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So, how to cope with the lockdown? It’s been in force for over a week now. Most of us have had to stay at home, except to take exercise, do essential shopping, attend to medical needs or help vulnerable people. (The current rules on the lockdown are available here).
The lockdown will be in force for three weeks, when it will be reviewed. But although cases of coronavirus may be showing early signs of slowing, it looks like we’re in in this for the long haul. Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries has warned that we could be living under some forms of restriction for a good six months before things begin to return to normal.
That’s the reality we have to prepare for. Some of us – especially many of us with mental health problems – are going to find it tougher than others. The Mental Health Foundation has advice that is helpful for all of us as we learn how to cope with the lockdown.
How to cope with the lockdown and stay sane
However, whether you live alone, with a partner or spouse, or with children, day-to-day life still needs to go on. The big question is how to comply with the lockdown rules without going completely stir crazy!
In a way, I’m well prepared because I work alone normally. My challenge isn’t so much isolation, but one of adapting to spending all day in a house with my wife (who is now working from home) and my children (who now have to be home schooled).
But whatever your current situation, we could all do with some tips to help get through the day with our sanity intact. I’ve talked to a good number of people about how they cope, and these are some of the top tips I’ve picked up.
1. Create a routine
I think this is essential. Try and get up at the same time (weekends don’t count). Ideally get get dressed before you start your day properly. Work in a separate room if possible. Then create a timetable and try to stick to it.
Everyone in my home has a timetable at the moment. There are slots for work, for home-schooling, for exercise, for cooking and so on. Importantly for us, we all set aside time for practical projects. I’m using it to paint various parts of my old car. My wife is making a patchwork quilt. My eldest son is making shelves for his room. As for my youngest, he’s learning how to use the sewing machine.
The children have adapted to their new routines surprisingly well. That’s good for their sanity, but even better for mine! My other top tip is this – try not to check your work emails in the evening. It helps give you a bit more space, which is good for your mental wellbeing.
2. Get outdoors
If it’s not a sunny day, it’s tempting to not get outside and exercise. But do make time to get some fresh air. At the moment, we can go outdoors to walk, run or cycle and are advised to do it near home – and for no more than about an hour. Even so, it’s enough to blow away the cobwebs, lift our mood and remind us that we’ll be able to enjoy the outdoors even more when the pandemic is over.
3. Socialise virtually
Lots of my friends are being very creative and are using all sorts of online tools to socialise virtually. Zoom is definitely the video app of choice for chatting to friends, keeping clubs and societies running, checking in with parents and relatives – and much more.
If, like me, you’re not a fan of video conferencing, then messaging, texting, phone calls and all the rest are great ways to keep connected. If you’re lonely, don’t be afraid to reach out. And if you need help, ask for it.
4. Learn something new
This, for me, is the silver lining of lockdown. Most of us have got lots more time to learn. I’m currently improving my German by listening to the Deutsch Perfekt courses (tip: there are loads on Spotify you can listen to for free). I’m also reading novels in German and getting more fluent daily. If you’re new to language learning, get started at the brilliant Duolingo – it’s free, fun and gets you started from scratch.
But if languages aren’t your thing, there’s so much else you can learn – from sewing to baking, woodworking to painting, gardening to top-notch cookery. Get on YouTube and elsewhere to find lots of tutorials, how-to’s and all sorts of inspiration.
5. Turn off the news (most of the time)
I don’t know about you, but the sheer volume of negative COVID-19 news stories can really make my mood plummet like a brick falling down a well. Yes, we all need to know what’s going on – especially when it comes to learning about new rules we have to adhere to, or finding out about financial help. But it’s just as important to take a break from coronavirus news. I catch up on the latest each morning, then check in briefly again during the evening. For the rest of the time, I resist the temptation to read the news – and it works well for me.
6. Be kind
It can be frustrating being stuck at home, but that doesn’t stop us from being kind. Check other people are okay, offer help when you can and be patient – some people adapt to change better than others. At times like this, helping each other is more important than ever and gives us a sense of purpose too.
There are lots of ways you can keep yourself occupied and positive during this pandemic. Some days will be better than others, and that’s normal. But if you have good tips for how to cope with the lockdown and for keeping happy, healthy and sane, then please do share them – they could make all the difference for someone else who’s struggling.
About Ben Locker
Ben Locker is a copywriter who specialises in business-to-business marketing, writing about everything from software and accountancy to construction and power tools. He co-founded the Professional Copywriters’ Network, the UK’s association for commercial writers, and is named in Direct Marketing Association research as ‘one of the copywriters who copywriters rate’.