never get to sleep. And remember, the big news will always reach you the moment you turn on your phone or switch your TV on or make a phone call, so don’t worry that you will miss something, you won’t.
Of course, I am grateful for the connections that our screens bring right now, it’s our lifeline to our friends and family. But every week, I also have at least one day off from social media, and find my mind is much clearer when I am not bombarded with what other people are doing in lockdown.
Instead, I light some candles, make my bedroom cosy and calm and I allow myself to be absorbed into the world of a novel or watch a feel-good film (I adored Love Wedding Repeat on Netflix) or replay a happy memory in my mind. Or perhaps I luxuriate in the simple action of washing my hair, massaging my scalp, taking in the shampoo scent.
Make pockets of time in your day to check in with yourself. Do what feels right for you, and I hope a little of what I do will provide you with some inspiration for dealing with locked-down days…