11 May 2020

How I Stay Sane in Lockdown

tulips, lockdown, girl from north london, round up
We have been in lockdown for 7 weeks so far in the UK. Now that I've passed the adjustment period and settled into the "new normal", I have rounded up all the things that have been keeping me sane in these strange times.

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ROUTINE
Having a routine has always been necessary for my mental well-being, but it's much harder to establish one without office hours. Having a set morning and night-time routine is the most important aspect for me as these frame the day and positively affect my mind frame when starting the day or heading to bed, and I've been setting my alarm every weekday so I always rise at the same time.

EXERCISE
It's surprising that I'm including this in here, as I rarely worked out before the lockdown but I actually have been working out 5-6 days a week. It has kept me (fairly) level-headed - I have noticed that I feel more negative on the days that I don't exercise - and means that I can challenge myself. I started out with the Joe Wicks' weekday live classes which got me into the rhythm of exercising at the same time each morning. Now I'm doing Chloe Ting's 2 Week Challenge which is a step up from Joe Wicks, but I like the change. I've also been practicing Yoga with Adriene's 30 Days of Yoga with my sister in the evenings, which I've found therapeutic. Each day varies - some are more dynamic, some are more holistic - and I always feel more calm by the end of the practice.

COOKING
Like many people, without restaurants or takeaways, I have been cooking a lot more at home. There have been some fails and some triumphs as I have been trying out new recipes rather than going back to dishes I make frequently. I've linked some of my more successful meals below if you are seeking some inspiration:

Homemade Pesto - a joy to eat, and easier to make than you think. You'll never want to go back to the jarred stuff again!

Veggie Quesadillas - Slightly fiddly but worth it. Serve with a large green salad and dips of your choice.

Corner-shop Curry Sauce - A fabulous, coconutty sauce. I swapped the chicken for cauliflower as I don't eat meat, added a few nuggets of frozen spinach because I couldn't resist, and substituted the chutney for marmalade. The result was heavenly. It was also a good excuse to indulge in my Patak's lime pickle obsession.

Spinach & Feta Plait - I found this whilst browsing through @sw3kitchen's IGTV and it was delicious and really easy to make. It would be a great idea for a pot luck as it's visually impressive and great for sharing. Don't scrimp on the Nigella seeds as they bring a heady, fragrant element to the pastry that make this a special dish.

Lentil Moussaka - This veggie alternative to a lamb moussaka went down very well in my household. I am obsessed with aubergines and this was a satisfying but healthy dish. I served this with stuffed vine leaves and salad. The recipe I used was from The Hungry Student Vegetarian Cookbook* but I've also linked a similar online recipe here.

READING
Aside working through my giant pile of unread British Vogue magazines from my monthly subscription (whoops), I've also just finished Normal People by Sally Rooney*. It seems like everyone and their mother has gone mad for the TV adaption of the novel, so I wanted to read it first. I demolished it within a few days and the way that Rooney portrays the characters' feelings, misunderstandings and insecurities was almost painfully relatable. Next to read on my bookshelf is Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo* and Small, Great Things by Jodi Picoult*.

LISTENING
I have become a more regular podcast listener over the last 6 months - I love immersing myself in a podcast instead of thinking about work on my daily commute. In lockdown, I've been listening to podcasts while I cook or clean. Top picks during lockdown are:

Grounded by Louis Theroux - I've been a Theroux fan for years so was thrilled when this was announced. Each episode of his new podcast sees him talking to fascinating, high-profile people that he has been wanting to interview for ages. I loved the Boy George episode - especially when Boy George starts ringing a bell and chanting when Louis has technical issues from his side of the Zoom call.

The High Low - I know I am (very) late to the game with this one but I have been enjoying Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton's conversation, rounding up all the best bits from pop-culture. Each week, I am left with a list of articles, books and programmes that I want to ingest (and probably will never get around to). Nevertheless, their charming, uplifting conversation and strong female bond boosts my mood when I am chopping garlic or cleaning the bathroom.

Table Manners with Jessie Ware - Table Manners might be my favourite podcast. Ever. I demolished the previous eight series before lockdown and while I have to say that I miss their previous format where they would cook for their guest each week,  I still enjoy their Zoom interviews with guests that they have been trying to pin down for ages, such as John Legend and Florence Pugh. Their recent episode with Mel and Sue was a listening highlight of lockdown.

WATCHING
Instagram Live might be one of the biggest trends to come out of lockdown. I never paid attention to them previously, but I have been setting reminders to tune into the following livestreams on a regular basis:

Rupi Kaur - Her free-writing sessions that she sporadically hosts during lockdown are cathartic and I love her calming voice and speed of the sessions. Any creative writers or those who enjoy writing in any form should definitely make time for this.

Lizzy Hadfield & Lindsey Holland - These best friends host a weekly chat on every Monday. I like their candid conversation which covers everything from loneliness to feeling low but they have a good laugh too. They also have just announced that their podcast - Things You Can't Ask Yer Mum - is coming back for a third series so I'll be eagerly awaiting to add that to my weekly listening.

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So that is a rather large round-up of the best bits that I have been doing and consuming during lockdown. Let me know how you have been staying sane during lockdown too in the comments below.

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by an asterisk (*). For more information, please refer to the disclaimer on my About page.

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