Top 3 Tips To Survive Lockdown
Let’s be honest from the start. People across Europe couldn’t be asked to follow a few simple social distancing rules and now they are crying out loud for governments to respect their freedom. To be honest, I am very disappointed, I thought we were better educated. Bit of a Dunning-Kruger effect on a continental level.
Anyways, back in Belgium, the UK and a few other countries, lockdown’s back for a second run. Compared to the first one, days are getting shorter and colder, not longer and warmer. Winters are generally related to more depressions and suicides, especially in colder countries. Another month in lockdown definitely won’t help.
At Top Three Guide, we care a lot about mental health, so we compiled three quick tips that should help you make the best of this second COVID-19 lockdown.
Tip 1: Add routine and structure to your days
Nothing’s worse than a day without plans and structure. With nothing to look forward to and nothing to guide you, it’s disturbingly easy to slip into a depression. I haven’t been through any bad depression myself, but unstructured days are far from my happiest. A well-planned-out day, in contrary, gives life some meaning.
Therefore, our first tip is to add some structure and routine to your day. This can easily be done by adding a simple morning routine. Here’s a quick top three guide to start your day. Personally, I never do work or spent time on social media before 9 a.m. My mornings are mostly 100% structured.
- 7:30 – 8:00 — Practise Portuguese on Duolingo
- 8:00 – 8:20 — Read (currently reading Tao of Seneca 2)
- 8:20 – 8:40 — Exercise
- 8:40 – 9:00 — Shower and make breakfast
- 9:00 – 9:15 — Check mails. To avoid distractions this is the only time of day I check mails.
The rest of my daylight time is structured around work. Whether you’re working from home or still going to the office, I suppose that’ll be the same for you. Not too much to be done about it, although I would recommend scheduling a short walk, ideally by yourself in an open space. Here are a few other tips to disconnect from work while working from home.
Then, in the evening, add some more structure. A consistent evening routine is a perfect way to end the day well and plan for the next.
Like it or not, humans like routine. Add structure to your days to give yourself some sense of purpose. Not only will you feel more satisfied at the end of the day, but you might also develop some new interesting habits along the way.
Tip 2: Plan your meals for the week
How does this relate to mental health in times of lockdown, you may wonder? It’s simple: it adds more structure. This isn’t the only benefit however, there are three more: less exposure, healthier eating habits and less waste.
Firstly, organising your meals for the entire week adds structure. As a result, you’ll have fewer decisions to make per day. Apparently, we make 200+ food-related decision per day.  So imagine how much decision-making power you could save by making meal plans. This extra brain energy and time could be put to better use. For example, to deal with negative emotions or call an old friend.
Secondly, planning your meals for the week means that you only have to expose yourself once or twice per week. If you own a car and a big freezer, you could probably even plan two weeks ahead. The whole idea is to avoid exposing yourself to the virus because you forgot to buy milk or you ran out of beer.
Thirdly, you’ll probably eat more healthily if you plan ahead. Unless you buy too many beers, of course. On the other hand, buying bigger quantities of veggies and fruit means that you’ll have to eat more of those. Try to include different varieties in each meal and find meals that require similar ingredients. This also helps with the next point, less waste. Additionally, thanks to good planning, you’ll order fewer takeaway meals and this has three benefits: less fast food, less spending, less plastic waste.
Finally, if you plan well, you should produce less food waste. Calculating the right quantities might take some more experience, but don’t worry, you’ll discover pretty quickly what works.
By the way, reducing your food waste is a small step you can take to stop climate change. For more ideas to help our precious planet, visit this website: https://www.count-us-in.org/.
Plan your meals and groceries ahead for a week. This adds more structure to your week and reduces your exposure. As a bonus, you’ll probably start eating more healthily and you’ll help the planet by producing less waste!
Tip 3: Catch up with (old) friends
Catching up with friends over the phone is crucial in times like these. I know you’re probably sick of the many Zoom calls and that’s why I recommend perhaps a normal voice call, like in the good all days. Call a friend while you go for a walk and have a mindful conversation without being distracted by how your hair looks on camera.
With the extra time on your hands, it’s an excellent moment to schedule a few calls with old friends or just send them a message. See what they’ve been up to. No matter how long it’s been. I challenge you to reach out to three people you haven’t actively talked to in the last year.
I, for example, got back in touch with my friend Bennie. We even did an interview for Top Three Guide. Before this, we had seen each other only once in the last twelve years. Correct me if I’m wrong, Bennie.
If you’re in a bit of a professional dip, reaching out to old friends might have a few surprises in store for you as well. As author and keynote speaker David Burkus explains, old connections are more likely to give you more valuable advice or insights than your close friends.  So, why don’t you give it a try?
In this short video, David gives some short advice about how to tackle this seemingly impossible action of contacting someone you haven’t spoken to in ages.
There’s no sharper and shorter advice on the subject than this. Isn’t it the most truest truth that we’d all love to receive one of those unexpected messages from an old friend? Coincidentally, I just tried that technique today. Here’s the message I sent “Drinking tea with milk. Not sure why that made me think of you.” And that was the start of a quick catch-up with Tom.
So, try this short piece of advice. If it works out, schedule a phone call. Reaching out to old friends is an incredible way to feel satisfied and happy to be alive at the end of the day.
Reach out to old friends. Often you’re both thinking the same: how awkward to speak to that person after such a long time but I wonder how this person’s doing now. Be the first to act. You can do it.
Mental health is vital. Both Loki and I believe that mental (and physical) health are way more important than financial success and status games. We realised this even more after our interview with Mike from the @resultsengine. That’s why our goal is to teach you how to perform better. If we can get only one person to do more in less time so they spend more hours on family, friends and passions, we’re a happy pair of lifestyle advisors.
Remember that we’ll always have your back. Whether you know us or not, we consider you our brother or sister. Feel free to reach out.
Loki and Kjell
- Brian Wansink, Jeffery Sobal. Environment and Behaviour — https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227344004_Mindless_Eating_The_200_Daily_Food_Decisions_We_Overlook
- David Burkus. Medium — https://medium.com/the-mission/why-your-old-friends-are-more-powerful-connection-than-your-close-friends-8535b0beca5