Maintaining mental health in Lockdown 3.0

Image: Dan Myers via Unsplash

Mental health has been talked about much more this past year than ever before and it is a refreshing change, even if it’s still not talked about enough. Lockdown 1.0 was incredibly hard for me as I had just been diagnosed with anxiety a few months back and A Levels were just around the corner. The uncertainty of the whole situation was overwhelming. Everyone told each other (and themselves) that they would learn a language this lockdown, start a hobby, lose some weight… none of that ever really happened for me. I started well and with good intentions, but sometimes it’s essential to step back and realise that the exercise plan I had set out for myself was no longer healthy. Not during a pandemic. Not when mental health is concerned. So I stopped – and it was the best choice I could have made because, ultimately, I didn’t need to be skinny to be healthy and fixing my mental health was more important than getting that summer body when we weren’t even going to have a summer.

I have to admit this lockdown has been 10x more stressful than the first one and I know that many people agree with me. It is getting to the point where this has gone on for a lot longer than we mentally prepared ourselves for. That is okay. It just means that this lockdown, I have devised myself a ‘Do’ and ‘Do Not’ list to ensure my sanity.

This lockdown, I will not put pressure on myself to stick to the expected exercise schedule. Social media always emphasises those who got into shape during lockdown, those who pushed on and that is incredible for them, but it does not need to be me.

This lockdown, I will try to cut myself some slack when it comes to academic capability. I am a perfectionist, always have been, and that can become unhealthy when I fight against what my mental health is telling me. It is okay to take mental health days. I work hard and will continue to work hard, but not to the detriment of me.

Finally, I will not shut myself off from the world. This will take different forms for different people, but it is way too easy to detach from reality and push yourself into your bubble. As an ambivert, I have always tended to shut myself in my room and only come out twice a day. During this lockdown, I will allow myself time to breathe. I will communicate with my friends, even if it has to be over social media, and I will continue to engage with all the societies that have kept my hope alive over the past couple of months.

All these things will keep me sane and have me coming out of lockdown with a different kind of glow-up than the one expected: a glow-up of my aura. And that is what is important.

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