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#Lockdown2: 10 things to help you get through it with a smile

Well, it’s started with a huge groan, #Lockdown2 is trending on social media and the nation is already pacing the kitchen or staring wistfully out of the window.

How are we going to get through this one, kids? Well, rather like we did #Lockdown1 by supporting each other, making the effort to connect and basically having each other’s backs. We’ve done it once, we can do it again.

The only problem is the first lockdown coincided with a heatwave which took away some of the misery. Being paid, while supping beer in your garden, wasn’t so bad. But it’s a bit different in November when Christmas expenditure and the weather add to the threat of confinement.

But let’s put on a smile, hold our heads high and get on with doing something positive. For those at a loss for things to do, here are 10 suggestions which will help the days fly to freedom day on December 2 (hopefully).

Xmas shopping

It can all be done online and you’ve probably got the time to make some presents yourself. If you’re arty, get making your own Crimbo cards, or bake some personalised goodies, like shortbread or chocolate brownies and package them up in a nice box and a big festive ribbon. People will appreciate the effort and you won’t need a second mortgage to do it.

Pic by @freestocks

Take an online course 

TV’s lady builder Sian Astley has teamed up with pro chef Claire Woodier to present online cookery courses, titled “Four Weeks To… Rock A Roast.” What’s more, readers can nominate a deserving person for a FREE place on the course. To apply on Instagram visit @cookalongcrew and tell Sian and Claire why your person deserves a free place.

It’s a chance for tentative or new home cooks to learn how to absolutely smash their Covid Christmas Day dinner. It’s a four-session course, starting on November 12, designed for those away from home for the first time, those who maybe don’t have mum or dad’s help on the big day, those who’ve never pulled together a full Christmas dinner or just someone who is feeling the effects of a long year without much human contact and fun.

Lady builder Sian Astley

It comprises, 3 x 1.5hr mid-week sessions and 1 x 3hr Sunday session, all on Zoom. It’s a hosted event where guests cook along with tutors. So get nominating!

Pic by @beckyfantham

Learn a language in 10 minutes a day

Busuu.com can teach you every language from Russian to Arabic. It offers over 1000 lessons created by expert linguists enhanced with machine learning technology like personalised study plans and speech recognition. 22 hours on Busuu is equivalent to one university semester. Memrise is another great app with thousands of naturally-voiced audio and video clips to watch, listen and learn from real locals – no computerised audio here!

Read an actual book

Yes, we know you’ve all forgotten what that feels like because the internet has made it too easy to dip in for ‘5 minute reads’. But a really good book can take you into a world of fantasy and wonderment. The Best Life Project’s book reviewer Pam Norfolk reads dozens of books in a month, she’s literally a books encyclopaedia, so catch up on some of her faves in our books section.

De-clutter!

There’s nothing more satisfying than clearing out your box room or wardrobe. Sian Pelleschi of North West de-cluttering service Sorted offers these tips for getting started.

Sian’s tips for de-cluttering

Pick an area/space that you feel would be of benefit to you in terms of mentally de-stressing.

Make sure you allow adequate time to work on that area. De-cluttering is very time-consuming and many people can become overwhelmed by the time and effort involved.

Have a ‘keep’, ‘let go’ and ‘not sure’ pile – the ‘not sure’ pile you can come back to.

Don’t dwell on items. Make a decision quickly and move on – you can always look at them again once you’ve got it all sorted.

Don’t panic. It’s going to look worse before it can look better – once you’ve got everything out and gone through it you’re on the home straight.

Sian Pelleschi, from Sorted

Start a blog

We’re in unprecedented times and people have got a lot of feelings and thoughts to get out there. Whether you’re starting a new business or just want to get your thoughts off your chest, a blog is the way forward. If you want some free tips on how to get started, website designers Bonnie and Clyde, aka Hannah and Toby Stubbs, who designed The Best Life Project, have recently set up a free advice service called Designed by You on Facebook to answer all your questions and to help get you started.

Self improvement

It can take many shapes and forms like reading Danny Greeves’ book Six Steps to Self Confidence, (read Danny’s love story here) downloading the Headspace app and practising meditation, doing an online yoga or pilates class, or reading a relationships advice article on Medium.com. Even applying a face mask and shaving your legs count as self-improvement. In lockdown, the temptation is to say I can’t be bothered because we’re not getting out or seeing many people. Be bothered for you, because you’re the most important person in your life. If you’re not firing on all cylinders you can bet it will affect all those around you.

You could even join the 28-Day Lockdown Self-Love Support Club which has been designed by qualified health coach Louise Murray to help you feel cocooned, nurtured, supported, energised and positive. Lou has enlisted the support of a team of health, fitness and wellness experts to provide FREE daily coaching sessions to help you navigate lockdown.

These wellness practitioners will share tools, tips, practices and exercise sessions you can lean in on for support. The programme will help you navigate tough emotions; stress, overwhelm, uncertainty, anger, anxiety and frustration. Each day you will feel supported with new tools to help you feel a little happier, calmer, energised, and more joyful. Vitally – it’s also an opportunity to connect with others.

The programme starts today (Thursday), but it’s never too late to start – all sessions are uploaded daily to the online Lockdown Self-Love Club library and can be accessed at anytime during the next 4 weeks. Join the Self Love Club here.

Louise Murray

Gen up on your wine and drinks knowledge

Our wine expert Janet Harrison says boxed wines are on-trend for lockdown. And there’s an added bonus, that no-one can see how much you’re drinking. Our bartender Hank Hughes-Lundy will also be guiding you through the pleasures of mixology and cocktail making over the next few months. By the end of lockdown you could be a drinks expert and hopefully you may even remember some of the knowledge you’ve gleaned.

Get sewing!

Why not try your hand at dressmaking. It’s a dying art, but not beyond anyone’s capabilities. A sewing course can cost you as little as £29 at centreofexcellence.com. You can even order fabric online at minervacrafts.com. Grab a sewing machine from Amazon and you’re away. Dungarees-a go-go! Cheap and fast fashion, here we come!

Pic by @angelabaileyy

Practise gratitude!

Yes, I know it sounds cheesy, but it really does work. Even when the going gets tough we can usually find something to make us smile, even if it’s just trying to make someone else smile. If you’ve got some extra cash, do a shop for the local food bank or drop off a small care package to someone vulnerable who is self-isolating. Send someone a bunch of flowers, bake some cookies for an elderly neighbour, call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Lockdown brought many people together, so we sure as hell can do it all over again.

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Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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