5 tips to get you through the last stretch of lockdown for the Evening Standard

We finally have a roadmap out of this mayhem. But, if, having spent the last few days furiously googling best UK staycays and signing up for every waitlist in sight for that oh-so-sacred first haircut, mani and brow appointment, the excitement is starting to wane as the reality that we still have several more months of WFH monotony seeps back in, then you’re not alone.

One last push, they say. But after almost a year of sameness, this last bit still feels like an uphill struggle.

Repetition fatigue is inevitable, but psychotherapist Jane Haynes has some top tips to get you past the finish line.

The morning body scan
Every morning, while I clean my teeth, I conduct a body scan. Check out how you are holding your toothbrush and if clenched, try to loosen the grip. Observe your posture, relax your shoulders and neck. Observe your breathing. Are you breathing deeply into your chest or shallowly? Take charge of your mood. Check out if you can remember any fleeting dreams which could affect your waking state of mind. Acknowledge if you woke up on the wrong side of bed and make an instant vow not to let it win.

Switch up your sensory environment
I asked my colleague the consultant psychiatrist Dr James Arkell for tips on avoiding a long-covid depression. “The key is to maintain a rhythm to the day with regular and definite punctuation points in terms of sleep, work and meals. Make sure you change the sensory environment frequently: noise, ambient temperature, smell and light level. Mix it up, change all those simple daily acts around - from the cereal you eat, to the morning radio you listen to, to the soap you use. ”

Give the mind a workout
I urge people to take themselves outside of their comfort zone and do something novel. Creating a brain-gym is as important as working out physically. Every neurologist will tell you that the brain needs and must be exercised if we want to protect ourselves from developing future dementia and especially in these times of inevitable sameness. It doesn’t have to be learning Mandarin, but find something that challenges your mind.

Record how you feel
Even if you don’t have patience for journalling it’s important to try and keep a skeleton record of these times, even if it is just in the Notes section on your phone. Aim to send a brief note, quote, or snapshot to yourself each day as a reminder of what we’ve been through, it’ll make you appreciate freedom so much more when it comes around.

Be kind
Find ways of continuing being kind and thoughtful to yourself and others. It costs nothing to practise kindness, whether it’s thanking the delivery men who may feel everyone is scowling behind their mask, or making these last months and weeks of WFH count by using what would be your commute to do some virtual volunteering. Equally, it’s important to accept that being selfish from time to time can be a good thing. Try to privilege your needs at least once a day.

Go to the piece here: https://www.standard.co.uk/escapist/jane-haynes-lockdown-tips-b921236.html

Hilary Mantel and Jane Haynes in conversation Autumn 2009 (left) & BBC - Podcasts - Start the Week with Andrew Marr (right)



BUY MY EBOOK NOW @ £9.99

Vogue Magazine


BBC Radio Interview


Spectator