• Keeping busy during lockdown

    • The garden has never looked better and the house has never been tidier, however, there is only so much of this you can do before household tasks run out. You may also have binge-watched that Netflix series you are always been meaning to get around to, but what else can you do to fill your time? If you are one of the millions that are currently furloughed in the UK, there may be one silver lining– you may now have some free time to do something productive or learn something new.

      Whilst it may be tempting or habitual to endlessly scroll through social media or read COVID-19 related news articles, it can be detrimental to your mental wellbeing to continuously consume negative information.

      We have put together some suggestions of activities which could benefit your mental health, physical health or build professional skills – it has been proven that learning new skills can benefit your health and reduce stress, so try something new! What’s the worst that can happen?

      Learn a language


      With online resources and apps – picking up an additional language has never been easier! Not only can learning a language be fun and benefit your career, it can also improve multi-tasking and problem-solving skills. Memrise and Duolingo are 2 of the best well-known apps – so check them out.

      Learn an instrument


      According to Harvard Medical School, learning to play an instrument can improve your IQ, verbal skills and academic performance. If there is an instrument you have always wanted to learn – now is the time!

      In recent years there has been an explosion of new music teaching apps created for a whole range of instruments including popular ones such as piano, drums and guitar, but also something more unique such as the harp and bongos.

      Some music tutors are also offering online and virtual video lessons, so you can learn in the comfort of your home with the help of a professional.

      Online courses


      Online courses have sharply risen in popularity over the last 10 years as they can easily fit around working lives, childcare etc. Many learning institutes are currently offering heavily discounted or even free courses during this time such as OpenLearn from The Open University – they have hundreds of courses covering health care, business, education, IT and scientific subjects.

      Cooking


      Have you ever wanted to sharpen your culinary skills or is there a particular dish you have always wanted to learn to cook? With millions of online recipes and videos, the possibilities are endless and with restaurants closed for the foreseeable future, there has never been a better time to recreate your favourite dish at home. Foodie YouTube channels such as SeriousEats are a fantastic resource for getting the best results from your home cooking and restaurant chain Wagamama has launched ‘Wok From Home’  - a video guide and recipes to recreate your favourite dishes in your home kitchen. McDonald's, Pizza Express and Nando’s have also shared some of their recipes online if you are missing your favourite dish.

      DIY


      I think I am not alone when I say I usually dread DIY, however, it is a great opportunity to learn new skills and have something to show for it at the end – you can even get the kids involved. Even if you are a complete beginner, there are so many websites, videos and forums which give easy to follow, step-by-step guides from simply putting up a shelf through to more ambitiously building a quarantine treehouse, you are only limited by your imagination (and budget)!

      Help the community


      If you are not currently working and not in the shielded category, you could volunteer to assist vulnerable individuals within your community. Check places like your local Facebook page to see what schemes have been set up to help with picking up shopping, collecting prescriptions or just having a friendly chat over the phone with individuals who are self-isolating. Some people may not directly ask for help, so if you have a neighbour which you are concerned about, maybe pop a note through their door offering help if they need – it is important to look out for each other during this time.

      Exercise


      We should all try and exercise at least once per day, it reduces stress, improves fitness and also counteracts the inevitable lockdown snacking - which I for one, am completely guilty of! No doubt you have heard of or seen Joe Wicks’ daily P.E. lessons (not as easy as they look!) Or perhaps try yoga if you have not done so before – Cosmic Kids is also fantastic if you have children. We have also heard that Chris Hemsworth has released a fitness app so you can train like Thor at home – ladies form an orderly queue!

      Lastly...

      These are just a handful of ideas of things to keep you busy during the lockdown but don’t forget to spend time relaxing and to regularly keep in touch with friends and family. This is a difficult and stressful time for so many of us, however, it won’t be forever so try and find positives where you can and as always, stay safe.

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