The impact of Covid-19 has seen approximately 8.7 million people in the UK put on furlough. The furlough scheme introduced by Rishi Sunak was brought in to ease the financial strain of the coronavirus pandemic on employers. Despite this, many industries have been forced to close or reduce operations leading to widespread redundancies.
During the current covid-19 lockdown, our normal way of life has become completely unrecognisable. Many of you will be out of your regular routine. Plus, it’s also incredibly difficult not being able to spend time with loved ones as we normally would, or even be able to travel. Understandably, many people are experiencing anxiety about coronavirus. I’m constantly being asked, “How do I maintain my mental health during the pandemic?”
While there is so much in this situation we cannot control, today I want to shift the focus onto what you can control. This involves practical activities to fill your time until life gradually begins to return to some sort of normality, which it will eventually. The aim is to give yourself a positive focus. Here are my 15 ways to get through the covid-19 lockdown.
Learn A Language
There are plenty of apps that help you learn a language for free. If you hated languages at school this new way of learning a language may be just up your street. Memrise is a great app which is worth taking a look at. Learning a language will also give you something to look forward to once lockdown is over and you can eventually travel to the country that speaks the language you choose.
Take A Virtual Tour
Just because art galleries and museums are closed right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a peek inside them. That’s because many tourist attractions offer virtual tours, so you can look around from the comfort of your own home. You can find a top list here. If you come across any other galleries that are not on the list, be sure to leave us a comment below and we’ll check them out! There’s everything from paintings to sculptures and even aquariums out there to virtually visit.
Humans are sociable creatures, and as such we are not used to long periods without interaction. The silver lining of having a global pandemic in a tech boom is that there couldn’t be more ways to keep in touch these days. There’s everything from Zoom to Facetime, so it pays to use these apps to keep in touch with friends and family. Make a call at least once a day to someone that you know. You could even have a virtual coffee meeting! If you are struggling with no family or friends, AgeUk has a wonderful befriending scheme you can check out here.
Listen To Podcasts
Whether you’re into true crime, comedy, showbiz news or language learning, there are thousands of podcasts out there. What’s helpful about podcasts is you are hearing the sound of someone else’s voice, instead of just your own and whoever you live with. It’s something a bit different, plus podcasts can be extremely informative not to mention entertaining.
The Open University is currently offering several free courses where you can find all sorts of different topics that may float your boat. Ivy League colleges in the USA are also offering free courses online. You can take anything from Buddhism and Modern Psychology to The Global Financial Crisis, to one that’s just called ‘Success’. Learning is amazing at retraining our focus onto something more productive.
Host A Virtual Quiz
Gather your friends for a virtual pub quiz where you ask the questions over a video call. Your local pub may well have gone online with their quiz too. If you’re not sure, here is a list of pubs that are currently running online quizzes.
Rewatch Your Favourite Shows
Is there a TV series or movie you used to love but haven’t seen in ages? Now is a great time to rewatch classics from your younger years. The great thing is that there’s no need to buy anything on DVD (or even video!) anymore. Most things are either on Netflix or available for digital download on Amazon. There are also millions of clips on YouTube that you can watch for free too.
Watch Online Theatre
Did you know you can watch theatre shows online for free? Fancy Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’? How about a bit of ‘Cirque du Soleil’? Find a full list here. This is probably one of my favourite ways to pass the time during the covid-19 lockdown, especially as going to the theatre is usually something you can only do in person. With social distancing, it’s unlikely our theatres are going to be open anytime soon, so this is a great way to show your support and be entertained by some of the UK’s finest actors.
Online Exercise Classes
Exercise is incredibly beneficial for both our physical and mental health. It can also help us get a better night’s sleep, which those with anxiety or depression may be struggling with at the moment. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or have never exercised in your life, now is the time to get fit. There are plenty of online fitness classes you can try today for free such as Joe Wicks to Barry’s Bootcamp. Many local fitness instructors and gyms have paid virtual sessions too.
Did you know that we spend approximately 90% of our time indoors? These stats were pre-lockdown, so given most of us have been stuck inside our houses for weeks now, this is probably even closer to 100% than ever before. While we aren’t able to get out as usual, it’s really important to get fresh air wherever possible. So, if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, make the most of it. Eat your breakfast outside, pull some weeds, plant some seeds. If you don’t know how Gardner’s World and the RHS have all the advice you need. At the very least, go for a daily walk.
How do you know if you can draw or not if you’ve never really tried? Being creative is a great way to focus on something other than the news. It might be you pick up an old skill or learn something new. Now is the time for discovery! Whether it’s decoupage, watercolour, sewing or cooking there is a wealth of free ‘how to’ videos on YouTube. Check them out. Be sure to tag me over on Facebook for anything you do create!
