Looking After Yourself
We all know the airplane message about looking after yourself first before you can help others, but it is so true in our daily lives. It is very easy to neglect looking after yourself, even the most seemingly resilient people can be guilty of a lack of self-care. Taking time to relax, to be mindful, to daydream, and to nurture yourself has never been more important than it is currently. Here are some suggestions about how you can find ways of moving positively towards a time when we can once again enjoy a little more freedom.
Planning nourishing meals can really help during lockdown, everyone loves comfort food, and some of the simplest recipes can be the most comforting. Local restaurants are also supplying takeaway menus and this can also be a way of supporting local businesses as well as providing a special meal. Speciality teas can also help to energise at the start of the day, or relax at the end of the day.
If you would like to see a selection of delicious recipes and cookbooks visit our Cookery Book reviews , or visit Our Table category in our sister website
One of the side effects of lockdown can be unusual sleep patterns particularly in the colder and darker months, try and keep as normal a pattern of sleep as possible. Having a routine of relaxation before bed can help, but also getting up at the same time in the morning, means that it may be easier to sleep at night. Switching from reading on digital devices to an actual book can also help.
As above, exercise can help with getting to sleep, whether you are exercising at home, or going out for a daily exercise, many people have found having a routine of exercise, helps with their energy levels and sleep patterns. It’s also important for children and young people, and even if you struggle with movement there are many examples of activities, from exercising in a chair to gentle yoga which are safe for people unable to fully exercise.
Music & Dancing
One of the most uplifting and most popular television programmes towards the end of 2020 was BBC One Strictly Come Dancing. Music and dancing can be the most wonderful uplifting and fun activity. It’s so easy to forget about music and yet it has the power to relax, reduce stress levels, uplift and energise. There is also some evidence to show that it can also help people living with dementia. There are many sources of concerts, playlists, or playing your own collection that can bring music into your life, and dancing is a wonderful way of exercising.
We have been told how important fresh air is, but as well as going outside for exercise, bringing fresh air into our homes is equally important. Opening windows, not only helps with our health, but also reduces condensation, which in turn can lead to the growth of mould and other problems.
Even the most positive people find it difficult to stay positive all the time.
Lockdown has shown us that while everyone’s situation is different, one thing we do have in common is that we all need help from each other. As well as the amazing work being carried out by the NHS and other frontline staff; there are some wonderful examples of the support that volunteers in the local community have offered.
Home schooling has created a unity among all parents and a new-found respect for teachers. As well as support from schools, there are other sources of resources, both locally and nationally for learning materials, and technology.
Many local informal support networks have been created as a result of the restrictions, and there are organisations to help with specific support needs, asking for help is the first step towards lifting a heavy burden.
Also it is taking the time to make that phone call to friends and family, the opportunity to empathise with others in the same situation that can really help.
No one really knows when we may begin to travel freely again, but planning a visit can provide an element of hope. Visit your chosen venue’s website, or contact them and see what arrangements they have in place for future bookings.
There are also many webcams available in different locations, which can bring daily uplifting images.
While we may not be travelling abroad, there are so many beautiful places in this country that we can enjoy once restrictions are lifted. Also think about visiting areas that are away from the more popular tourist destinations. We have miles and miles of coastline and beautiful countryside, often within easy reach, when restrictions are lifted don’t spend all your time in a car, also explore your local areas, local businesses will be so pleased to welcome you.
Tackling annoying tasks
Most of us have a ‘To do’ list of activities that we keep putting off, and there is no satisfaction quite like crossing off items on this list. Using the enforced restrictions of lockdown to tackle some of these tasks will mean that you will have more opportunity to enjoy your freedom when it returns. Also build in a treat at the end of each activity as a reward!
Relaxation and Creating Special Moments
When everything seems bleak, planning special moments is even more important. The lockdown routines can become monotonous, particularly if you are working from home, or home schooling. Having to be online and available for classes, or working means that it may become difficult to separate your home life from your work. Also many parents are having to use their evenings to catch up with their own work.
Often it is the impromptu, unexpected treats that can bring the most joy. Whether you plan an indulgent evening, or weekend for yourself, your partner, or family, try and create times away from the everyday worry and stresses.
This is a more pleasurable part of a ‘To do’ list, learning a new hobby, finishing off a project.
The most important thing to remember about being creative is that it is not about perfection. Enjoying being creative for its own sake does not have to mean creating a masterpiece, there are so many ways to be creative, many crafts can be started with very little investment, e.g. drawing, watercolour painting, air-dried clay, knitting, crochet, embroidery, making friendship bracelets, sewing projects, not to mention being creative with cooking, gardening, or re-designing our home. We share some of the latest creative books later in this feature, but more book reviews and ideas can be found in one of our sister websites:
It is also something that you can enjoy as a family, much of home schooling is about subjects which involve online learning, taking a breather from these activities to do something more creative can be a release for both parents and children.
For activities with younger children it’s easier to get everything you need assembled first. If space is limited, cover the floor with old towels, use old shirts as cover for them. As the weather grows warmer, and if space is available, more messy activities can be taken outside.
