Advice & Wellbeing
6 Steps to Happiness in Lockdown
Life is different right now. Suddenly we have all this time to be doing the things we didn't have time to do before, like baking banana bread and learning to do headstands, yet somehow we still can't find the time to look out for ourselves. Self-care should be something we do daily and although there are a lot of different opinions out there on what self-care is, I think that's sort of the point. The way I see it, self-care is subjective. It's about you and what you need to do to prioritise your health, mental wellbeing and emotional state. It's about taking an active role in your own happiness and that starts with having the right attitude. Happiness starts from within, so here are six wonderful steps to help you stay happy in lockdown.
Step 1: Be Grateful
For me, being happy stems from being grateful in each moment for the people and the things that I have in my life. Lockdowns are tough on the mind and body but a positive attitude can go a long way in making difficult times seem less so. Being grateful isn't about pretending you aren't struggling or that there aren't problems in your life, but when you focus on the things that are good instead of what you are lacking, you start to realise that there are so many things in life that are worth celebrating.
When I go to bed at night, I think of 3 things I am grateful for that day. It takes less than a minute but it has such a positive effect on my outlook. It might sound silly, but focusing on what brings you happiness, reminds you to have perspective and to live in the moment. Chances are things could be a whole lot worse than they are now and life is too short not to try to find some happiness in each and every day.
Step 2: Find Your Balance
Being happy is also about balance. No, not the stand on one foot with your eyes closed type of balance, although some experts do believe there is a link. I'm talking about finding balance in your activities and your thoughts.
It's ok to throw your clothes on the floor sometimes as long as you spend other days cleaning. It's ok to skip a workout to sit in front of the TV and it's ok to cancel family games night because you want to go for a run. Doing what you love is just as important as doing what is good for you. They don't always have to be the same thing, but they should always balance each other out. Balance is about loving yourself and recognising that whatever you need in the moment is ok as long as you make sure that you don't confuse self love with self sabotage. Balance your life so that after a while, doing what is good for you becomes what you love to do.
Step 3: Make Peace with your Thoughts
a.k.a Get some headspace.
"I just want to get back to uni life! When am I going to see my friends again? Isolation is so boring!"
Sound familiar? We have all been there. In fact it's totally normal for these kinds of thought to be a daily occurrence. But thoughts along the lines of "I'll be happy when..." are probably the worst thoughts you could have. I spent so many years thinking I needed new clothes, a better figure, more money, love or more time with friends to make me happy. But if you live in the future you end up missing out on all the happiness going on right here and now. Try to stay present and stop worrying about the 'what if's'.
Meditation, yoga and being grateful (see step 1) are all great ways to stay grounded during lockdown. Take 5 minutes a day to remind yourself that this won't last forever. The hardest part is not knowing when things will be normal again, but look at this time away as a little holiday and an opportunity you may never get again.
Step 4: Make Peace With Your Body
If you're struggling with body positivity right now, you're not alone. Learning how to love our bodies can be one of the hardest parts of self-care, especially with all the added time we might be spending on social media. Isolation can be a really difficult time for those struggling with eating disorders, body dysmorphia or low self esteem. As much as I would love to say that you should try to love your body for what it does for you every day, I know that this can be hard for some and impossible for others.
I think the most important thing I have learnt is that you don't have to love every inch of your body every day, but you can make peace with it. Accept your current situation, remember your coping strategies and what worked for you in the past and see if you can adapt it to work for you now too. Remember that every moment is a new opportunity to treat your body with the love and kindness it deserves. Which leads me to my next point...
Step 5: Be More Kind
To yourself and to others.
Negative self-thoughts are a big no from me. They aren't helping anyone. Would you say those things to your little sister, your best friend, your grandma? No? Then why is it ok to say them to yourself. Try to think nice thoughts and let those thoughts turn into kind words.
Although our stories might be different, we face these lockdowns and the virus together. It can be really tough to sit with yourself and be happy and it's important to recognise that this is the case for others too. So, if and when you can, choose to be more kind. Stand your 2m apart in the grocery store and don't get mad if someone is looking at the bread for too long. Smile at a stranger on your walks, drop a chocolate bar into your neighbour's post, just because. Let's come out of lockdown as kinder and more patient humans.
Step 6: Be proud of yourself
We are all doing the best we can in the current circumstances and its important to recognise that. Be proud your achievements every day, even if all you did was get out of bed and take a shower. That weird little painting you did of a dog that kinda looks more like a soggy rich tea biscuit? It's great. That lemon cake that didn't taste even remotely of lemons? You go girl! Keep doing, keep creating and keep being proud of yourself on your journey to happiness, because in the words of Kris Jenner, 'you're doing amazing sweetie'.
Although these tips work for me, I am not a professional and if you are struggling with lockdowns and your mental or physical wellbeing please reach out to someone or access the UWE Wellbeing Service here.
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