We know what we need to do to stop the spread of the virus. But here are some simple tactics to keep spirits high while we’re all cooped up at home
The advice is simple – stay home. But it’s easy to feel like you are all out of ideas for how to keep yourself occupied during this time. If, like most people, you need something to fill your days other than Netflix, and are finding the days at home long and boring, here’s a list of easy ideas to try to make your time during this lockdown a little more enjoyable and uplifting.
Make sure that everyone in your household gets some privacy and downtime to just relax and be in their own company. Yes, you all live together, but so many different personalities in one family home can clash, particularly when cooped up for weeks on end. Learn a little about the different personality types. Perhaps there is an introvert in your home who needs solo time to recharge. For kids, encourage them to read a book, or entertain themselves with an art project or puzzle. If last year taught us anything, it’s that even if you’re a social creature, you need to learn to enjoy your own company at times too.
You may never want to look at another loaf of banana bread again, understandably. But there are lots of benefits to mastering home baking. Learning to make your own fresh bread is easy and great value too. You don’t even need to go down the intimidating sourdough starter route. Check out this simple soda bread recipe.
Curate your day
It can be too easy to just leave on the radio or settle down on the couch and watch whatever is on TV that night. Making some simple decisions about what you will consume each day can change the atmosphere and mood at home. You could make a rule to only listen to upbeat music in the mornings, to ensure everyone starts the day in a good mood, or listen to your favourites from musicals during lunchtime. You could decide on themed menus one night a week as something to look forward to. Making time for your own interests is so important at a time when every day can feel the same.
This lockdown is different to last summer and autumn. Now the days are short, and unless you nip out quickly before work or on your lunch break, you will miss the chance to soak up some sunlight. Yes it is cold, but the winter light is beautiful in its own way, and we all need a vitamin D fix daily.
Travel is off the cards but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan and research your next break away. Take time to research places you would like to visit, look up Instagram for inspiration and daydream about exactly how you’d like to spend your next holiday. Watching movies set in exotic locations and reading books about those areas will help too.
Follow people that inspire you and cheer you up, and mute any accounts that make you feel bad. If you know you’re sensitive to what you see on social media, take action to make your feed more uplifting. This is a time when our world feels so small, everthing we engage with matters.
Get out into your garden, even when it is cold outside. If you don’t have your own garden, make it a priority to make it to your nearest green space within your 5km. Time in nature matters. Even if you’re not lucky enough to have a famous beauty spot on your doorstep, even a stroll across a park, field or grassy square will lift your mood a bit.
Now is a great time to embrace your inner clean freak, tackle DIY projects around the house or plan a redecoration project. With nowhere else to be, and on our third lockdown, it’s never been more important to love the space you live in.
The situation is changing every day, and it’s vital to stay aware of the current restrictions and what this means for you and your family. But try to stick to just one radio programme, newspaper or news cycle a day. Absorbing the news constantly throughout the day is draining, especially on a weekend when there can be lots of analysis of what might happen. Remind yourself to just focus on the actual Government announcements, rather than worrying about what might be coming down the line.
Give yourself a project to focus on during this time at home. It could be something simple like learning a card game or learning to make a cocktail, or it could be something more challenging like running a 5K comfortably or taking up knitting or painting. Some people like to give veganuary a go. You’ll be glad to have spent the time picking up a skill and trying something new, and you might discover something you love.
Remember how much joy it brought to the recipients and those who donated to fundraisers like Feed the Heroes last year? Giving some money you have to spare to a worthy cause is so needed right now, but will also give you a lift as you do your part to help others. Alternatively, try to do something nice for your neighbours, or send something small to someone you know is cocooning.
Find something to make you smile every day. Look up your favourite comedians, follow some meme accounts and look up funny skits and clips on YouTube.
We can all get caught up in thoughts about what will happen after the vaccine, or how long this lockdown will be. But our thoughts can’t change any of that. It’s so important to pull yourself back into the moment. When you feel yourself getting bogged down, focus on what you’re doing right now, or try some meditation techniques regularly to help you feel calmer.
You’re going to want some snacks to look forward to during the day, and treats for when you’re watching TV. Rather than boring biscuits and crisps all the time, try some recipes such as Jamie Oliver’s everything cookies or The Food Medic’s carrot and tahini dip.
What would make your life easier if it was more organised? Rather than trying to declutter the entire house, choose on area that regularly frustrates you and do a thorough clear out and organisation. Perhaps the garage is a mess of outdoor gear and tools, your desk is a mess or maybe you can’t find anything in your kitchen when you want to go baking. Focus on one organisation project and enjoy the feeling of doing the job right, the rest can wait.
Your phone is a lifeline right now, but don’t let it rule your day. Phone your family and friends, use apps you enjoy but other than that, it’s okay to put it away when you’re not on call for work. How much time in 2020 was lost to mindless scrolling?
It can be easy to forget when your loved ones are getting on your nerves, that this past year has gifted us time with our partner and members of our household that we would never otherwise have had. Hopefully, this time will end, but enjoy the good aspects of it while it lasts.
No doubt at this stage you’re tired of your usual old reliable recipes. Open up all the cookbooks gathering dust on your shelf, or trawl websites like bbcgoodfood.com for recipes you don’t know how to make. If it turns out great, it could be a new staple. They even have a section just for freezable comfort food and family one pot recipes, so you can make some meals in bulk.
Send notes & cards
We’ve been down this road before, but we’re all feeling weary. Looking back at the first lockdown now, the novelty of it got us through so much of it. Sending and receiving cards is a simple gesture that really means a lot.
We don’t just mean with some online shopping, but do let yourself have a browse and buy something you really want. A treat for yourself doesn’t have to mean spending big. It’s about letting yourself indulge in what you might usually disregard as a ‘guilty’ pleasure. But why feel guilty about doing something just for you? If you’ll enjoy rewatching all the Bridget Jones movies, rereading your favourite book instead of buying the books everyone is talking about, or staying in your PJs all day on a Friday, go for it. You may not be able to go anywhere, but your time is still very much your own.
Make time every single day for something truly relaxing. Even if the house is a noisy mess, if the kids are fed up and social media timelines are a hellscape, you deserve at least 10 minutes to switch off. Have a cup of tea, snooze on the couch or get through a few pages of a book.
When the rest of the news gets too worrying, look up the heartwarming pictures of the first recipients of the vaccine. Remind yourself that that will be you soon, too.
Florence 87 and Nancy aged 90 shake their vaccine cards after getting first jabs on the Navan Road yesterday 🙌🏻 pic.twitter.com/EaZ0uaCWTg— Marc O’Sullivan (@SparkyScoops) January 8, 2021
You may be fed up of your 5km radius, but there is no denying that you will always feel better after a stroll. Instead of being grumpy about it, force yourself to notice signs of nature around you, smile at your neighbours and walk briskly to get your heart pumping and release some endorphins.
Close all those tabs. At the end of the working day, promise yourself that you will click that X in the top right hand corner of the screen and step away from your desk. Same goes for any homeschooling efforts. Set a schedule and when the time comes, call it a day. Don’t beat yourself up trying to get through everything if you can tackle it the next day instead feeling more refreshed.
Say yes to Zoom calls with friends, to movie nights with your family/partner/housemates, and any bit of social interaction coming your way. You may think you’re not in the form for it, but spending time with people really does make a difference to your mood and mind.
Embrace early nights and practise the best sleep hygine you can. Stress aside, make it your aim to emerge from this lockdown well-rested.