Our top tips on how to deal with loss of hope and bring back some positivity in lockdown
For many of us, this new year hasn’t started exactly as we’d hoped. We're working from home again. Shops, gyms and restaurants are closed. Homeschooling has restarted. And then there's the isolation of it all. It’s hard to find anything positive about life right now, so how on earth can we find joy in lockdown?
We may be called The Positive Planners, but that doesn’t mean we’re always upbeat. In fact, we’re passionately against always putting on a brave face. Or toxic positivity as we call it. The idea that no matter how bad the situation is, we should try to keep a super-positive mindset and ignore what’s giving us grief. To be honest, while there can be definite benefits to looking on the bright side, keeping up a facade can be hugely draining. Numbing out and ignoring or denying our feelings can only lead us to more problems in the future. In fact, taking them in hand and actually investigating them helps us be more authentic with ourselves and others, find possible solutions and grow.
There are, however, things we can do to shift our mindset into a more positive state. In the UK’s first lockdown last year we put together a Lockdown Self-Care Toolbox full of practices that helped us deal with the anxiety of the new unknown. This time around we thought we needed something different. We’ve created a new toolbox of things you can do to help you find hope, look forward and bring a little joy into what is a really tough time. Think of these as a gentle reminder that despite everything that’s going on right now, we can find joy in lockdown. There is still hope.
Our 6 ways to find joy in lockdown
Living in particularly stressful times can play havoc with our breathing. There are times when it seems like we’ve been holding our breath the whole day. Breathing exercises might be the last thing we feel like doing when the world is crashing down around our ears, but there are a lot of good reasons why we should be looking at our breath and its power in difficult times.
We did a blog on the different Breathing Techniques for Anxiety you can use but we have a wonderful one here which we think you'll love and it couldn’t have a better name. It’s actually called The Breath of Joy!
According to Esther Ekhart of Ekhart Yoga, “The breath of joy gets your energy flowing, wakes your entire system and will help you start your day off in a wonderful way!” And you only need 3 minutes for it!
How to do The Breath of Joy:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your knees soft.
- Inhale so your lungs are one-third full and swing your arms up in front of you to shoulder height, palms facing up.
- Now swing your arms back down to a resting position. Don’t breathe out!
- Add to your inhale so that your lungs are two-thirds full and swing your arms out to the sides at shoulder height.
- Bring your arms back down to the resting position again. Again don't breathe out.
- Add the final part of the inhale so that your lungs are completely full and swing your arms up in front of your body so they're above your head with palms facing each other.
- Now exhale completely making a ‘ha’ sound. At the same time bend your knees deeply and bend forward from the hips swinging your arms down and then up behind you.
- Repeat this as many times as you like - 3 minutes is good. Then rest in the standing position. If you feel light-headed, which can happen, slow the rhythm or take a break.
This video by Ekhart Yoga is great:
2: Make a Jar of Hope
What really is helping us find joy in lockdown this time around is an appreciation of the little things in life. We’ve been talking about this over on our Instagram account this month with our Jar of Hope.
What’s a Jar of Hope you ask? Well, each day you write things down that you’re grateful for on slips of paper and put them in a jam jar. Then at the end of the week (it's a good Self-Care Sunday practice) you take them out and read them. Seeing all the things we have to be grateful for really gives us a huge burst of happiness. Of course you don’t have to wait until the end of the week to take a look at them. You can do this at times when you’re feeling down too. Just taking one gratitude out of the jar can help you find a little moment of positivity.
Bonus tip: Another idea connected to this is to create a jar for all the little things you love doing. Whether that’s watching an episode of Friends, doing your nails, hugging the dog or calling a friend. You can use it in the same way as the Jar of Hope - pull one out when you’re feeling low and do what’s on the piece of paper.
3: Look forward
Hmm. We know what you’re thinking about this one. No one can plan right now, can they? We don’t know what we’re doing next week let alone in 6 months! But bear with us! There is some logic here.
We’ve been creating vision boards to help us look forward for quite some time. Vision boards aren’t about magicking a new Porsche into your life, they’re about looking at where you want to focus your energy in life.
We held an online workshop on this earlier this month together with life coach Mary Badass Meadows. We did a Circle of Life exercise which helped us see which areas of our life needed more attention (this could be creativity and play, our finances, mental wellness or rest and sleep, for example). The boards we then created took on a vision of how we could and would address these imbalances over the next couple of months.
Our boards give us a daily reminder of what we're working towards and where we want our energy to go. Looking into the short-term future like this gives us back some control in our lives at a time when so much feels out of control. We’re helping ourselves and working towards a better future. Knowing this is a real way to find joy in lockdown.
4: Get moving
Exercise and moving our bodies gives us endless benefits, from pumping a cocktail of positive hormones like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins through our bodies to keeping our physical health in check at a time when we’ve become a lot more sedentary.
We both feel hugely grateful for exercise and how it makes us feel. For us it takes away the numbness that can creep into our days because it makes us remember that we’re here in our bodies. You can’t ignore your heart thumping in your chest and the blood pumping through your veins. Added to that there are some fab knock-on effects to it too: you’ll drink more water, have to shower and it will make you hungry so if you do it in the morning, you’ll want breakfast. It really pushes us towards a more positive mindset and daily routine.
Of course, not everyone wants to do an online fitness session. It’s important you find what works for you - whether it’s digging in your garden, taking a walk around the block, doing an evening yoga practice or dancing in your bathroom to our Positive Planner Positive Tunes Spotify playlist - every little bit helps!
5: Get connected
We've all experienced the isolation that the last year has brought. And the problem is, you don’t have to live alone to feel alone. You can be surrounded by a loving family and still feel as if you’re alone in the world. This is where connection comes in. As humans we’re wired to connect and the benefits of social connectivity are far-reaching. You can find it in many places but you’re probably going to have to go online and rely more on technology to get it at the moment.
One lovely way you might like to reach out and find like-minded souls who know what you’re going through is our private Positive Planner Facebook Group. It’s a fun and safe space to share and connect with people just like you. People interested in prioritising their mental health and wellbeing through journaling, gratitude and non-toxic positivity.
Mind UK has great advice on how to manage loneliness and find support too. From how to make new connections and try peer support to talking therapies and ways to look after yourself - you’ll find their ideas and resources here.
6: Surround yourself with positivity
We’re being bombarded with negativity right now. It comes at us from every angle - social media, news channels, even friends and family. So make an effort to mute, unfollow and turn off anything that drains your energy. Try to only follow, read and watch things that brings you positive vibes!
If you’re looking for something heart-warming, take a look at these positive good news networks and fill your feed with something that makes you smile: Tank’s Good News Network and Global Positive News Network.
We know it’s not easy to feel all the positives right now and to be honest it’s not what you should be aiming for. But give just a couple of our tips a try and we’re sure you’ll feel a small spark of positivity and find some joy in lockdown.
Much love and positive vibes,
Ali + Finn xx
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