During lockdown, the new rules of life can pull our mental health into a damaging spiral.
While staring at the same four walls our anxiety and stress can be heightened by worries over anything and everything – jobs, money, living arrangements, the pandemic itself – and those feelings are compounded by an absence of the great ways in which we usually relieve them.
Those small but important releases like socialising and exercising have been limited, and the result is sometimes a hard cycle to break. Often we turn to short-term fixes like alcohol or unhealthy foods which give a brief relief but tend make us feel worse in the long run.
Even in lockdown there are still plenty of ways to combat this, of course. A kind of ‘distant-socialising’ is still possible over video conference, provided you’ve got the patience to cope with several hundred “sorry, no, you go” interludes. And exercise is not just allowed but is very much encouraged by Public Health England and mental health professionals to help us all through this period.
When it comes to exercise, everyone knows the rules by now: we are allowed out once per day to exercise and, so long as we are on our own or with a member of our household, there are no fixed limits on how much we can do or how far we should go (although it is stressed that you should “stay local”).
With a more static day-to-day lifestyle than normal, many people have been heading out in their socially distanced droves to walk and run through parks and cycle on the near-empty roads, and are taking part in online fitness classes in the living room. Cycling in particular has seen an enormous uptake with bikes on the road at around double normal levels, while fitness professionals claim the industry has “changed forever” in the pandemic.
Walking, Running, Yoga or; want something different? Gardening, Tai Chi and dancing have all been proven to lower stress, and anything of at least 45 minutes is a surprisingly good workout for the body