How to maintain your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus lockdown - and how to relax
With the government urging everyone to only venture out for food, medical or essential work, and to remain at least two metres away from other people when outside, the lockdown period means spending a lot of time at home.
While the situation is frustrating, there are things you can do to make your time at home enjoyable and take care of your mental health.
Under the new guidelines, the government has advised people should not leave their homes unless it is for essential reasons.
Shops, pubs, restaurants and other leisure venues have all been forced to close, with only ‘essential’ stores permitted to remain open.
The lockdown measures will initially be in place for at least three weeks, taking effect immediately from Monday (23 Mar), and are to be reviewed in 21 days.
The situation will then be relaxed if the government believes it is safe and possible to do so..
While three weeks may not seem like a long time, staying away from family and friends for an extended period will be tough for everyone - and the strict measures could be hard on many people’s mental health.
If you are looking for ways to keep yourself busy, and stay positive and relaxed over the lockdown period, here are a few things you could try over the coming weeks.
Staying active not only ensures you keep your body moving, but exercise also helps to reduce stress, boost your energy levels and keep you more alert.
The government guidelines permit one form of exercise per day, such as going for a walk, but you can also build exercise into your daily life at home.
Mr Motivator is one of the most popular health and well-being coaches, and Joe Wicks, otherwise known as ‘The Body Coach’, has started running online PE sessions for children on YouTube to help keep them fit.
A number of gyms are also offering online streaming services to their members.
Embrace video calling
Many of us may be fond of messaging, but you can’t beat having a face-to-face conversation with someone.
While that may not be possible for most at the moment, you can still keep in contact with your loved ones by alternative means and ditch the texts in favour of video calls.
Make the most of services like FaceTime, Skype and Google Hangouts to keep in touch with those you love.
Escape in entertainment
Escape from reality for a period every day, in the form of books, films or your favourite TV shows.
Use your time at home to finally give that stack of books your attention and delve into a world of storytelling, or make the most of online streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and relax on the sofa while watching a new series or film.
Try some relaxation techniques
If you are having trouble switching off from everything, why not try some relaxation techniques to help you settle at the end of the day?
The NHS has some top tips on breathing techniques for stress, anxiety and panic that take just a few minutes each day.
There are also a series of relaxation audio clips available from the NHS to help you unwind.
Stick to a daily routine
Being at home all the time can result in falling into some bad habits, such as avoiding regular exercise, working longer hours, and not taking regular screen breaks if you are working from home.
To avoid falling into a slump, try to establish a daily routine and stick to it.
Start your day at roughly the same time each day and make sure to set aside time for regular work breaks, a daily walk for exercise and some downtime once the working day is finished, before heading to bed at a reasonable time.
Give yourself a project
Having a fun project to focus on will not only help to keep you busy every day, but it will also ensure your mind isn’t always thinking about the ongoing crisis.
Set aside some time to delve into a favourite hobby, such as cooking or baking, or make a start on a project you’ve always wanted to do, like writing a story, drawing or painting, or tending to your garden.
Sometimes a bit of ‘me-time’ is sorely needed, so why not enjoy the ultimate relaxed night in and pamper yourself?
Run a hot bubble bath, light some candles, and unwind with some music while enjoying a relaxing soak.
Learn something new
Use the additional home time to hone those skills you’ve always wanted to learn, such as learning to cook or bake, playing an instrument, knitting, or learning a new language.