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  • Writer's pictureSpiced Cranachan

14 Ways to Stay (Relatively) Sane During Lockdown

As many parts of Scotland prepare to go into lockdown again, its important to remember how to keep up our mental health when so many of our usual activities have been cancelled.

When lockdown first started in March, I assumed I would enjoy some free time to myself without having to plan ahead and organise meetings with people. But as time - and lockdown - went on I realised I actually missed the old daily interactions and distractions.

Last month I took the time to reflect on how i had actually spent lockdown and I realised I had done a fair bit more than I thought I had.

We are usually so concerned with judging ourselves based on achievements and 'big moments.' But the pandemic has shown us there is another perspective we can look through - so long as we keep on keeping on, during literally one of the most challenging times our country has faced, we are being successful.

Below is a list of little things we can do to help ourselves along the way. Most of it is based on how I spent my lockdown personally, but they definitely did bring me joy so I would be remiss to exclude them from my list!

1. Plants. All the plants.

There was a definite need to include multiple photos. I have to hold myself back from gushing.

But also look at them.

Never thought I'd be a plant mum. But there is something really relaxing and methodical about plant care. It's also mildly addictive.

There's something incredibly satisfying about buying weird and wacky plants and also possibly starting a rivalry with your sister over who owns the coolest plants. Like my out-of-water lava plant. Or my purple and pink tradescantias. Which, by the way, her weird courgettes don't stand a chance against.

Ok maybe not the best example of sanity. But it's probably better to go plant-crazy than cabin fever crazy.

2. Set a Daily Schedule

It can be easy to completely lose track of everything when there's no normal schedule anymore. At first, I enjoyed this quite a lot and felt like it took the pressure off. But as lockdown slogged on, I started to feel a bit lethargic and fatigued.

I started to make a loose plan of my days (aided by a bullet journal because I have a minor addiction to stationary and notebooks). It wasn't a strict hour-by-hour schedule, but it did help to add a little structure.

I found myself actually setting aside time for exercise, breaks, walks etc. It also helped me to manage my computer time and not get bogged down by one thing, which had been making me feel unproductive.

3. Get Out and About (depending on the tier rules du jour)

Obviously this depends on whether or not your specific lockdown or tier allows such travel.

For a while, our lockdown did. Being able to escape the city became incredibly important for us. You can only have so many walks around the city center before it starts to send you a little mad - especially as we used to spend so much of our time in the country-side prior to lockdown.

It felt great to get out of the bustling city and be in the fresh air again. Even though (on the day we took the above photo) we were pummeled by heavy rain, battered by the freezing wind and had to trudge through marshy clag that came well above our ankles, it was nice to have something different.

Even if we did fall and find ourselves covered in cold, wet mud. At least there was no one around to see.

Getting out also made me forget about the pandemic for a while. There were no other people about so you didn't have to think about masks or distancing, and at the end we were washing our hands to simply get the mud off our hands. Of which there was a lot.

4. Meditation and Mindfulness

This one might seem like a little bit of a cliché. And to be honest, it wasn't really something I was doing at the start of lockdown at all.

I only really started it when I realised how little exercise I was getting, now that gyms are closed and I can't walk as much as I used to.

I started to take the time out of my day to practice a little yoga or just stretch out my muscles. At the same time, I would focus on my breathing and try to empty my mind of things. It wasn't particularly exciting or professional, but it did mean that I was assigning a least a portion of my day to just completely take a break from everything and focus on my mental health. It helped me to measure my breathing and try to slow my heartbeat, which can also lower your blood pressure as an added bonus.

5. Little Activities

Sometimes it's the little things that help us the most.

When I was struggling quite a lot in the middle of lockdown, someone sent me a really nice colouring book. It took me a while to get around to starting it - but when I eventually did, I wished I had started sooner.

It was lovely to have short-term methodical tasks to take my mind off everything, especially something of such little consequence that no one else was going to see.

It didn't have to be a masterpiece. Just something to occupy my focus for a half hour or so.

6. Learn a new language - or not

I decided to learn Korean during lockdown.

I remember seeing a lot of posts online about grand projects people had started during lockdown. I felt so unproductive and decided to give a new language a go.

I was not completely successful, or even half successful. Or a quarter.

In fact, I'm not entirely sure if I even have the alphabet correct and I'm fairly certain my pronunciation would make anyone fluent in the language cringe.

But it was fun! I really enjoyed setting myself a challenge and while it wasn't a grand project, it was something new and interesting. I might not have finished it, but I have learned a great deal about a language so entirely different from my own and it was incredibly interesting learning how the base structures of languages can be so different.

It's definitely something that helped pass the time, while simultaneously teaching me and expanding my horizons, and I would recommend it to anyone willing to give it a wee shot. Don't feel the need to take it too seriously either - I have a friend who learned High Valerian during her lockdown and it was one of her favourite aspects of it!

7. Rediscover Old Music

Lockdown certainly gave me an opportunity to find new and exciting types of music - but it also gave me time to listen to music that had fallen out of my regular circulation.

It took me back in time to different phases of my life. It was quite nice to just switch off and listen to old favourites.

What a better way to remind yourself that these difficult times will pass than revisit times that have already passed us by?

