As Kelly wrote a few days ago, we’re really getting into the trenches of fatigue this lockdown. Who can be bothered with ANYTHING right now? Alice has taken a look at what requires virtually ZERO effort right now that can help perk things up – and it doesn’t involve attempting to be social, working out or attempting to clear out your wardrobe/boxes in the garage/miscellaneous top drawer.
A friend of mine wrote the first half of a book in the first few weeks of lockdown. Another took up knitting and got two-thirds of the way through a winter scarf. A third decided she was going to use lockdown to get in serious shape, but by the time the elliptical trainer she bought arrived, she turned it right back around again for a refund. The time for getting things done had passed. Now all she wanted to do was re-watch old movies and eat peanut butter from the jar.
Many of us got off to a hiss and a roar at the beginning of lockdown – unsure how long this would last, we used it to clear out those cupboards, cull our wardrobe and tick off those long-standing to-do lists. I say ‘we’ but I unfortunately never quite got that boot of motivation at the start – but regardless, am still where a lot of people are right now, stuck in ‘meh’ land, where each day is often undistinguishable from the next and most activities fall into the too hard basket.
If you’re like me, and feeling that sense of meh, I’ve called in some expert help to get some motivation. First of all, we’re totally entitled to be feeling a bit flat at the moment, so no beating yourself up! But, if you would like a few ideas for making life a little easier, more interesting, more distinguishable from the next, here are a few EASY, far from intimidating ways of pepping up your days and nights.
Start your day off right
The Work From Home experts have always said the trick to being productive is to have a routine and start each morning like you’re going to work – have a shower, do your hair, put on a working outfit and get going with your day. That advice seems ridiculous and unnecessary to me during lockdown so I’m certainly not going to try to encourage you to give it a go, especially when I have a seriously haphazard shower routine at the moment and an aversion to underwire.
However, why not pick a day each week to be fancy. The legend that is Hilary Barry kicked off Formal Fridays, which is a fab routine to get in on. Put on a ridiculous dress! Wash your hair! Put on lippy! It’s just one morning of commitment and could really lift your spirits. It’s a break from the norm and can help distinguish Thursday from Friday. Maybe loop in a few colleagues or friends and look forward to being greeted with their chandelier earrings, OTT eye make-up or faux fur stole in your morning zoom meeting.
If it’s not your cup of tea, Fresh Sheets Friday is also highly recommended, or French Toast Fridays.
For a more regular morning routine, when you really can’t be bothered, there’s an easy way to outsource the whole palaver to someone else. Craft Smoothies do special Superfood Smoothie Boxes which arrive at your door with all the ingredients to make nutrient packed smoothies. Each morning you literally just have to put the ingredients (normally a combo of fresh fruit and/or veges, plus one of the pre-prepared pouches of nuts, seeds and superfood powders) and a handful of ice into the blender and you’re done. Even if you spend the rest of your day eating peanut butter out of the jar, at least you’ve started your day off with something truly nutritious (and tasty). There are some tasty combos too like the ‘Nobody Pushes You Acai’ smoothie (with banana, apple, lemon, almonds, blackcurrants and acai) or the ‘Turmeric Your Day Around (banana, avocado, carrot, mandarin, coconut chips, cashew nuts, goji berries and turmeric). Look how healthy you can be without even really trying!!
Learn to meditate
Wait, don’t skip over this one!! I know I’ve harped on about this more than once and if you’ve never meditated before (or tried it and hated it) you’ll already be rolling your eyes. I know. I feel you. I remember a guy I dated used to meditate and it seemed truly insane to me. Any time I tried, I just thought about what I was going to have for dinner, how itchy my forehead was, or I suddenly thought about all the things I should be really worried about.
But then I met Andy.
Andy is the meditation man from Headspace and changed how I thought about it totally. He gives the best guided meditations, is totally non-judgemental and talks about the weird thoughts (or itches) that suddenly pop up and how normal it is. Before you know it, you’re a few sessions in and finding it much less challenging – enjoyable even! They’re only little 10 minute exercise so they’re pretty much over in the time it takes to make a cup of tea, and the app is free. If my wacko brain, which used to like waking up at 3am and thinking about everything in the world I could possibly ever stress about, could calm down and meditate, I assure you, you can do this too. I highly recommend giving your busy brain a little vacation every day with this app!
Get a good night’s sleep
If you’ve been having trouble getting a good night’s rest lately, you’re not alone. The BBC called it “coronasomnia” and it appears to be a global phenomenon. During peak lockdown in 2020 in China insomnia rates rose from 14.6% to 20%, in Greece a study conducted in May 2020 found that nearly 40% of respondents were experiencing insomnia. In fact, the word insomnia was Googled more in 2020 than ever before.
The list of reasons is pretty long at this point – there’s our poor, busy minds which have so much new information (and confusion & fears!) to process. Many of us are spending more time in front of screens. Many are relying on coffee more, or opting for a few wines each night to unwind. We’re getting less fresh air, human interaction and exercise – all of which makes switching off at the end of the night that much harder.
So what do we do? Unfortunately most of it is the stuff we know we should be doing but just can’t be bothered: watching and reading less news, getting off social media, not using our phones or looking at screens for at least an hour before bed, going for a 30 min walk each day, drinking less coffee and drinking less alcohol.
Yep, it all sounds a bit ‘meh’ to me – changing our ways during lockdown fatigue is hard. But if we can flip it around and make it about self-care, suddenly it seems a bit more appealing. Getting a fancy bath bomb (I recommend this Sleepy Bath Bomb from Lush), some delicious bath salts, Epsom salts (they’re super cheap from the supermarket or health food store in bulk) or just adding in a few drops of lavender oil, can feel like such a decadent treat. Light some candles, or take in your kindle with a cup of chamomile tea (or glass of red wine – moderation is key!) and spend some time enjoying the soak, unwinding before bedtime.
Try switching off each night with a little routine. Read a book, listen to a podcast, or nominate a way in which you’re going to pamper yourself each night – eg, tonight’s the night you pay special attention to your hands and give them a mini-manicure, lotion and massage, maybe tomorrow you’ll focus on your feet or your face. Start a journal and write down your feelings! Write handwritten letters to friends or family! Play a board game! Start a jigsaw puzzle! Whatever you can do to get away from the late night trawl of Netflix (especially when you’re really at the bottom of the barrel of things left to watch or thinking that watching Squid Game at 1am is reasonable), or – worse still – reading through the news or status updates/arguments on social media, is a step in the right direction.
Many of us are upping the numbers of hours we’re spending watching TV at the moment, because, well, what else is there to do, and it’s also a chance to escape the Groundhog day-ness of what we’re all experiencing. But, now is actually the best time to get stuck into books, ignite our imaginations and escape to other worlds and times! Check out our book club for inspiration!
If your bedroom has also become where you prop up your laptop and WFM, it can be hard to get some separation which can make it more difficult to sleep. But if it’s the only set-up that works for you, try to have some signals to your brain that you’re now in a different mode – don’t read emails/do work after a certain time. Change your clothes when you finish working – even if that just means moving from day pyjamas to night pyjamas. Take a shower, or wash your face as a routine that signals to your body that you’re transitioning from work phase to a relaxing phase.
Calm that brain before bedtime. I won’t harp on again, but Headspace does do a great night-time meditation, including one you can listen to during the night if you wake up with your mind racing.