With talk of changing levels and local lockdowns looming, the prospect of winter in a pandemic is grim. Here’s how to keep your spirits up

It’s hard to escape talk of the pandemic, as it has impacted every aspect of our lives. Time and time again we hear our own frustrations echoing, in conversations with family and friends, from politicians and healthcare workers on the news, and throughout our social media timelines.

We all coped as best we could as we trudged through the unknown of the national lockdown earlier this year. But heading into winter this all feels a little different, and the thoughts of living life under restrictions again is daunting to say the least.

We all know the value of self-care, movement and social interaction, and yet sometimes we need a little reminder of all the things we can do to lift our mood. It’s also true that many of us have lost outlets that we may have needed more than we think — group exercise classes, fun comedy nights and community events all would have had a positive impact on our mood. Here are some tips for staying upbeat, whatever level your county is at.

Stay in the moment

Keeping your mind on the here and now will help prevent your thoughts from dwelling on the many ‘what-ifs’ that come up during life in a pandemic. Busy yourself with what needs to be done today and tomorrow, rather than worrying about what the future may hold. Try these tips for focusing on the present moment from the creators of the Headspace meditation app.

Surround yourself with positivity

If you can meet for a socially distanced chat, all the better. But if you can’t meet in person, just picking up the phone and calling that friend who always makes you smile is one of the best ways you can lift your spirits. You’ve probably heard of the term ‘energy vampire‘, a person whose negativity and demanding nature leaves you feeling emotionally drained. That is the last thing you need right now, so surround yourself with someone who radiates positivity. That goes for your social media feed too – it can be an outlet for people’s frustrations and upset, but you don’t need to consume it all.

Make healthy choices

Yes, comfort foods may be calling you, but they won’t help your mood or your energy levels. Making healthier choices will ensure you feel in better form, and don’t feel regretful, bloated and uncomfortable on top of the stress you’re already feeling. Exercise almost felt like a novelty during the national lockdown, but it is no less important now. If you’re working from home, make sure to get outside during the day. Exercise helps to ease tension too.

Prioritise sleep

Sleep is truly underestimated. You may think you get enough sleep, but then find yourself treating yourself to a movie night, getting sucked into a new reality show or staying up late to watch current affairs television. That may seem fine, but when it happens often, even just staying up an hour late each night, means that over the course of a week you lose the equivalent of a full night’s sleep. That is a real eye-opener, isn’t it? Set a bedtime and stick to it, and take a moment to appreciate how refreshed you feel after a good night’s sleep. It’s too easy to take for granted. Here are tips from Mental Health Ireland on getting a good night’s sleep during challenging times.

Limit social media

We’ve already touched on the negativity that can take over your social media feed. Social media is built to suck you in, and you may not be aware of how much control it has over you. Try turning off notifications, or setting time limits on apps on your phone. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make to your mood, and how much time you save every day.

Take control

One of the biggest frustrations of lockdown was losing our sense of independence. We couldn’t be spontaneous, or live life as we were used to. Doing something just for you is really important. You also don’t have to do whatever the current fad is — it’s okay to say no to Zoom calls, outdoor swims and socially distanced celebrations if they’re not something you enjoy. When we must work from home, queue everywhere we go, keep up with the news and limit our socialising, it can feel like our days and our time is no longer our own. Doing something just for you can help you feel independent again.

Main image: Matheus Bertelli from Pexels