The second national lockdown is almost here. Here are writer Rosie Mullender’s tips for surviving with your sanity intact…
1. Ignore the ‘Covid Ten’
If you’re one of those people who gained 10lb during the first lockdown, you might have hoped to shed it by Christmas. But look, we’re back here again sooner than expected, and being shut indoors is hard enough without worrying how many calories are in that macaroni cheese you made to see you through another freezing, fun-free weekend. Let’s face it: it’s got double cream, five cheeses and streaky bacon in it, so the answer is, ‘you don’t want to know’. We’re not saying you should eschew vegetables altogether and see if you get scurvy as a fun experiment, but while exercise is an important part of coping with Lockdown: Part Deux (see point four), feeling bad about food is definitely not. So go easy on yourself.
2. Don’t feel obliged to do Zoom quizzes
Back in the mid-1980s, when the only global plague we had to worry about was blue eyeshadow worn with leg warmers, the kids’ show Grange Hill launched an anti-drugs campaign with the catchy slogan ‘Just Say No’. Which should also be the official slogan of Zoom quizzes. Despite the good intentions behind them, these ‘social’ events are universally afflicted with bad organisation and a dodgy internet connection, evoking the same sense of false bonhomie as a turkey dinner for one. They will remind you of how much better the real thing was when we could go to pubs and cause unnecessary yearning. So if you really don’t want to join in, we urge you – like poor, drug-addled Zammo – to Just Say No.
3. Stay in touch
As has been observed very widely on Twitter (mainly after Kim K was deeply humbled by her massive party on a private island), we’re all in the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat. If you’ve got friends living on their own, family members who are feeling lonely, or neighbours who need a helping hand, don’t be a stranger. And that goes double if you’re one of the above yourself. When your own boat is fairly comfy, it can be enormously tempting to curl up inside it with a family-sized bar of mint Aero and kick the binoculars off the side, but reaching out and helping each other out where we can, or asking for some support for ourselves, will make Lockdown: The Revenge go a lot faster for all of us.
4. Get outside every day
Exercise is still allowed under the second swathe of rules (you’ll find it on the list just after, ‘You can only see your mum if she’s holding a duster and has Apple Pay’), so make sure you use that privilege. We know it’s tempting to wrap yourself in a floor-length duvet jacket and never leave the sofa, but try to resist. Take a walk around the block, crack out your bicycle, or go for a socially distanced run with a friend (one person from another household, or more if they’re part of your support bubble or home). A knock-on benefit will be the increased chance of a good night’s sleep, which will be another box on your ‘healthy habits’ list checked off. Well done, you.
5. Take time to reflect
In days of yore, nobody had to use journaling, meditation or deep-breathing exercises to get through their day. But this isn’t because they were double-hard bastards and we’re all enormous wimps. Times have changed, and so have our coping mechanisms – for example, men no longer feel the need to burn women at the stake because they’re intimidated by their girl gang. Back in the 1600s, Little Mix wouldn’t have stood a chance. Anyway, the point is that we sometimes need to turn to modern solutions to modern problems, including Lockdown II: The Dark Nights. Taking time to examine your feelings by writing them down, or making a spot of conscious breathing or meditation a daily habit, is a helpful way of maintaining balance and avoiding getting bogged down in all *gestures* this.
6. Nurture your relationship
It’s safe to say that lockdown is a tricky time for any relationship. You never realised he ends all his work calls with, ‘Cheers broseph, keep it safe,’ even though he’s 35 and a middle manager at a lawnmower company. He didn’t realise you pluck your chin hairs during meetings. We’ve all seen how quickly love can shrivel and die when you’re thrown together 24/7 (see also: Love Island and Married at First Sight) so make sure you give each other some space. If you’re WFH, try to keep a closed door between you, wear earphones for work calls, exercise separately, and if tensions are running high, maybe save it for when one of you needs to cool down. And if you find yourself wondering how on earth you managed to have a full-blown argument about what colour Tinky Winky was, remember you’re not alone. Lockdown relationships are hard.
7. Keep your mind active (and off the news)
If you’re one of those people who realised what an enormous ballache feeding a sourdough starter is over the first lockdown, your mind might already be turning to what new skills you might be able to fail at during Lockdown 2: The Staying Inening. As well as trying new things, there are plenty of ways to keep your mind active when you’re stuck at home. Listen to or play music, take time to notice nature, try to do the odd good deed, and read books if your concentration allows (we appreciate that the instructions on a box of Pop Tarts can be a stretch at the moment). But most of all, avoid the temptation to panic-scroll through social media at every opportunity. Even with FOMO eliminated, no good can come of it.