10 easy ways to take care of your mental and physical health during lockdown

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The country is now in its third national lockdown, which although unprecedented, this has enabled people to find new routines and adapt to spending the majority of their day under one roof. 

However, with working from home and homeschooling turning your sitting room into an office and a classroom, you might be finding it difficult to disconnect. 

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Nearly 90 percent of children and young people have felt isolated at some point during the pandemic, while the number of adults feeling lonely has almost doubled. 

Whether you’re surrounded by family or spending most of your time alone, feeling lonely can affect everyone to some degree. 

Therefore, we have compiled a list of ideas to help you better manage your wellbeing - from activities to keep you busy to tips on how to manage your work-life balance. 

Learn to cook your favourite cuisine 

You might not be able to travel to your favourite country or even visit your favourite local restaurant, but there is nothing to stop you rustling up some pasta, ramen or tex-mex at home. 

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While stuck at home, you might find yourself resorting to the same old shepherd's pie and lasagne.

The Scotsman food and drink website has a plethora of tasty meals, delicious bakes and wine reviews to give you all the inspiration you need. 

If you live alone, why not pack some of your dinner up and enjoy it for lunch the next day? 

Or you could set up a Come Dine with Me Zoom party with friends or flatmates to share your new culinary talent and keep you motivated. 

Take a new walking route

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Bored of walking the same loop from your front door every day? There are plenty of other routes you can take while remaining within your local authority. 

If you live in a rural countryside area, then this might prove easier, but there is no reason why living in the city should hold you back. 

With work from home part of the government’s strategy to drive down infection rates, cities are now quieter than ever and you may see a new side to it without the usual hustle and bustle. 

You could even draw up a list of birds, plants and bugs and tick them off as and when you spot them. 

Read or listen to a new book each week 

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Reading has been proven to put our minds in a state similar to meditation,allowing us to switch off to the stressors around us. 

Rather than reading work-related documents or books for studying if you are a student, turn to something which is not connected to your everyday life and enjoy a fictional novel, the history of your favourite country or an interesting biography. 

If you have kids, read to them as a way to calm them down after a long day of being confined to the house and garden. If you find it difficult to read, why not download Audible and listen to someone else reading for you. 

Learn a new language

Okay, so this one might not be for everyone. But if you find cooking or reading stressful or uninteresting, why not learn a new language to use on your next holiday? 

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Learning a new language is exciting, challenging,  and may even open the door to new career opportunities. 

Apps such as Duolingo or Babbel have programmes for beginners, intermediates and experts. They also teach you useful phrases and context so you can learn to communicate, rather than just reciting words. 

Meditate or practice yoga 

Studies carried out at Johns Hopkins University have suggested that meditation can relax the brain and reduce stress, anxiety and depression. 

The use of meditation and yoga could also support you in other ways - helping you to learn and memorise information more effectively. 

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There are a number of ways you can engage in yoga and meditation, from mindfulness to hot yoga and bedtime meditation sessions. 

Apps such as Headspace are free to download and easy to use. For yoga beginners, Youtube classes are a great place to start and many yoga instructors now perform daily sessions on Zoom. 

Listen to podcasts 

Podcasts can take your mind off of the anxieties of everyday life in the pandemic, and there are plenty that offer tips on how  to take care of your mental and physical wellbeing. 

The best ranked mental health podcasts include Bryony Gordon’s Mad World, The Mental Illness Happy Hour, The Happiness Lab and Checking In. 

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If you would rather listen to something a little more lighthearted or distracting - there are over 500,000 podcasts on Apple and Spotify

These range from topics from cooking to comedy, politics to sports and the arts to celebrities. 

Schedule a weekly call with a friend or family member

This one may be something you are already familiar with, but it could also fall by the wayside when you are feeling down or demotivated. 

It can be difficult to speak to friends and family when you long for the day when you can give them a warm hug or go down the pub for a pint. But, talking has proven to have therapeutic effects on your thought processes and ability to cope. 

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Making a conscious effort to schedule a call or Zoom chat with your loved ones can benefit you and them, especially if either of you live alone. 

It can also act as a time to think over and talk about any arguments of bugbears you might have developed with those in your household and therefore, act as a mediator to calm situations at home. 

For anyone who does not feel they can confide in a friend or family member, there are a number of charities who provide free safe spaces to talk to someone in a confidential manner. 

Look into your ancestry 

A fun way to learn new things about yourself, as a family or on your own, is to find out where you come from and who you could be related to. 

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Family trees and history can lead to many unexpected discoveries and you can take as long as you like and dig as deep as records allow. 

Ancestry and FindMyPast are legitimate and safe ways to learn more about your family tree - though fees do apply.  

Try new forms of exercise 

The very nature of lockdown could make it difficult to keep going with your normal exercise regime - however, you could try new ways to keep active. 

Though gyms are closed and team sports are currently not permitted, there is nothing to stop you buying resistance bands to workout at home, or dance around the living room with your partner or kids for a fun and entertaining way to get your heart pumping. 

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If you are a beginner to exercise or just need a new way to shake things up, The Bodycoach has relaunched his online PE lessons which are free via his Youtube channel and take place Monday-Friday at 9am. 

Educate yourself

Many people have found themselves furloughed or out of work due to the impact of lockdown on businesses and the economy. 

Although this will have been an unprecedented blow to your finances and you may have found yourself losing track of the days, you could reinvest your time in learning a new skill or returning to your studies. 

Educating yourself will allow you to venture down new career paths and may instill confidence in you, which you have been lacking since living at home and not engaging with colleagues. 

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The Open University allows you to work from home and many institutions have found new ways to allow students to engage in remote learning. 

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