Sunderland Echo

Practical advice for coping with this latest lockdown

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January, often wet and always dark and cold, is a hard month to get through in any year – let alone during a pandemic. With fresh restrictio­ns forcing millions of us to stay at home, many will be feeling gloomy at the prospect of a January lockdown. It can be hard to find light and joy during such difficult times, but there are steps you can take to look after your mental health and wellbeing.

Build a routine and try to make short-term plans

Feelings of listlessne­ss can be combated by making pl ns in the short term, not only providing structure, but also “reminding us of the things we can control” as well as giving us “somethin to look forward to” ac ording to Lee Chambers, an Environmen­tal Psychologi­st.

Stay connected

“It is so easy to hibernate, especially now the social expectatio­ns of Christmas have

passed,” says Mr Cha bers.

It is important, he highlights, to stay connected to friends, family and colleagues as muc as possible, given connection “boosts wellbeing”.

Schedule self-care

As well as caring for others around you, it’s key to “ensure you’re looking after your own needs, too,” says Mr Chambers. “Book time in your diary just for you, your passions and the things you can enjoy,” Mr Chambers suggests.

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Keep your sleeping pattern consistent

“Sleep has a massive impact on how we feel, as it impacts our motional and hormonal regulation. Try to make your bedroom as calming a sanctuary as possible, and be mindful of the routines you do in the late afternoon and vening to ensure better sleep,” Mr Chambers explains.

Reflect on 2020 and find the positives

Most want to erase 202 , but Mr Chambers recommends reflecting and focusing on the positives.

“Reflect on the past year and you’ll see that there are things t be grateful for – as well as coping strategies which you can call on once again.”

Celebrate the small wins

“Got a work task completed? Have a dance in your kitchen! Homeschool­ing surviv d? Play some upbeat music! Navigated the food shop? Go put your feet up,” he says.

Celebratin­g life’s small victories can help build optimism and joy in otherwise monotonous days.

Embrace exercise and the outdoors

Mr Chambers stresses that it’s important to “aim to be a tive every day”, whether that’s “a walk, some yoga or a sport you enjoy”.

“[Going outdoors] is proven to relieve stress and make us feel happier, it ignites your senses and you become more mindful,” he says.

Try to enjoy the season

Winter is often a miserable season, but it’s important to try and find the good parts in the colder weather. “Rememberin­g that our lives run in seasons can help us see that this, too, will pass and soon it will be summer again,” says Mr Chambers.

Reach out, if you need it

Sometimes, it’s not enough to simply practice self care – and there’s no shame in reac ing out for help if you need it.

“If you are struggling with your mental health, your relationsh­ips or your finances, there are many places where you can access profession­al support,” says Mr Chambers.

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