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The Coronavirus pandemic has presented families with unprecedented challenges. With all of the current news, it’s no surprise that there is considerable stress and worry about health, jobs and money. Add in self-isolation and social distancing and its understandable that people are finding this a very challenging time.

But being in isolation doesn’t mean that all of the fun and social interaction has to stop. And, why not use the current situation to do some of the things you never found time to do under the pressure of everyday life? Here are our top 10 things you and your family can do to help get through the current 'lock-down'. Hopefully, engaging in some of these will help pass the time and lift the spirits. 

 

Have a good sort out

Are you tired of not being able to fit anything else in the wardrobe, in the cupboard or under the stairs? Then take the opportunity to have a good sort out and declutter. According to ‘Psychology Today”, decluttering has significant mental health benefits including reducing anxiety and creating a sense of confidence and self-efficacy. You will also have more living space and it’s an exercise that you can involve the kids in. Here are 10 ways to get started:

 


Stay active and fit

Social isolation can impact anyone’s wellbeing and mental health. Staying active and fit is a great way to ensure your body and mind remain in a good place. You can’t visit the gym, but under Government rules you can still get out for a walk, run or bike ride etc. Build exercise into your routine so it helps give the day some purpose. The NHS provide online fitness videos that you and your family can do together. Also, fitness classes with Joe Wicks are proving to be very popular. For more information see here.

  


Start to learn a new skill such as a language

Never had time to learn a new skill such as a language? Now is the perfect time to get started! Engaging in learning something new like a language can give the mind focus and a challenge, as the brain has to cope with complexity as it makes sense of and absorbs new patterns. Learning keeps our minds healthy and active and helps us steer clear of anxiety and depression. Focusing on a new task that you have never done before is a great way to improve your mental well-being and studies show that for monolingual adults, the mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4 whereas it is 75.5 for adults who speak two or more languages. Also, learning a new language will make going on holiday to that country a little more fun and might also open up new career opportunities.

 


Visit a virtual museum

Never have time to visit a museum? Well now you do, as many of the world's leading museums have introduced virtual tours that you and your family can enjoy from the comfort of your own living rooms. The British Museum, The National Gallery and the Louvre all have great virtual tours. 

 


Learn to cook

Tired of living off takeaways and junk food because you never found time to learn to cook properly? You don’t have to become a Michelin Star chef overnight, but you can quickly learn to whip up healthy meals for you and the family. Healthy home cooking can also help you lose weight. Did you know that the average takeaway meal ranges between 1,100 to 1,200 calories? Cooking yourself means you can make sure the portion sizes and calorie counts are where you want them to be. Jamie Oliver offers a number of quick recipes and video cooking tips in his 'Keep Cooking and Carry on' series. 

 


Engage with family and friends

Self-isolating and being confined to barracks doesn’t mean you can’t engage with family and friends. Skype and Facetime are great ways to keep in touch. Over the last couple of weeks since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the Houseparty App has had more than 2 million downloads. Zoom is also proving to be very popular for virtual face to face communication. Why not open a bottle of wine and have a 'virtual party'. 

 


Learn to meditate and relax

Being in isolation and worrying about health, work and finances can affect anyone’s wellbeing and mental health. Keeping your mind in a good place will help you face some of the unprecedented challenges that you might be presented with over the coming weeks and months. If you are struggling to come to terms with current events and aren’t able to ‘switch off’, then consider engaging in some relaxation techniques? The NHS has some tips on breathing techniques for stress, anxiety and panic that take just a few minutes each day.

 


Do odd jobs around the house

Never had time to oil that squeaky door hinge or fix the door handle that’s been falling off for the last twelve months? No more excuses – dig out the toolkit and get moving. Doing some DIY will not only get you active, you will benefit from a sense of achievement from getting that long list of ‘things to do’ under control. If you’re a little challenged by using an electric screwdriver then you can get plenty of advice from DIY Tips website.

 


 Prepare the garden for spring

If you run out of DIY jobs in the house, don’t panic, it’s time to move into the garden. Lots of studies have shown that gardening is great for mental and physical health. Did you know that you can burn about 330 calories doing one hour of light gardening? Being outdoors will also help boost your vitamin D levels. Planting and growing plants is also good for stress management and lifting your overall mood. A 2017 study showed that gardening can improve your overall sense of well-being and reduce mood swings. With spring on its way, it’s time to get busy.  And, you don’t need a huge garden to keep you occupied and get the mental and physical benefits. If space is limited, many herbs, vegetables and fruit trees can thrive in containers and pots.

 


Check on the needs of a neighbour or friend

Finally, in these challenging times, keep an eye out for others who might be struggling. A phone call or face time with someone who is self-isolating can really help as can offering assistance with shopping or picking up prescriptions. Better still, if you meet the criteria, why not become a NHS Volunteer Responder? Responders carry out simple, non-medical tasks to support people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions. For further information see here:

 


 For more in our 'relieve the boredom' series see:

Home learning ideas and 10 more things to do in lock down blog.

 


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