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6 ways to boost your mood in lockdown

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Updated 19th November 2020 - We recommend the coronavirus page on the NHS website for more up to date information.

Lockdown 2.0 is in full swing, and lots of us have already had enough! If you’re feeling blue about the prospect of being stuck at home and unable to see friends and family, read on. We’ve put together six simple tips for boosting your mood.

Stay active

Large parts of the UK may be in full lockdown, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep active. Wherever you live, you’re allowed to get out of your house to exercise on your own or with others in your household or support bubble.

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 (1)

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.

You should also make sure you’re doing strengthening exercises a couple of times a week. You can try yoga or pilates, or do push-ups, sit-ups and weight-lifting.

Read our exercise guide for more hints and tips.

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 (2)

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.

Eat well

Since March, 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
  • Reading
  • Watching classic films
  • Doing crosswords or sudoku puzzles
  • Learning a language
  • Playing an instrument
  • Playing videogames
  • Exercising

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.

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.

If you're displaying symptoms, you can get a free NHS test or you can request a Coronavirus (COVID-19) swab test kit from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor.

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References

www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/#guidelines-for-adults-aged-19-to-64
www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/10-tips-to-beat-insomnia/
www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/food-and-mood/about-food-and-mood/