17 Feb Life in Lockdown
Towards the end of January, I thought my favourite jeans had shrunk in the wash. They were harder to pull up and the waistband seemed a little tighter than usual. Then the same thing happened with other items in my wardrobe. I was increasingly opting for comfy, stretchy alternatives instead. Eventually, I was forced to face facts: my clothes have not got smaller – I have expanded!
I could come up with all sorts of excuses but, truthfully, it boils down to making poor choices around food and exercise recently. I am not alone in this. According to a recent survey of 2254 people by King’s College and Ipsos MORI, 48% of respondents said they had gained weight during lockdown. The same percentage reported feeling more depressed or anxious than usual and 29% described having drunk more alcohol.
These are unprecedented times and uncertainty makes us anxious. When our anxiety levels go up, we start to lose intellectual control and instead of operating from the rational, intellectual part of our mind, we drop down into our primitive brain. From there, the view is invariably negative.
Our primitive brain will always encourage us to go for the ‘quick fix’ to make us feel better, reverting to those old habits that we have tended towards in the past. This might mean having an extra glass of wine or two, maybe cake, biscuits, crisps or chocolate – whatever floats our particular boat! In reality, this does not make us feel better for long. In fact, we usually end up feeling even worse – disappointed in ourselves and increasingly uncomfortable. This can leave us less inclined to get moving, go outside and take the exercise which really would help improve our mood. So, we stay in, feel fed up and then our primitive mind points us back towards the fridge again. We get caught up in a negative cycle.
As a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, I am trained to understand how the brain works and how we can harness its amazing power to our advantage. Yet, like everyone else during this world pandemic, there are still times when I feel overwhelmed. And then my primitive mind takes over.
The need to be kind to ourselves is more important than ever at the moment. So instead of berating myself for having lost focus for a while, I made a conscious decision to get back to doing the things I talk to my clients about in our sessions. This means keeping myself occupied and setting myself small goals each day. I go for a walk in the fresh air, talk to loved ones on the phone or online, prioritise good sleep and avoid negative news coverage, especially late at night. I also make a habit of noticing all the positives in my day – there is always something good if we look for it, however small.
Doing these things helps to stimulate a good flow of serotonin, a neurotransmitter produced in our body and brain which stabilizes our mood, promoting feelings of well-being. Serotonin helps us to function better in our daily lives, to cope and feel calmer. When that happens, we operate from our positive intellectual brain rather than our primitive negative one, allowing us to make healthy choices for our long-term benefit rather than opting for the unhealthier quick fix.
My waistband is now gradually becoming more comfortable again and, more importantly, I am sleeping well, feeling healthier and much more positive.
If you would like more information on how you can get back on track and rediscover your ‘inner spark’, I would love to hear from you. You can call, text or email me using the details on my ‘Contact’ page.