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Lockdown Learns: Honest advice from Team CALM

Learning new languages and tackling towering laundry piles during lockdown have been put aside. Now, sitting at home in last week’s spaghetti stained joggers watching yet another news update, it’s safe to say that the novelty has truly worn off. A month into more restrictions, we caught up with some CALM ambassadors and supporters to hear their honest highs, lows and lockdown learns.

Whether it’s the winter weather or the fact we’re approaching one year of everything being a bit upside down, lockdown 3.0 feels a bit like wading through treacle. Just like the sourdough starters of March, we’re starting to look a bit sorry for ourselves. 

A nine-month study by the Mental Health Foundation showed that the amount of people saying they’re “coping well with the stresses of the pandemic” has steadily fallen since March. It seems we’re all in a bit of a funk and the optimistic advice that may have helped us back then, doesn’t seem to cut it now. We reached out to some old pals for some candid chats about life in lockdown 3.

Folk punk musician Frank Turner is an old friend and CALM ambassador, playing at our Lock In session back in April last year. Like many musicians, he’s been finding cancelled gigs and tours tough to deal with:

“The main thing I’ve struggled with has been a complete collapse in routine and identity. For most of my adult life I’ve been the guy who toured. Seeing that evaporate pretty much instantaneously was very difficult for me – partly financially (I’ve lost pretty much all my income) but also on a personal level. I spent a lot of summer 2020 wondering who I was and what my purpose was. Getting through that’s been challenging.”

Frank has found new ways of keeping busy. He’s channelling his frustration into fundraising and discovered a renewed sense of purpose: 

“I’ve been involved in fundraising campaigns for venues, writing new music and learning how to produce and mix records. The best thing I’ve learned is the importance of structure and routine for me. I need to have those things to make sense of the world and to be productive within it. I think I knew that already, but last year highlighted it heavily.”

It’s not often we see TV and radio personality Zoe Ball without a smile on her face, but like everyone, she has days where she just wants to curl up on the sofa :

“I’ve struggled with anxiety, low mood and motivation at times during the pandemic. I love 10 minute meditations – they always help slow down my busy, anxious brain. Sometimes I’ll have a nana nap after, or just those 10 minutes help me regroup so I can tackle the rest of my day.

Also, my listeners raved about the Couch to 5k app. It’s taken me a few months to complete but I am now regularly running for 25/30 mins. It’s time to myself, outdoors in nature, with great tunes in my ears – be that disco, rave or show tunes – whatever fits my mood. The endorphins lift me so much.”

Zoe’s pearl of wisdom? Don’t be hard on yourself when you just feel like hunkering down and hibernating: 

Some days I just curl up with the cat and lose myself in a good drama or book. It’s ok to have those days. You have to be gentle with yourself if possible.” 

Now we’re home ALL the time, it can be hard to distance ourselves from the to do lists and make time for ourselves. But Hip Hop turntablist DJ Yoda has learnt the importance of making room for you:

“I’ve struggled with finding space – I think the remedy to that is to really carefully balance everyone’s needs around you. We all have things we HAVE to get done every day, and I think it’s best to work around those first.” 

Like so many of us, model, TV personality and CALM ambassador Chris Hughes is missing his usual hobbies and hangouts. He’s pining for the day he can don his golfing garb for a game, but in the meantime, he’s found some new interests:

I’ve struggled with not being able to see friends and do the normal things I like to do, like playing golf. I’ve found exercising everyday has kept my spirits high and can’t recommend it enough if you’re feeling low. I read one of those memes – ‘you’re never going to feel worse after working out’ and now I keep that in mind, making time for either a run, bike ride or some weights. It really helps me feel better.”

Professional cyclist and CALM ambassador Juliet Elliott knows how difficult it can be to balance parental duties with downtime:

“I’ll be totally honest, the past year has been a struggle. The lack of physical contact and curtailed freedom can really amplify any other problems you have and it can feel like there’s no escape from them. As a parent, it’s vital that I prioritise my own mental health so that I can be the best mum for my daughter. 

“Try and make exercise part of your routine and if you’ve got children with you, involve them. Do P.E with Joe, make up fun circuits in the living room or have a competition to see how many burpees you can do. Finally, make time for you. You’re worth caring for.”

Editor and founder of Book Of Man, Martin Robinson, is a bit of a bookworm. When he’s not preparing for the launch of his first book, he’s running between homeschooling his kids, doing burpees in his basement and getting lost in a page-turner:

“I’ve found the latest lockdown very stressful in terms of work, insecurity around The Book Of Man and also just having to look after my two children. The only way I’ve been able to physically manage things is by timetabling and writing stuff down. 

“The thing I’ve really clung to is reading. Making time for a book has been great and has given me a mental space to go into that isn’t about stress. The news cycle is so depressing and you can really get caught up in it, so a break away in your own world offers some escapism. Also doing 57 burpees in my basement like a maniac.”

Fashion and travel broadcaster and co host of The Weekly Dose, Naomi Isted, found that the best way to look after her wellbeing during lockdown is setting firm boundaries:

In the first lockdown I was trying to be superwoman and I realised I was under so much pressure. I’ve learned I need to make time for myself. Even if you have other commitments, try to incorporate whatever little thing helps you relax and wind down into every day. Whether it’s exercise, meditation, Netflix or a bath, do it and don’t be pulled from pillar to post by the family, just say no it’s my time right now.”

Whether your biggest achievement today was polishing off the series you’ve been watching, remembering what day it is, or braving the local park for an amble – you’ve got this. Lockdown 3.0 has been a real rollercoaster, so don’t be too hard on yourself. You can find more tips and tricks about looking after your mental wellbeing here. 

If you’ve been struggling with feeling down or anxious for more than a few days, you could benefit from a little extra support. CALM’s free confidential helpline and webchat service is open from 5pm until midnight every day. No matter what you’ve got on your chest, our trained staff will offer a listening ear and help you work out the next steps.

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