Digital self-care vital to maintaining sanity in lockdown

With Covid restrictions making us ever more reliant on virtual engagement, healthy practices are key

Cyberspace can be a source of reliable information when used carefully
Cyberspace can be a source of reliable information when used carefully

But when you’re stuck at home – and gyms, pools, friends’ houses, cinemas, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, pubs, leisure centres, community groups, hugs from distant relatives and spontaneous meet-ups in shopping centres with beloved friends and other resources we usually rely on are off limits – where can you turn? And how to survive that awful feeling of cabin fever and the groundhog day tedium of interminable routine draining our imagination , creativity, joy and spontaneity?

Thanks to technology, we’re no longer limited to face-to-face appointments for therapy and support, plus there’s a wealth of digital self-care tools out there, which you can access without having to leave the house.

From shrinks you can stream, to digital sound healing sessions, that all-important sense of overwhelming calm and contentment in spite of the constant virtual noise of social media platforms , the mad depths of the internet that can lead you to ropey psychological health and a serious Twitter addiction, you can click on sites to access positive tools for mindfulness and contentment.

Get your symptoms checked with a digital doctor

During the pandemic, it can be hard to know what to do if you’re unwell or have a health concern that isn’t related to Covid-19. It’s really important to seek medical advice if you need it though – and digital doctor appointments can be very handy. Push Doctor (pushdoctor.co/uk) is an app and website that offers online consultations, giving you quick, easy and convenient access to GPs.

Push Doctor has teamed up with select NHS surgeries across the UK, meaning some patients can access the service for free – but if you aren’t registered with a partnered surgery, you can still access a doctor through their paid service (check their website for prices).

Babylon (babylonhealth.com) is another digital service that allows you to talk to a doctor at any time from your phone, giving you night and day access to medical expertise. Through the platform, you can get prescriptions sent to a pharmacy, view your clinical records, and get connected to a range of experts including therapists and specialists.

Get a sweat on with home workouts

There’s no shortage of online fitness platforms these days, but the amount of choice on offer can be overwhelming. If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, check out FIIT (fiit.tv). Dubbed by some as the ‘Netflix for fitness’, it offers access to a huge variety of video-led workouts with some of the best trainers in the country, all for £10 a month.

Meanwhile, Frame’s On Demand classes (moveyourframe.com) are great for feel-good workouts on days when you’re not feeling your best. You can beam the boutique London studio’s classes straight into your home for as little as £6 per month. Some of our favourite workouts include 90s dance cardio and burny barre. And let’s not forget Joe Wicks’ now beloved PE sessions that have got the nation up and energised each morning throughout lockdown.

Find spiritual healing with online workshops

If you’re struggling with stress, try tuning into a gong bath – an immersive sound experience that’s said to soothe anxiety and calm the mind into a meditative state.

Gong (aboutgong.com) are one of the leading online services, offering sound baths and gong baths via Zoom. Classes can be purchased online and they currently have an intro offer where you can buy three classes for £16, as well as monthly memberships.

If tarot is your bag, or you’re simply curious to give it a go, Psychic Sisters (psychicsisters.co.uk) can give you a personal card reading over Skype (from £60 per half-hour session). The clairvoyants, who are usually based in Selfridges, boast a long list of celebrity clients, including founder Jayne Wallace’s personal clients Kim Kardashian and Larry King.

Find your mojo with life coaching

Life coaching could help you work on your own business, pick apart what you want from your career, and even figure out patterns in your personal relationships. By honing in on your skills and goals, life coaches can assist you in setting clear action plans, and may be particularly helpful if you feel like you’re losing motivation while working from home.

A life coach is a pricey investment, but if you’re already saving money on your monthly commute while working from home, you might want to consider funnelling the money back into something productive. Some of the UK’s leading life coaches, who are offering sessions over Zoom, include Nick Hatter (nickhatter.com), Liz Goodchild (lizgoodchild.co.uk) and Michael Serwa (michaelserwa.com).

Relax and de-stress with meditation

If you’re looking for an introduction to meditation, Calm (calm.com) is the place to start. The popular mindfulness app has a vast library of guided mindfulness programmes designed to help with some common lockdown mental health issues – from managing stress and anxiety, to improving disrupted sleep.

The meditations are designed to fit in to all kinds of schedules, so whether you’ve got half-an-hour in the mornings, or just three minutes to spare between Zoom meetings, you’ll always be able to squeeze some breathing space into your day.

Netflix (netflix.com) has also just launched its first meditation series in partnership with Headspace. The Headspace Guide To Meditation includes eight bite-sized episodes that give listeners an introduction to different methods of meditation, and how you can make them a regular part of your life.

Voiced by Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe, the animated show looks at how we can use various techniques in meditation to help with managing stress, coping with pain and learning to love life – even in the midst of a national lockdown.

Using social media in a way that is healthy and conducive to wellbeing

Social media has become such a big part of our lives; we sometimes don’t even realise how much time we spend scrolling through our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. It’s the last thing many of us look at before we go to bed and the first thing we check when we wake up – but does interacting with social media hurt our mental health?

A recent finding published in the Journal of Mental Health found that 70 studies conducted over the last ten years to examine how social media affects mental health came back with differing conclusions. Some studies found social media to have a positive impact on people’s lives, while others warned against the possible connection between social media and depression or anxiety.

Ultimately, the study found that social media does affect mental health. Whether it’s a positive or negative impact is determined by how the individual uses the platforms. Finding a balance and developing healthy habits for using social media is essential for making sure it has a positive presence in your life.

Schedule time to use social media and times to step away. As with most things, balance is the key to having healthy habits on social media.

Be clear about what your purpose is when logging onto a social media site and stick to it. We’ve all gone online to check the time of a birthday party next week and found ourselves, an hour later, watching video after video. Be thoughtful about why you’re logging into a site and then make sure you sign off when you’re finished. This will also make sure you’re using social media the way you want – to connect with friends for eg – without letting what other people are posting take over.