The past year has given us time to reflect on the things we perhaps took for granted before the pandemic. Hugging your grandchildren, meeting your friends in a bustling café or hosting big family gatherings are all things that we’ve gone a long time without.
Continue the behaviour. Show more gratitude towards all the people and things that make your life fuller and happier. Showing gratitude not only feels good, but it also encourages kindness and compassion. This affects both the person you express gratitude for and even for people who see or hear you do so.
Research has shown that practising gratitude is a great way to improve your wellbeing. Here are some simple ways to do it.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Note down things you’re grateful for each day.
- Use meditation and mindfulness to bring your mind to the present moment and focus on what you’re grateful for.
- Be thankful to others and tell them. This could be face to face, over the phone, or even in writing.
For some people, lockdown forced life into a slower pace. The commute to the office was cut, frantic school runs suddenly stopped and lots of people were furloughed from work. The need to be somewhere at a certain time no longer existed, and this gave many people the chance to slow down.
Continue the behaviour. As the pace of life speeds up again, remember the slower times you had through lockdown and what impact that had on you, and your loved ones. Make a conscious effort to have days where plans aren’t made, books are read, games are played and the chores can wait.
Lockdown allowed us to appreciate nature in a new way. Less noise from roads, trains, aircraft and even people meant the sounds of nature were more profound; birdsong, trees rustling or the wind blowing. You may have discovered new walks and bike paths or found woodlands and green spaces you never knew existed.
Continue the behaviour. Being outside and spending time in nature does wonders for your wellbeing. Continue your appreciation of natural habitats by spending time in woodlands, on beaches and exploring parks. Perhaps plan a Sunday bike ride each week, taking a new route now and then. Pack a picnic and spend the whole day outside. Maybe you’d like to invest in some binoculars and notice the wildlife around you. There are even apps that can help you to identify birds, flowers and constellations.
Lots of us have been apart from at least some of our loved ones for a long time now. And, while phone and video calls have given us a way to communicate, many of us miss seeing friends and family in person.
Continue the behaviour. Having good friendships, relationships and social connections plays an important part in your wellbeing. So, make time for the people you love. As lockdown restrictions ease, see people in person if you can do so safely, within the rules. This could be going for a walk with a friend or even just stopping to talk with your neighbour. Cuddle those in your household or bubble tightly. And with those you can’t yet hug, remember that this is temporary. Enjoy the ways you can still connect for now and be grateful for having them in your life.
Enjoying our food
Lots of us have taken up cooking, baking or growing our own veggies as hobbies to keep ourselves busy during the last year. Maybe you tried your hand at making banana bread, learnt to recreate your favourite restaurant dish, or managed to grow a tomato plant.
Continue the behaviour. Cooking from scratch and growing your own produce can help you to make healthier choices and enjoy your meals more. As life gets busier, why not try picking a couple of recipes each week that you’ve loved learning to cook. You could even incorporate some herbs or veggies you’ve managed to grow yourself. Set aside the time to make eating these meals a real occasion, just as you would if you were eating out.
Keeping it local
Being forced to stay local has meant lots of us have discovered some hidden gems right on our doorstep. Whether it’s a local market, a beautiful camping spot or a really good pub, there are all kinds of great activities closer than we realised. These habits aren’t just good for local businesses either, they also help to support the planet by reducing your carbon footprint.
Continue the behaviour. Try making an activity of visiting a local market on a weekend to stock up on groceries, instead of popping to a supermarket after work. Or, instead of thinking of a holiday as something you jump on a plane for, consider going to stay near a local beach or beauty spot. If you’re in a city, why not make a list of attractions you want to visit and use your holiday time to see the sights?
Your lockdown lessons learnt
“The thing I’ve learnt most from lockdown is to slow down sometimes and enjoy the little things, especially with my young son. Life can be so busy, and it’s been nice to take a step back, have more play time together and watch him grow without day-to-day pressures of school runs and deadlines.” – Michelle.
“During the last lockdown, my husband and I invested some time and money into creating our own gym in the garage. The darker evenings and cold weather meant we weren’t getting out to exercise as much as we had done in the first lockdown. And our moods and mental health were taking a hit because of that. So, we created a gym! We both plan to continue working out from home, even though the gyms are reopening. It will save us time and money, plus no need to fit exercising in around the children – they can join in too!” - Alice.
“I have really learnt the value of putting myself under much less pressure. Instead of always rushing here and there, to now having nowhere to be at a specific time, really slowing down and enjoying the moment. And not feeling guilty because of it!” – Rachel.
“During the first lockdown I watched a lot of TV, but quickly got bored of it. Since then, I’ve rediscovered some of my favourite hobbies that I abandoned years ago because I didn’t have the time. Now that things are opening back up I’m going to make a real effort to create times in my week that are just for playing music, painting or doing something creative” – Abbey.