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How to stay positive during lockdown or self-isolation

 staying positive isolation

Updated 05/01/21

If you're not feeling like the sunniest, most delightful version of yourself at the moment, it's totally understandable. With lockdowns in place across the UK, staying optimistic during the pandemic - particularly during winter - isn't the easiest feat. It's often the small things that can help to make life that little bit more positive, so we've compiled this list of simple ways to cheer yourself up, as recommended by gransnetters.

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12 ways to stay positive during lockdown

1. Focus on good news

With 24 hour access to news updates, and social media like Twitter providing an endless commentary on current affairs, it can be difficult to avoid going down the rabbit hole of bad news about the pandemic. There's even been a term coined to describe this, 'doomscrolling'. It's not always easy to ignore the news cycle, particularly when you consider the fear of missing out on something important, but it's ok to switch off if you find that it's having a detrimental impact on your mental health. Try these tips to help you balance the information you consume better:

  • When you're reading the news, actively seek out happier articles. Despite the lockdown announcement, there have been some positive stories to focus on recently with the UK's vaccine rollout. There are also resources that focus specifically on good news, for example, The Happy Newspaper and Positive.news. 
  • Limit your news intake. Whether that's setting time limits on your news apps (you can now do this in the settings of most phones), turning off breaking news alerts, or even relying only on evening news broadcasts, find a regime that works for you, and keeps you feeling more positive.
  • Distract yourself. Admittedly this is easier said than done, but if you find yourself becoming anxious at the news, having a series of coping mechanisms that you can rely on to ease your mind can have a huge impact. It may be focusing on your favourite craft, or busying yourself with making something in the kitchen, or if you're in need of inspiration, keep reading for plenty of ideas for things to do...


2. Travel the world from your armchair

Upset that your 2020 travel plans have been put on hold? Thanks to the wonders of the internet, culture is coming to you. You can explore the world's greatest art galleries with Google's virtual tours. So if you've always wanted to go to the MoMA in New York, or The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, now is your chance. 

3. Meditate

"Sitting quietly and watching the fish, feeling the breeze, hearing the birds are almost forms of meditation and contemplation."

If you need a bit of peace, consider trying meditation and mindfulness. There are lots of meditation apps which could be really helpful, including popular choices Calm and Headspace. If you find the apps aren't helping you to relax, going for a walk or spending some time in nature can be soothing at difficult times. It's a tricky time to forget the world and find inner calm, but according to some gransnetters, it can be done.

4. Exercise

"I find having a routine helps me. I make coffee/tea at 8am. I do Joe Wicks PE at 9am, then have breakfast followed by a shower."

"I've been trying online exercise (I'm VERY unfit). It exhausts me but makes me feel happier after."

Exercise is a source of much-needed endorphins and a great way to keep your spirits up. We have a useful guide to indoor exercise here, including a series of exercise videos of the day that you can try at home, and our forums are full of ideas if you're thinking of starting up an exercise routine.

5. Learn something new

"Learn something new - academic, leisure or just fun - on a Massive Open Online Course. They cover all kinds of subjects: academic, vocational, leisure and fun, and most allow you to progress at your own pace over several weeks. Most are free."

There's an abundance of free, online resources on offer if you want to use this time to learn a new skill. Gransnetters have recommended Massive Open Online Courses, where you can learn about a variety of topics, including everything from antiques trafficking to how to solve climate changeDuolingo, an app where you can learn 23 different languages, is also very popular. 

staying positive isolation

6. Stay in touch with your family

"Knowing that in the evening I will FaceTime with my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson helps me stay positive."

One of the silver linings of this crisis is that we live in a era of remarkable online communication. For many on Gransnet, the hardest thing about the pandemic is being separated from their grandchildrenBut thanks to Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, etc., physical distance doesn't have to be as tricky to navigate as it might have once been. 

If you're feeling lonely and don't have family you feel you can talk to, there's always lively chat on the Gransnet forums (as you may well know). From chatting about what was on TV last night to debating politics, there's something for everyone - including our good morning thread, where you can pop on and say hi for a friendly chat. If you're new to the site, we have this guide to help you get started.

If you fancy a chat over the phone, AgeUK has a telephone friendship service for the over 60s called Call in Time, where you can request a weekly phone call from someone with similar interests to you.

Keep in touch on Gransnet...


7. Volunteer

"Volunteer with your local coronavirus support group or food bank/community fridge. Even if people can't go out they can usually help by taking messages and other admin."

If helping other people gives you a warm glow, then why not volunteer? Many charities are in desperate need of help right now as the demand for their services has ramped up this year, and with some regular volunteers unable to work. The Do-it volunteering website is a fantastic resource if you are looking for opportunities in your area. It's also important to remember that you don't need to leave your house to volunteer - there are plenty of at-home opportunities to help out, like telephone befriending. Our page on helping older people in your community has some great suggestions for ways to help too. 

8. Play games

"I am finding online quizzes for children which I send to my son, and then we do the quizzes over FaceTime with my 10-year-old and one-year-old grandchildren."

Many gransnetters have recommended puzzles, either real-life or online ones, as a fun way to get through lockdown. Sweetly, some gransnetters have even used games to connect with their grandchildren, playing over FaceTime. You could get creative, and write quizzes for your grandchildren to complete or play charades. Don't forget, we've also got a whole section of games onsite too.

9. Beauty update 

"I cut my own hair a few days ago. I am very pleased with the result, I wouldn't be ashamed to let anyone see it, if we could go out anywhere! And I don't need the balaclava I knitted in case."

Gransnetters have some very resourceful tips for looking after your hair during lockdown. Now could be a good time break with your normal routine and try out a new look. If you're making a change, why not make the transition to grey? If it goes wrong, no one will see, and if it goes right you can emerge from lockdown like a butterfly from a cocoon!

10. Have a good clear-out

As Marie Kondo famously argues, decluttering is the key to a healthy state of mind. As many gransnetters have pointed out, if you want to feel productive and purposeful, a great place to start is the kitchen cupboards. Now is finally the time to do that clean out you've been planning for years. If you need a hand, have a read of our guide to decluttering with Marie.

winter gardening jobs

11. Get in your garden

"Getting out in my garden and the fresh(er) air really helps a lot."

If you're lucky enough to have a garden, now is the best time to get outside and get those winter gardening jobs done - just make sure you wrap up warm! Looking for inspiration? Our page on small garden ideas has plenty of projects to keep you busy.

12. Look after your mental health 

Even the most positive of us will have 'wobbles' as we face the coronavirus crisis. But if you feel like you're finding it impossible to feel even remotely positive, and want to talk to someone about how you feel, there are lots of resources available. The charity Mind has an helpful guide, and the NHS has a useful list of the best apps to help you take care of your mental health. 

If you feel like you need support urgently, one of these helplines could be useful:

  • Age UK - 0800 678 1602
  • Mind - 0300 123 3393
  • The Silver Line - 0800 470 8090
  • Anxiety UK - 03444 775 774
  • Samaritans - 116 123


Disclaimer: The information on our health pages is only intended as an informal guide and should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice. Gransnet would urge you to consult the NHS coronavirus website if you are concerned you or someone you know has the disease.  

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