10 ways to boost your mental health during lockdown

26 November 2020, 13:15 | Updated: 26 November 2020, 13:44

How to boost your mental health during lockdown
How to boost your mental health during lockdown. Picture: Getty

By Rosie Pentreath

From picking the right music, to scheduling some movement into your day, here are our suggestions for a positive period of self-isolation.

As we settle into the rhythm of a second national lockdown in England, or come out of various lockdown measures and restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic elsewhere, it can be difficult not to let uncertainty wash over us like a cloud of persistent fog.

“Perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind for our mental health is that we don’t know what course the pandemic will take – it’s hard to plan too far ahead, and it’s very easy to let what-ifs take over,” the Mental Health Foundation says.

“If you are finding this time hard, you aren’t alone. The pandemic has enabled a lot of people to speak about their feelings – to loved ones, friends and even employers or folk in the queue to get into the shops. This is nobody’s fault – least of all yours.”

We’ve gone through this before, and we can do it again.

For us here at Classic FM, it’s about taking it one a day at a time, taking as much time as we need, and welcoming in the positive aspects of this moment of pause into our homes and lives when we need them most.

From selecting the most soothing and comforting music, to letting a bit of routine help us through our days, and attending specialist seminars, here are our suggestions for helping us all through lockdown.

Read more: Classical music boosts mental health and wellbeing in isolation, study finds >

When you’re a cellist stuck at home with a load of puppets…

  1. Listen to classical music

    Last lockdown, a study found that classical music boosts mental health and wellbeing in isolation.

    And the right music has also been found to benefit pets, lower your blood pressure, and even make you happy in just nine minutes.

    Sharing wonderful, uplifting music is what we’re all about here at Classic FM, so whether it’s the most relaxing piano, violin or cello music you’re seeking, or a playlist that results in the ultimate relaxation, turning to classical music could help soothe you when you need it most.

    Click here to listen to Classic FM’s Relax playlist on Global Player, the official Classic FM app >

    Yo-Yo Ma plays Bach's Cello Suite No. 1, Prelude

  2. Go for a walk at least once a day

    Government guidance in England and elsewhere allows you to leave the house for outdoor exercise, and making sure you get out for a walk – for fresh air and a change of scenery – can be the perfect way to inject positivity into your day.

    Read more: 7 pieces of classical music inspired by walking >

  3. Exercise 3-4 times a week

    Similarly, exercise is a well-known mood booster.

    “Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and feel better,” mental health charity, Mental Health Foundation, says.

    “Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.”

    Mental Health Foundation is one of the charities supported by Classic FM’s charity, Global’s Make Some Noise.

    Exercise can help during self-isolation
    Exercise can help during self-isolation. Picture: Getty
  4. Attend specialist webinars or training for expertise and inspiration

    Like many things in 2020, talks and training around mental health, and mental health support, have proliferated online.

    In our classical world, violinist Nicola Benedetti and the Benedetti Foundation have teamed up with Benedetti’s father, Gio, to host a series of one-hour webinars that give mental health support and promote healthier work and home environments.

    Gio Benedetti heads up Green Cross Training, a first aid and health & safety training specialist that has delivered mental health support and training for a number of years to thousands of people across the UK. With his daughter, and drs Christian Jessen and Raj Persaud, Benedetti invites us to take part in ‘Winter Wellbeing’ sessions, throughout several days in December, to help ourselves and each other through the continuing tough months.

    Visit: www.benedettifoundation.org/wellbeing

  5. Sing in a virtual choir or participate in online music tutorials

    Like listening to music, playing music feels darn good.

    Lots of choirs, musicians and orchestras have become well-versed in holding online events, and many that you are welcomed, nay encouraged, to join in with.

    Joining a virtual choir, like Stay At Home Choir, or participating in an online round of group music tuition, like the online Benedetti Sessions, can be a great way to stay focused on music-making, learn new things, and boost your mood through doing so at the same time as many other people.

    Read more: How do I join in with Nicola Benedetti’s Global Violin Sessions, and what pieces will I learn? >

    Virtual mass singalong of Sir Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man | Stay At Home Choir | Classic FM

  6. Structure your day

    A regular routine can really help.

    If you’re working from home, it might be setting the alarm for the same time every morning, and making sure you separate waking up with starting work – by getting dressed, having breakfast, and potentially incorporating your day’s exercise at this point to create a structure to your day from the outset.

    Read more: The most relaxing classical violin music ever written >

  7. Be aware of and limit your screen time

    Zoom meetings are tiring. And constant screen time strains your eyes, and keeps you in a fixed position for long periods of time – often without you knowing it – which isn’t good for anyone.

    Similarly, it’s important to be aware of how much news you’re consuming as it can add to worry and uncertainty.

    “Too much coverage can make us all anxious and the pandemic isn’t the only tricky news story in the media this winter,” Mental Health Foundation says. “Unless you have to, perhaps look at one bulletin a day.”

    The charity suggests a similar approach to social media: “There’s a lot of speculation about the virus – where it came from, if it is real, what the government is thinking.

    “Try not to get dragged into debate. Don’t speculate and post material that criticises or blames people or can’t be verified,” the charity suggests.

    Violinist Min Lee's cello

  8. Pursue a lockdown hobby so your only focus isn’t work

    Many people working from home during the coronavirus pandemic have experienced ‘hours creep’ and a good way to combat this is consciously having other things to do.

    It may sound simple, but have as strict an approach to ending your working day as possible, and once you’ve finished, turn to another project to give yourself something different to think about – and something you really enjoy.

    Mental Health Foundation recommends doing something you’re good at and therefore enjoy naturally: “Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem.”

    Read more: Self-isolating choirs and orchestras are performing powerful at-home concerts >

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  9. Contact friends and family, and arrange regular calls

    “There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face to face, but that’s not always possible. You can also give them a call, drop them a note, or chat to them online instead,” Mental Health Foundation says.

    “Keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you!”

  10. Arrange a ‘Watch Party’ or remote joint listening to the radio

    Here at Classic FM, we know how wonderful it can be to connect people through listening to the same music.

    Taking part in activities together – albeit virtually and across a distance – just like you would if you were together helps you share experiences.

    You could listen to the same radio programme and have each other on video chat; take part in a ‘Watch Party’ that allows you to comment on what you’re watching in a way you would if you were together, or join in with the same virtual quiz, jumping on video chat or direct message apps to confer on your answers!

    Click here to catch up with Smooth Classics on Global Player, the official Classic FM app >

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