New government instructions to prevent the spread of Coronavirus mean that nearly all of us are definitely staying at home for the next few weeks and keeping any trips out of the house to the absolute minimum, for the next few months.
Many people are understandably feeling anxious for themselves, their friends and their loved ones. This global pandemic has affected everyone’s lives, on a scale not seen since the ‘Spanish Flu’ swept across Europe, over a hundred years ago, .
The good news is it is impossible for Coronavirus to spread out of control, if people all throughout the whole country, social distance correctly. If we all and respect the Prime Minister’s new lock-down restrictions we will slow the effect of the new superbug. We can protect our NHS workers and beat this disease and also stop dangerous germs spreading, by following the protocol advised by the Heath Department in Westminster. (1)
1. Breath Deeply
There are easy methods we can all use to prevent any undue worry or feeling frightened. One of the simplest ways is to practice simple breathing techniques. The NHS has information on how to do this effectively and there are lots of articles that can be found with a quick ‘google’. Basically, taking slow and deep breaths will let the body know that there is no immediate danger happening right now. This will allow every part of your body and brain to calm down, making you feel more relaxed.
Yoga and meditation are also fantastic for beating stress and anxiety and online experts such as Yoga Yin have produced excellent free U Tube videos. These digital classes can be used at home anytime by any age and fitness level. The tutorials last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour and you don’t need any special equipment. You can even request a personalised yoga session, for your individual needs, all for a modest fee.
3. Spring Clean
Who doesn’t need a Spring clean at home at this time of year? It is a great place to start the next season by giving your home a good tidy up, dust and wash through. Not only will this burn calories and keep you busy, but you will feel more positive once everything is sparkling, tidy and shipshape. It is time to get the washing on the line outside if you have one and make sure everything is in place, so you can enjoy the space you have at home, whatever the size of your property, the best you can. Don’t forget to let the fresh air and sunshine in!
4. Stock take Provisions
Once you have your place looking great it is a good idea to assess what food you have for you and your family and plan some meals for the next week. Using provisions and supplies efficiently is essential at this time when the supermarkets are under pressure to provide the whole country with enough food. Supermarkes are confident they are catching up with demand but not all of their drivers and employees can come to work at the moment and they need to train new staff members up. It makes sense to use fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy and baked products first and save dried, tinned, bottled, pickled and frozen ingredients until later when you need them. Look at your cookery books if you have them or browse new recipes online and consider experimenting with some equipment, flavour combinations and ingredients you have been meaning to try for ages.
Try some new recipes and don’t give up if you are missing ingredients as there are many tasty substitutions that can be employed. For example you can use bananas instead of eggs for pancakes. It is also worth knowing that most breads and cakes can be reinvented with butter or oil and some cream or milk into a delicious bread pudding. This hot dish is guaranteed to disappear fast by adding some fruit, spices and a bit of creativity and baking in the oven for about half an hour.
It is also worth getting out the bread makers, mixers and the specialist grills and so on, that you might have been given as a present and have yet to spend time mastering. You may be pleasantly surprised how much a new kitchen machine can transform and elevate your cooking.
6. DIY Garden Time
Attempt any outstanding DIY projects if you have them pending first, so you can get the most enjoyment out of the more fun projects. Only have a go at straight forward fixes well within your skills and if you are not that confident, or you don’t have the right tools, than save the task until you can work with the professionals next year. We all need to avoid using the NHS services at this extra busy time.
If you are lucky enough to have a balcony, patio, garden or an allotment, now is the time to have a good tidy up and to plan what you would like to do now the days are getting longer and the temperature is rising. It is clever to invest effort in every area you can, to get the most enjoyment out of your precious green space. Mow the lawn if you haven’t already. Clear out the shed and garage and find out what supplies you have you can use to help you with your outdoor projects.
It is really important to avoid shopping, if at all possible so work out what you can complete using what you have already gathered. Using up paints, fence stains and other garden materials and creatively making the most of what you have already is the way to go this summer. It is a super time for planting, especially fruit and vegetables and herbs which can mostly be grown in pots if that is easier. There are lots of easy tutorials online with guidance for new gardeners, such as the Royal Horticultural Society’s guide, so it could be the perfect time to enjoy a new hobby.
Make Do and Mend
Most people have a box of worn clothes and home furnishings that need some attention. This is a perfect opportunity to actually get round to sewing buttons on, taking up hems, darning holes and fixing seams. It is amazing how much you can do with simple hand sewing, such as taking in garments and covering small stains with pretty embroidery. This is a wonderful moment to teach children and other family members how to maintain their clothes, so they can keep their favourite outfits looking lovely, for as long as possible.
