6 ways to boost your mood during the pandemic
Updated 12th April 2021- We recommend the coronavirus page on the NHS website for more up to date information.
Even with restrictions easing in England you may be feeling blue about the prospect of spending time at home and being unable to see friends and family indoors, read on. We’ve put together six simple tips for boosting your mood during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UK restrictions are easing which means there's more ways for you to keep active. In England you can meet up outdoors with friends and family you do not live with, either:
- in a group of up to 6 from any number of households (children of all ages count towards the limit of 6)
- in a group of any size from up to two households (each household can include an existing support bubble, if eligible)
There are so many benefits to taking regular exercise. It improves your mood and self-esteem, eases feelings of stress and anxiety, boosts your energy levels, and helps you sleep better.
The NHS recommends the following amount of exercise for adults in a week:
- At least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity activity OR 75 minutes (1.25 hours) of high-intensity activity
- Strengthening activities that work the major muscles two days a week
Examples of moderate-intensity activity are brisk walking, cycling, and hiking. You might want to take long bike rides twice a week, or enjoy a brisk, 30-minute stroll every weekday.
Examples of high-intensity activity are jogging, mountain biking, and aerobics. A good way to get this high-intensity activity into your routine is to do an online exercise class twice a week.
Read our exercise guide for more hints and tips.
Organise a picnic
In England, people are now allowed to spend time outdoor spaces and private gardens with up to 6 people from any number of households or in a group of any size from up to two households.
So, enjoy the weather with a picnic. Pack up a hamper with all your favourite snacks and drinks, grab a few blankets and head for your nearest green space. Just make sure you avoid sharing food, drink, plates, cups and cutlery with people from other households, and always maintain a distance of around two metres.
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Get plenty of sleep
If you’ve found it harder to get good sleep during lockdown, you’re not alone. There’s a lot to worry about these days, and as a result many of us are feeling really anxious, stressed and depressed – all of which can hamper a good night’s sleep.
You can improve your sleep by trying the following:
- Stick to a routine i.e. get up and go to bed at the same each day
- Avoid screens before you sleep
- Make your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible
- Wind down before bed e.g. take a warm bath, listen to relaxing sounds
- Avoid caffeine, especially later in the day
- Exercise during the day
Read our sleep guide and discover more ways to help you get a good night’s sleep.
If you’ve tried all of the above and you’re still struggling to sleep, speak to your doctor. They might be able to recommend some techniques you haven’t tried, or refer you for CBT.
Since last year, we’ve had to adapt the way that we cook and eat. Spending more time cooking, eating and doing dishes at home has many of us turning to takeaways. But if you can, stick with the home cooking.
Takeaways or ready meals are fine every now and then, but just they’re often high in sugar, salt and saturated fat. It’s also hard to make sure that they contain the essential nutrients your body needs.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet based around home cooking is one of the best ways to stay healthy and keep your mood boosted. You’ll get all your essential nutrients, and prevent your blood sugar dropping throughout the day, which can make you feel tired and irritable.
Try to get into the habit of prepping and cooking your own meals. Incorporate lots of vegetables, along with wholegrain carbs, lean protein, and lower-fat dairy products. Read our healthy eating guide for recipe ideas. It’s also recommended that you eat two portions of fish (one of which is oily) each week.
If you’re lacking motivation on the cooking front, try the following:
- Buy a new cookbook or find recipes online
- Create a cooking rota with other people in your household
- Batch cook at the weekend so you don’t have to cook during the week
- Ask friends to share their favourite recipes or ideas with you
- Try a new ingredient or experiment with a different spice or herb
- Have a go at recreating your favourite takeaway
Keep up with hobbies
Keeping busy with a hobby is a really good way to stay happy and motivated over lockdown. A hobby can be the development of a skill, a craft, or just a fun pastime that helps you relax and unwind.
Hobbies that are perfect for lockdown include:
- Drawing, painting and crafts
- Knitting and crochet
- Cooking and baking
- Watching classic films
- Doing crosswords or sudoku puzzles
- Learning a language
- Playing an instrument
- Playing videogames
Try setting yourself goals over a few weeks or months. You might try to read 10 books, run your first 5K, learn how to bake bread, or knit a jumper. If you can meet these goals – however small – you’ll feel a fantastic sense of achievement.
Have self-care sessions
Whether you live with people or on your own, it’s important to set aside some me-time through the week. A self-care or pampering session will look different to everybody, but just make sure it’s all about meeting your needs.
Take an hour out of your week to curl up with your favourite TV show, take a long walk in nature, or (our personal favourite) enjoy an indulgent pampering session, complete with bubble bath and sheet masks.
If you can recharge your batteries during these sessions, you’ll be more energised and motivated the rest of the week.
If you’re having a particularly hard day, you can try boosting your mood with stress-relief techniques such as controlled breathing and yoga. We also recommended the guided meditations that health influencer Cat Meffan has created for us.
Seek help when you need it
We’re all finding this hard, so just remember there’s no shame in admitting that you’re struggling. If you’re experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, you should make an appointment with your GP.