How to survive a lockdown alone

First of all: you are not alone. And if you think you are, please keep on reading.

   I myself am a student, living in a small studio, and lockdowns aren’t the best. The first one, I freaked out, because I was sure I would not be able to do it. As you know, I always try to be honest with you all, so I won’t hide anything from you. I flew to my parents’ first occasion I got and spent the lockdown there.

   But I was alone. So very alone. And the second one was even worst since I couldn’t even go to my parents this time. I just stayed there, figuring out as I went. And then I realised: we all experienced lockdowns differently. And this article is for people who think they won’t be able to do it, to survive through it. Because you will, I promise you.

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Do what makes you feel good

   Some people will tell you to get up and dress like it is a day you are going to spend out. Put on some jeans and do your hair and makeup. Yes, it might make you feel good, makes you feel beautiful and worth it. But forcing ourselves to do something we do not feel like doing isn’t great in the long term. Some mornings, you will want to wake up and put some makeup on and be bright and sunny and happy all day. Some mornings you won’t.

   On this kind of mornings, I would simply advise putting other clothes on. Even if it’s another pyjama. Just to put something on in which you did not sleep. It will make you feel fresher and better. Remember that spending a day in pyjamas or sweat pants isn’t bad, as long as it makes you feel good. Feel like a snack? Just eat the snack, those are tough days enough for you to worry about gaining some weight while in lockdown.

I think we really need to stop putting pressure and guilt on ourselves regarding what we do or our body image. As we enter our third lockdown in France, I decided to share my daily moods on my Instagram page, because I want to be the most real and transparent to you people. Some days, I will feel amazing, ready to do a million things that I won’t have the time to do. And some other days, I won’t be able to get out of bed. This is a reality I would love to be more depicted on social media those days.

Go out whenever you have the occasion to

   This might seem a little weird since we don’t have the same rules depending on where we live. Here, in Paris, one could go out for one hour a day in the first lockdown. And my advice is to get out. Even if you are alone and you think walking alone in your neighbourhood is weird, take the opportunity. You might feel like it at first, but you will be very thankful afterwards.

   Grab your earphones for some music, or make yourself a coffee that you will drink on your way. Also, if you have anxiety, you might want to switch to something with less caffeine in it. The thing is: getting out will give you the opportunity to see something else, and will rest your body as much as your mind. I am thinking about our eyes since we spend a lot of time in front of screens. By not getting out, you might experience more headaches than usual.

And if you can’t get out, because you are sick or going out makes you anxious, I would advise opening your window as wide as you can. If it’s cold, do not do it for too long – I wouldn’t want you to catch a cold – but just enough to breath some fresh air. I do not have a great light exposition in my room, so I know how frustrating having the feeling to live in the dark can be. Getting out always helps me see the positive sides of things.

Set some routines

This is my go-to lockdown move. When I am free to go wherever I want, I never set a routine, because I am pretty organized as it is. But lockdowns can mess with your days and give you the feeling of not being at your best. I would like to remind you that being productive isn’t the key for everyone, and should not be your goal if your mental health is weakened by it. Some times, being productive might mean to rest and not do anything, and this is perfectly fine.

To set my lockdown routines, I use both my bullet journal and the app Rabit (not sponsored). It is very easy to use the app and I love the design (yes, I am peaky this way). It allows you to set up routines for the whole day and you can personalize the notifications you receive.

Learn a new thing

I saw some people learning how to play the piano in lockdown, how to draw and paint and a lot of other amazing stuff. Yes, of course, you can learn to do something huge you wanted to learn for a long time. But there are also a lot of other things you can learn to do in lockdown. Things that won’t require a lot of energy or focus, and that will make you feel a good time.

My favourite one: pastries. This is the go-to thing to learn for a lot of people it seems, with all the bread recipes going around on the internet. But for me, bread was a no-go, since I don’t have an oven. So learning how to make pastries with the material I had really was a challenge, and it was so much fun! Look over for simple recipes to do without an oven, or recipes without baking, you will find hundreds of tasty things to do.

