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NEWS > Alumnae News > Joy of Staying In, Part 4

Joy of Staying In, Part 4

In these unprecedented times, most of us will be feeling more anxious than usual, so today’s curated round-up looks at what we can do to maintain a sense of balance and reduce stress.
As with all these Joy Of articles, we want to hear from you, so we can pass on your suggestions to fellow LEH alumnae to benefit the whole Holles Connect community.  Please email alumnae@lehs.org.uk.  In addition, the usual health check applies, some of the information contained here will be old hat and not relevant, but we hope that at least some of it will benefit at least some of you.

We are starting with something we took great comfort from: a blog from Cilla, a teacher at Hangzhou International School in China, who shares her reflections of living in lock-down during the Coronavirus pandemic:

“We are just finishing our seventh week of E-Learning, seven weeks of being mainly housebound and seven weeks of uncertainty. We are healthy, we are happy, and we are humbled.

We are allowed to move around freely now with a green QR code that we show when we get our temperature taken. You get your temperature taken everywhere, and it's just become part of the routine. Most restaurants and shopping centres are now open, and life is coming back to our city.

As we watch the rest of the world begin their time inside, here are some of my reflections on the last seven weeks:

1. Accept that you have no control over the situation. Let go of any thoughts of trying to plan too much for the next month or two. Things change so fast. Don't be angry and annoyed at the system. Anxiety goes down, and you make the best of the situation - whatever that might be for you. Accept that this is what it is and things will get easier.

2. Try not to listen to/read/watch too much media. It WILL drive you crazy. There is a thing as too much!

3. The sense of community I have felt during this time is incredible. I could choose who I wanted to spend my energy on - who I wanted to call, message and connect with and found the quality of my relationships has improved.

4. Appreciate this enforced downtime. When do you ever have time like this? I will miss it when we go back to the fast-paced speed of the 'real world'.

5. Time goes fast. I still haven't picked up the ukulele I planned to learn, and there are box set TV shows I haven't watched yet.

6. As a teacher, the relationships I have built with my students have only continued to grow. I have loved seeing how independent they are; filming themselves to respond to tasks while also learning essential life skills such as balance, risk-taking and problem solving, that even we as adults are still learning.

7. You learn to appreciate the little things; sunshine through the window, flowers blossoming and being able to enjoy a coffee in a cafe. To those just beginning this journey, you will get through it. Listen to what you are told, follow the rules and look out for each other. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Exercise
Exercise is a well-known stress buster. If you are not in actual quarantine, go for a walk or run outside, while keeping your distance from others. However, there are also many options for keeping active inside. At its most basic, that means setting hourly alarms on your phone to make you get up and stretch. Try a virtual take on the gym class by streaming live sessions.

Give SpinStream a go if you’ve got an exercise bike www.spinstream.co.uk , GymCube for beginners’ Pilates www.gymcube.com or the YouTube channel ‘Yoga With Adriene’.  Check out the following: https://www.sportengland.org/ and https://www.youthsporttrust.org/free-home-learning-resources

Limit your time online
Installing a website blocker will temporarily force you off websites like Twitter, which can give you terrible anxiety. This guide from Digital Trends talks you through how to do it. It’s probably also helpful to give yourself some news-free days, where you can just step back and not worry about the latest Government press conference.  Check the headlines once a day only.

Stay Calm
Mindfulness and Meditation apps such as Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer are all free to download, giving access to guided meditations that can help you take a daily break. There are mediation stories for both children and adults – imagine Matthew MaConaughey reading you a relaxing bedtime story.

Take a bath
A relaxing bath can be made even better with bubbles, salts, oils, candles, and face masks – maybe even a cold glass of wine at the end of the day working from home and supervising the children.

Think about what you’re grateful for
You can do this in a journal, writing down one or two gratitudes a day, or by creating a new album in the photo app on your phone and include in it your happiest memories, pictures of people you love and other images that lift your heart and make you smile. Quartz’s Katherine Foley has done this exercise in the form of keeping a “happiness jar,” and you can read all about how to do that here.

Embrace a hobby
Is this the moment to start a new hobby, just for the sheer fun of it? Doing something with your hands: crocheting, beading, embroidery, woodworking can provide great release. Prima magazine has put together this short, but handy, guide to taking up traditional crafts such as decoupage, macrame and making scented candles. Read it here.

Learn new things
Maybe it’s time to teach yourself how to play a new musical instrument or learn a new language? There are hundreds of short online courses from half hour beginner tutorials on basic computing www.bt.com/skillsfortomorrow to free fortnight-long courses on Psychology, environmentalism or screenwriting from top British universities www.futurelearn.com.  Plus, there is a nearly unlimited number of online classes on websites like edX or Skillshare, whether you want to learn coding or needlepoint.

There is a video to show you how to do just about anything on YouTube: yoga for kids – tick; learn to play the piano – tick; how to reupholster a chair – tick; basically whatever you want to learn or take a class in, there will be a video to show you. Some are free, some are not but there should be something for everyone.
 
Reading
How about reading aloud to your partner, as well as story time with your children? Reading allows you to escape into another world. Check out this Coronavirus reading list: joyful books for dark, lonely times from The Guardian.

“Cosy” mysteries—featuring murder but not too much violence—are a great bet for escapism. Check out these suggestions from Good Reads. The audiobook version increases the cosiness factor.

Cook and bake
The Evening Standard has asked some celebrity chefs to share the recipes they’d cook when cooped up. They’re all simple to do, and use the ingredients you’d find hidden in the kitchen. To see the article, click here.

Finding recipes online is not a problem, but do you have the ingredients to make it? Here is a brilliant article from Stay At Home Chef Rachel Farnsworth for 14 days of dinners for self-isolation, including a shopping list, serving suggestions, some freeze extra for later options, and substitutions.

While the Daily Mail has put together this guide to how to cook up a tasty meal or two from your lock-down larder.

De-clutter
Organize the drawer that has been begging for order, rearrange the living room furniture, put all those digital photos in an online album/put prints in an actual photo album or finally get your filing cabinet in order.

Watch something upbeat
While it’s pretty tempting to catch up on the latest must-see TV right now, many of the police dramas or action-packed movies can be a bit depressing or stressful. So pick carefully and be sure to throw in something nostalgic or fun, like a musical or classic black and white film. There’s nothing like a bit of Singing in the Rain to chase your troubles away!

Hang out with your pet
According to the Mental Health Foundation: “The companionship that a pet offers is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress. A pet can be a great source of comfort, companionship and motivation for their owners.” So this could be the perfect time to teach your dog a new trick. As the internet has proved again and again, there is nothing more amusing than a cat, is there?

Remember that you are not alone
These tips are about self-care, but humans generally need community to be happy. So to keep up those vital connections, make good use of Skype or FaceTime. Even when not talking, you can keep Skype open on your screen and watch a grandchild playing or have a meal together virtually.

Write your grandparents a letter, get on a Google hangout with your co-workers, and FaceTime your friends. Also, if you are still able to go outside, consider helping a neighbour in need of a grocery delivery. Moreover, please know that Holles Connect always loves to hear from you, so do get in touch.

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