A-Z on how to get through the coronavirus pandemic
22nd September 2020
Whilst the national lockdown has been lifted, social distancing measures are still in place across the UK and the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing.
During strange times such as these, it can be difficult for some people to cope with the dramatic changes that have happened to the way we live, from working at home to not being able to travel to some countries abroad.
According to a study published on the Mental Health Foundation website, loneliness affected one in four respondents during the coronavirus lockdown back in April. Older people who have been shielding or those with mobility problems that need a stairlift just to get around their house might not be able to socialise like they once would and can often find themselves feeling lonely.
It’s important that everyone tries to keep optimistic and this article has put together an A to Z of activities and things you can do to help you get through the coming months.
An activity that many people have taken up during the coronavirus pandemic is art as it is an activity that you can do at home or outside whilst safely socially distancing. With online resources such as the Online College of Art and Design offering free beginner and refresher courses, you can try your hand despite maybe never picking up a brush before.
Making a bucket list should be personal and it can be made up of things you want to do in the year or the things you want to achieve in your life.
Annette White, the author of the Bucket List Journey blog, explains why making such a list is a great idea during a pandemic.
“During the pandemic is a perfect time to create a bucket list because facing this challenging time has been eye-opening for many people. This pause in life has given us the opportunity to realise the quieter things we were missing due to the everyday hustle and bustle, plus it allows us the time to think about the things we miss the most. This enlightenment can guide people to select more meaningful goals for their lists.”
If you are not sure how to start your own bucket list, then Annette White explains some of the top recommendations you should follow.
“One of the most important tips for creating a bucket list is recording it somewhere. Sounds simple, right? But even so, most people miss this critical step. Recording your list represents a sincere commitment, turning them into tangible goals—doable aspirations to work toward instead of wishful thinking.”
The coronavirus pandemic has seen many older people spend a lot more time indoors, which has been the perfect time for some people to learn a new skill.
The best way to do this is to sign-up to an online course as they are a convenient and flexible way of learning new skills remotely. Millions of people take online courses and there are a variety of subjects and courses on offer.
These courses vary in length and whilst some are paid-for courses, there are free courses available. Below are some popular course providers you can consider:
- Distance Learning Centre – courses offered cover topics such as animal care, psychology and writing.
- Class Central – this course provider offers a range of university degrees that you can complete from home.
READ MORE: Free online courses you should try
How often is it the case that we want to tidy the house up or go through some boxes to see what needs to be chucked away or kept? Some people might be spending more time at home and during this period it makes decluttering a great activity to try.
A cluttered space can also cause stress, make household tasks more difficult and for older people with mobility problems it can be a tripping hazard.
There are benefits to decluttering as well and these include reducing stress and anxiety, improving your sleep, boost productivity and creativity and making it easier for you to clean and tidy.
The Clean Mama blog shares some tips on decluttering: “If a table is piled high with paperwork, magazines, books, whatever, it doesn’t mean that all those things are clutter. It just means that those things need a home or they need to leave. Deal with the stuff. If you’ve held on to something for sentimental reasons, and you can’t really think of a reason to keep it but you can’t part with it, that’s ok, just don’t save everything. Come up with rules for what you do keep and what you let go.”
Engage in communication
During difficult times such as the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to talk to people about how you are feeling and to ask your friends or family how they are feeling during these uncertain times.
Even if your family live far away or you are shielding during the pandemic there are ways that you can still communicate with each other. There are now lots of video conference apps which are easily accessible and social media sites which are at your disposal. Below are some of the social media sites and video apps that you can use:
Another great activity you can try during the current pandemic is to research your own family history and to find out where you come from – who knows you might discover that you have famous ancestors.
If you are interested in starting your own family tree, then follow these steps that will help you get started:
- Write down your immediate family’s birth dates (yourself, spouse, children etc). You can then work backwards.
- Ask relatives for family history records.
- Draw up a family tree after you’ve collected some information.
- Explore the birth, marriage and death records of your ancestors.
- Explore the internet as the National Archives catalogue boasts more than 32 million records, but make sure you keep track of your research.
- If you are struggling with your family tree research, then you should look to get the help of Ancestry, who are experts in helping you bring your backstory to life.
Another activity that has been taken up by many people during the coronavirus pandemic is gardening. During the lockdown and with everybody staying at home, gardening has been a great way to occupy the extra time some people had on their hands.
