Rachel Keenan's Five Habits to Stay Happy and Healthy at Home
My time as a photographer is fairly evenly split. Half is spent away from home for weeks, working on active, outdoor photoshoots. The other big part is desk-bound in the glow of my computer screen, editing! Long periods indoors are difficult, I empathise with the challenges of isolation! In the past I've slipped into bad habits. Having days where I haven't achieved much beyond watching TV (while feeling quietly guilty!). I have to be disciplined to get through these more sedentary periods. Setting routine is so important for good mental health.
This might be as straightforward as awaking at a set time and dressing, establishing a feeling of productiveness. Write out what you would like to achieve in a week, and break this up into bite sized chunks. These can then be inserted into your day's routine in a manageable way. Beware, too, that an overcomplicated routine might have just the opposite effect! If a list has 15 steps before 7am, that is planning for failure the second you deviate. Keep it simple, you've got this!
As a freelancer I spend a lot of time promoting my business online. Social media can be a source of inspiration and connection with the outdoor community. However, I end up playing the comparison game! Ten minutes on instagram and I'm suddenly worrying that I should be planning more ambitious adventures when moments previously, I was feeling great! I've found it to be a negative space to spend a lot of time in, comparisons never serve us well! It is important to remember that online tends to be just highlights of life, how often do you see pictures of piles of washing or a bad hair day?
Even worse, we often inadvertently imbibe a barrage of negative news which sets anxiety spinning. I limit my hours online and take time away from devices, it's truly a welcome break from the overstimulation our minds are constantly bombarded with! Replace this time with a creative activity. Painting, journaling, or creating vision boards are very meditative practices.
We all know we need to exercise for physical health, but the positive mental aspect from time spent moving is also invaluable. The rush of smile inducing endorphins makes even light exercise worth it! I have never come back from a run regretting it. I have however regretted the lethargy of being sofa bound on a sunny day. The busiest of schedules could reasonably dedicate ten minutes to exercise. Maybe that means waking earlier or fitting in a stretching routine before bed. The Internet is a great resource for sourcing something which can be tailored, find what works for you.
Engage With Nature
While we stick to guidelines, there are still ways to safely engage with nature. This will look different for everyone, some have the luxury of gardens, or access to trails, for others a little creativity might be required. Living in a flat in the city, I allocate time in a corner of our communal garden (facing away from the recycling shed!!). While it's far from the grandest location, I can be near trees and hear the birds chittering, a quick way to cheer the soul. Breathe and check in with the senses!
If being outside is overwhelming, look to bring the outside in. Try cultivating a window box or plant pot and enjoy the satisfaction of bringing on tiny seedlings. Even taking ten minutes to sit at a sunny window watching the trees is beneficial. Research tells us that indoor plants not only increase air quality but have been shown to help with relaxation and boosting mood. Good old plants.
Perhaps most importantly, It is really important to reach out. Humans weren't meant to function this way for extended periods!! Schedule a phone call with loved ones, or embrace technology and group call with friends. Board games and quizzes with housemates are another great way to connect. This is a collective crisis, chatting with trusted pals is a fantastic way to release tension. See my next blog instalment to stay occupied, I will be taking a more in depth look at the importance of nature in our lives, a subject close to my heart!