Keeping occupied while staying at home

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Health Assured team

17 March 2021

We may be looking forward to sunnier days, and there’s a roadmap to normality ahead—but we’re still living with a lot of restrictions, at time of writing.  

People have been locked down, in one form or another, for a year now. Boredom is a terrible affliction, and the thought of being able to see friends and family again—just not quite yet—could make the next few weeks and months incredibly difficult for many. 

Keeping yourself and others occupied and busy in lockdown, then, is as vital as ever. Here are a few tips: 

Stay active 

Maybe easier said than done, depending on space, but moving about helps. Make sure you’re not sitting at the same place for hours and hours on end. Especially if, like many right now, you’re working from home. Set reminders and timers to tell you to get up occasionally (and wash your hands. That’s important.) 

If you’ve never tried running before, now is the perfect time to start. Don’t slam straight into a marathon. But a couch to 5K? You can use this time to get a bit fitter, while keeping your mind healthy too.

Learn something new 

Want to learn to code? To cook? To understand complex modal logic? Use this downtime. There are countless online resources like Udemy, Code Academy, even the arXiv preprint server. And right now, lots of these resources that charge are offering heavily discounted or even free courses. 

Expand your sphere 

It might seem a little counterintuitive to use isolation to make friends, but you can do it. Social networks are as busy as ever—use them to find a local group offering support and conversation online during this lockdown. 

Games are a brilliant way to stay social, too. You don’t have to take out a World of Warcraft subscription—there are plenty of groups of people playing board games via webcam. Search your social networks for people nearby, and get playing. 

If you’re an employer, it’s possible that you’ve had workers of furlough for a year, now. Keep offering support, and make sure they’re looking forward to getting back: 

Recommend routine 

The problem with lockdown is the complete disruption of routines. Work, childcare, shopping—everything is affected, and everything has changed. This can lead to feeling a bit directionless and at a loose end, trying to find ways to stave off the creeping boredom. 

If people are working from home—or even furloughed— advise them to work out a plan and structure their time. Get up at the same time each day, take lunch and breaks at the same time each day. Establish that routine as a habit. 

Fight boredom whenever it arises 

A lot of the negativity of lockdown comes from getting bored and frustrated. The empty time ahead can seem a bit daunting. 

Establishing routines, as outlined above, helps. But while that’s a reactive way to stay mentally healthy. A proactive way is to find things to do, things that’ll melt the time away and keep people occupied. 

Start some healthy competition in your staff—step counters, or language lessons using a free app like Duolingo. The important part is to make sure their minds are kept whirring away. 

Use the resources available 

Now is the perfect time to embrace an employee assistance programme. When uncertainty is in the air, the friendly, actionable, confidential counselling and advice are just what people need. An EAP reduces stress and anxiety, and helps employees live healthier, happier lives. 

Make sure to communicate to employees about your EAP—and if you don’t yet have one, make enquiries as soon as possible. 

Reach out 

It’s not just employees who may struggle—you yourself could be feeling the worry. 

Talk to friends and family as often as possible, via the phone, online and video call. Maybe this is a good time to sit and write a letter? Letters are sent less and less, but they can mean a lot when isolated. 

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