What day is it again? Finding something to look forward to in lockdown

Bored in the house during lockdown 2.0? If every day is starting to feel the same, here’s how to banish those Groundhog Day blues.

Many of us, particularly in Victoria, would love to fast-forward the calendar to a time when the coronavirus pandemic calms down and “real life” returns.

But psychologists say that for our wellbeing, it’s important to create something to look forward to during lockdown – rather than seeing it as simply a time to endure.

Psychologist Dr Bec Jackson says while we might normally look forward to a long-term goal such as a holiday, it’s also healthy to build anticipation in the shorter term.

“If you don’t have those smaller little milestones to look forward to in a week, then it’s going to feed that sort of negative feeling, that isolation’s a bad thing, lockdown’s terrible … I don’t have any control over this,” she says.

So how can you conjure up something to look forward to?

Theme your days

Dr Jackson says to avoid the feeling of every day blending into the next, try setting a theme for the day.

“Some people are doing it with food, so they’ll have Mexican Monday and Fish Friday or whatever, so their food is delineating their days,” she says.

She also suggests Mindful Monday, where you practise mindfulness skills or meditation.

Or how about To-Do List Tuesday, where you race through those long overdue tasks? Self-Care Saturday, anyone?

“I’ve got a girlfriend who does Make-Up Mondays, so she gets all made up as if she’s going to work, even though she’s working from home,” says Dr Jackson.

“She wears a really nice dress and puts her high heels on and does her make-up, and then takes photos.”

Doing something constructive and positive can leave you with a sense of achievement, rather than feeling like you’re just treading water, she says.

Find joy in the little things

Creating a routine filled with small daily highlights will help you maintain enthusiasm, says psychology and high-performance consultant Dr Jo Lukins.

“It might be setting yourself some little goals, like getting all the washing done by 10am. Or setting the table and bringing about your best crockery for a cup of tea in the morning,” Dr Lukins says.

Now, more than ever, we need those “small little injections of happiness”, she says.

Spring-cleaning … for fun?

Dr Lukins says while colour-coding your bookshelf or cleaning out that pantry shelf wouldn’t traditionally be something worth anticipating, it can sometimes leave you feeling just as satisfied as a social catch-up.

It’s reinforcing in and of itself, because we get a dopamine hit when we do those things that aren’t necessarily the fun, joyful things – but they’re the things that took a little bit of effort, that we can look back on with a little bit of pride,” she says.

Weekend treats

When Dr Lukins and her family, who live in Townsville, were in lockdown they decided to make takeaway a special weekly treat.

“We implemented pizza night every Sunday night to signify the end of the weekend and it’s interesting because we’re obviously not in lockdown now but we’ve kept that going,” she says.

“So that’s been a really nice family tradition that has come for us from COVID.”

More lockdown tips:

Written by Larissa Ham.