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What things are you most looking forward to out of lockdown? Or are you finding it hard to think about the future? It’s not just the threat of Coronavirus itself that is consuming us. It’s the whole host of life-changing things that it brings with it. For a lot of us, it’s the small things that make the most impact on our day-to-day lives. Lockdown has meant that we’re not able to visit loved ones, see friends, go to the cinema, or pop out for a drink, and this loss of freedom of movement is a huge cause of anxiety and loneliness. Add to that the financial stress we’re all under and things can really get on top of us.
My own hairdressing salon is lying empty and I have no idea when I will be able to reopen. And although I know I’m not alone in worrying where the next penny is coming from, it’s hard to remain optimistic and to think of things to look forward to.
Things to look forward to out of lockdown
The Power of Anticipation
But there is some good news. We may not be able to change our immediate situation, but we can use the positive power of anticipation to reduce some of the stress, anxiety, and depression we’re experiencing right now. Psychologists have found that one of the biggest negative impacts of lockdown on our mental health is the feeling that we’re ‘stuck’ and that we can’t move forward. Normally, this is the time of year when we are building up to our annual summer holiday, or in my daughter’s case, getting ready for the festival season.
While it’s unlikely that any of us will be jetting off anywhere anytime soon, it’s vital to keep the future in mind and to create things that we can look forward to. It doesn’t have to be something big. Just something that you can look forward to tomorrow, next week, or next month. Allowing yourself an extra glass of wine at the weekend; creating a mood-board for a room you want to redecorate, or planting some seeds that you can enjoy when they flower are just a few ideas of things you can look forward to.
Why planning is good for our mental health
However small, the simple act of looking forward to something has been proven to make difficult times less challenging and less harmful to our wellbeing. And that’s not all. Anticipation is also a stepping stone to another positive and therapeutic emotion – hope. When we have hope, we believe that things will get better, no matter how big or small the challenge is. Psychologists also believe that having hope makes us more resilient.
Giving yourself something to look forward to is also a type of reward – and we all know that if we’re going to get a reward, we’re usually more motivated! Most of us already use this technique to get through bad days, even if we’re not conscious of it. And what if we have nothing to look forward to? Depressing, right? So, by giving ourselves even the simplest of things to look forward to, we are using the power of anticipation to create hope in this time of uncertainty. We all need things to look forward to out of lockdown!
Look forward to the weekend
This may sound obvious, but at the moment, most of us haven’t a clue what day it is. Monday feels like Friday and Wednesday could just as easily be Saturday! At the start of lockdown, my husband insisted that red wine helped repel the Covid-19! I’m not sure if he made this up, but it certainly helped that we didn’t have to get up for work when we over-indulged in wine every night of the week! However, after the first week of feeling dreadful every day, we came to the conclusion that wine should be kept for weekends and be our reward for getting through the week. Not just because every day was rolling into the next, and we didn’t have to get up in the morning! (Find my favourite non-alcoholic drinks here.)
So I’m keeping the weekend as a time to enjoy more indulgent meals, to dress up a bit, and to make more of an effort with my hair and make-up. This makes it different from a weekday and gives me something to look forward to, whether it’s allowing myself a dessert, a couple of glasses of wine, or a day off exercising. I’ve learned that as humans, we need structure and discipline; even though we complain, deep down, we like it! It also means that ‘normal’ life won’t be such a shock once we’re out of lockdown as we already have a routine.
Don’t be afraid to dream
Dreaming is so important to our wellbeing. Not only does it give us something to work towards, but it also helps us to manifest. Depression often strikes when we feel that we have no place in the world or when we feel ‘stuck’, but interestingly, people who are actively working towards a goal rarely become depressed. The reason? They have focus and drive which makes us feel inspired, useful, and hopeful.
So, why not use this time to dream and to take positive steps towards that dream? A close friend is using his time in lockdown to learn Spanish, as he has always planned to move to Spain. This is something he has wanted to do for years but never had the time to do it! He is also allowing himself to start dreaming of his future and how he wants it to look. It has really helped him to have things to look forward to out of lockdown!
Who doesn’t love a treat now and then? Now, more than ever, rewarding ourselves is not just about satisfying our desire to have more ‘stuff’, it’s vital in supporting our mental health. Behavioural psychologists believe that the simple act of rewarding ourselves and actively finding things to look forward to is incredibly powerful. So now is the perfect time to give yourself a gift without feeling guilty! While the shops may not be open yet, there are so many online boutique brands to choose from.
I’ve been so lucky to work with lots of these independent brands on my blog. (These goodies above were from OchVegan.) For me, the main point of difference between a boutique and a mass-market brand is the care and love that the owners invest in their ‘baby’. Not only do I find that these products are often a better quality and use purer ingredients, but on the whole, more thought has gone into every aspect from the packaging to the finished product.
Boutique brands really care about what they create and make customers’ satisfaction a priority. They also really need our support at the moment, so if do you treat yourself, why not shop where your custom will be most appreciated.
Find some of my favourites products here.
Sometimes, we are all so busy trying to survive that we haven’t got the time to think about what we really want. I’ve been using this time to plan the next stage in my life. And I’m going to be making some big changes! We are definitely selling our house and downsizing, as we are now empty nesters and don’t need so much space now. Plus, it’s the cost of the upkeep, so we’re looking for a home that will be easier to maintain – and cheaper to run. We’ve also had the time to do costings on our businesses, and I’ve discovered the areas I need to concentrate on more.
Press the reset button
We don’t often get the time to do a juice cleanse, overhaul our diet, or start an exercise routine. I’ve been trying to follow a regular exercise routine since lockdown started, but to be honest, I’ve had some ‘down’ days where I haven’t worked out. But there’s no point crying over spilled milk; you just have to pick yourself up and get started again. I keep myself motivated with the thought that when I return to work, I’ll be trimmer and healthier! Another thing to look forward to out of lockdown!
Related – 5 Top Tips to Quit Sugar
Immerse yourself in cooking
I think many of us have been doing this already. Having time at home has helped me become a better cook. In fact, some days I feel like I’m running a cafe! No sooner have I finished making breakfast, and tidied up than it’s time for lunch, followed by a mid-afternoon snack, then dinner! Still, I’ve been trying loads of new recipes that my family has enjoyed. When we’re busy, it’s so easy to fall into a routine and cook the same old recipes day in, day out simply because we haven’t got time to try new things. So, this is a great time to find a new repertoire of recipes and to give you and your family something to look forward to every evening now – and out of lockdown!
Find some of my easy-to-make, healthy recipes to try here.
Spruce up your space and get organised!
Nothing is more satisfying than a ‘before and after’ pic of someone’s home or make-over project! I watched my friend’s video of her organising her wardrobe using interiors expert Marie Kondo’s Kon Mari Method and I was transfixed! I’ve also been watching fridge reorganisation videos which have really inspired me. So watch out! There’s a fridge reorganisation post coming soon!
What is it about organisation that we love so much? I really believe that when everything else is out of control, a tidy, orderly home gives us back a feeling of being in charge again. Cleaning out our cupboards or redecorating our homes during lockdown is time well spent. And when we come out of lockdown, we’ll come back from work to a newly-decorated or well-organised home. That’s definitely something to look forward to!
I hope you enjoyed my things to look forward to out of lockdown. What things are you missing the most?
|Natalie Shirlaw is passionate about healthy living and writes posts about wellbeing. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to pin it or share it!|