Over the weekend the nation received the news no one wanted but were all expecting – England is to enter a second full lockdown.
There will be no fireworks on November 5th this year as the nation has once again been told to stay indoors. The only exceptions to leave the four walls of our homes are essentials shopping for food and medicine, daily exercise and for work if working from home is impossible. The only other difference this time around is schools are to remain open.
I took a trip into town on Monday to buy some last minute luxuries to keep me going for the month long lockdown, and the negative atmosphere amongst the general public was tangible.
Along with those suffering with the virus and it’s implications as well as NHS workers on the front line my biggest sympathies go out to all the hospitality venues and non-essential retail that have spent thousands of pounds on making their business’ COVID secure to be told they have to shut for at least another month.
But, we are here now, and although I’m incredibly fed up with everything shutting down again, as long as I’m able to work and earn money when so many can’t, you won’t hear me complaining.
I’m a firm believer in the power of routine, it’s helped my mental health in a number of situations and I believed it played a massive part in how I coped with the first lockdown as someone who lives alone, baring in mind in the month before I was in therapy again for the first time in two years.
And it also helped me adjust to the ‘new normal’ when restrictions were lifted over the summer.
With that in mind i’m sharing details of what i’ll be doing over the next four weeks during lockdown 2 to best look after my mind during a mentally challenging time.
My routine – Monday to Friday.
In life before the pandemic my daily commute was two hours each way. My first alarm would sound at 5:45am and I’d be on a train by 6:30am and I wouldn’t return to my flat until between 19:30 and 20:00.
My body is a natural alarm clock so once I was told to work from home I would still wake up at 6:00, with or without and alarm. Instead of trying to sleep in until later I still get out of bed at this time and will usually start work at 7:00.
I’m one of those people who is considerably more productive in the morning hours so I take full advantage of that during this time where I have no commute and give myself more of them.
Starting work earlier also means I finish earlier. Unless i’m particularly busy any day where I start work at 7 I will finish at 3:30, at which point I will leave the flat for an hour or so.
During this hour I will either go for a walk while listening to one of my favourite podcasts, a winter run or food shop.
Once i’m home i’ll have an early dinner, i’ve been a competent cook for a few years now but during the first lockdown I really took it up a gear and really enjoy it, mentally it did me a lot of good so i’m keen to bring this back again.
The benefit of an early dinner is that I’ll have more of my evening to relax which I will spend watching tv, reading or perhaps tucking into a video game before having a fairly early night to go again the next day.
Shortly after the end of the first lockdown I fainted in my flat and had to take a trip to Broomfield Hospital in an ambulance to have my head glued back together.
A few days later (and after my depth perception returned to normal) I started going to the gym three times a week doing full body workouts for 12 weeks before switching to a push, pull, leg split for six sessions a week. Sadly, I only managed to do two weeks of the split before gyms were forced to close again but the results are the best I have seen for a number of years.
Due to not commuting I had more time to both go to the gym as well as take the diet side more seriously and I saw myself gain 7kg of muscle between July 27th and November 4th.
Obviously I want to keep that up as best I can over the next four weeks but am fully aware I will lose some of that muscle mass. I’ll continue to eat well and the correct number of calories but as for exercise itself i’m going to do Joe Wickes’ hiit sessions which can be found on his YouTube channel.
I’ve been a big fan of the work he does for a number of years and will use this lockdown as an opportunity to trim some of the fat that is naturally gained when we enter a calorie surplus for muscle gain.
My routine – Saturday and Sunday
As for the weekends I won’t wake up at 6:00 but I’ll still have an early start to the day, getting out of bed at 7:00.
After I’ve had breakfast I’ll get a form of exercise in and leave the flat for a change of scenery above all else. I like the idea of going on a bike ride but that will be very dependent on the weather during this four week winter lockdown, but I’m certainly not going to rule it out.
One thing i’m blessed to have this time around which wasn’t an option for the first part of the spring lockdown is live sports, for which we have an abundance.
The Premier League is confirmed to still go on during lockdown, and although this isn’t confirmed at the time of writing this, there are reports of the controversial £14.95 ppv games being scrapped.
As well as Premier League football during the weekend there is the IPL, England cricket tour of South Africa and my favourite golf major – The Masters to name a few.
When I’m not engulfed in live sport I’m sure i’ll have some chill time watching a film with a scented candle burning in the background. When it comes to deciding what to watch I will always make sure it is one to make me feel good such as Back to the Future instead of something to put me down like 2019’s Joker.
Another thing worth noting is that I’m not going to drink alcohol during this lockdown. The only occasion I drank during the first was when taking part in online socials such as Zoom quizzes which I did twice a week.
I’m not someone who gets particularly down when I’m drinking but I know it can have that effect and I feel doing so during a time full of so much negativity is a recipe for disaster, especially when I live alone. Therefore the next time I consume alcohol will be when the pubs reopen.
Finally I just want to say that no one will find this month easy, the same way everyone has been affected by the pandemic in some way. If the mental challenge of it all gets to you there is no reason to be ashamed by it. These have been unprecedented times that can have a mental impact in so many ways so I’ve put a picture below of some important things to remember.