Ideal for harnessing a little hope, improving our wellbeing and combatting these stressful times

Feeling a little glum? You’re not alone; in fact, it was reported back in August that depression had doubled in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, and we’d imagine that figure has only gotten worse since. 

Yep, it’s hard to feel positive at the moment, with little to look forward to on the immediate horizon. Things we’ve keenly been anticipating, like weddings, holidays and birthdays, now sit in limbo, and organising just about anything feels fraught, relying on caveats and under the constant threat of cancellation. 

Psychologists, however, stress that having something to look forward to is essential to our wellbeing, able to make us more optimistic, resilient and motivated. With that in mind, we’re thinking about the joy of anticipation today, with these 6 things to look forward to right now, IDEAL for harnessing a little hope and improving our wellbeing.

PLAN A TRIP

Many of us don’t want to risk booking a trip right now as we don’t know what even the immediate future holds. However, one thing we can do is plan a trip and plan it properly; that sense of escapism can work wonders when the calendar looks bare, don’t you think?

We all have the time on our hands right now to take a deep dive and really research a place, getting underneath its skin (virtually speaking of course) and laying the groundwork for a more enriching experience once we’re able to actually travel again.

So, immerse yourself in research, watch travel programs of the place you want to visit, read books, pore over maps…hell, you could even cook a few local dishes! More practically speaking, you could use the time to brush up on the local lingo of your chosen destination; there are several free apps, such as Duo Lingo, Babel, Drops and Memrise, which make learning a new language fun. 

Whether you simply want to perch on a stool and slurp street food or dine in Michelin starred restaurants, rent luxury villas or stay in a more humble homestay, take a city break or lay on the beach all day, planning your trip in detail will truly enhance the experience once you’re there.

TREAT YOURSELF

When the postperson or Amazon delivery person knocks, there’s always a rush of excitement. What could it be this time? And how can I already have forgotten what I ordered only yesterday?! It’s like Christmas every day in the IDEAL house, and there’s certainly something to be said for delayed gratification; the researching, reading reviews, browsing and ordering is all an enjoyable part of the experience. The arrival of the item simply seals the deal.

So, why not treat yourself? We’re not saying blow your budget regularly, but consider giving yourself some ‘pocket money’ each week, fortnight or month, to spend on an item just for you. This measured approach to spending can actually make each little treat more gratifying. Go on, give it a try!

PLAN YOUR EXERCISE

Exercise, even during the Winter months, is so important for our mental and physical wellbeing. Even planning a set time to exercise, and meeting it, is something you can look forward to throughout the day, giving the seemingly endless procession of similar days some narrative and meaning.

Currently, government advice is that we should exercise locally where possible, but we can travel to do so if needed. So why not plan to exercise by exploring your local park or nearby beauty spots? You can find local walks (make them runs, if you dare) on sites like Ramblers UK. A change of scenery is something we can all look forward to, wouldn’t you agree?

SET UP A FORTNIGHTLY SOCIAL 

“So what have you been up to? ‘’Uhhh nothing much”, as so many conversations are going nowadays. Yep, there’s not much to report on at the moment, with casual banter and mindless chit chat suffering as a result. 

However, socialising (albeit virtually) and spending time with loved ones is so important. Even if it’s over Zoom, it feels good to hang out with people who care about you and have your best interests at heart. Instead of speaking day in day out, why not set up fortnightly meets on Zoom instead, or arrange a call for every Sunday evening? It will give you something to look forward to and also buy you enough time to build up some items in your conversational repertoire…result!

MEDITATE & REFLECT

You can reduce your stress and find more joy by calming a racing mind once in a while. But how can I do that, you blurt out so fast that we can barely keep up? Well, why not consider meditating and simply reflecting for a few moments each day? Though it seems like the least productive thing you could do, there are few practices more capable or realigning your perspective than ‘taking a moment’.

There are apps you can download on your phone to facilitate participation in guided meditations whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or need to slow down. Some of the best include Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer, and all have free versions available. Check out our guide to the best mindfulness and meditation apps of 2020 for more!

WRITE STUFF IN THE CALENDAR

It wasn’t so long ago that we cherished a blank weekend on the calendar. Looking at all those blank empty days now, filled with nothing, fills us with nothing but a sense of despair. It shouldn’t have to be this way; go get a pen and fill your calendar up!

From the arrival of your next parcel to when your new favourite show is starting again on the TV, all the way to global holidays like Thanksgiving and Diwali, whether it’s a mundane happening or something hugely cherished, filling up that calendar again can bring some narrative back into your days. And that’s what you’re here for, right?