Tips for the Holidays during the COVID-19 Lockdown
As we embark on a holiday period at home (quite literally) it is a good time for us to consider how we can make the most of this time, and the somewhat unusual opportunities it may present to us all. This brief list compiled by the CoSS Wellbeing Taskforce outlines a number of ways to spend our time well over the break, structured around the Five Ways to Wellbeing.
1. Learning something new, and taking up a new hobby, is a really good way to use some of the time we have available to us over this holiday period. There are a wide range of things we can do within our home, from learning to play an instrument, learning a language, learning how to cook Michelin Star food (well something edible at least), learning to appreciate the arts (the National Theatre and Royal Opera House are providing access to a number of shows through their YouTube channel) or indeed the art of professional wrestling; we have a British World Champion for the first time.
2. For those of us with children in the household, why not learn something new, and have some fun, with these free downloadable STEM activities from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. Each activity features instructional step by step videos, accessible kit lists and online worksheets. The activities are broadly non-industry specific and cater to a range of ages and abilities, with extension activities detailed for older/more able children. The Scouts have also designed a range of indoor activities to help keep children entertained.
3. Good neighbouring at this time may seem an unusual suggestion given the current social distancing recommendations. However, it is important to give some of our time to checking in on neighbours who may be alone, elderly or in one of the at risk categories. This could involve dropping some groceries or a newspaper outside their door to help them maintain their physical and mental wellbeing, or maybe organizing a virtual meet-up where they have access to the relevant technology or a simple phone call. We all have more time on our hands currently, and giving some of this time to others can be most rewarding.
4. Volunteers also continue to be sought to help across the country in tackling the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the NHS volunteering scheme has temporarily closed, please check your local authority website for more information of help being sought in your local area.
5. Connect with friends, relatives and others virtually through social media and web-based platforms. There are many available from Facetime, to Zoom and Houseparty. Some of these enable you to play games, do quizzes and other activities in pretty large groups so can go well beyond a simple conversation.
6. Even though we are taking time away from work it is important to remember at this time more than ever that we should make sure to keep in contact with colleagues, relatives and friends that may be going through this time alone. Connecting with others is essential for our own mental health and even during the holidays having a quick catch-up with a work colleague can give you some much welcomed interaction with someone from outside your current confines.
7. Juggling a busy role, home and family life can make it a challenge to switch off when on leave. There can be considerable temptation to maintain a hectic pace with never ending jobs around the house, or busying yourself looking after others. Simple mindfulness techniques can be really helpful in maintaining mental health and balance, particularly in holiday time, when there is that bit more time available. Just three minutes a day can have a positive impact on general wellbeing, sleep, relaxation and Gratitude. This helpful calendar is a really easy guide to how to adopt this into your daily routine, and something that can easily be done by children too as a positive start to their day.
8. A useful consideration at this time when we may have more time available to us, or at least currently as our time is more limited in its potential uses, is to be comfortable with doing things at a slower pace. Advice about ‘slow living’ may be useful to engage with at this time. Rather than making long lists of things to do (which can be anxiety-inducing), think of one thing you would like to do and spend your time doing it whether that’s cooking a meal, painting the fence, reading or other activities. A day can be most fulfilling when doing a little less.
9. Recognising the impact of anxiety on our own and other people’s behaviour is also central at this time; we must be compassionate to others and to ourselves. Communications from others, whether via social media, email or a text, can sometimes be misinterpreted when we are anxious so read all communications you receive twice before you answer and read your response twice before you send it. This is also a useful broader tip for the return to work.
10. Exercising can be challenging with the current limited access to the outdoors. There is plenty of inspiration available to us, for example, you could join the online Sport & Fitness community in the Virtual Sport & Fitness Club. This UoB online community Facebook group has nearly 2,000 members and you can access it while we are in restricted campus operations. Simply request to join and you can have access to live workouts, videos, blog posts, nutrition tips and recipes and more.