Stay home, stay safe, stay sane: How are we fending off cabin fever during lockdown?

It may feel like we’ve been at home for forty years… except it’s only been four weeks.

And, there’s no end in sight.

Last week, lockdown in the UK was extended by three weeks, and, while living in quarantine is quickly becoming our new ‘normal’, we’re also grieving for our lives that have been upended by COVID-19. 

We’re not even halfway through the year yet, and we’re already a species on edge. Not only is a global pandemic threatening our existence, but forest fires are raging across a nuclear wasteland, and the planet is still dying (but it might not die as much this year, which is a positive, at least).

Maybe I should limit my exposure to the news. 🤔

Anyway, while staying safe is relatively easy (don’t go out, wash your hands regularly, observe social distancing), staying sane is another matter entirely. When faced with the prospect of not being able to leave my house for the foreseeable future, I didn’t react too well:

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And, while working from home is an excellent way of killing time, the time when you’re not working can be tough. By nature, humans are creatures of habit, so it’s totally understandable that, as uncertainty and isolation loom over our lives and routines, we become inherently more anxious and stressed.

So, I’ve rounded up some of the best ways I’ve been managing to avoid climbing the walls, outside of working from home…

1. Bake (banana) bread

Are you even in lockdown if you haven’t made banana bread? 

According to Google Trends, searches for banana bread have gone up by 84% in the UK in the last 30 days, and 54% worldwide. And, while its rise in popularity is unprecedented, there’s no real reason for it. Just like the Brits resorted to carrot cake during WWII, banana bread is having its moment because people bought a lot of bananas before we went into lockdown. 

I too, recently succumbed to this global trend, after watching some bananas in the fruit bowl (which is conveniently situated next to my workspace) slowly deteriorate into an over-ripe mess. So, armed with my copy of Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, I made a pretty good-looking double chocolate banana loaf. 

 

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But, why are people baking more during lockdown (and not just banana bread)? 

It’s simple, really: baking is good for you. Its qualities are almost meditative, and you get cake when you’re done. 

I’ve found that baking can soothe your nerves after a tough day, and forces you to concentrate on what you’re doing (trust me, if you don’t focus on what you’re making, it will be a disaster). Plus, there’s something about the smell of freshly baked bread, cakes, or biscuits – and there’s the added bonus of getting to eat whatever you’ve made afterwards.

2. Embrace your green fingers

Gardening is another wholesome-but-twee hobby that I’ve found myself embracing throughout the past few weeks. Sure, in years gone by, I’ve grown tomatoes and cucumbers, but this year, during lockdown? I’m trying to cultivate everything. 

Like baking, gardening is another topic experiencing a ‘quarenaissance’ of sorts. According to Google Trends, searches for gardening-related terms are up nearly 40% in the UK, when compared to this time last year. 

Now that spring is here, and the sun is shining, many of us are turning to our gardens when we can’t go outside, and discovering why our grandparents are such big fans of cultivating seedlings and keeping the lawn tidy. 

Gardening is a massive morale booster. In fact, last year, doctors started prescribing gardening for those suffering from anxiety and depression, instead of medication. Choosing to spend just two hours a week ‘in nature’ (like in your back garden) can massively boost your health and wellbeing. And, with as much time on your hands as you have now, you really have no excuse.

3. Exercise is key

The benefits of regular exercise have been well-documented for years. Any type of physical activity is good for you, and the more you do, the better it is! 

And, while most of us thought that being at home would allow us to exercise more, the reality is the complete opposite – especially when you’re surrounded by temptations (like the TV and fridge), and the most stretching you’ve done is to retrieve the TV remote. 

Working remotely has presented many brands and individuals with a unique opportunity to tap into the keep fit market, and some have witnessed overwhelming success. There are now hundreds of free home exercise resources that can be found with a quick Google search. Plus, The Body Coach himself, Joe Wicks, is determined to keep the nation fit, with his 9am PE lessons raking in more than a million watchers every day.

An ode to self-care 

During this crisis, it’s important to remember that pandemics aren’t just a physical health issue, and we’re all going to be worried by the impact that Coronavirus is going to have on our lives for the foreseeable future. Taking care of your mental wellbeing is paramount, and however you do it – whether that be through baking, gardening, exercising, or knitting – will benefit you greatly in the long run.

In the meantime, stay home, and stay safe. Hopefully, this will all be over soon.

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