You can also learn new things about your body. How to take better care of your hair, for example. A lot of people assume taking good care of your hair is a female thing, but not at all. Boys, if the hairdressers are closed, take it as an opportunity to learn about your hair and their needs – my boo discovered he has gorgeous curls in lockdown. But hair isn’t the only thing. I personally looked up ways to take better care of my skin and my ears.

There are a lot of little things we don’t do when we run out of time. So take lockdown as an opportunity to take a small break – or a big one – and do those things you’ve never done. Learn how to create gorgeous watercolour paintings, how to braid your hair, how to play an instrument, learn a new language! There are a million possibilities, and fixing your goals, as small as they seem, will help you go forward.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Please, please, take a break from social media from time to time. Or, at least, clean your timelines from people who are making you feel pressured about things. Over-productive people can be both a motivation and a mental-health wrecker some times. Everyone has their own rhythm and you should not feel guilty for not doing as much as others.

During the first lockdown, I spent my time playing Animal Crossing New Horizons and baking stuff. Didn’t do anything for school. Didn’t learn any new skills. Didn’t get out much. I figured it wasn’t the best for me, but it suited a lot of people. As I told you: do what makes you feel good. And in the case, you are a student and you can’t work for school because you feel down, don’t hesitate to talk about it. Not everyone will be understanding about it, but you can try, you have nothing to lose.

And don’t forget: social media has its downsides, but it also one of the best way to keep in touch with people. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people you like to follow, or to take part in certain communities online (like the book community, we would be delighted to welcome you). This way, you will realize you are not alone in your fight and your struggles, and you will find people to talk with! This looks like the time to remind you that my mailbox and Instagram DMs are always open to chat if you need to.

Some resources

US

  • Lifeline: call 1-800-273-8255. Provides help and support regarding loneliness and depression.
  • Boys Town: call 800-448-3000. Provides help for teens and parents regarding mental health.
  • Text COVID19HOPE to 393939 to get help about anxiety, depression and how to manage the current situation.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255.

UK & Ireland

  • Samaritans National Lifeline UK & Ireland: 116 123 (UK & Ireland) | Email jo@samaritans.org. « Whatever you’re going through, call us free any time, from any phone on 116 123. »
  • Papyrus HOPELine UK: Call: 0800 068 41 41 – Mon-Fri: 10am-10pm, weekends: 2pm-10pm & bank holidays: 2pm-5pm | Email: pat@papyrus-uk.org | SMS: 07786 209697. Support and Suicide prevention for people under 35.
  • SupportLine UK: 01708 765200 (hours vary so ring for details)| email: info@supportline.org.uk.
  • Switchboard – the LGBT+ helpline: 0300 330 0630 – 10am-10pm every day | Also IM messaging and email options. « We’re here to help you with whatever you want to talk about. Nothing is off limits, and we understand how anxious you might feel before you pick up the phone. »

Australia

  • beyondblue: Depression and anxiety. Call 1300 22 4636, 24 hours / 7 days a week.
  • Butterfly Foundation’s National Helpline: very useful if you have eating disorders or body-image issues. Call 1800 33 4673, 8am-midnight AEST / 7 days a week.
  • eheadspace: provides mental health and wellbeing support, information and services to young people aged 12 to 25 years and their families. Call 1800 650 890, 9am-1am AEST / 7 days a week.
  • QLife: provides nationwide telephone and web-based services to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex of all ages. Call 1800 184 527, 3pm-12am (midnight) AEST / 7 days a week.

France

  • SOS Help: une ligne de prévention suicide. Appelez au  01 46 21 46 46. Hours: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun: 15:00 – 23:00 Boite Postale 43, Cedex 92101 Boulogne.
  • Fédération S.O.S Amitié France: très utile si vous vous sentez seul.e. Appelez le (+33) (0)1 40 09 15 22.
  • Ghislain Rubio de Teran: support pour les personnes LGBTQIA+. Appelez le 0649 525 952.

Thank you for reading, I hope those advices were helpful for you guys. Don’t hesitate to share this to people who might need some support, and recommend other resources that I might have forgotten.

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