Around 20% of the world's population is currently living under some form of lockdown or self-quarantine measures to help control the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Despite the lifting of some restrictions in Wuhan, the origin of the outbreak, many global citizens are just beginning weeks, or even months, of having to stay at home.
Although what “lockdown” looks like will differ across territories and some of us will need to self-isolate if displaying symptoms, the general message around the world is a consistent one. Practicing social distancing and maintaining high standards of personal hygiene remain the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19. By staying home, we can all do our part to help to slow the spread and prevalence of the disease.
However being stuck at home and not be able to do the things we all take for granted presents a big challenge for many of us. But by being well prepared, including have essential supplies in stock, can help to make your time in lockdown as stress-free and convenient as possible. So what do you need?
Firstly we all need to eat, so unless we can have our shopping delivered to our door we’ll likely need to leave the house and physically visit a grocery store. Supermarkets across the world are doing a great job of taking a leadership role in enforcing social distancing, and in most locations will be well-stocked with their usual range of produce.
We’ve provided some advice on the types of food you should stock up on here, including non-food items such as medicines and cleaning products. Many stores will have restrictions in place to stop panic buying so you won't necessarily be able to buy vast amounts in one go, although you still need to ensure you have sufficient supplies for your family to last approximately two weeks.
Whatever your circumstances, the best thing to do is create a meal plan before you go shopping. Consider what foods can you buy that will make meals you can eat over several days, or where leftovers can be frozen for a later date or repurposed into a different dish?
You should also find a balance between purchasing fresh and nutritious food, as well as convenient, non-perishable foods that will allow you to minimise the number of times you need to go grocery shopping. If you can buy extra tinned or frozen food now, for example, you can reduce shopping trips in the coming weeks as and when COVID-19 cases are expected to hit peak numbers.
If you’re able to work from home over the coming weeks, that will play a significant part in helping to reduce your likelihood of contracting COVID-19 and passing it onto others. For many, working from home will be a new experience so you can read our advice here about how to remain productive.
While you may feel like the only essential supply you need for working from home is your laptop or computer, it's worth considering what other equipment can help to make working from home as easy as possible. If you're able to, treat yourself to a comfortable office chair, or a monitor and keyboard to go with your laptop so you aren’t hunched over a small screen every day.
Even a relatively simple purchase, such as cushion for your chair or a stand to enable you to work while standing up, can make a big difference, particularly if you have limited space at home.
One of the most significant differences in lockdowns across different locations is the extent to which people can leave their homes to exercise.
If you're in a location where you’re not allowed to leave the house to exercise, that is no excuse to forego your daily exercise. If you're usually active you'll find that you need to be doing something anyway. On the other hand, if you ordinarily lead a more sedentary lifestyle, you could use the next few weeks as an opportunity to kickstart a healthier lifestyle.
There are plenty of workouts you can do at home with no equipment whatsoever, including bodyweight exercises. Many gyms and sports brands are offering free online workouts via social media and Apps, including both live stream classes (if you need other people for motivation) as well as on demand classes you can do in your own time.
If you are able to, you might also want to consider purchasing a few inexpensive fitness items for home use, such as a mat, small weights, or a skipping rope. If you have a reasonable size garden, then there are also plenty of activities you can do outside, including activities with children such as ball games or obstacle courses.
Don’t forget that as well as cardio activity you should also make sure you do plenty of stretching and stability work, such as yoga and pilates, particularly if you’re moving around less due to the lockdown.
We recently wrote a guide on looking after your mental health at work, and many of the strategies recommended in it will also be useful in safeguarding your mental health during an extended period of lockdown.
The best thing to do for you and your family is to ensure you have a plan to keep yourselves entertained during lockdown. Indeed the next few weeks could be an excellent opportunity to reconnect and enjoy the unexpected extra time in each other's company.
Board games and jigsaws are great way of spending a fun few hours, and you probably have some of these hidden in your house already that may have been forgotten about – even a pack of cards will suffice! If you don’t have anything to hand, in most territories you can order these online for delivery to your door, so you don’t even have to leave the house.
You could also consider hosting a virtual quiz night with friends and family you aren’t able to see in person. Of course there is also plenty of online and on-demand TV entertainment out there, but you should try to avoid relying heavily on activities that involve screen time while in lockdown. If you’re stuck for inspiration, here are some other helpful ideas for how to occupy your children while at home.
As schools around the world have closed, millions of parents have become de facto home educators.
To help you through this period, many companies that provide online learning resources have temporarily made their content free. While your children might not be learning 100% of the same things they would have been at school, these can help to ensure they continue to learn and keep their brains active while at home. If you are able to, try to do these activities with your children; you might even help them to discover a new passion for their education.
In summary, no doubt spending time in lockdown will be a challenge for the vast majority of us. However, if you prepare well for the next few weeks, you will be able to better manage yourself and your family through lockdown while ensuring you remain safe and well.