The ‘One Thing’ Lockdown Taught us

Reflecting on lockdown brings a whole cocktail of emotions, and we think it’s easy to focus on what we missed out on, rather than what lockdown actually gave us – although many of us loved that it allowed us to miss our morning commutes for a while! For us here at YCB, we found a new love for cooking and our comfy slippers, however for a load more of us, that was paying more attention to our wellbeing… finally.

Even now, a year and a half on, it can be easy to look back and feel we were transported straight into a movie. The uncertainty, anxiety and stress of the unknown, as millions around the world were forced to adjust to a very different kind of ‘normal.’ Who ever thought everyday things, from trying on clothes in an ACTUAL dressing room or trying to read a book in peace on that crowded morning commute, would be things you miss? Instead, we had to find peace in enjoying our own company and making the most of that one hour outside each day…who would have thought we’d ever yearn to have a drink spilt on us just for some normality? 

However, obstacles bring about lessons, and as we all jumped into ‘survival mode’ we can’t forget to look back and see some positives. 

A new study from wellness brand, NEOM Organics has discovered that a third of people’s understanding of ‘self-care’ has improved while spending time in lockdown. More than half of the population also revealed that they had learnt something about themselves over the past year or so.  

In fact, millions have learnt to invest in themselves and take better care of their wellbeing – a surprising benefit from months of lockdown. 

Almost half of all adults have eaten healthier food, while a third have exercised and spent more time outdoors. One in five even managed to get more sleep. In fact, it’s these discoveries that have helped people to realise that holding on to their ‘lockdown lessons’, even if it was just one healthy change, will make for a happier life post-pandemic.

And that’s not all. For many, the last year or so has meant learning to be happy in one’s own company – something that is surely inevitable when we have had no other choice?! But perhaps it’s discovering that despite feeling lonely from time-to-time, it is actually ok to have nothing planned and just exist in these moments of calm. 

Nicola Elliott, founder of wellness brand NEOM Organics and wellness expert said: “The world has found new time and space to reflect and create new healthy habits and may have realised what’s important to them. Perhaps those daily walks, slowing down, making the effort with family, or just being able to work more flexibly has given us a chance to reboot ourselves. We have had this moment to press pause and assess, for self-analysis and soul-searching.” 

“Our study revealed that we have become more aware of how much we value our time and how we can all find calm in our daily lives. We place so much more importance on connecting with our friends and family now, and we understand how essential they are to our overall wellbeing.” 

NEOM’s findings also revealed the top healthy habits that we’re likely to keep with us from lockdown to normality. For almost half of us, that’s a walk in nature every day, no matter the last minute work meetings that may crop up. For a third, continuing to contact family and friends more regularly is imperative, as well as keeping fit and healthy.  

Wellness expert, Nicola Elliott, shares her tips for keeping this new-found positive momentum going, and for looking after yourself post-pandemic. 

1.       Take a moment to reflect and give yourself permission to keep the good. Reflecting allows us to step into the next chapter of life with purpose – keep space in your daily routine to practice positive habits. The pandemic has shown us we can do things differently, so seize the moment. 

2.     The simplest (and often easiest) moments can be beneficial. Like a bubble bath that really relaxes after ‘one-of-those days’ - nothing beats shutting the door and relaxing in the tub of bubbles, especially with a drop of essential oils. And, in fact, a study from the University of Texas found that bathing for as little as 10 minutes, one and two hours before you slip in between the sheets, improved sleep efficacy showing that participants fell asleep 36% quicker than usual too. 

3.     Getting good sleep is key to our wellbeing. However, getting good zzz’s starts when you get up. In our NEOM stores often customers say they do not sleep, and when we dig into things it’s because they aren’t getting enough sunlight or moving enough in the day, so their bodies tell them it’s not sleep time yet. We are all busy and sometimes working indoors all day, however one little thing you can do is to take a walk in the fresh air each day – a lunch break, an afternoon break or evening early evening when the weather permits.  Fresh air replenishes your cells with oxygen and releases endorphins.   

4.     Keep connected. We have all realised how important connecting with people is. Our relationships are an essential ingredient to our own happiness and science has also shown that it’s not the number of relationships but the quality of them that counts the most – and that every second counts. And the more tuned in we are to others, the calmer and friendlier we are likely to become… which leads to big psychological benefits. 

5.     Super simple. Breathing. We do it instinctively, constantly, from the moment we’re born. But paying attention to it can be game-changing. Most of us (especially when things like adrenaline, our fight-or-flight response and yes, STRESS, kick in) make our breathing shallower.  Studies  have shown the link between deep breathing and a reduction in stress; when we prioritise long, slow breaths we activate the parasympathetic system rather than the sympathetic, or rapid response system. In other words, SLOW your breathing down, even if only for a few minutes a day, and feel the long-term benefits.  

6.     Unplug and be mindful – it’s not the device itself as much as that ‘always on’ feeling it creates. Ping! Oh is that my boss? Ping! What’s the matter now? Ping! They might need me immediately… you get the gist! It’s this relentless ‘turned on’ feeling that just needs turning OFF for a few hours and allow ourselves to be in the moment – being mindful helps us feel good. 

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. She studied English Literature at Fairfield University in Connecticut whilst taking evening classes in journalism at MediaBistro in NYC. She then pursued a BA degree in Public Relations at Bournemouth University in the UK. With a background working in the PR industry in Los Angeles, Barcelona and London, Charlotte then moved on to launching Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden and has been running the online magazine for the past 10 years. She is a mother, an avid reader, runner and puts a bit too much effort into perfecting her morning brew.