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How to Cope with Lockdown

There is very little that is normal about our present situation. We have a new front line of workers who never expected to be emergency providers, people laid off and furloughed from previously steady jobs, and a whole host of people who suddenly find themselves working from home.

If you’re not commuting, not travelling from A to B (and to C, and then to D etc), and unable to go out in the evenings and weekend to do very much, you’re probably finding you have a lot of extra time on your hands. Though it is often phrased as “working from home”, in reality you’re stuck at home, trying to work. 

In the hope that it might be helpful, we have put together a guide to using your new-found, perhaps even unwanted free time effectively, and of how best to navigate these new and untested waters.

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Learn a new skill or pursue a new hobby

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If you’ve had a burning desire to learn to do something you have always wanted to, then now is surely the time. Learn a language, learn an instrument, learn how to code, read about a subject you’re interested in. There are many apps and online materials to help you in this, you don’t have to do it all yourself just because you’re trapped inside. You may find that your mind craves the stimulation, and that progress is quicker than you thought.

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Stop putting off what you’ve been putting off!

We all do it, rank things in order of importance, procrastinate, stress about things that need doing but struggle to get the motivation to actually do them. If you suddenly have more hours than you bargained for, time to get some of those tasks crossed off - put up that shelf, clear out that wardrobe, rearrange that room. These things almost never take as much time or energy as you think they will. 

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Take time to get some exercise, go outdoors 

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Even if you’re not normally a fitness fanatic, even gentle exercise can do wonders for you. Most of us get plenty of accidental exercise during the day, whether that be at work or simply doing the shopping. Make sure to replace this with some form of deliberate exercise. If you’re one of those who enjoys distance running or physical challenges, good for you, but a brisk walk is more than enough to keep your blood pumping and your head clear. 

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Avoid self-punishing if you don’t hit your goals

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Motivating yourself is not the same as beating yourself up if you fail to achieve something, or hit some impractical and imaginary finish line. Speak kindly to yourself, remind yourself of the good things you have done, and how difficult and unprecedented this experience actually is. It’s hard enough without acting as your own executioner.

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Take pleasure in the little things

It can be hard to know what to do with free time. We all crave it when we don’t have it, but presented with unlimited free time with no break is a little intimidating for most. Without the constant rhythm of work/rest/work/rest, days can bleed, attention can drift, and it can be a lot tougher psychologically than anyone might have appreciated. So remember to enjoy small pleasures, and allow yourself to indulge occasionally, you’re only human.

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Make plans for the future, even vague ones 

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Imagine what life will be like after this, how you can move forward. Think about the things you enjoy doing, and how they will be possible once again. Travel, meeting friends or eating out - all of these are lovely daydreams to have whilst you deal with the here and now. And you can dream as big or small as you want, whether it be a trip to the Seychelles, or a simple cappuccino. 

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Don’t feel bad if you can only focus on yourself

Some people are wonderful at being in the support role. For many of us, this is simply not as easy. It’s a cliche, but it’s important to look after yourself first and foremost, so that you can look after the people who need you most. This is an act of love, not a selfish one, and the peace of mind can be a benefit to everyone around you in one way or another.

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Don’t be afraid to reach out to people

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 If you have a friend, work colleague or family member that you are thinking of or wondering about, don’t be afraid of getting in touch with them. It’s very possible they’re more available than you think, and much more willing to talk than they might have been a few months ago. Chances are they may be experiencing exactly what you are. 

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Don’t be too hard on yourself

You’re trying. We all are. Knowing that there are people in worse situations should not be used as a stick to beat yourself with. Make sure to take, really take, the time and space you need in the day to look after yourself as best you can.If the only thing you have energy for is the bare essentials, don’t worry. Comparison is as ever the thief of joy, and we are all allowed to deal with this mess differently.

The situation is ever evolving, and we’re probably learning daily how best to cope. There is no correct way to get through everything, you can only do what you think is best. Be kind to yourself, and do the best you can.

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