If you are lucky enough to own a sewing machine it is time to take off the cover and get going. You can transform your home furnishings and also many of the clothes in your wardrobe into some updated and unique designer pieces, that will be admired by all your friends, from over a two meter distance! Don’t worry if your thread colours don’t match, or you have to sew smaller bits of fabric together to construct your projects, just keep the look bright and colourful and your new items will be a joy to make and to use to. The sewing.com website has easy to follow examples that cover the basic sewing techniques.
9. Drawing and Painting
Have you ever had a go at drawing and painting? All ages can enjoy the satisfaction of getting lost in creating their own pictures. With basic paper, card, pens, pencils and paint supplies you can keep calm and feel the pleasure of this mindful and therapeutic activity. Don’t worry about the result of the image, just make the most of the journey of making your own masterpiece. To get your expressive juices flowing, practice some short timed sketches. Portraits of the people and animals you live with, a section of the garden or a ‘still life’ of a room or a part of your house, are all great subjects to start with.
If the thought of lifting a paintbrush fills you with horror, try a collage which is a process that uses cut and torn paper and other materials or ‘mixed media’ to stick or sew selected elements together to produce a textured picture. Decorating small home accessories such as pots or boxes or even small bits of furniture, such as chairs, with paint and paper can be very rewarding.
Alternatively an easy paper art called decoupage, can be very eye catching and the results can give your home a fresh ‘artisan’ boost too. There are lots of instructions on how to decoupage online and we like this one by Prima magazine. You may well have pretty printed papers you can use and a printer, at home already.(6)
11. Music Time
How many people do you know who want to learn an instrument but never quite had time? Now is just the moment to dust off your guitar, piano, flute, trumpet or drums and allocate half an hour or so every day, to practice. If you don’t have enough music to learn from already, don’t worry as You Tube is packed with amazing music tutorials for the beginner student, right through to the more advanced player. There are musicians and choirs who are currently grouping together to encourage the country to keep practising and performing during these challenging times. Conductors and organisers are compiling new versions of classics, singing and playing a song one at a time and uploading these favourite tunes for everyone to enjoy.
Just singing songs on your own and with family is good for stress. This joyful activity will let your vocal chords practice for their big moment at a new choir, Christmas carols or Karaoke evenings once the world gets back to relative normality, well before the end of this year with any luck. Whenever you get a song ‘nailed’ don’t forget to share your talent with your fans and loved ones, as music is a very uplifting tonic for everybody, especially those who are self isolating at the moment.
If you are not ‘a musical person’ it might be worth trying music radio such as BBC radio 1 if you are very young at heart or under 25 years old or BBC radio 2 for everyone else. Choose your favourite genre such as Classic FM and your spirits will thank you. Adding more music into your life at this time will help your mood to improve every day.(7)
12. Relax and Movie Night
Turning off the news, once you have watched the key stories and absorbed the most important facts and information for the day, is a wise move for your mental health. Setting your phone and computer apps to ‘not giving you instant notifications’ is a good idea to avoid too much distraction, which is stressful for the brain. After a day of working from home and doing positive activities including exercising outside, (if you live somewhere you are able to) you may be quite tired. Treat yourself to catching up with films and DVDs that you wouldn’t have got around to seeing otherwise. Watching comedy series on iPlayer, Netflix or Amazon is a super way to keep mentally fit. Laughing is very good for you and a great way to end the day with your other family members too.
(1) Restrictions UK official government website, 26 March 2020 Gov.UK restrictions Coronavirus
(2) National Health Service breathing exercise for stress, 26 March 2020 NHS breathing exercises stress
(3) Yoga For Anxiety, Yoga Yin by Allahana website You Tube video link, 26 March 2020 Yoga For Anxiety, Yoga Yin
(4) Royal Horticultural Society official website, Beginner’s guide to gardening, 26 March 2020 RHS Beginner’s Guide Gardening
(5) ‘8 Basic Hand Stiching Techniques Every Sewer Should Learn’ Sewing.com website, 26 March 2020 Basic Techniques Sewing.com
(6) ‘Beginner’s Guide to decoupage – the prettiest papercraft’ Kirsty Robertson, Prima magazine online
26 March 2020 Beginer’s Guide Decoupage Prima
(7) ‘Self-isolating choirs and orchestras are performing powerful at-home concerts during coronavirus outbreak’ Classic FM website, 26 March 2020 self-isolating choirs Classic FM