Five Ways to Look After Your Mental Health in Lockdown | Top Universities

Five Ways to Look After Your Mental Health in Lockdown

By Annie Warren

Updated April 11, 2021 Updated April 11, 2021

Lockdown, isolation, social distancing, quarantine - they sound like terms from a dystopian novel rather than words that have made their way into everyday use. These are difficult and worrying times for everyone, when staying away from other people is the most helpful – yet sometimes the most challenging – course of action. With that in mind, here are five things you can do to look after your mental health at a time when it’s perhaps more important than ever. 

Shower and get dressed

Shower and get dressed

I’ll start with the simplest suggestion, but the one that is often the first thing to go out the window when we’ve nowhere to go and nobody to see. It may seem pointless to get dressed and showered when you’ve got no plans, but you’ll feel greasy and smelly by the end of the day. Challenging yourself to take a shower, even when you don’t feel like it, will help wake you up and get you moving. Getting dressed, even if it’s into loungewear or – dare I say it – just a different pair of (clean!) pajamas will help you feel more like yourself. Without doubt, this is the quickest, easiest thing you can do that reaps the most benefits. 

Set up a routine

Set up a routine

Along the same lines, setting up a routine will help bring a sense of purpose to your days. Think of a few things you could do that would make you feel accomplished – like studying for an hour, cooking a healthy meal or doing a workout video – and a few things you want to do – like gaming, binging Netflix or watching Aquarium of the Pacific’s live webcam of a tropical reef for hours on end (it’s so soothing). Lists are super useful here and will help you to look back and see what you have achieved with your day.



I know, I know, you’ve heard it before – but it’s true that exercise makes you feel better. Plus, when the weather is gorgeous and you’re only allowed out once a day for the specific purpose of exercise, you might as well use it! Whether a walk, run or cycle, breathing some fresh air is a great way to give you an endorphin rush. There are plenty of other ways to exercise at home, too; try a yoga or HIIT video on YouTube or do some energetic cleaning to get your heart rate up – scrubbing and hoovering definitely count as exercise, and you’ll win some brownie points from your flatmates or family. 



If you’ve found yourself with time on your hands, you can put it to good use by helping out those in the community who need it most. Look up local aid groups to see if you can take supplies to someone who is self-isolating or take their pet for a walk if they can’t leave the house. Look into food banks near you to see if they need a hand sorting donations or delivering packages. You can also sign up to volunteer with the NHS who are running a ‘check in and chat’ scheme where you will be given a list of vulnerable people to call and have a natter with.



There’s no pressure to write the next Harry Potter or learn Japanese whilst in isolation. Having said that, is there something you have always wanted to try but have never had the time? Why not have a go now? Remember, you don’t have to be good at it to enjoy it. You could learn to knit, grow tomatoes or speak sign language. You could try your hand at painting, podcasting or making stop motion films. You could use the time to perfect your carbonara recipe, master a headstand or re-watch every episode of Friends. It doesn’t have to be ‘productive’; give yourself permission to have a go, and just have fun.

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This article was originally published in March 2020 . It was last updated in April 2021

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