For all our best wishes and resolution-making on New Year’s Eve, 2020 isn’t really turning out like we’d planned, is it?

However, the small matter of a national lockdown shouldn’t deter us from enjoying life, being creative and having a good time. After all, home is where the heart is, isn’t it? Moreover, finding ways to positively channel our energy is good for our mental health and, therefore, our overall well-being. In times like this, we need all we can get of both.

So, what can we do to help make the Coronavirus-induced quarantine a little more enjoyable, and how can we use all of the extra time on our hands productively?

Me Time and The Importance of Happiness

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe,

deserve your love and affection.”

Buddha

Switching off from the pressures of daily life and finding a way to reset is so important for our mental health and well-being. It’s important for our bodies too. Studies have repeatedly shown the connection between mind and body: when one is in good health, the other naturally follows (1).

In the first of our series of how to make the most of, or just withstand, the lockdown, we look at some ways we can look after ourselves and slow down a little.

Reconnect With Your Inner Child

Reconnect with your inner child

George Bernard Shaw once remarked that “we don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing”; an observation that is remarkably difficult to disagree with.

Now seems like the ideal moment to seize the opportunity to press pause on getting older...

So, why not get out the board games, make up some silly competitions or unearth that box of lego hiding away in the corner of the attic?

If you have children, or younger siblings, with whom you can play with then it’s a beautiful way to make memories. If you don’t, well, who said you needed to?

Teach Your Old Dog a New Trick

Teach your dog a new skill

Dogs are man’s (and woman’s) best friend. Ask any dog owner and they’ll tell you it’s true. What is not true, however, is that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. All you’ll need is love, patience and a bag full of delicious doggy treats.

History, and experience, tells us that old habits will take longer to unlearn than news ones are to learn. It’s the same case for humans.

Here’s a mini blueprint you can follow:

  1. Build trust and friendship if you have recently adopted a new dog
  2. Bond and get to know each other
  3. Understand their limits
  4. Try to keep training sessions brief
  5. Remember that dogs love positive reinforcement
  6. Begin with equal measures of treats and praise. Over time, reduce treats and increase praise
  7. One trick/skill at a time
  8. Use new environments (rooms, the garden, etc.) to help your dog learn
  9. Be consistent with frequency
  10. Be patient! It can take up to 4 weeks for an older dog to learn new tricks

With time on your hands why not have fun seeing what the canine member(s) of your family can do. Sit? Roll over? Paw? A full on obstacle course?

Did you know that MedicAlert offers pet tags for assistance animals and your favourite furry friends, that complement and point towards your own medical ID jewellery?

Read

Spend your time reading

Studies show that those who read for pleasure experience noticeable improvements in emotional wellbeing. There is also a link to increased positive social consequences including volunteering, donating and looking out for neighbours (2).

What’s more, at the very least, reading will help develop skills in grammar, spelling, comprehension, information retention and, everybody's favourite pub skill: general knowledge.

Did you just glance over to your bookshelf and see those stacks of books you haven’t read yet? They look beautiful, don’t they?

Why not switch off the TV and explore that bookshelf? Or order something new if you have an e-reader. Maybe try a new genre, or search out the autobiography of someone who inspires you.

Explore The Transformative World Of Audiobooks & Podcasts

Treat yourself to an audiobook or podcast

If reading really isn’t your chosen past-time, consider listening to an audiobook or two. Not only will you be left hands-free and able to multitask at the same time, you’ll often find authors reading their own work: a wonderful extra layer to enjoy.

For newcomers to audiobooks, they’re perfect for anytime of any day and if you find a cosy little nook to snuggle up into, you might just lose track of time!

Another fun audio option is podcasts. By no means a new phenomenon, the world of podcasts grows exponentially every day and the wealth of options might just leave you feeling like a kid in a sweet shop!

Some great podcast starting places include: The Escape Artist, Reply All and Mind Over Muscle: Journey To The Finish Line.

Get All Arts And Craft-y

It's time to get arty

For the artists out there, has there ever been a more opportune moment than to break out the paintbrushes, unearth the glues sticks and glitter, or unwrap a new sketchbook and set about creating your next masterpiece?

Besides being an immensely enjoyable way to spend time, any form of creativity is a fantastic way to drown out the noise and stresses of everyday life.

In fact, research shows that when being creative, ‘executive functions’ of the brain such as cognitive flexibility, planning, abstract reasoning and inhibition take a back seat and de-focussed attention happens (3).

Effectively, you enter a meditative state without even knowing it!

Stay Connected

Stay connected

Have the current social distancing measures started to drive you a bit stir-crazy, or left you feeling disconnected? Despite the shape of things at present, we live in an age where we never need to be alone.

Technology allows us to connect with whoever we want, whenever and wherever, at the touch of a button (or a simple voice command!).

Missing the tea breaks with your work colleagues? Schedule a 5-minute catch up with colleagues.

Normally visit the grandkids at the weekend? Video call from your garden to theirs, to join in the fun!

Used to seeing the boys/girls on a Friday night? A digital cheers with a glass of something bubbly might be a fun new way to spend time together.

Whatever you did together before, do together now and have fun experimenting with the differences.

Cook

Find happiness by cooking

If ever there was an activity to nurture body, mind and soul, it’s cooking. Why else would The Great British Bake Off have such universal popularity and appeal?

Even if the process doesn’t excite you, the end result (warm, freshly home-made cake; flakey fish pie; steak tartare and a crispy crème brûlée...) is all but guaranteed to.

So, whether you just want to whip something up for lunch or plan on going all out with a Sunday roast with all the trimmings and dessert, donning that apron and following an actual recipe is a surefire way of finding happiness at any time of the day!

Need a few ideas on how to get started? Why not explore some of our favourite recipe websites including BBC Good Food, Epicurious and Tasty.

Now you can also check out Part 2 of how to embrace the COVID-19 lockdown.

Taking the time to cultivate happiness and spending some of our energy on embracing oneself are both vital for our overall well-being. MedicAlert is a community of members, all of whom are living with a wide range of health-related issues.

We are here to support all of our members through providing 24/7 emergency access to their medical records in emergencies, ensuring the most efficient, reliable and accessible route for medical professionals in times of need.



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References to other websites herein are done so with sincerity and an open appreciation for their content.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22748749
  2. https://hillstrategies.com/2008/09/08/social-effects-of-book-reading/
  3. https://www.nature.com/articles/srep00834

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