5 ways to unwind in lockdown

The pressure to be productive in lockdown can be intense but, writes James Oddy, it's important to find ways to unwind - here's how he's managing

James Oddy

What has love got to do with education?

I don’t think I’ve ever felt as emotionally exhausted as I did when lockdown began.

Regardless of how supportive colleagues and family were – and are – it wasn’t easy being a teacher as the routines and structures we count on seemed to come apart.

But I've found that there are things I can do to make myself feel more positive, and give my life some semblance of normality and control.

Here are some things that have worked for me:

Find your escapist TV show

For me, it's Better Call Saul. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s infinitely better than its predecessor Breaking Bad. It may be slow paced, but the story of lawyers and the criminal underworld in New Mexico is still riveting.

And who knows, the plucky Jimmy "Saul Goodman" McGill might just provide inspiration during these trying times (his creative problem-solving skills really are second to none).

If this show isn't for you, find a series that will offer some escapism and provide a much-needed distraction.

Read that book

Maybe it’s an English teacher thing, but there are always books that I keep meaning to chalk off the list, but never quite get around to. One of mine is Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls.

But it doesn't have to be a classic. On the contrary, it might be the type of book you can never quite allow yourself to sit back and enjoy without feeling the guilt of straying from a curriculum focus. Now is your chance.

If a physical book isn't for you, try an audiobook. Have a look at Audible – they've recently made all their Audible Stories free.

Find your joyful TV show

You can definitely benefit from having a television show to lose yourself in, but you need another to lift you up. 

For me, The Good Place is pure joy. Sneaking in lots of philosophy between hilarious surrealism, the story of a band of deeply flawed humans trying to navigate the afterlife is the epitome of bingeworthy. And the show recently ended, meaning you can see the whole thing beginning to end.

Finding a show that speaks to you spiritually can be a huge comfort (and there are some great options on BBC iPlayer at the moment).

Take up a sport

It may sound flippant, but the restrictions on what we can and can’t do could help focus you on a new, achievable target.

For me, running has helped enormously. I was convinced that I was an awful runner for a very long time, but I did some rudimentary research into what I was doing wrong and now my mid-evening run is the highlight of my day. 

The NHS Couch to 5k plan is ideal for anyone wanting to make the leap.

Do nothing

Between working, worrying (because we all are), possibly parenting and countless other things, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and under pressure to be doing something. Anything.

This is totally understandable.

However, ultimately, we are all having to navigate a new way of life and all the associated emotional and practical challenges that brings.

So, try to just do nothing. Leave part of your day without a timetable. Time given over to processing and reflection will play a major part in keeping positive.

James Oddy is a newly qualified English teacher

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