We all need a little inspiration right now. We cover some ideas which may help to give structure to your days and weeks, and may well provide a much-needed sense of anticipation.

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In recent years, many commentators on general wellbeing and mental health have discussed the considerable trend to engage with mindfulness practices and focusing on the present. Not to ignore the seriousness of today’s situation, but is that the only advice right now when many people are finding the present stressful in the middle of a pandemic?

According to figures from the ONS released in June 2020; 1 in 5 adults experienced some form of depression during the pandemic, almost doubling from around one in 10 the year before.* With day-to-day life feeling something like the plot of the popular movie Ground Hog Day, where the cynical protagonist is forced to live through the exact same day over and over, many of us have lost sight of the need to plan and feel the need to bring back some much-needed anticipation into our lives. For many people who’ve recently retired, now more than ever, the cliché of cruising off into the sunset seems a more distant prospect than ever.

So what can we do?

What techniques can we adopt? What, if anything, are you currently looking forward to? If you struggle for an answer, then perhaps the following suggested coping strategies may help.

Creating and sticking to a schedule It’s very easy to let the days blend into one another, this is where introducing some structure can help.

Putting things into your calendar – Even if it’s only a movie or box set release on Netflix, or a book publishing date, or a sporting fixture televised from a largely empty stadium, putting something in your calendar or diary gives you something to look forward to. Once you’ve started, you can continue to schedule small events into your diary, such as a family Zoom call, that way you start to build some structure and bring back a sense of anticipation into your life.

Spending time in nature – If you’re fortunate to live near the countryside, the exercise and sense of wellbeing that you get from a country walk will serve to lift your mood, and if you build it into your schedule, you can improve your fitness and learn more about our surroundings. Famous writers and inventors are often said to have had their best ideas while out in nature, disengaged from the day-to-day. And even if you can’t go out, the simple act of opening up your curtains at breakfast each day brings the light into your home, which may also help to lift your mood.

Doing something for charity – If you’re able to, helping out a local food bank or charity shop is something you may consider adding to your weekly schedule, doing good for others is something that many people find helps to raise their spirits.

Trying a new hobby – This is arguably where streaming services come into their own; if there’s a hobby you’ve long wanted to try, there’s almost certainly a series of tutorial videos online to help you get started.

Re-reading a favourite book – Actively listening to a recorded audiobook or re-reading a familiar treasured tome may help remind you of good times past, or spark new ideas for the future, probably more so than binge-watching the 20th series of something online.

Creating a playlist – Again, at a time when everyone seems to be glued to online streaming services, taking time to listen to music may also lift your mood, and enable you to find the space both emotionally and physically to sing and dance.

Treating yourself or your family occasionally – The occasional special purchase may help you feel better, and if you shop locally, it may also help to boost a struggling business.

Setting up a home office – If you’re like many people who are still working from home, it may help your productivity and wellbeing if you set up a discrete office at home with good, ergonomic seating. You might want to consider trying the fake morning commute, where you go for a short walk each day before starting work, and if you don’t need to work during the weekends, then that will help with structure and give you something to look forward to, too. If you do have a great work-related idea, you can always note down its essentials for Monday and work on it properly then.

Setting future goals – If you try answering that age-old job interview question, “where will you be in five years?”, it may help you to focus on a calmer future, not on an anxious present. You could think about planning an ideal trip away – this may seem impossible right now during the pandemic, but it may help you relax and take your mind off present reality.

Of course, if you’ve got big plans to finance, you can investigate how to make them happen. For example, you could check out our product offerings; the Over 55s Unsecured Loan and the free2 Equity Release Advice Service. If you want to improve your financial acumen, then visit our Learn & Discover page for a free guide to managing your money, plus fact sheets around typical reasons for borrowing. They may spark your thinking and give you something to focus on for the future, which is something we all need right now.

*https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/articles/coronavirusanddepressioninadultsgreatbritain/june2020

Please note: This article was believed to be accurate at the time of writing and is intended to provide general information only to the reader – it does not constitute advice of any kind. Before making any decision about your savings, investments and your pension, you should consult an Independent Financial Adviser.

Important Note

Free2 Limited (trading as free2) is an Appointed Representative of RS Consumer Finance Limited (RSCF) which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA). free2 is a credit broker, not a lender, and will only offer loans from RSCF – an offer of credit is subject to status and affordability. Example Loan: 60-year-old non-smoker, £30,000 over 10 years with fixed monthly payments of £344.56, interest rate 6.73% and an APR of 6.97%. Terms & Conditions apply.

Customers wishing to use the free2 Equity Release Advice Service, once registered, will be introduced to partners Money and Advice Planning (MAP). The free2 Equity Release Advice Service provides a free initial consultation followed by an advisory meeting, for which a fee of £595 is charged on completion of a successful application.

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