The first lockdown was new & different, having a feeling of the 'Blitz Spirit' where we all pulled together & cracked on. Lockdown 2.0 had a completely different feel to it, as we all knew it would be short & sharp with Christmas just around the corner - we knew we could do this.
'Lockdown - The Return' feels different. I don't know if it's because we're in the depths of winter. Is it because the schools are closed & many parents feel like they are drowning under the weight of being a teacher, as well as a parent & a breadwinner?
Whatever it is, we all need to take care of ourselves, as well as, & in order to, take care of our loved ones. We've blogged before about the importance of mental health to physical health & vice-versa. Listening to Chris Evans on Virgin Radio this morning, there was a letter from a school to parents, flipping the relationship between school & parents on its head, in a helpful & supportive way, urging them to 'give themselves a break over homeschooling hell'.
Here are a few things that you can do to if you need some inspiration on how to give yourself a break (If you're anything like me, I'm fast running out of 'jobs around the house', books to read, box sets to watch & 'things to do before I'm 50' - Even Mrs N is running out of jobs for me to do). So here goes:
Draw your mum/partner/pet
If you live with someone else, draw each other. If you have a pet, draw that.
Play online chess
Every time you’re tempted to go on social media (which can be bad for your mental health if you're scrolling for scrolling's sake), go on chess.com instead and play a 10-minute game with a stranger. You can meet people around the world and then be beaten by them.
Film spring coming into bloom
Here is something that works well for spring. On your lockdown stroll, take a daily photo of the same tree, to curate a time-lapse image-succession of the tree coming into leaf. You can then use an editing app to create a video.
Run off the beaten track
Sick of jogging along the same streets near home, or weaving in and out of exercisers at the park? Get some trail-running shoes with treads made to handle mud. For about £30, you can escape the asphalt for rain-sodden grass and puddle-filled woods. Paths? You don’t need no stinking paths.
Read Shakespeare out loud
Try a Shakespeare sonnet each day, read aloud. There are 182 in total: the 154 published together in 1609, plus sonnets taken from the plays. It can be hard going: some difficult, some impenetrable, some sublime.
Draw a cartoon character/superhero
Pick a current one (we'll let you have DC as well) or make up your own one (even more fun!)
Do the (very) small tasks
Dedicate yourself to unsubscribing from all the email lists that you have signed up to that no longer fulfil your needs or that signed you up without a by-your-leave. You can also find, flatten and fold every carrier bag in the house and relocate them to one easy-to-access spot, that they may one day fulfil their porting destiny (Mrs N has a special way to fold a 'bag for life' into a neat triangle)
Cook a recipe on the back of a random tin
Make the classic recipes hiding in plain sight on the boxes and tins in your food cupboards: the fudge on the condensed milk can; the marshmallow squares on the box of Rice Krispies.
Make beats on your laptop
Pass the time by tinkering around with basic music production software and a keyboard, learning to make music for myself.
Watch Bez become the new Joe Wicks
Last lockdown, we all joined in with Joe. This lockdown Bez has set up a YouTube fitness channel so everyone can watch and laugh, or join in. It’s called Get Buzzin’ With Bez.
Look up at night
I try always to look at the moon and stars before I go to bed – clouds permitting, of course. Even just a few seconds of focusing outwards lifts my mood. Do it somewhere dark & you can see stars & planets you've never noticed before.
Train your kids to be massage therapists
This lockdown, train your kids to walk on your back. Small children are the perfect size to deal with the tension in the shoulders, while older can do the lower back.
Try a poem a day
Drown out the cacophony and fill any huge, aimless spaces, read poetry.
Discover history YouTube
Watch YouTube videos to learn about historical events and keep boredom at bay. Might help you with that history project they've been set!
Have an Elton John/George Michael/*Insert favourite artist here* power half-hour
As soon as you turn off your work computer, get yourself your beverage of choice and blast out a string of his hits while dancing around your living room.
Document the species on your daily walk
Spot a species in the gardens, fields and hedgerows that you've never noticed in my neighbourhood before. It might be completely suburban – a monkey puzzle tree in a garden – or an exotic visitor, like the flock of fieldfares. There is always something unexpected to discover. When you can’t identify something, take its photo and seek help from friends or social media.
Keep a diary/journal
Keeping a diary is one way to beat boredom & can help you to rationalise the thoughts & feelings you may be experiencing an/or struggling with.
Try a Stephen Fry audiobook
Audiobooks allow you to mentally project out of a lockdown living room into adventure. Liquid honey dripping into your ears
Play a (rowdy) card game
Play one of your favourite childhood card games: racing demon, snap, find the lady, etc.
Travel the world through cinema
Watch a film from a different country each week, going through the alphabet. If you do it with friends, you can chat about the films on Zoom afterwards.
Take a pen and paper – and write
Watch a film. Read a novella. Get a notebook and a pen, go offline for an hour and write down three memories. Then three extended thoughts.
Make friends with Alexa
Use her (in the nicest sense) to play you classic albums that you've never listened to.
Watch the sunrise
Get up early in the mornings to watch the sunrise – even in the winter, it’s amazing. It’s free, accessible and a great way to start the day. Every day looks different and it’s a good way to break the routine of lockdown life.
(Inspired by a Guardian Article)