It was no surprise last week when the UK followed suit of many European countries entering a period of lockdown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this was a necessary measure to take, the sudden change in lifestyle can put a strain on both your physical and mental health. Here at 2C, we understand that when you’re stuck indoors all day, with little else to focus on apart from work or what’s for dinner, life can seem a little grey at sea. That is why now, more than ever before, self-care needs to be something we practise every day, rather just be a buzz word we throw around. To give you a little inspiration, we did a quick whip round the 2C group chat to find out how the team are practising self-care to create a positive headspace during this challenging time. Here’s a list of some of ideas that were shared:

Keep a routine. Despite being unable to go to work, or socialise with your friends, keeping a routine can be crucial in giving your day purpose. It can become all too easy to sit around in your PJ’s all-day watching Netflix. However, you mustn’t give in to temptation. Get up, get dressed and be productive! This brings us nicely onto point 2).

Learn a new, or practise an existing, skill. Whether it be baking, drawing, painting or taking up the guitar. Invest time in yourself, and your extra-curricular skills outside of work. There are so many digital resources out there that can aid you in doing this: Duo Lingo (languages), Google Garage (online marketing courses) and YouTube channel Drawing & Painting (online art classes). Get creative! Who knows, maybe you’ll come out of this the next Picasso or a modern-day Shakespeare?

Read. There is no better time than the present to finally crack on with your ever-expanding reading list. Give your local bookshop a call, are they still delivering? If you’re based in Bristol, Storysmith Books have re-designed their website so that you can place a digital order. Be it fictional or non-fictional, time flies by when your nose is stuck in a good book!

Play Games. Whether it’s card games, board games, puzzles, crosswords or Sudoku – have fun and don’t forget to engage the brain!

Exercise. There are some great ways both on and offline to help keep your mind and body fit and healthy during the lockdown period. It is a well-known fact that exercise helps to release chemicals (called endorphins) in the body which trigger a positive feeling. Our exercise recommendations include:

  • Home workouts – kick-start your day with Joe Wicks’ daily P.E. lessons on YouTube, or workout with Cassey from Blogilates to help stay in shape this Spring.
  • YogaHotPod stream daily donation (free – £8) based classes, as well as memberships to pre-recorded classes that help to engage the core, stretch and provide some much-needed you time.
  • Dance – keep your Friday nights alive by creating your very own disco in your living room.
  • Skating – be it roller or boarding, this is the perfect time to become the Sk8er girl you always wanted to be – you might even catch Sara longboarding by Ashton Court!
  • Walk, run or cycle – get to know your local green spaces on your daily one permitted outdoor exercise. Apps such as Strava can also help to track your performance.

Listen to music or a podcast. Spotify is my current vice, with a depth of undiscovered music and podcasts to explore. My rotation this week consists of Mac Miller, Steve Lacy, and of course, Lizzo. Radio 1 is also providing some quality, light-hearted content which is perfect to help keep your spirits high. And 2C’s podcast list? Off Menu by Ed Gamble and James Acaster if you’re looking for some foodie tips and a giggle, How to Fail by Elizabeth Day is a favourite of Sara’s (the latest episode ft. Mo Gowdat discusses the COVID-19 pandemic with a refreshing and rational perspective offering reassurance) and Radio 4’s Beyond Today is great in answering the questions you have always wanted to ask – happy listening!

Volunteer. It can become easy to feel powerless in times like this, however, there are many ways in which you can help! By signing-up to Can Do Bristol or Care Calls, you are able to contact those who are feeling lonely or vulnerable and offer your services, whether that be a grocery shop or quite simply, a chat. You can also print off this postcard to offer a helping hand to your neighbours. Times like this really help to highlight the importance of community.

Clean/Garden. Give your spice draw a good clean, sort through that junk cupboard that you’ve been meaning to for years and wipe down those grubby skirting boards your mum nags you to do every time she pops round. There’s no time like the present to put those rubber gloves on and become a domesticated god(ess)! Whilst you’re at it, why not go outside and do a bit of gardening. It’s a great way to get some fresh air and Vitamin D, and take a break from your screen. You can even try to grow your own fruit and veg or lay down that patio decking ready for those summer BBQs. Either way, having a project to focus your attention on and something to look forward to can do wonders for your mental health during this tricky time.

Watch films, catch-up on TV series or even “go” to the theatre. There are so many streaming services out there: Netflix, Sky, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, 40D. Even National Theatre Live and Andrew Lloyd Webber are offering donation-based streams of plays and musicals. I watched ‘One Man, Two Govnors’ on Thursday and it really did create that theatre atmosphere that so many of us miss – I even treated myself to some interval ice cream!

Eat good food. Although the range of food available is limited due to stockpiling, it’s the perfect opportunity to experiment! Blow the dust off your old cook books, or have a browse on BBC GoodFood and try to cook something new each day. Jamie Oliver is also running a cooking show called Keep Cooking and Carry On, which provides fuss-free recipes that use ingredients most of us have hiding at the back of our cupboard! Not only will your friends be impressed with the pictures you will inevitably share of your creations, it will also help to give your day some much needed routine.

Limit news time. This one is absolutely crucial, and one we’re taking very seriously here at 2C. It is easy to become all-consumed by our phones and TVs, with the subject of COVID-19 dominating both the news and social media. Although it is important to be informed, endlessly refreshing your phone for updates isn’t necessary and can have a detrimental impact on your mental health. Take a break. Breathe. And look for the positives in the news too (I promise you they’re out there, you just have to look a little harder!).That is why we recommend subscribing to the Good News Network or following The Happy Newspaper, as both channels are specifically dedicated to featuring stories that help to boost morale and help find that silver lining. For example, did you know that a UK man has become the second person cured from HIV after 30 months virus free?! Incredible!

Stay connected. In this digital-age, socialising virtually has never been so easy! Check-in with old friends, FaceTime your family members and revive your group chats. There are so many free apps out there to help stay connected, such as Houseparty or WhatsApp (group video calling), Words with Friends (basically online Scrabble) or Stop (another word-based game). You can even attend a weekly pub quiz by streaming a donation-based one from Gooses Quizzes or creating your own. Loneliness is one of the biggest impacts that COVID-19 will have, and it is one you can help to limit from your sofa with a wine in hand.

Do nothing. Although it is good to keep busy, is also just as okay and important to take a step back and use this time to wind down and relax. These are not normal times. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not learning a new language, or writing the next great novel. Proactivity isn’t always the answer. As Matt Haig recently posted on his Instagram “Allow yourself to just exist”.

One last thing from the 2C team: remember that this is only temporary. Stay at home and look after yourself, self-care has never been more important! The sooner we adhere to self-isolating and social distancing, the sooner it will all be over with. Take this time to work on and look after yourself. And when the threat has passed, we will celebrate, rejoice and heal. In the meantime, stay at home, appreciate this time and always remember to think of the bigger picture.