Whether you’re already a regular reader, or if you can’t remember the last time you finished a book – now is the perfect time to get lost in a good story. Set aside an hour, put your phone on silent, and read. There are so many genres to check out from non-fiction to self-help. Reading books is an incredibly insightful way to pass the time. If you don’t have many good books at home to read and don’t want to head to the shops, then consider purchasing a Kindle instead. All the books are digital and there are millions to choose from!
This crisis may have inspired you to give something back to your community and volunteer. Volunteering can take many forms so even if you can’t be somewhere in person you could make something that might be of need. The NCVO is a great place to start to see what you might be able to contribute to. Another service in need is phone volunteers, especially for those who are isolated or are carers.
This is a stressful and worrying time for many, so don’t put any pressure on yourself to make the most of your time stuck indoors. Despite coronavirus being a global pandemic, the situation can feel very isolating. However, you spend your lockdown, be sure to take time to relax and breathe. By following government advice and staying at home, you’re saving lives.
Hire An Online Life Coach
The lockdown has given everyone a lot of thinking time. This might involve considering your next steps in life. Whether your goal centres around building confidence, weight loss, quitting smoking, overcoming phobias, managing stress or even achieving your ambitions – a life coach could be exactly what you are looking for. I have been helping people for 25 years with their personal development, and now is a good time as any to start your journey too. If anything, focusing on improving aspects of your life will help you emerge from lockdown with a positive mindset, which could make all the difference going forward.
To Sum Up
Even though the covid-19 lockdown is for our own good, that doesn’t mean it’s not tough to deal with. If your routine has been turned upside down and you are stuck for meaningful activities to fill your day, I hope the above tips have helped you come up with some ideas.
Be sure to leave me a comment with how you are getting on during this time. If you would like any help or support for any of the services I provide as a life coach, then please get in touch.
Having trouble sleeping? You are not alone. More and more people are reporting poor quality sleep during the pandemic. Coronavirus is having an indirect impact on our health, and messing about with our sleep patterns. And that isn’t surprising. Our brain is being bombarded with the kind of news, imagery, and stimulus often associated with war, and this is creating a constant low-level stress/trauma.
Sleep is the time when our brain processes the day’s activities, helping us make sense of what we have seen and heard. So, if you have strange dreams, that’s why. Not only are our waking thoughts being dominated at a conscious and unconscious level by Coronavirus, but our daily routine has changed beyond recognition.
Given the tumultuous impact the Coronavirus has had every section of our global community, we can’t be shocked if our subconscious is having a bit of a reaction. Here are my top five tips for getting a good night’s sleep during Covid-19.
Watch What You Drink
Alcohol and caffeine are the two horses of the apocalypse when it comes to problematic sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant and keeps your brain active, while alcohol will turn off certain brain receptors responsible for getting you into deep NREM sleep. If you have a coffee at any point after midday, it will impact your ability to sleep.
While alcohol will impact your sleep no matter when you drink it (unless its as soon as you wake up, in which case you’ve got an even bigger problem!). I’m not suggesting you become teetotal, but being aware of what, when, and how much you are drinking will definitely impact your sleep.
Cut Out Smoking
I know this is probably the worse possible time to try and get someone to give up smoking, but there is plenty of research showing a direct link between smoking and insomnia. If you can cut down, you will be doing yourself a huge favour, and it will have an impact on your sleep quality.
No Chocolate Before Bed
This one is my downfall. I love having a bit of chocolate in the evening. But the science is clear. Snacking on sugary stuff less than two hours before bedtime is a sure road to poor quality sleep.
I promise you, this is a biggie. If you exercise and meditate regularly, you will see a dramatic shift in the quality and quantity of your sleep. You will sleep deeper, and you will find yourself waking up far more refreshed. Exercise kick-starts plenty of dopamine, and serotonin, which will contribute to a greater feeling of wellbeing and contribute to a much better night’s sleep.
Cut Out Screens
As your brain gets ready to shut down for the evening, it starts producing melatonin. That’s the chemical which induces sleep. Phone screens and TVs inhibit the production of melatonin, and there’s plenty of research showing just how much screens impact sleep. So, thirty-minute before you normally go to sleep, do your brain a favour, shut it down gently with a good book. Preferably made of paper!
We are living through some very strange (and worrying) times, and it’s an enormous challenge to break well-established habits and routines. Sleep is the greatest gift we can give ourselves: you will find your levels and anxiety will drop, and your overall wellbeing will improve dramatically.
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