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Lockdown life isn’t linear; some days feel fine, while others feel anything but. These latter, tough days – which we at HuffPost UK have come to call “dip days” – are hard to endure. But as the weeks pass, we’ve each discovered new ways to weather the storm.
Personally, I love a long, mindful walk after work when I’ve hit a slump. But during the day, if I need a faster pick-me-up, I’ll take five minutes to make a proper coffee and sip it by the back door – something that I wouldn’t be able to do in my usual office environment. Sure, it doesn’t fix everything, but it provides an instant reminder that there are small joys to be discovered in lockdown.
Others on the HuffPost UK team have developed their own individual strategies for pushing through a hard day. From bike riding to hypothetical house hunting, here are a few simple ideas you may want to try next time a dip day strikes.
Get out and exercise
“Thankfully I haven’t had any dip days for the last month or so but in the initial stages of lockdown they would appear out of nowhere like an unwelcome visitor knocking on my door. I learned very early on that exercise was key and I rediscovered running outside after becoming a slave to the gym over the years.
“Luckily I live right next to two beautiful parks in Brighton and as well as keeping fit, it’s the perfect excuse to leave the house and be surrounded by nature. The hard bit if you’re feeling low is finding the motivation to actually do it, but it has such a positive impact on both my physical and mental health, that it is motivation enough for when the next dip day comes around.”
– Matt Bagwell, Head of Entertainment
Unplug your phone
“I turn my phone and work phone on aeroplane mode and put them out of sight and out of reach (under my pillow in the bedroom or something) and do something completely away from screens, so no TV either. On a weekday, this may be a workout in the garden, or if I’m not working, it may be going for a long walk, playing a board game, sitting in the garden and chatting, or really focusing on cooking something delicious for dinner.
“I’ve had the longest stretches without my phone than I’ve been able to have in years and turning it back on after eight or so hours makes me realise I don’t need to check it every 10 mins to see what’s happening on Twitter or what’s the latest in a Whatsapp group debate.”
– Amy Packham, Life editor
Be a friend to yourself
“When I wake up and I’m experiencing a dip day, I try to be really kind to myself, like how I would treat a best friend. I focus on basic self-care needs like having a shower, getting dressed and making my bed, as well as drinking plenty of liquids and eating nourishing food.
“I’ve had quite a lot of unexpected dip days lately and on the days I feel more productive, I might stock the freezer with either batch cooking, nice ready meals that can be microwaved or a pizza for the days when I don’t feel like cooking. Even when I don’t want to go outside, I find pushing myself to go outside for a bit helps. I also tell people I trust how I’m feeling and ring friends for a chat. Or I cancel plans and get under a blanket because that’s okay too.”
– Becky Barnes, Audience editor
Go for a bike ride
“For years, cycling has been my way of getting from A to B. But now, with nowhere to go, getting on my bike has become a means of escape.
I moved to the Sussex countryside to live with my boyfriend’s parents during lockdown, which means there’s a lot to explore: winding country lanes, (seemingly) insurmountable hills, and acres upon acres of fields peppered with sheep.
“Whether we hop on our bikes after a long day WFH or at the start of a sunny weekend, these freeing moments are ones I’ve come to count on – a chance to feel lighter.”
– Brogan Driscoll, Life editor
House hunt, hypothetically
“I try my best to switch off and go for a daily walk around areas I haven’t been before near where I live in east London. I’m in the middle of buying my first property and it’s a pretty exciting, but scary time to take the first step on the property ladder whilst in the middle of a pandemic.
“I know it’s bad, but I’m obsessed with peering into other people’s homes through the window to get ideas of my own. I get such a thrill with discovering new neighbourhoods and ogling at other people’s mansions that I know I’ll never be able to afford.”
– Angela Hui, freelance Life reporter
Break the day into chunks
“I have never been the most organised person, and normally operate in a pretty free-form, unstructured, last minute way. But when I’m struggling to get going or feel motivated during this crisis, I’ve found it helps me out to break my day into hour-long chunks with specific, itemised to-do lists and short breaks between.
“As well as helping me moderate the amount of stuff I actually need to get done each day, and at the risk of sounding like Principal Skinner, it becomes a fun challenge see how many things I can get done in any block.”
– Charlie Lindlar, Personal editor
“A call to my parents never fails to cheer me up. Because of lockdown, this is the longest I’ve ever gone without being at home with my family in Newcastle, and even though ringing them obviously doesn’t make me miss them any less, it’s a reminder that there’s still a big world beyond out front doors, and it will all be waiting for us when lockdown is finally lifted. Plus I’m usually guaranteed a laugh or two, which is a bonus.”
– Daniel Welsh, Entertainment reporter
Primp a bit
“There are moments, in the seventh consecutive hour of video calls on any given work day, when glimpsing my bare, knackered face is like looking at a stranger or – worse – someone I don’t much like anymore. I’ve even taken to sticking a Post-It note over that part of my screen. It was a friend who suggested sticking on some colourful lipstick instead.
“I don’t really groom myself at the best of times (and these aren’t those) but she was right. It does help – a kind of fake-it-till-you-make-it approach to brightening your day. And at the risk of sounding basic, straightening my hair seems to work in a similar way, taming the frazzle along with my frizz.”
– Nancy Groves, Head of Life
Zone out with TV
“I’m still working out how to get through a dip day. It’s really tough trying to make sense of any of this, so the first thing to say is that on days it all feels too weird to think about, I just sort of pretend nothing unusual is happening, if that’s at all possible, and zone out into a world of Killing Eve and escapist travel shows.
“On other dip days, I find the oppressive silence of Bethnal Green weirdly toxic. I live in east London, shouldn’t it be loud?! So I run, badly, or go for long walks. I find seeing other people go about their (probably equally drab) lockdown lives reminds me I’m not in this alone.”
– Adam Bloodworth, Entertainment and Life writer
Accept the dip
“I hesitated about contributing to this as I don’t think I do dip days particularly well. In fact, my low days in lockdown have on occasion felt so low that sometimes I think that will be my new normal. But the mantra ‘this too shall pass’ reminds me that nothing is permanent in life, and I cling to it during these uncertain times.
“On dip days, I try not to fight my feelings – acceptance is the closest thing to peace, I find. Instead, I allow myself to wallow if I want, to be negative if I feel like it, and try to remember that tomorrow is a new day.”
– Lucy Pasha-Robinson, Opinion editor
Covid-19 is more than a news story – it has changed every aspect of life in the UK. We are following how Britain is experiencing this crisis, the different stages of collective emotion, reaction and resilience. You can tell us how you are feeling and find further advice and resources here.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.