The favourable weather has meant many people have carried on gardening and found time to plant seeds, tend to plants, build vegetable plots and carry out other gardening activities.
The Unconventional Gardener says gardening is something anyone can have a go at: “Growing most fruits and vegetables is simple enough for anyone to have a go, and we’re lucky that success or failure isn’t a life or death issue – our gardens are learning environments. But, as any gardener will tell you, vegetable growing is complex enough to take a lifetime to master.”
Some easy vegetables you can grow at home are:
- Spring Onions
Healthy eating is important no matter whether you are in the midst of a pandemic or not, but a healthy diet can help to better support your immune system.
There are people who might have a bit more time on their hands compared to normal and this gives them the perfect opportunity to cook more meals from scratch to ensure that the meals are really healthy.
There are some fantastic healthy dishes that are easy to make and here are some ideas for you:
- Toad in the hole – see the recipe here
- Easy Bean Stew - see the recipe here
- Winter Vegetable Curry - see the recipe here
Whether you are shielding or are just spending more time at home, you can look at how you live in your space and look at ways you can change things around.
There’s nothing like a little home project to occupy your time and something that you can look at is the interior design of your home. Whether it is something as simple as swapping cushions around or hanging up some pictures to refresh your home it will keep you busy.
If you are looking for some inspiration, then some sites with tips and recommendations on interior design are:
Spending more time at home has meant some people have been able to get more of an opportunity to carry out the jobs that during normal life they do not have time for.
If you have lots of jewellery, then the current climate means that you have a bit more time so you can sort through your different jewellery and clean it. You can even look at jewellery which you no longer wear and can look at selling it online through eBay or via social media.
Knitting is creative, relaxing and most of all useful!
Many people are taking up knitting as it is a great activity to do whilst watching television or listening to the radio. Although it is a great past time to do on your own, there are lots of knitting groups that people of all ages can join and it can be a very social activity.
Large knitting groups have not been able to meet up during the coronavirus, but they have found ways to keep in contact with members via social media or video conference apps like Zoom.
If you are a beginner you can still learn how to knit as there are lots of online tutorials for those who are not confident in their skills and want to brush up a little. With wool available at discount shops and charity outlets, the activity is also very affordable too.
If you are interested in learning more about knitting, you should check out the tutorials on the Twisted Yarn blog. You can learn how to design knitting motifs and how to crochet leaves in some of their videos.
If you are feeling a bit down in the dumps as a result of coronavirus, then laughter is one of the best medicines for stress and anxiety.
A recent study found that laughing with others releases endorphins which induces euphoria and spreading endorphins released through a group promotes a sense of togetherness and safety. Another study revealed that laughing releases neurotransmitter serotonin, the same brain chemical affected by the most common types of antidepressants, SSRIs.
Whether it is putting on a movie, a comedy show, a podcast or meeting up with a friend or family member, there are lots of things you can try that will help put a smile on your face.
It is common for people to rush through life without stopping to notice much, but paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing.
Some people refer to this as mindfulness and this can help people to enjoy life more and understand themselves better. Mindfulness invites you to experience the ‘here and now’, rather than thinking too much about what we would like life to be like.
Gillian Higgins is an international criminal barrister and the founder of the Practical Meditation and Everyday Mindfulness blog. She practices and teaches mindfulness meditation and she talks about some of its benefits: “Research shows that regular mindfulness meditation improves concentration, decision-making and working memory. It reduces stress, lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, alleviates insomnia and reduces anxiety and depression. When life is particularly stressful, such as during the current coronavirus pandemic, mindfulness helps as it engages the ‘rest and digest’ half of our nervous system, which drains off excessive adrenaline and cortisol and helps us to feel calmer. It takes us out of the ‘fight/flight/freeze’ stress mode in which we often find ourselves during the day.”
Mindfulness can be practised anywhere and one way to practise it is to use ‘daily mindfulness practices’, which is where you use instances during the day where you pause, breathe and bring moment-to-moment awareness to something as simple as arriving at your desk at work.
Gillian Higgins shares some tips for beginners practising mindfulness meditation: “The best way to bring mindfulness into your daily life is to start small and be kind to yourself. A few minutes practise every day at a time that works for you will help you to feel the benefits over time. One of the most common barriers is the feeling that you don’t have time to meditate. The irony is, however, that practising mindfulness meditation can help you to become more focused, less willing to be distracted and more time-efficient. If you can take just a few minutes to still your body and sit quietly on a regular basis, you will soon be able to tap into a sense of calm whenever you need it most.
