How are you managing during lockdown? We’re now in the seventh week of unprecedented restrictions on our daily lives and, while many of us are benefiting from a slower pace of life and the chance to catch up with projects at home that we otherwise never seem to get around to, there’s no doubt that thousands of people are struggling.
Although the restrictions look set to be eased slightly in the near future, there’s no doubt that day to day life will continue to be very different to ‘normal’ for months to come. So, whether you’re feeling physically cooped up or emotionally anxious and isolated, here’s our guidance on coping during – and even enjoying – the weeks ahead.
Exercising at or close to home
Most of us know by now that we’re allowed to exercise once a day, and that it’s classed as one of the ‘essential’ reasons to leave home, due to the physical and emotional benefits staying active brings. May is ordinarily National Walking Month, and there’s no doubt that walking is excellent for health, with advantages including lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, stronger bones and a reduced risk of diabetes.
The problem, however, is that the rules on exercise are different in Wales and England, leading to confusion on both sides of the border. Generally, we’re able to take part in exercise not considered to be ‘risky’, such as walking, running, cycling, yoga or tending an allotment. In England, it’s lawful to drive a short distance to exercise, but in Wales this is not allowed other than for people with mobility issues who aren’t able to exercise in their local areas.
There is no hard and fast rule on how long we can exercise for, but several government ministers and health officials have said ‘up to an hour’ is reasonable, while hiking for four or five hours would be out of the question. Those with conditions such as autism and dementia are allowed to exercise more than once a day.
If you’re shielding at home, there are plenty of ways to exercise in the fresh air if you’re fortunate enough to have a garden, or otherwise indoors. Gardening itself is listed by the NHS as counting towards our recommended daily activity, while there are many at-home workouts online, for adults and for families to take part in together.
Staying connected with others
We’re not sure about you, but some of our staff members’ social diaries have never been so full! Of course, we can’t meet friends and family right now, but we can stay in touch on the phone and with fabulous video apps including Zoom, GotoMeet.Me and House Party. Some services require a subscription, but most have free core features enabling face-to-face catch-ups to brighten your day.
From quizzes to coffee mornings and lunch meets, there are a lot of innovative ideas allowing people to keep their routines as nearly-normal as possible! If you have no one to be online with, the NHS Volunteer initiative, in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service, is forging friendships between isolated people and ‘chat’ volunteers, so find out more.
Boosting mental wellbeing
While technology and social media is great for connecting with others, it’s also good to switch off for a period each day to mindfully focus on other activities. Drawing, writing (in longhand, with a pen and paper), crafting, baking and learning a new skill or language all have a positive impact on mood and happiness, as well as increasing confidence and self-esteem. Have a look at these happiness hacks from Happiful magazine or check out Action for Happiness, as well as reading our simple self-care tips to soothe your stress.
Visiting your optician or dentist
During lockdown, you’re able to leave home for medical appointments, although many GP practices, dentists and opticians have postponed non-urgent appointments. If you experience a dental problem that has not improved with painkillers or have had a lump, swelling or ulcer for more than two weeks, you should contact your local emergency dental service, details of which can be found here for Wales.
Similarly, while you probably can’t have a routine eye check for the time being, it’s important not to ignore signs that something is seriously wrong. If you experience sudden changes in your vision or get something in your eye, contact your local optician. They might be able to offer an emergency appointment or direct you to your local hospital eye clinic.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, our cash plan benefits continue to be paid out as usual when you visit health professionals including dentists and opticians, as well as physios, osteopaths, chiropractors and hospital appointments.
If you’re really struggling
Sadly, many people are finding lockdown incredibly challenging, with some wellbeing experts fearing a mental health crisis ahead. If you’re really struggling at the moment, support is available from brilliant organisations such as Mind Cymru and Samaritans Cymru. If you’re worried about your drinking, or that of someone you know, Alcohol Change can help you manage your intake, while the Trussell Trust can help you find a foodbank near you if times are financially tough.
If you’re wondering about the impact of Coronavirus on your health plan, read our blog to find out more. Please note the Plutus team is still working from home but we’re continuing to process claims and enquiries as normal, so please just call on 01633 266152 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.