Lockdown has been tough; however many people have enjoyed some of the benefits a more basic lifestyle has offered, such as working from home, learning a new skill, eating home cooked meals or hopping on a bicycle.

An author and psychotherapist, Mark Newey, believes lockdown has been the ‘reset button nobody dared press'. Here are his top tips to ensure your best lockdown habits don't become a distant memory.

Slowing things down

Before lockdown we lived life like it's a constant sprint.

However, life is a marathon with an occasional burst of sprint. In order to get into sprint or stress mode, our body is filled with adrenalin, cortisol and noradrenaline to fire us up. When we have dealt with whatever the pressure is, we can slow down and get back into balance. But if we're in constant sprint mode our mind and body are constantly stressed. We have to learn to take things easy and pace ourselves.

The commute can be the most stressful part of anyone's day. Talk to your boss and see if you can continue to work from home? Cutting out the commute really helps people to slow down and enjoy the extra hours not spent stressed stuck in a traffic jam. If you enjoy working from home, you'll be more focused and productive, and your stress levels will decrease.

A daily routine

Routines help us to create an easy, calmer and more comfortable reality. We thrive on order, certainty, habits and routines. There's been a lot of advice about routines during lockdown. Many of us have intuitively become aware of the need to create new order. What might not be so obvious is to take these new routines with us as we come out of lockdown.

If you've enjoyed cooking, meditation or mindfulness during lockdown make time in your schedule to continue this activity. For example: simply take five minutes and sit in a chair and just ‘be'. Focus on your breathing, self-reflect and check in on how you feel emotionally and physically. Remind yourself it's OK to feel stressed or anxious, but consider how you can positively change your mood.

Exercise

Exercise has always been vital for the human condition to thrive. Exercising outdoors is best as it'll ensure your daily fix of Vitamin D, which is vital for a good night's sleep. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These brain chemicals are the body's feel good hormones and play an important part in regulating your mood. Improvements in mood with exercise can be seen after as little as 10 minutes of aerobic activity but tend to be highest after at least 20 minutes.

Sales of bicycles have soared during lockdown, so make sure this doesn't become a ‘fad' and incorporate exercise into your daily regime. During the summer months it's great to get outside, explore your local neighbourhood, or get back into a sport you used to love. Gyms may be closed but outdoor fitness classes, kayaking, paddleboarding make for fun alternatives!

To discover more about how to look after your own mental wellbeing visit www.headucate.me. The site also offers: a free online mental wellbeing advice and a free 12 week mental wellness lifeplan to help you cope with the anxiety and stress caused by COVID19.

Mark Newey
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