“It’s also useful to keep a daily mindfulness log, noting down how and when you practice and what resonates with you. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to meditate and you are not trying to empty your mind. You are simply using a point of focus for the mind to drop into the present moment, such as the passage of the breath. When it wanders off into thinking, worrying, planning, simply guide it back, with kindness to yourself, time and time again to your point of focus. It is this process that with practice will activate your ‘rest and digest’ nervous system and bring you the benefit of feeling more balanced and calmer.”
During the height of lockdown, Netflix got 16 million new sign-ups, which was almost double the number of sign-ups in the final months of 2019.
As more people spent more time indoors, the home-entertainment giant’s popularity grew with young and older people enjoying entertainment at their fingertips.
Many TV series and films are exclusive to Netflix and users can enjoy its streaming quality and the fact that there is an app or stream from pretty much any device available.
Some popular shows you can watch include:
- House of Cards
- The Crown
READ MORE: Top streaming services for older people
While it might seem like the pandemic has been all doom and gloom, it is important that people remain optimistic during the current climate and look for the light at the end of the tunnel!
Some tips for staying optimistic are:
- Focus on successes – think back to challenges you have overcome in the past to help inspire you in the future.
- Challenge negative thoughts – if you are having negative thoughts, then one way some people overcome this is by looking at the potential positive outcomes. For example, rather than thinking of being ‘stuck at home with nothing to do’, people can reframe this to being ‘safe at home with an opportunity to connect with your family’.
- Make up mantras – positive affirmations such as ‘you are not alone’ and ‘we’re all in this together’ can help people. Pick a mantra that resonates with you and repeat it.
Pilates is another great activity for older people to try during the pandemic and it is accessible to all.
Rowan Wilson from Physiofit explains why people should try pilates during the current pandemic: “Exercising and staying healthy is now more important than ever. Pilates is an amazing system of exercises which can be practised by anyone regardless of age or previous level of physical fitness. If you want to improve flexibility, build strength and move more comfortably with better balance and control, then taking up pilates might well be for you.”
Rowan Wilson also shared some top tips she would give to beginners: “Precision and great form are really important when practising pilates. So I’d recommend spending a bit of time developing great technique in a beginners’ class before moving into a more challenging one.
“Taking part in a 1:1 (either remotely or in person) before going into a pilates class can be really helpful, especially if you have a medical condition or an old injury, to make sure you know how to modify the exercises to keep yourself working safely and comfortably.
“Our YouTube Channel has a playlist of pilates videos for beginners. This resource is free to access and introduces the key exercises and techniques you need to go into a beginners’ class.”
Physiofit is offering everyone a free 7-day trial of their online, live pilates classes. They also run a specialised class for older adults on Mondays and even if you can’t attend the live class, everyone booking will also receive a recording of the classes they book to practice at another time.
When the UK went into lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many people turned to virtual pub quizzes to keep themselves entertained. Some quizzes were set-up to raise money for charity and others were set-up for social reasons.
While social distancing remains important, it might be a good idea to organise a quiz between a few friends or family so you can keep in contact with them more regularly.
With the likes of Zoom, Skype or even apps like House Party you could organise a weekly or bi-weekly quiz. The topic of the quiz can relate to a certain topic or you can create a unique one about your family history.
The coronavirus pandemic for some people has seen them reassess and look at how they do things and consider if there are things they can do differently.
This can be about anything, from redeveloping your house and buying curved stairlifts to changing your car or planning to take up a new hobby.
Music is very beneficial and it has been used to treat people of all ages to overcome symptoms of depression, anxiety and loneliness for a number of years.
Music has evolved over the decades to provide different genres and niches to cater for social development, but it’s not uncommon for older people to listen to older music as it takes them back to their childhood and brings back happy memories.
By downloading Spotify it makes it a great way for older people to create a playlist that is personalised to them and includes all the different songs that they love. There are millions of songs and podcasts on the platform so users are spoilt for choice.
If you are spending more time indoors, then the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi is something that you can look to try.
According to an article on the Telegraph, a study, which assessed 23,407 people who took part in 108 trials across 25 countries, found that classes such as Tai Chi which aimed to improve balance and functional exercise cut the risk of falls by 23%.
