Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Hannah Hutchings shares her thoughts and ideas on how to make lockdown more creative and colourful
At last, there are enough hours, minutes and seconds, in the the day. Time to read that book, paint the picture, write that article (ironically), garden, bake or perhaps simply to ground ourselves in the knowledge that our everyday problems seem small, in comparison to the bigger, COVID-19 pandemic picture.
For me, the importance of connecting with my friends and family, being kind and staying healthy, are clearly the most significant.
In the past three weeks I have seen some extraordinary acts of kindness in my local community.
It’s been essential for me to find some sort of routine, as I have felt a bit lost at times, with the days passing in a blur, one indistinguishable from the next.
Here are some ideas that might help shape your day.
Do something for yourself and your mind
There’s no doubt in my mind, that there is an extra strain on our mental wellbeing during this crisis. So taking time to do activities to calm yourself, is super important. There are loads of amazing yoga and meditation videos on YouTube, which I have found very useful.
Yoga with Adriene has a huge following and there are many videos for all abilities.
These are difficult times for everyone and hope comes in a variety of shapes and forms. Reconnecting with yourself spiritually, may be truly helpful.
Breathing exercises are a simple way of centring yourself, especially when you’re feeling worried. The 4-7-8 relaxing breathing technique can be used to reduce anxiety. This is breathing in for four seconds, holding for seven seconds and exhaling for eight seconds.
It helps me to break up the day by reading short positive articles, doing crosswords, and currently I’m reading an inspiring book, BOSH! : ‘How to live vegan, save the planet and feel amazing’.
I have found it tough at times to stay active whilst staying indoors for so much of the day.
It’s helped me to exercise with my flatmates. We have lovely times and a lot of laughs in our living room. We have followed group workouts from Blogilates and Whitney Simmons.
Listen and connect with the people you live with
Taking time to listen and communicate clearly with those you live with is crucial, especially being together every day for so many hours.
It is easy to get frustrated with family and friends, when you’re living in such close proximity, with little escape. So I highly recommend exploring how you are feeling. It’s a great way to stay positive and connected with each other.
Check out my article about active listening, which is particularly relevant at the moment.
Fun and creative
Sometimes being light hearted is important, even when what’s going on around us is so serious.
My friends and I have remained in our student house, and we have tried to do some silly activities to pass the time.
We all dressed up one night in formal clothes; dresses and suits, to go downstairs for the evening and it was so much fun. We also had a day festival in our garden, and our neighbours joined in, in their gardens. We played music and ate tasty snacks.
Painting, drawing and crafts are relaxing and therapeutic, particularly with children or younger siblings. I have seen loads of people online refashioning old clothes, transforming them into something new. My favourite account for this is threadsforapenny.
Sometimes a clean house or room creates a clear mind, and doing small tasks, such as washing, cleaning or gardening, can make you feel productive.
Use this opportunity to sort out your clothes, fix things and organise your home. Small tasks every day can provide a sense of achievement, and help keep us motivated.
There are many people within our communities who are struggling; looking out for them at this time is vital. We can all get involved and be supportive. If you have an elderly, or vulnerable neighbour, why not see if there’s any shopping you can do for them. Check in with friends and family, and be emotionally supportive, by listening to how they’re feeling and coping.
A lot of communities have set up Mutual Aid groups on Facebook and other platforms. I have seen many acts of kindness, where people are helping with anything they can, in their local area, such as shopping or dog walking.
There are so many singers and bands offering live streams to online gigs, which is a great way to keep interacting and supporting musicians, during these restricted times. Theatres are offering similar services and are streaming plays and productions. I enjoy this theatre stream.
Keeping in contact
Group calls using Zoom or Houseparty are a really easy way to check in with others.
There are many fun ideas for how people can stay in touch with distant friends and family.
Group games or quizzes are entertaining, whether online virtual games, or making up quizzes for your friends about music or silly facts.
Try something new
This could be a great time to try something new. Learn to play a musical instrument, sew or paint or learn a new language. All of which could increase your skill-set and potentially lead to a more colourful future.
Let’s also remember we are living through a pandemic, of global proportions, and everybody’s mental wellbeing is compromised. The constant stream of media has transformed our perception of what is ‘normal’. This landscape we find ourselves in, is anything but normal.
If the most you can manage at this stage, is to watch countless Netflix programmes, then that is perfectly okay as well. We all take time to adapt to new ways of passing the time!
I feel privileged to be surrounded by such caring friends and family. We are healthy and safe, for now at least. But, I know there are many people who are struggling. For coronavirus advice and mental health support check out:
Exposure is looking for young people’s testimonies of how they are getting through the coronavirus crisis. Please get in touch to share your experiences and advice.
Hannah grew up in Barnet and went to East Barnet School. She travelled to Asia and South America in her gap year. Over the past few years she has taken part in various projects with Exposure which has improved her communication skills. Hannah is currently at Sussex university studying Law with Criminology.