Updated: Jul 21, 2020
I thought it would be interesting to explore what we at 50plus can do during lockdown to ensure that we exit this prepared and enhanced as an individual and ready to fully integrate into whatever society may look like.
I’ve previously written about goal setting and firmly believe this is even more of an important time to have these firmly established. Having a daily routine set out and achieving the things you set yourself to do will not only leave you with a sense of self-achievement but also provide you with a sense of well-being. This is a great opportunity to de-clutter and I’m not just talking about physical things but also your own mind and thoughts. Having a clarity of purpose and mind will really help you be ready and prepared. Clearing out all those “old” unused and no doubt unnecessary physical things, like old clothes or an old bike will also help you re-order your household. Both these things will leave you with a much better understanding of what you truly value and what you truly want in your life.
You don’t need to be into meditation or even something like Yoga to get your mind focused. You can simply spend half an hour at the beginning of the day to reflecting on yourself, your past, your future, things you’ve enjoyed, tried, hated and things you’d maybe like to try. Start making some notes about things you'd like to try. Do some research into them and set some new goals. For example, I have a friend who wanted to learn the piano. He’d actually always wanted to learn a musical instrument. So, he’s found online tutoring, virtual keyboards etc and is progressing rapidly. Now, this is not necessarily a skill that he will use massively going forward but it’s something he's always wanted to do. For me having an active mind and putting this to use is key if we are to make the most of this period of enforced isolation. There’s no point sitting around and wondering when this might all end and not challenging yourself during the “lockdown” to learn something new. I have re-started online Spanish lessons, it’s a language I was semi-proficient at previously and I was reflecting on fun holidays and times I had in Spain and thought why not …. It’s very simple to identify something and to follow through with this. Keeping physically active is also important, even if it’s just going out for an hour's walk a day, it will help. You don’t have to do a Joe Wicks workout every day or an online exercise class, a run, an indoor cycle, row or even weights, but do something. It’s far too easy not to, but the benefits of exercise are well documented, and you will feel better for this.
A healthy mind and body are never bad things to aim for. Maybe just set yourself some basic exercises to do each morning in your home before you start the day and build up to other things when you can. Eat well, you have time now to prepare proper meals and most things are now available in shops. “You are what you eat” couldn’t be truer than now. It’s very easy to snack away, have some crisps or something else in the day, I know because I’ve done it.
Some articles refer to it as anxiety eating. Ask yourself a simple question, did you do this before, if the answer is no, then why do it now? If the answer is yes then maybe this is a great time to change this. I am making sure I cook fresh meat, fish, vegetables or salads every day which actually I never used to do enough of before. It definitely makes me feel better. I guess we all miss the pub, a beer, wine or a spirit unless of course you don’t drink alcohol and again it’s quite easy to find yourself having a glass in the middle of the day and one too many in the evening. I’m all for a drink and a laugh with mates (virtually) but as with your food intake have a think about what you did prior to this and how much you consumed. Try to make sure you don’t have more than this and even use this as an opportunity to cut back. I used to meet friends regularly after my evening dog walk for a pint, which often became a few more, now I’ve cut that out and whilst I might have a beer in the evening now it’s certainly not every night. I’ve also written previously about networking, human beings by nature are generally social creatures, we enjoy physical contact, meeting others, getting together with friends etc. However, this is not possible right now. That doesn’t mean you can't be social or indeed network on a personal level. This is a great opportunity to reach out to friends that perhaps you haven’t done so as regularly before, to re-establish connections and to talk to them. There are a huge number of social mediums available to do this through, embrace them and use them, it’s so important to stay connected, to talk to others and share experiences, laugh and joke and be serious. Join a quiz group or set up a daily, weekly, bi-weekly or whatever timescale suits you to chat with friends in a medium where you can see each other. Just seeing others will help enormously and help alleviate any sense of loneliness or remoteness that you may have from not being able to physically meet up.
When you do go out for essentials and stand in a queue, or to exercise or walk your dog, if you have one, you can still engage with other people from a safe social distance and talk with them. Try to do this, even if it’s just saying “good morning” as communicating is important to everyone. I know a friend who regularly organises a walk with one of his best mates. They meet in a park, stay socially distanced, walk and chat, he says it’s helped him massively. We need some sort of physical interaction and it’s possible to have that if you want. I talked about routines earlier and if you're working from home it may be essential to establish a different approach to the workday in order to look after other members of the family especially younger children that need attention and self- schooling. I was on a call/virtual meeting the other day and one of the participants talked about a couple who split working time up into three-hour segments during the day, to allow the other to look after their children and still both be able to get work done.
If you’ve been furloughed or laid off don’t panic, again remember you have a vast amount of knowledge and experience and now the flexibility to work differently, so again use this time to really understand what you want to do and can do. If this requires further education or qualifications, this is the perfect time to go and enrol and to get these. Look at your CV and update it, use this and your LinkedIn profile, if you have one, to start to position yourself for other opportunities both now and when the situation returns to some sort of normality.
How much information do you want or need to know in the current climate? It is quite challenging not to feel concerned and worried by all the reports and the surrounding news. I have one friend who has actively stopped tuning in as he finds it too depressing. That said I believe it’s vital to stay informed and in touch, knowledgeable and therefore able to look at how to plan ahead where possible. The planet has not stopped spinning and by ignoring what’s happening won’t make it go away. So, what does tomorrow look like, this is very difficult to predict however you can use this time to learn what is important to you and also how to operate effectively and happily in a lockdown environment where social distancing is vital to your health. It’s possible that even when current restrictions are relaxed that we may have to adhere to some kind of continued social distancing in order not to allow the resurgence of this virus or indeed another similar virus. We can change, human beings are highly adaptable.
The key to this will be the simple things that you can derive pleasure from and get a sense of achievement from; getting that daily routine done, finding things to occupy your mind, keeping active and staying in touch with people, even if that’s virtual, eating well and watching your alcohol intake.