*This lockdown activities post is a collaboration with Regatta
As we approach the one-year mark of this pandemic, it's seems a good time for reflection over the rollercoaster that was 2020/21. With no real signs that Coronavirus will become a thing of the past anytime soon – yes we're still in full lockdown here in the UK. It seems more important than ever that we adapt to the way things are, that we manage to find small joys and ways to cope in the upcoming months. As I write this, I'm actually feeling my very best self – or at least the best I have felt in the last year. It's a rare feeling and one I want to celebrate after a particularly difficult January. Over the last year, I've no doubt that we've all felt the lowest of lows, so when we feel these highs, it's so important to celebrate them.
One thing that I have been so grateful for over this last year, is that I flew home to the UK as soon as the pandemic started. While it hasn't been without its challenges, Norfolk really has been the best place to spend this time in lockdown. I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by pristine nature, forests, beaches, rolling fields, rivers and all the wildlife you could want. It's been a great healer and such a big part of maintaining my wellbeing and mental health during the last 12 months. I'm all about harnessing the power of nature to heal your soul. There's nothing quite like the sound of the wind in the trees, or the waves lapping at the shore to clear your mind and quieten all that external noise.
Switch off and reconnect with Mother Nature
There's no doubt we've all become "outdoor people" during the pandemic – I've never seen so many people out for walks! While it's super important to stay active and find lockdown activities that get you moving, we mustn't forget that getting outside can transform our mental health. But, only if we let it. You may be getting your 10,000 steps in every day – but are you really allowing yourself to experience the outside world? When is the last time you went for a walk without any distractions?
So many of us plug in our headphones and listen to a podcast or music full blast – or we might be scrolling on social media the whole time. We're not truly present in nature so we don't get to feel the full healing benefits of our surroundings. If you're more of an "inside" person but you've been struggling with your mental health during lockdown, perhaps stepping away from the screens could be just the medicine you need. Reconnecting with Mother Nature and disconnecting from the constant stressful buzz of news, updates and notifications.
Lockdown activities to boost wellbeing
Choose a new route to walk
Shake things up and try going somewhere new. You might not be able to travel due to lockdown restrictions but mixing up your usual walking route can make a huge difference. Instead of wandering on autopilot, you're much more likely to notice things. Even walking the same route but back to front can make a huge difference. You might not be lucky enough to live in nature, but can still get creative even in a city – why not walk in the opposite direction or head towards a new park? If there's any water nearby, try a walk along the river or ocean instead for a change of scenery.
Forest bathing – breathe it in
I am so lucky to have several beautiful forests right by my house and they have become my favourite place to run, walk and explore during the pandemic. Have you heard of the Japanese phenomenon of "forest bathing"? It's supposed to rebalance the mind and help reduce stress – something we're all in need of right now! I can honestly say it really works – I only learnt the term after I had already unintentionally been forest bathing for years. Next time you're in the woodlands – take your time, slow down and listen to the wind in the trees. Breathe in the scent of pine, listen to the squirrels running along the branches and hear the crunch of the leaves beneath your feet. You could even try outdoor meditation as one of your lockdown activities.
Brave the cold and go wild swimming
Growing up by the ocean – I used to be a lot braver and go in the water no matter what time of year. Now that I'm older, I definitely feel the cold a lot more. However, I can't deny the healing power of water. After all, we're 70% water, so it makes sense that we feel so at peace by the sea. I won't deny I much prefer tropical waters. But a cold shower, or jumping in a cold plunge is supposed to be super good for boosting circulation, flushing out those toxins and making you feel pretty damn alive! Check out the Wim Hof method for more information. If you're not quite ready to jump in the ocean – why not start by blasting yourself with cold water for a minute at the end of your shower?
Connect with the wildlife
There's something so beautiful about seeing animals in the wild – it sparks something in us, a natural curiosity. Here in Norfolk, we have deer that roam around the woods, birds, squirrels and even wild ponies just five minutes from my house. Our area is so quiet that the animals have become so tame and friendly, often they'll come right up to you to say hi. It honestly fills my heart with joy to connect with these animals – they're just so pure. Watching the birds soar through the skies, or even seeing those happy dogs wagging their tails on their daily walks. It really is such a small thing, but something you can do no matter where you are or what your lockdown restrictions might be. Even if you're not able to leave your home – it doesn't stop lockdown activities like birdwatching from the windows.
Capture the beauty of nature
If you're looking for a way to become more present in nature, why not try capturing it? Perhaps you're an artist or painter or a keen photographer like myself. It's a great way to ensure you're paying attention to every small detail. I haven't felt inspired to pick up my camera much during the pandemic – but when it snowed last week I couldn't resist dusting it off to capture the photos in this post. I felt so inspired and it really made the day feel even more magic. If you're not feeling artistic, why not write or journal – these can make great lockdown activities? Or you could even go foraging for wild herbs or berries and use them to cook with.
Explore the world at night
Don't forget nature doesn't disappear at night! It's a whole new world out there when the sun sets and the stars come out to play. Why not take a walk during the full moon, or go stargazing? If you're shielding or trying to avoid people – it's also a great way to get outdoors when it's a bit quieter (particularly if you live in a busier city).
Which outdoor lockdown activities have helped improve your wellbeing? Can you recommend any others?