Coping with Corona and Winter in Berlin

This winter, we find ourselves back in a similar lockdown situation that we saw earlier this year, with bars and restaurants closing for a second time and restrictions prohibiting meeting indoors. The first lockdown was a hard time for many people, and in particular studies showed that the financial and mental strain affected women in a lot of  unexpected ways.  Furthermore, winter is a difficult time for many people at the best of times: shorter days, darker, the weather is worse, and this makes the idea of a lockdown during the coming months all the harder to endure.  However, there are many things that we can do in order to maintain mental wellbeing during the difficult times ahead:

1. Care for your mental health
An important first step is to prioritize caring for our mental health and check on ourselves; we know already that it will potentially be a tough few months, so there are steps that we can take to ensure that we maintain a healthy headspace.  
One of the more positive aspects of a winter lockdown is that we have a better idea of what to expect this time.  We can now look back and see what worked for us well the first time, and what we can do to make it easier on ourselves this time around.  Rather than setting a high productivity goal like learning another language or writing the next great novel, focus on how you feel on a day to day basis and ways that you can make life a little easier for you.

2. Do things you know will make you happy
Mental health is your priority, so make sure that you are focusing on doing things that will boost your mood and break up the day.  This is a time where many of us have free time or more time to ourselves, so do things you always wished you could but didn't have time for!   Go for walks while listening to our favorite band, or listen to a new podcast - this can be such a peaceful experience!  
Take advantage of the fact that this is a time where we should be spoiling ourselves.  In a strange way, it’s super cool that we can take this time to treat ourselves to things we never normally would - because these are not normal times!  Make  a list of the things you love the most, and focus on doing at least one of them every single day; this will give you something special to look forward to.
Alternatively, you can reach out to a therapist; many are available to speak to clients on skype or over various apps.  Having someone different to talk to about these times can make such a huge difference to our mental health, and that is so important.  Please keep in mind, however, to take action if things reach a critical point; if this situation occurs please reach out to to seek immediate help.

3. Exercise
When we no longer focus on the pressure of being fit, exercise can be a massively beneficial thing for our minds.  Exercise should be used as a way of releasing serotonin in the body and improving our moods, rather than something that places pressure on us. 
Exercise is still permitted outdoors during the lockdown, so you can head out for a run to enjoy being in nature as you exercise!  You can also check out workouts on youtube where there is an option for everyone; yoga, dance, cardio or weights - you can try them all!

4. Watch more happy content, and less news/social media
We underestimate the toll that watching the news and scrolling on social media can take on us.  Both of these sources can be very beneficial, but they have an addictive nature that can make it very hard to control.  If you find yourself scrolling the news or social media, try to consciously stop and switch to happy content instead - pick an uplifting podcast, youtube video or netflix series that you know will cheer you up!

5. Call your friends and family - they are in this situation too
It is important to keep in touch with loved ones during these times, especially if they live far away.  Schedule a time in advance where you can speak to friends and family - this will give you something to look forward to!It is a good idea to try and strike a balance between seeking or giving emotional support with loved ones and having positive conversations together, so that everyone can leave the conversation feeling like they have gained something.

6. Get busy - learn something new 
If you find that you have a lot more free time during lockdown, a great way to keep yourself occupied is to learn a new skill or try a new activity.  Write a list of things you have always wanted to learn or try, but never found the time to, and pick one to start.  
Try to be mindful of not putting any pressure on yourself to be perfect at your new activity.  This should be to have fun and keep busy, not to be perfect!

7. Create a Routine 
Planning daily tasks can help you feel in control of the future as well as giving structure to your days. These tasks do not have to be big or difficult, they can be very simple things that you wish to achieve in a day such as:
- Sleeping for 8 hours each night
- Eating a good breakfast that will keep you going
- Making your bed
- Dressing up, even to stay at home
- Drinking water each morning
- Reading something positive everyday
- Stretching

8. Make your home a great place to be
Since we are now spending much more time at home, focus on making your house as cozy and pleasant to be in as possible.  Perhaps you could buy a nice new carpet, some plants, a new poster or a light lamp.  Anything that makes your home more comfortable!
You can pan nice tasks to do at home as well, such as having a bubble bath with some wine, cooking your favourite meal, watching a new show in your pyjamas or even getting yourself some new sex toys.  Thinking this way can shift our mindset to feelin that being at home is a fun and positive experience. 

9. Speak with your doctor
There are always different ways that we can help our bodies cope better with difficult situations.  Try talking to your doctor, and ask if they can recommend any supplements  that could help to boost your mood during this time.

10. Staying Safe
One of the key ways in which we can take care of ourselves during this time is by making sure that we know what resources are available to us in order to stay safe.  Information about where we can obtain a test, how much it costs, and how long it takes is not only essential for us to take care of our physical health, but to provide us with mental ease, knowing that we have access to testing and medical care if we need it.  The current situation has caused a lot of uncertainty which can lead to heightened anxiety, but educating ourselves is an important step towards feeling more at ease.
The Senate Department for Health recommends that anyone with even mild symptoms should be evaluated and a test should be carried out.  There are five locations where you can be tested for the virus in the city, and some doctors surgeries are also offering tests.  In terms of cost, there is no one rule that applies to all testing, but if your doctor advises that you get one then the cost of the test (59 Euros) will be covered by the health office or by your own insurance.
The government also recommends downloading the corona-warn-app which helps with contact tracing.  This can help ease your mind too, helping to make sure you have not come into contact with anyone who has the virus.

Check out this post for more tips!