Lockdown has affected the whole country in very different ways. None more so, perhaps, than the way we work.

For those of us who can’t work from home, the Government is advising returning to work with safety measures in place. For those of us who can, working remotely comes with its own, often unsettling, changes. You may even be on furlough and be looking to learn a new skill or hobby.

Whatever your circumstances, staying motivated (and sane) is markedly tougher in lockdown than before. It can feel like every move we make is under the microscope of public scrutiny: are you making sure you socially distance, have you washed your hands, have you done enough to help your vulnerable neighbours?

This puts a huge mental strain on us, and it can be easy to feel exhausted by it all. And you’d not be alone. Recently, 37.4% of adults said their wellbeing had been affected by lockdown.

With this in mind, we’ve researched a few easy ways you can keep yourself from procrastinating or getting cabin fever.

Keep a routine

Humans are creatures of habit.

If you are working from home or furloughed, try getting up around the same time you would if you were going into your workplace. Oversleeping can actually cause more tiredness, through something called ‘sleep inertia’.

Incorporate some exercise into your daily routine. Exercising, as contradictory as it sounds, can actually make you feel like you have more energy.

To combat this, make sure you set alarms and open the curtains. The natural light will help wake you up, sometimes before the alarm clock. If you have an annoying street lamp outside, try only opening them a little or investing in a natural light box (sometimes known as a SAD lamp or light).

Switch off before bed

You might have noticed that some devices, like phones and laptops, have a ‘blue light filter’ or a ‘night light’ as an option. If you have trouble sleeping, check them out by looking in your display settings.

Blue light can suppress a hormone called melatonin, which makes you sleepy. When you think back to when we were cavepeople, this makes sense - if the sun was out you wouldn’t want to be too tired. But it does have some benefits - so you only want to avoid it when it’s getting darker outside.

You should also avoid watching TV or staring at your phone just before you go to bed. Try reading a book, listening to light music or doing some drawing.

Practice meditation or mindfulness

You’ve probably heard of mindfulness and how it can help with an array of mental health issues like stress and anxiety. So it’s no surprise that people are practising it more in lockdown - for example, Headspace, a meditation app, is being used 15 times more than before lockdown.

Talking the time to meditate or practise mindfulness has real and well-documented benefits, to the point that the NHS and mental health charities such as Mind have sections of their websites dedicated to the practice.

Be as social as you can

Socialising keeps us going. We are social creatures by design. Our larger than normal brains mean babies are born less developed than other animals - otherwise they couldn’t fit their heads out of the womb. In contrast, several animals are able to walk just hours after being born.

As a result, we’ve evolved to form stronger bonds with our children and rely on broader society (or our tribe) to help raise them.

To embed this in our behaviour, our brains are wired to seek social interaction as well. When we find it, our brains reward us with chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine, which make us feel happy.

So if you’ve been putting off that Zoom call with your old school pals, maybe its time to set one up?

Onwards and upwards

Whether you’re an employer, an employee or an apprentice, this applies to you. Don’t underestimate the importance of your mental health and don’t blame yourself if you’re feeling a little unproductive.

If you’re finding it difficult to work from home at the moment, check out last month’s article we wrote on how to stay motivated during the lockdown - it’s still just as relevant today.

If you’re looking for some further support then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Gloucestershire Engineering Training team over on our contact page, or through info@get-trained.org

Don’t forget, everyone is in the same boat, and we are here to help.