Tai Chi combines deep breathing and relaxation with flowing movements and it is known to help people over the age of 65 to reduce stress, improve posture, balance and general mobility as well as increasing muscle strength in the legs.
There are many different Tai Chi groups and classes across the UK and during the coronavirus pandemic they have been running virtual classes that people can try from the comfort of their homes.
READ MORE: Best winter hobbies for retirees
If you have been advised to stay indoors more during the coronavirus pandemic, then a way to keep your brain healthy without doing boring, time-consuming or repetitive activities, is to play board games.
Ubongo is a spatial recognition game in the form of a race and is a great game you can play. Players compete to be the quickest to place their pieces in the designated space on their player board.
It’s a quick game to play because there’s no taking turns and no downtime. Up to four people can play the game and it is recommended that players are over the age of 8.
A vision board is something that you can create to help you see your future. It helps make your vision of the future become a reality.
When you create a vision board and place it in a space where you see it often, you end up doing short visualisation exercises throughout the day and it is one of the most powerful mind exercises you can do.
Visualisation has been proven to work and many Olympic athletes have used it for decades to improve their performance ahead of their events. An article on Psychology Today revealed that brain patterns activated when a weightlifter lifts heavy weights are similarly activated when the athlete just imagined lifting weights.
Walking has been a great form of exercise for some people during the coronavirus pandemic as during the lockdown it was a great way of getting outside your home and connecting with nature.
Sarah from The Urban Wanderer explains why walking is a great activity for people to do during the current pandemic.
“I'd recommend getting out for a walk during the pandemic as it is a great way to create a break in your day, along with being really beneficial for your mental and physical wellbeing. With many of us still working from home or spending prolonged periods of time in the house, we have become that little bit more sedentary than we would normally be. It is also pretty isolating when you stay in the same four walls all the time. Getting out for a walk is an easy, simple, way to change your outlook. The added bonus is that it is free! I created a reverse commute for myself when I started working from home as a means of getting myself ready for the working day and breaking from it in the evening. Like a regular commute, I do it before and after work, but come back to my home instead of another destination. It has helped me to keep my waistline in trim, as well as being able to meet other people in my area doing similar walks. Walking is a fantastic way to get to know the people in your area as well as a free and easy way to keep your body moving and your mind refreshed.”
People with mobility problems can still enjoy going for a walk and Sarah, who has suffered from mobility problems in the past, shared some tips about how she still enjoyed walking despite needing a mobility aid.
“Having walked on crutches and a walking stick for over ten years following a knee injury, my first tip would be to start small and build up. When planning, make sure you are walking near home so that you can start building up. Doing one round of the housing block and building up when you feel the time is right. I'd also recommend taking a backpack with you, so that you have some water to hand and some waterproofs or a hat if the weather changes from the forecast you checked before leaving. And finally, remember that it is about you and your enjoyment of being outside and walking. Find where you feel most comfortable physically and mentally, whether that is the local park, your own street or even wandering around your local shopping area. Being somewhere you enjoy will help you to get out more often, which is when you will also start to notice the changes you feel from it.”
Learn to play a Xylophone or another musical instrument. If you are currently shielding and are looking for a new activity or hobby, then why not try to learn a new instrument.
Being at home and perhaps having a bit more time on your hands means you have a great opportunity to learn a new instrument such as the Xylophone.
Xylophones are part of a large section of orchestral percussion and are made with wooden bars. They’re an instrument that you can learn a variety of themes for and you can pick up a really affordable one for around £20.
Yoga is another activity that you can try during the pandemic and it is known to have physical and mental health benefits which can release tension in your body and bring out happiness too.
The benefits of yoga are vast and they range from improving your circulation and helping you to feel refreshed to relaxing and reducing your stress and anxiety.
There are lots of online, free yoga classes that are available, and these range from beginner to advanced level. Yoga classes can be adapted for people who have mobility problems as well.
Whether you are shielding or just want to see family and friends that live far away, Zoom is a great video conference app that you can use to stay in touch.
People use Zoom for a social call or for quizzes with family and friends. The platform is easy to use and the first 40-minutes are free, which is great if you are using it for social purposes. You can also record the meeting and send it to other people on the call.
READ MORE: Top video calling apps and how to use them
The coronavirus pandemic has been difficult for many people, especially older adults that have had to shield over the last few months. With the pandemic ongoing, these are just some ideas that can help older people through the current situation with activities you can try and clubs you can join.
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.