It’s the beginning of the third UK national lockdown. Throughout 2020 we’ve experienced off and on lockdowns, tier systems, insolation and uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s safe to say that every single person across the UK and the globe have had to make changes to their everyday life which, for some, has had a huge impact on mental health. The furlough scheme has been beneficial to many, but the decrease in income has also resulted in adaptions being made to how we manage our money and finances.
It’s been a challenging year and we know that #lockdown3 is a depressing thought so, we’ve put together some ways you can protect your mental and financial health if you feel like you need a little support to get through the next few weeks.
A Morning Routine Sets You up for a Good Day 😊
Start with the basics. A morning routine allows us to better control our schedules, rather than the other way round. A mindful morning routine helps us to focus on the day ahead with clarity – rather than rolling about of bed straight to your home set up or place of work.
A morning routine doesn’t have to take hours – you don’t have to wake up at 4am in order to set yourself up for the day (although this does work for many!) but create a routine that works for you and is actually manageable.
If you’re interested in starting a positive morning routine, or feel like you could improve your current one, here are some ideas to get you started:
- Exercise (in any form),
- Try some light stretching if you struggle to exercise in the mornings,
- Eat a good breakfast that will fill you up but isn’t high in sugar or fat,
- Drink a large glass of water to rehydrate and kickstart your metabolism,
- Set an alarm to go to sleep and wake up so you’re not exhausted or too tired,
- Leave your phone alone and turn off those notifications,
- Practice meditation – even small breathing exercises can help to curb anxiety and clear the mind,
- Write down your goals for the day – it can be beneficial to invest in a planner or journal to kickstart this habit,
- Get dressed – obvious to those who are still working but if you’re working at home it’s easy to stay in PJ’s but getting dressed will help to keep relaxing and working separately.
Cut Down on Unnecessary Spending
Snooze-fest, right?! 😴
Yes, we know, you’ve heard it all before throughout the pandemic, but it truly will be a vital safety net if anything happens to your income.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), between August to October 2020 redundancies reached record levels with 370,000 people losing their job in 2020, this translates as 13.3 per 1,000 employees. During these months, the unemployment rate was at 4.9% and unfortunately, experts at the Bank of England suggest that this could potentially rise to 10% by mid-2021.
These rates are worrying and although we’re certainly not saying this will happen to you, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Start to protect your financial position by putting at least three times your salary in a rainy-day pot, specifically for emergencies.
Stay Connected to the World
It’s easy to become isolated during a lockdown, whether you’re shielding or live with others, it’s important to try and stay connected to your support network.
The benefits of social interaction shouldn’t be overlooked during lockdown as according to the charity MindWise, friendships help to increase belonging, purpose, increased levels of happiness, reduced levels of stress, improved self-worth, and confidence.
Thankfully, the way we communicate has drastically changed over the last decade, which means it’s easier than ever to keep the lines of communication open. During times of stress, as humans, we thrive much better with company and support.
So, reach out to your friends and family, forge new friendships online and get to know your neighbours when you’re making out getting your daily exercise.
However, remember to manage how you follow the pandemic in the media, as viewing extensive news coverage can negatively impact your general mental wellbeing – after all the news tends to report on negative things as they tend to get more viewers.
Reassess Your Financial Requirements
We’ve all had to come to terms with social isolation and it’s only natural that we turn on auto-pilot when dealing with stressful situations – managing our finances being one of them. However, it’s important to assess your income and outgoings on a monthly basis so you can plan and adapt where necessary.
For some living on a reduced income won’t have much of an impact on the day-to-day life – especially when we can’t even leave the home – however, for others the decrease in money is proving challenging.
If this is the case and you find that you’re struggling or just barely getting by in-between paydays there are some things that may help:
1. Firstly, it can help to keep up to date with the support available. You can do this by visiting the coronavirus support service created by the government.
2. Secondly, it’s worth creating a budget to see exactly where your money is going each month and making small changes to any pointless spending.
3. Thirdly, if you know you won’t be able to make a payment on time, contact the lender. It’s much easier to make them aware of the situation so they can help (they have to offer help to those who need it, or risk being fined) before it spirals out of control.
After all, the Lockdown will Come to an End
Throughout this third lockdown, it’s important to remember it won’t be forever. Freedom is in sight and time does fly when you keep your mind active and fill it with productivity and purpose. It will take some time to get back to normality, but we will get there.
If it does all start to get too much, speak to your family and friends that you trust or even reach out to a helpline for some guidance and support but most importantly, remember to take a minute to breathe, find your feet, take one small step after another and keep on pushing forward. We’re all in this together.