Welcome to lockdown life, where everything is virtual, and where you have an abundance of free time you didn’t have before.
It is easy to let the feeling of being trapped in your home, with only your household to spend time with, get you down. Or, to let the constant negative news, a failing economy, and sad stories feed your anxiety.
Despite all the negativity, now is a great opportunity to focus on yourself. There are mountains of new and exciting virtual and at-home activities to keep you occupied.
Indulge in some culture
Many art galleries, museums, and theatres are now offering free tours and shows. This allows you to tick off plenty of cultural hotspots from your list, without ever having to move from your sofa.
- Explore the Tate
While the main exhibition is free all year round, there is often a charge for the blockbuster shows, which also typically have long queues. During lockdown, you have the amazing opportunity to virtually explore these exhibitions for free.
Whether you’re a die-hard opera fan or just looking to cross an opera off your bucket list, the opera is the perfect escapism. Many opera houses, like the Met, are now offering virtual performances.
If you are craving some inspiration, famous art galleries around the world are now streaming virtual tours. This means you can spend your day hopping from gallery to gallery, from Florence to New York, and Paris.
- Indulge in virtual theatre performances
West End theatres are streaming performances online to allow viewers to experience free theatre shows from home. From Shakespeare to Phantom of the Opera, there is plenty to see.
Expand your horizons
"A caterpillar grows wings in a season of isolation."
For many, the lockdown has given the gift of time. This may be a couple of extra hours that would usually be spent commuting, or it may be the entire working day. This time can be used productively to achieve your personal development goals. Whether your goals are to learn a language, complete a short writing course, or earn a certificate in psychology, now is the ideal time to start.
If your finances have been hit, you will be happy to hear that the Open University is offering free courses. These courses range from beginners to advanced and cover almost every topic under the sun, including an Introduction to Child Psychology, Making Sense of Ourselves, and Speeches.
- Learn a language
Learning a language can be a great way to keep your mind sharp, and knowing an additional language is certainly a useful skill to acquire. There are many apps and online tools to help you learn a language. For example, Babbel can help you to learn several popular languages, with subscriptions starting at just £4.75 a month. Duolingo is a similar service.
- Spark your curiosity with Ted talks
Ted talks discuss all the weird and wonderful mainstream and abstract topics. Forget watching cat videos on YouTube and explore the multitude of topics presented and debated by experts.
Enhance your wellbeing
Not being able to see friends and family and do some of the things you love might be getting you down. It is important to keep your spirits high and focus on improving your wellbeing.
Exercise is not only great for your physical health; it can enhance your mental health too. The release of endorphins when you exercise can reduce anxiety, relieve tension and stress, and boost energy levels. Exercise is, therefore, a great and natural way to boost your mood and wellbeing.
- Online workouts
Of course, you can jump on your bike, or go for a walk or a run in your daily allotted session of outdoor exercise. However, you can also exercise virtually from your home or garden. Many fitness influencers, instructors, and brands are now offering workout tutorials online. If your goal is to improve your health and fitness, then lockdown may be the perfect opportunity to make this happen.
7 Days of Sweat by Joe Wicks – Fitness influencer, Joe Wicks, offers free YouTube workouts. His 7-day sweat challenge includes one 20-minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout every day for a week.
NHS workouts- the NHS have produced a series of 10-minute workouts for beginners.
F45 – F45 have turned their usual training classes virtual. They now offer live workouts with personal trainers on their Facebook group. In addition, they offer Q&As with personal trainers, family-friendly workouts, and three live Zoom classes per day. This package costs £20. However, you can enjoy the Instagram live workout for free.
Yoga is an effective way of alleviating stress and relieving aches and pains. Whether you are slumped on your desk working from home or feeling anxious, yoga may just be the answer.
Here are some great yoga classes you can take part in:
Yoga Studio app – This app is great for beginners to Yoga. Learn a variety of poses and routines from yoga experts and even create your own routine.
Corepower Yoga – Corepower is now offering free 30-60-minute yoga sessions and guides to meditation. If that's not enough, you can try their subscription service, which gives members access to 250+ yoga sessions.
Yoga with Adriene – This YouTube channel is filled with yoga sessions for a variety of moods and purposes, including bedtime yoga, yoga for anxiety, and yoga for weight loss.
Feeling low? Scientists from across the globe have found that cooking can help boost your mood and improve your overall wellbeing. You can find and follow cooking demonstrations on many websites, apps, YouTube videos, and Instagram videos. Or, there is always the good old-fashioned recipe book.
Gordon Ramsay's masterclasses – Learn how to cook from expert celebrity chefs. Courses are £85.
Borough Market live stream cookery demos - Borough Market is streaming live online cookery classes to help people get inspired in the kitchen. The demos will be taught by chefs live on Borough Market’s Instagram.
Mindful Chef- This subscription service makes cooking great food easy. Choose your meals, then receive all the ingredients and the recipes you need in one convenient box.
Taking things one day at a time
For some of you, this time may be extremely difficult. If just getting out of bed is a challenge, then don’t be hard on yourself. Do what you can and go at your own pace.
Staying connected with friends and family may help you feel less lonely and more connected to the outside world. Many platforms allow you to have video calls with loved ones, including Zoom, Skype, and Facetime.
If you are suffering from extreme low moods or anxiety, the Mind Charity suggests, "For support with grief, anxiety, or mental well-being, you can call or text an organisation like the Samaritans, or you can access therapy online with a trained therapist.”