This too shall pass.

8. Organise Fun Dates

Honestly, this doesn't even have to be with other people. It can be a nice break to just get a few of your favourite snacks and sit somewhere green for the afternoon with a nice book.

One of my favourite memories from lockdown was the day we made a small picnic and sat beneath the cherry blossoms in The Necropolis, reading our books and soaking in the sun.

Of course, now we are headed for colder weather this might be a little harder. But indoor dates can also be fun!

If its making a pillow fort in your bedroom (judge all you want, it was amazing) or making something nice for dinner and lighting a few candles, it can make all the difference to just do something special for a night.

You can even try to spice the normal routines up to make them more fun. I remember we started to make the same dishes - me making a few the first week and he making the exact same the following week - just to have a little competition of 'who made it best' (me, duh). It was low maintenance and added something different to dinner time.

And when we went for walks in the city centre, since the lockdown prevented us from going into the countryside for our walks, we used to pass as many restaurants as we could and pretend we were going out for a dinner. I would look at every single menu and decide what I would be having for starter, main, dessert and to drink. It might seem a little weird, but it was fun for us and the closest thing we could get to dining out!

9. The Little Things that Make You Happy

It honestly sounds so simple but I found it really really effective.

Being surrounded by things that make me calm or happy genuinely made me so much more relaxed.

We're all spending so much time indoors these days, it's nice to have a few things around that bring you joy!

For me, this was candles, my notebooks, an embroidered picture hand-made by my sister, my favourite plants, photographs and some personal items that trigger good memories.

10. Challenge Yourself

For me, this was trying new recipes and learning new cooking skills.

I started to use new spices over lockdown, such as ras el hanout, and I started to add different spices to my normal recipes too (will be adding some of these to the recipe section soon!). This included fennel and chocolate crinkle cookies, and cardamom and bergamot chocolate cake!

Plus, I tried to make my own butter. I was so happy with how smooth it turned out - and it was really fun trying to shape it as well! I also received a new knife for my birthday so started to learn new cutting skills as well (ratatouille is such a fun recipe for a new knife!). I got to make my own ice cream, rice burgers, cakes and gnocchi too!

It was really nice setting myself an indistinct goal of just trying something I hadn't before. There was no need for anything crazy or big, just something new!

11. Weekly Events Scheduled

This doesn't necessarily have to be anything big at all.

And yes, if I could have scheduled a Lord of the Rings and Charcuterie and Wine night every week, I would have.

I found it important to have things scheduled in my calendar regularly - just little things that added more structure to my week and gave me something to look forward to!

For instance, as I could no longer go out to have dinner nor see a lot of my friends and family, we would schedule takeaway roulette. This is where you order a takeaway for each other without telling what it is. It actually became quite heart warming as people had to guess exactly what the other person would like to eat and got to know them better because of it.

12. Online Activities

Yes - that is a Minecraft me.

The obvious thing to do during lockdown is spend time online. By this point, we have all been subject to numerous Zoom calls, quizzes and Netflix Party sessions. I would definitely caution that too much online time can be a little detrimental to your mental health.

However, there are a few things I did do online which definitely kept me sane - so long as I did them in moderation!

Among Us became a weekly activity with friends. It's a little strange to get used to at first, but it is really addictive. It's especially nice to play online with friends and Zoom call at the same time! We even turned it into a drinking game after a while and made our own games to keep it interesting!

We also played Pictionary online using different off-brand websites! The ones where you can add your own words were amazing and personalizing the game became absolutely hilarious!

There is pretty much a website for most board games online too. The Internet is pretty much limitless and can provide a great distraction during lockdown - just be careful how much you rely on it!

13. Go for a Walk with Low Expectations

While it would be nice to get out of our local areas, sometimes it just isn't possible - especially with the rules changing what feels like every hour.

At first, I tried to make every walk meaningful or make it feel like more of a work out, and that was fine every once in a while.

But sometimes it is nice to just relax and take it slow.

I managed to discover parts of my city I hadn't been to before and see bits that I hadn't noticed. I actually ended up finding myself a new favourite place for picnics which also doubled as a great place for distanced walks.

14. Keep Up Old Habits!

It became easy to sink into new habits during lockdown as I was no longer leaving the house as often or seeing other people at all. Over time, it started to affect how I felt and ultimately made me quite low.

So, I started to wear nice clothes again (even if I did have the occasional day in pyjamas!), put makeup on, go for regular walks and contact friends more frequently.

Obviously, some people are perfectly happy not doing any of this, but I found it helped me immensely. Really, its just whatever works best for you!


More than anything, don't take it too seriously.

Life is so full of solemnity and confusion and disagreement at the moment - don't get bogged down by it all.

Instead of worrying about all the ways that lockdown has held you back and all the things you haven't done, think about the things you have done because of it.

And think about all the things you are going to continue to do to make yourself happy. It's ok to prioritize yourself.

So as we enter the new year, remember to take a breath once in a while and take it easy.

Happy new year!

1 Comment

Harminder Ghatorae
Harminder Ghatorae
Jan 03, 2021

Mental health tips are brilliant. Some I've tried already & others I will give ago. Thanks. Continue to stay happy & sane x

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