It happened in an instant. One day, life was the usual routine. Suddenly, we were all facing the highest level of lockdown with just a few hours notice.
The “hard and fast” approach gave us all a bit of a shock. We had gotten comfortable with our covid-free status. It seemed we had this thing beat. Now a few days into lockdown, we’ve had time to adjust and wonder what we will do with the time on our hands.
We’ve done lockdown before, and we know we all need to take extra care of ourselves and our bubbles during this time of upheaval. So, we gathered our top five tips for staying sane during lockdown.
1. Keep in touch
If you have watched High School Musical you know that “we are all in this together”. Isolating within our bubbles can sometimes be lonely so reach out. Don’t be scared to FaceTime your friends, text your neighbours, message your parents, send silly memes to put a smile on someone’s face.
Even if you’re enjoying your solo time, you might have a friend that could use a chat. Don’t forget about your elderly or immune-compromised neighbours who are completely housebound - offer to get their groceries and prescriptions for them, or just inquire about how they are doing. A smile goes a long way.
2. Move your body
Lockdown might seem like the opportune time to turn into a couch potato. How about trying an app like Couch to 5K instead? Since exercise is limited to our local neighbourhoods, it’s the perfect time to challenge yourself, even if you haven’t run a step since primary school phys ed. A Harvard study showed that replacing an hour of sitting with an hour of walking, or 15 minutes of sitting with 15 minutes of running, resulted in a 26% decrease in the likelihood of getting depression. So get up and move that body!
It doesn’t have to be about exercise. Put on your favourite beats and dance around your house - there is no one watching. Except maybe your next-door neighbour, and they have probably seen you do weirder things.
3. Learn a new skill
There are plenty of online classes and YouTube videos to teach you almost anything. Maybe there is a craft you’ve been wanting to try - no better time to learn how to macrame that plant hanger or draw a portrait of your pet. Plan a springtime garden, learn how to code or brush up your photography skills. The sky’s the limit.
Since takeaways are not available this is a great time to learn to cook something new. Check out what produce is in season and make it the star of your meal. Learn how to make your own pasta or call your mum and ask for her recipe for your favourite childhood meal. Write a meal plan for the week so you only have to go shopping once and hunker down in the kitchen.
4. Sort your finances
You know you should make a budget and work out a plan for saving but manage to put it off every time. No better time to start than during lockdown when you can’t go out and spend!
BetterSaver has all the tips and tools you need to get started, with foolproof budgeting techniques for absolutely anyone and saving hacks aplenty. Really dive into your finances with our top five personal finance books that everyone should read.
If you haven’t sorted your KiwiSaver, do it now. Our Fund Finder quiz takes about five minutes and matches you to the best KiwiSaver fund for you. Getting in the right fund can mean the difference between retiring with a lot or retiring with a little, as well as helping you buy the first home of your dreams. Check your contribution rate to make sure you are making the most of your investment and try out this calculator to see how much you can save.
If you just don’t have the motivation for any of this, it’s ok. It’s most important to look after your mental health, whatever that might mean for you.
Relaxing is vital for self-care. For instance, laughter really is the best medicine - it decreases stress and tension, relieves pain and even helps your immune system. So if the only thing you accomplish today is watching a funny movie, so be it. Likewise, listening to music releases dopamine (the “feel-good” hormone) so simply putting on some tunes is good for you. Or try meditation - it reduces stress and anxiety and can enhance your attention span and memory.
Bonus tip: ‘Normal’ is where you are
Peter Convey spent 30 years working for the British Antarctic Survey. He has spent many long months in polar isolation and over-wintering in Antarctica. One of his tips for staying sane in isolation is to remember that “normal is where you are and what you are doing.” He says that thinking of the present as unusual or unknown induces fear and panic for no reason, and instead he recommends taking the view that what we are doing now is normal for us.
The world is a crazy place right now and we all have to adjust. Take this time to be kind to yourself and don’t stress over what you can’t control.
Consider that your bonus tip for staying sane during lockdown. Stay home, stay safe - we’ve got this, New Zealand!