As the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic at least a third of the global population continues to find itself under a so-called ‘lockdown’, while others are having to follow some form of social distancing.
While many countries are considering plans to lift restrictions in the coming months, this will need to take place in a measured and phased manner to avoid a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 cases. It could therefore be many weeks before most of us can return to any form of ‘normality’, and it’s highly likely that certain restrictions will remain in place for some time.
During these challenging times it is important to do what we can to support both our physical and mental well-being. Even if you’re working from home it may still feel like there is lot of time to fill during the day.
To help ease the burden, here are some great activities to keep you and those around you busy and healthy during lockdown. Combine these with the tips in our recent article about lockdown essentials to make the next few weeks as easy and as fulfilling as possible.
If You Live Alone
From a mental health standpoint, living alone might be the most challenging circumstance in which to find yourself at this time. So what can you do to stay healthy and positive?
Schedule Check-Ins with Friends
Many people are reaching out to friends to offer support if they need help during this time. However asking for help is often something people struggle to do as we default to the expected “I’m fine” response.
Try to avoid this during lockdown by proactively scheduling times to check-in with family and friends, especially if you live alone. This might be as simple as arranging a weekly video call, or you could even take advantage of some of the online gaming apps to give you another way of interacting virtually with your loved ones.
You could even make a point of reaching out to an old friend or someone you’ve not spoken to in a while; everyone is in the same boat and feeling disconnected from human contact right now, so it’s likely they’ll be pleased to hear from you!
Plan Regular Exercise Sessions
Most people fall into two camps when it comes to lockdown and exercise. There are those fitness junkies who fill their time with workouts to help them stay in the best shape possible. Then there are those of us who don't exercise regularly but feel like we should, and may not be sure where to start.
If you’re in the latter camp, it’s important to find ways to exercise where you can; this will not only keep you fit and healthy during lockdown but is also a productive way to use your time - especially if exercise is one of the few reasons you’re allowed to leave the house. What’s more, evidence shows that exercise can make you happier, something we all need help with during this time.
Whether you already have workout equipment at home, have just bought a yoga book, or need to find a bodyweight workout online, there are plenty of ways to keep fit during lockdown. Schedule regular exercise sessions in to keep you focused, even 20 minutes a day will make a big difference!
Start Cooking, or Do It More
Cooking is like exercise in that most people either love it and do it often, or know that they don’t cook fresh meals as often as they should but aren’t sure how.
During lockdown, cooking can be a great way to manage both your mental and physical health. Challenging yourself to try new recipes or simply cook a healthy meal from scratch instead of ordering take out, can help focus the mind and give you a sense of achievement at the end of the day.
Many people are using lockdown as a chance to hone their baking skills. While we all like to indulge in a sweet treat every once in a while, try cooking wholesome and nutritious meals to support the exercise you’re doing, as it will help you to feel more energetic during this time.
If You Live with Other People
Living with other people during lockdown can mean many different things. You might live with your partner, your friends, or in a flatshare with people you don't know that well. Lockdown could therefore produce a unique and challenging dynamic, particularly if you are all working from home at the same time. However there's nothing to stop you making the most of the opportunities this can present.
Of course any activities need to be mindful of social distancing guidelines in your community, particularly if one of the people you live with is symptomatic or in a high risk category and is self-quarantining at home.
Connect, or Reconnect Through Shared Interests
Unless you've lived with someone for many years there's likely to be something new you can discover about the person or people with whom you live. There's potentially much you have in common that you didn't realise until now.
Discovering each other’s shared interests might have added benefits. If you’re both missing taking part in a specific activity, such as skiing, you can at least talk about your experiences and make plans for continuing to pursue this interest in the future.
You also could discover new interests and find something that you and your flatmates are all enthusiastic about doing. There might be something you can do together to pass the time such as a favourite board game or learning a dance routine!
Start a Shared Project
One way to focus your attention and connect with those you live with is through a shared project. This can take any form you like based around a common interest or shared life experience.
You can start small, simply cooking together or completing a jigsaw puzzle can give a sense of community. Are you artistic? Why not create something together. Is there a home improvement project that you have been putting off for months, or a room that needs clearing out and reorganising? If so, now is the time to tackle it as a team. You could even turn your project into a competition between each other to keep you motivated.
Make Exercise Competitive
Speaking of competition, why not make your exercise competitive? You may not be able to go running or cycling together depending on the specific restrictions in your local area. However you can still measure performance and compete against each other in other ways.
Use fitness tracking apps to measure times and distance, or if you have a large enough room in your house make time to do an online workout together. Be creative and have prizes and forfeits to make your competition more interesting – for example, whoever finishes last has to cook dinner or clean the bathroom.
If You Have Children
We know that keeping children entertained during lockdown is a considerable challenge. Children want to be outside, see their friends, and spend time with other family members. However there are some simple ways to help them stay connected and keep occupied during this time.
Find Things That are Fun Yet Still Educational
One of the biggest concerns parents currently have is about maintaining their children's education. In our previous lockdown essentials article we looked at the use of online education platforms and apps.
As well as using those resources, think about what other activities you can do that are both fun and educational. You usually won’t have to look far for inspiration. Many toys, such as Lego, will have something that you can use as an educational element, as well as books and board games.
Remember that your efforts at education don't have to be blatant and can be disguised as play time. Even something as simple as asking your child to write a story about their toys, create a musical performance for the family, or do a scavenger hunt in the garden could be sufficient to keep them entertained while continuing to learn.
Keep Moving and Get Outside as Much as Possible
In some countries you may not be able to take your children to the park or outside during lockdown, but where possible it’s important to get your children out in the fresh air as much as you can and give them a chance to dispel all that pent up energy.
If you have a garden, fantastic. Problem solved. If you don’t have a garden, look to make a walk part of your daily schedule, provided that is allowed by authorities in your community. You’re using this purely as a reason to go outside, so come up with a set route that you’ll follow so your children get used to it.
Combine your daily walk with an activity. Give your children a checklist of things to look for and treat it like a treasure hunt. When you’re back at home, let your children find their favourite YouTube workout and burn off even more energy.
Buy ‘Hobby’ Style Toys
Anyone who is a parent knows the frustration of spending a small fortune on children’s toys only for them to loudly announce they’re bored with them a few days later.
One possible way to get around this is to invest in more traditional ‘hobby’ style toys, which will require your children to build and paint things before playing with them. Things like model railway toys or die-cast models are ideal for helping children lose themselves in what they're doing for a few hours.
Remember to Take Time for You
As a parent during a lockdown it’s important to take time for yourself too. Whether you're working from home, have been furloughed, or have another circumstance, you will likely have personal worries and anxieties to deal with as well as your children.
Give yourself some headspace when you need it; make the time to cook, read, play video games, or whatever it is you like to do when it’s time to switch off.
Maintaining Your Physical and Mental Health During Lockdown
Lockdown is a challenging time for everyone around the world.
While it is essential we do all we can to support our physical and mental health, this is also an excellent opportunity for personal growth. Whether becoming fitter physically, improving your diet, learning a new skill, or re-connecting with people, there's so much we can do to come out of stronger. Make a routine, set some goals and try to stay positive – you’ve got this!