Written by Charlie Staindl

And we’re back with another Lockdown! If you’re living outside of Melbourne, or inside Melbourne but under a rock, you might be whistling with glee as you continue your day-to-day COVID-normal lives. Sadly for us who live in Australia’s second-biggest city, we’re stuck in our homes as we wait for an even more contagious variant of COVID-19 to die down.

But just because we’ve done it before, doesn’t mean it gets any easier. The impact of another lockdown on mental and physical health, particularly in vulnerable communities, should never be underestimated. The collective angst, the daily checking of the latest numbers, and treasuring your 2 hours of outdoor exercise all play on the mind. That’s why we’re here to provide some tips and tricks on looking after yourself throughout this extra week.

Our editor’s cat making the most of the working from home set-up

1. Get the basics right!

Simple as it sounds, getting back to basics with your health can make a big difference. Making sure to get a full night’s sleep (at a reasonable hour), eating your standard 3 main meals, and exercising properly is crucial to maintaining your wellbeing during lockdown. That means avoiding the dreaded late nights scrolling on the phone, or binge-eating an entire frosted Boston bun for lunch. (Just thought of that off the top of my head. No idea who would do that. Er-hem.)

It’s amazing how much better you feel after breathing in the crisp winter air, especially during a run or workout. Studies have shown that these basics tasks can have the biggest impact on your mental health, which is a neat bonus. In short, look after your body, and your body will reward you.

We recommend: 30 minute jog around your local park; homemade tofu stir-fry

Don’t do: a push-up routine in the same room where you’re working from home

Spending time outside can help break up the day

2. Keep in touch with your loved and missed ones

You know that niggling feeling you get when you see someone’s name on your phone, or when they come up in conversation? It’s that feeling that says “you should really speak to them” and makes you feel guilty about it. Annoying as that feeling is, now’s the perfect time to listen to it and remind yourself of the loved ones you have in your life. Go on, give Mum or Dad a call, ask them how they’re doing or better yet, tell them what you’re up to. Never mind if it’s not much, you know they’ll listen all the same. Or maybe, that feeling comes when you think of that old friend from school you haven’t spoken to in a while.

We recommend: Shooting a text to your old school buddies, just to say hi

Don’t do: Texting your ex late at night

3. Work on yourself

Lockdown is no one’s idea of a holiday, but using the time off to do something to improve yourself that you normally wouldn’t is a guaranteed way to feel productive. Now, I’m not saying go off and become fluent in Russian, but instead to put a little bit of effort into picking up that book you never got around to reading, or checking out the wide world of online yoga classes. It can feel like an unnecessary mental burden, and that’s fine, but try completing or even starting something that helps you work on you. You might find the buzz of accomplishing something is exactly what pushes a just-okay day into a good one.

We recommend: Read some lesser-known but easy classics (such as Orwell’s ‘Homage to Catalonia’)

Don’t do: Anything that requires over 3 hours a day of practice (looking at you, MIT’s online economics course) or a big investment to start (thanks guitar)

Setting goals is a great way to keep yourself motivated!

4. …but don’t stress too much about working on yourself

We all know the brand of Linked-In prodigies who insist that “the hustle never stops” and that it isn’t really rest unless you’ve meditated for two hours and gone for three runs already. They want you to think that everyone should be doing the most productive thing, even while resting, all the time. Don’t listen to them. Taking genuine time off is crucial to helping your brain function at a high level in the long term. Giving it the appropriate breaks can absolutely mean you watching a movie at the end of the day, rugged up on the couch. It can mean meditation, it can mean doing some art, it can mean lying on the ground and playing with your dog. Find out what it is for you, and do it. Every day if you can.

We recommend: Watching West Wing or your equivalent comfort show, cuddling any pets

Don’t do: Unwinding with a bottle of wine every night, scrolling through Facebook for two hours before be

5. Remember, this will be over soon

COVID-19 has been with us for over a year now, and even though Australia has been pretty lucky overall, lockdowns are nothing new. We’ve done this before, and we will do it again. Practising self-care is important, but so too is knowing that it’s temporary. We will get through. Everyone in the city is in the same boat, and we’re all looking for each other. Every day of lower cases is another day closer to the end of lockdown, and we can return to the pubs and offices we’ve been missing (or not). It’s a little thing, but keeping this in mind is a way to stay a little more positive about the times ahead. Stay safe, and good luck everyone.

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