It often only takes a few items to encourage their creativity, their natural enthusiasm will often carry them forward. Don’t try to be over-ambitious; many household objects can be recycled, and used to create artwork or containers for seeds, articles of clothing can be turned into new designs. Suddenly everyone in the family can have new roles, becoming designers, gardeners, chefs, keep fit experts, or making movies to share with grandparents, or online.
Being creative as a family, can help everyone to relax a little more and can provide reassurance for young children confused by the changes all around them.
Creating a more conducive work space
During 2020, many of us experienced working from home, and in the initial lockdown, many people just reorganized their space a little, but as the year progressed and as we have started 2021 with another period of lockdown, you may want to look more creatively at how you create a workspace. Importantly, if you can, find ways of making it a separate area, and invest in a chair and desk/table that will support you correctly and ensure that you can work comfortably. We featured some examples in our Home magazines see our Home page.
When it is cold and gloomy try and find sources of natural light, and also remember to get up and move around regularly.
As we have mentioned in previous features there is a great opportunity, whatever your skill level, to start experiencing the joy of gardening.
Escaping to our own open outside space, however small, is good for our health and general well-being. Even if you only have a balcony, or a window box you can experience the fun of creating microgreens, growing flowers, or nurturing a house plant.
You may be reluctant to start if you have never grown anything before, but a love of gardening can start with the simplest of things, and with the most basic of materials, e.g. a bag of potting compost, some seeds and some containers to plant them in.
This is also something that you can share with your children, giving them the opportunity to create their own plots, or miniature gardens.
In the current climate, we are all grateful for any source of distraction from our worries and concerns, and there are many ways of doing this, some of which we have listed above; but in addition, reading a book, watching a box-set, completing a jigsaw, a crossword, playing games as a family, becoming absorbed in an activity, not watching too many news broadcasts, can all help in alleviating stress and anxiety.
Here are a selection of some ways of relaxing and switching off:
Here are two wonderfully uplifting and inspiring books:
Creative Flow – A Year in My Mindful Life by Jocelyn de Kwant
The Happiness & Contentment Workbook – Opening your heart, embracing your natural joy by The Happy Buddha
Both books are published by Leaping Hare Press
Here are some of the latest creative books
Sewing for the Absolute Beginner by Caroline Smith
The Textile Artist: Expressive Stitches by Jan Dowson
Macramé for the Modern Home by Isabella Strambio
All published by Search Press
To see our full reviews visit
Start Your Day with Pukka’s NEW Fresh Start Organic Tea
Pukka Herbs, the UK’s largest organic tea company, has announced the launch of its new caffeine-free herbal tea – Fresh Start – expertly blended by Master Herbsmith and practising herbalist Sebastian Pole, with sustainably sourced organic herbs, delicious zesty organic lemon and warming aromatic fennel seeds to gently awaken your body and mind to a new day and help you feel your brightest self.
This stimulating yet soothing blend helps to strengthen the digestive system to support optimum metabolism and, like all Pukka’s herbal blends, is made with 100% organic and ethically sourced ingredients. Making a cup of Pukka Fresh Start tea each day enables you to create a simple, healthy morning ritual harnessing the natural power of organic plants.
You may also like other teas in their collection, available from many online retailers, health shops and supermarkets across the UK.
The Body Shop®
The Lemon Collection
Feel clean, confident and zesty with the purifying and protecting Lemon range. It’s vegan, made with lemon essential oil and combines steps that have either antibacterial, intense cleansing or protecting care properties
Lemon Protecting Hand & Body Lotion
Enriched with natural lemon essential oil known for its purifying properties, it leaves skin feeling protected and rehydrated after frequent washing.
Lemon Purifying Hand Wash
Enriched with natural lemon essential oil which is known for its purifying properties, it helps wash away bacteria and impurities, leaving hands feeling squeaky clean.
Make it part of your daily ritual when you start and end the day.
Wild Argan Oil Exfoliating Gel Body Scrub
Give your skin a wake up call when you use our Argan Oil scrub. Complete with argan shell exfoliants to gently slough away dead skin cells, you’ll feel radiant and silky smooth after every use.
All items are available from The Body Shop® website: www.bodyshop.com
Refocus are an amazing way to keep focus even in the most difficult and challenging of times. Their wristbands are available in a selection of stunning colours and designs to suit every preference. Refocus are reversible and on the other side is a message of your choice to help get you through any nervous moments, worries, anxiety attacks, or stressful events. Designed to help you realign, rebalance and refocus the brand holds the perfect message for everyone. They can be stretched to your ideal fit and they are fully washable. Available from
Richard Osman’s House of Games Board Game
Richard Osman’s House of Games Board Game – Based on the hit BBC2 show hosted by Richard Osman, the House of Games board game is the ultimate test of knowledge and skill. Enjoy some of your favourite challenges from the show in the comfort of your home. Team up to tackle some trivia or face off against each other in the iconic Answer Smash. Who will be the House of Games champion in this competitive compendium of games?
Piece Together the Universe
Time travel into deep space with the officially licensed NASA jigsaw. The awe-inspiring puzzles uses amazing and inspiring imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope to help you piece together the ultimate jigsaw. With 3 to collect you can choose from stunning images from yellow, blue or pink. With 1000 pieces it’s a challenge but not as complex as space.
Celebrate the Hubble Telescope with the 1000 piece NASA Jigsaw from Thumbsup.com available in three colours.