With the government's new 'tier system' in place, it seems increasingly likely that the UK will soon experience a nationwide (second) lockdown. Here's how the people of Merton can finesse a second lockdown, if one takes place.

1. Routine 

Throughout lockdown lots of us lost our busy routines. For some it resulted in working from home and for others: not working at all. To keep ourselves mentally healthy, it's crucial that we find ways which can help us cope living during such peculiar times. It’s as simple as sitting down on a Sunday evening and planning each day of the week ahead whilst the TV plays in the background. Throughout the week, include tasks that will keep you interested and motivated, while still prioritizing key meetings and pieces of work.

2. Trying new things

Baking, painting, knitting, yoga - we all tried. We also quit after a week or so. Make sure that when you chose a new hobby to try (which is great for stimulating your brain!), it's something that isn't wildly unsustainable. Complete your new hobby in smaller doses and gradually increase the intensity. For example: don’t try reading War and Peace after not reading for 5 years; instead, start off slower with a topic that interests you and won’t feel like a chore.

3. Have a sleep schedule

Lockdown is mentally challenging (which people learnt the hard way in March). It puts a strain on just about everything, but one thing that shouldn’t change for the worse is your sleep schedule. We're constantly told the importance of sleep and during uncertain times, one thing that you should be most certain of is the time you hit the hay. This can put you in a better mood for the days ahead and offers some sense of regularity.

4. Stay in touch 

Lockdown isn’t something anyone should have to go through alone. If you feel anxious or confused, just know you’re not the only one. Staying in touch with friends and family can helps rid your worries or at least forget about them for a short while. I found that writing letters to my friends was a new and exciting way to communicate with each other; plus, there's nothing more uplifting than receiving a heartfelt letter when you’re least expecting it. Try staying in touch with your local community in particular: last lockdown we learnt the importance of togetherness and saw streets hosting socially distanced dance parties and VE day celebrations, reuniting communities all over.

I reached out to a local charity in Merton, Wimbledon Guild, and asked them about the importance of the local community. One of their replies was: "The next few months are uncertain but we know with the support of the local community we will be able to be there for those people who need our help". It was comforting to be reminded that our local community has people and places for those who are struggling to cope with a variety of things. For example. They offer grief support, fresh meal delivery and befriending calls to name just a few, which require volunteers. If you would be interested in volunteering, please do contact volunteer@wimbledonguild.co.uk and help others in times of need. 

I wrote to Wimbledon High School's headmistress, Ms. Fionnuala Kennedy, asking what advice she would give to pupils were a second lockdown to happen. She replied, saying, "The problem with a second lockdown is we won’t have the novelty factor, or necessarily the Blitz Spirit, which we all experienced the first time around. We’re a more jaded, fatigued society than we were six months ago, we’re moving into winter, and we have also learnt that this could take a very, very long time to go away. So structure and a sense of purpose will be more important than ever: aim to get up and go to bed at regular times; don’t work or game or go on social media late into the night; get out under the sky as often as you can – even through the days are short and cold – and try to spend some of your spare time doing something good for other people. The need in our society is only going to deepen and we can all contribute in a positive way to the well-being of our local community; plus, helping others really will make you feel a lot better.". Ms. Kennedy's words cleverly recognize the hardship that would be another lockdown but also offer even more ways of how to navigate this tricky situation.