Before I begin I want to make it clear that this is not a post about toxic positivity and how if you believe hard enough everything can be good. I won’t say everything happens for a reason or you can be choose to be happy. Because life and emotions are just not that straight forwards. With my own complex history of mental illness I understand that a lot better than I did before. It makes me shudder slightly to think of the quotes I used to have pinned up in my bedroom. I massively bought into that ‘no excuses’ culture.
Instead I want to talk about finding those small moments of joy, those pieces of everyday magic. The things that bring a little light into the darkness, that make you smile if only for a few seconds. The activities that make you forget about your struggles and the people who remind you that you are loved. This is what I will write about. None of these things will fix your life or stop your pain but if for a few seconds the world seems to have hope again then they are worth it. But reader even if all you do in a day is survive then that alone you can be proud of.
So here goes my list of things that bring some sparkle to this mentally and physically ill girls life during a pandemic. I really hope they will give you some inspiration and ideas for your lockdown lives as well.
1. New music releases from your favourite artists. Both the excitement of the announcement, the anticipation of the day and the joy of new songs to listen to. Special shout out here to my idol (zero shame) Taylor Swift for a double album drop in lockdown 2020 and an album remake in 2021. She is a Queen.
2. Putting on a cute outfit even if there is no one to see it but me and my family. It makes me feel good about myself, boosts my body confidence and makes the days seem slightly different to each other.
3. Slipper socks, slippers and a big dressing gown. Lovely cosy comfortable and work with any cute outfit, after all like I said it’s just me and my family to see.
4. Candles. I love candles, I really do. The smell, the range of flavours and the warm glow they make when lit. I recently ‘discovered’ tea lights and then have been a great edition to create more ambiance but without clashing with my main candle smells. You can tell I take this pretty seriously. I honestly believe you can never own too many candles. However many you see burning in my room I will have at least that number again stored ready to use.
5. Clean sheets on your bed. Not the actual sheet changing and washing process, that is a whole lot of effort. Putting a duvet cover on I thought would get easier as I got older but I think I might be getting worse at it. But when you are rewarded for your effort with soft new covers it is all worth it.
6. Flowers in the house. At the moment it’s daffodils which bring a cheerful splash of colour and a reminder that Spring is on its way.
7. A long hot Bath. Having access to a bath is probably my favourite thing about being home. I will spent hours in the bath until the water is literally freezing.
8. Feeding the birds. I was brought up in a bird watching family with many a weekend spent at RSPB reserves. But it is only with lockdown and having a garden due to living back home with my parents that I have really truly appreciated the joy of urban wildlife. I love watching the birds flit around the garden and getting to know the behaviour of each species. It is basically a bird buffet outdoors. We have two bird tables, three fat ball feeders, a seed feeder, a peanut feeder and a coconut half. They are spoilt for choice!
9. Evenings curled up watching telly with all the jobs done for the day, a big mug of tea and perhaps a biscuit. It gives my mind winds down for the day. Currently I am re-watching the whole Star Wars franchise beginning with the prequels. A pretty important lockdown mission I think.
10. Bullet journaling. I started this back in January 2020 and what a time to record! I find it such a useful way to express my feelings but without the pressure of needing to write long daily diary entries. Or sometimes I just have pages of quotes or pretty stickers, it’s whatever feels right on the day.
11. Virtual lectures and talks. Keep my mind engaged and learning has helped me feel like this time still has purpose and I can grow as a person. One silver lining of lockdown (and there aren’t many) is that lectures that normally you could only go to if you were in London are now online so you can attend anywhere in the world. I have ‘been’ to many of the Royal Society of Medicine series. Plus they add a good bit of variety to the week.
12. Getting outside. I am so lucky in my wee corner of Scotland to have access to parks, seaside, forests and more. Spending time in nature or even just in the garden always improves my mental health. Everything has been especially beautiful with the huge amounts of snow we have had this winter. Everything coated in a layer of white. We haven’t had weather like that for almost twenty years!
13. Keeping up with friends. It can be hard sometimes after not having seen most of my pals for so long but I know catch ups make me feel more connected and a bit more normal. I have done many a FaceTime but I also enjoy a virtual movie date where you and a friend watch a film at the exact same time and then chat as it runs so it’s a shared experience.
So to round off this post. Lockdown is still a thing and it will be a long time before things return to normal. It’s hard. Probably nothing you do will stop it being hard. Self care activities won’t make me stop needing medication (which we should normalise by the way). But by engaging in small manageable activities that you enjoy you can make things a little easier. Even if only for a moment. Making this list has been very therapeutic for me and made me think about happy memories from the last year rather than all the more negative ones. I’d really encourage you guys to try and list of things that bring you a bit of calm and happiness. Maybe you can get some ideas from this list. Hold onto those everyday magic moments.