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5 Unique Ways to Keep Calm and Happy During Lockdown

Home > Newcastle > Baking | Books and Writing | Health and Fitness | Indoor | Lists
by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Published May 14th 2020
Top tips to improve wellbeing during Coronavirus outbreak
From sleepless nights to feeling anxious over the future, the Coronavirus crisis and lockdown can take its toll on your wellbeing.

sleeping in lockdown, feeling calm
Top tips for a happy life in lockdown


We take a look at various ways that can help you to keep calm and carry on amidst the worst major virus outbreak in a century.

GET INTO YOUR SOURDOUGH

Taking time out to bake bread is not only useful to avoid queues at the supermarkets but can also have health benefits, according to author Roly Allen.

Roly baked his first sourdough loaf in his mid-40's because he'd been made redundant and got divorced and needed a healthy pursuit while he got back on his feet.

making sourdough, author Roly Allen, How to Raise A Loaf and fall in love with sourdough, keeping calm during lockdown
Roly Allen found that baking sourdough was good for his mental health


He found it a great way to de-stress and now bakes regularly at his home in the South East of England. To pass on what he has learned and help others feel the benefits too, Roly is publishing a book on how to make sourdough - from nurturing a sourdough starter to getting creative with recipes.

In How to raise a loaf and fall in love with sourdough, Roly promotes the mindful qualities of baking and health benefits of this probiotic bread while also making baking easy for beginners. There are instructions on what you need to get started, easy-to-follow recipes to make rye loaves, sourdough pizza, grissini and more alongside Roly's own personal story.

"Bread baking, I've learned myself, is a good thing to do if you are feeling under any kind of pressure," writes Roly.

"The relief of immersing myself in a creative process, of surrendering control to the yeast, of being attentive, without worry or anxiety - and at the end of the day, having made something delicious to eat - was life-saving."

Roly added: "When times are bad, this mental and emotional reset is better than anything."

making sourdough, author Roly Allen, How to Raise A Loaf and fall in love with sourdough, keeping calm during lockdown
Use your loaf to keep calm during lockdown


It doesn't take much to get started - bread flour, raisins, yoghurt and water - yet the results could be longer lasting than you expect in terms of your mental health.

How to raise a loaf and fall in love with sourdough by Roly Allen is available from May 28 and published by Laurence King.


KEEP YOUR ENVIRONMENT UNPOLLUTED WITH A CLEAN CANDLE

While the flicker of a candle can be soothing to the senses, many scented candles can contain paraffin wax, which releases unwanted toxins into your home.

As an alternative, there are "clean" candles available that use natural ingredients and allow you to maximise the benefits that a burning wick can bring.

Holistic London is among those using natural, vegan and non-toxic ingredients in its 100% clean soy and essential oil candles with a range of scents associated with alleviating stress. They are at the forefront of using natural and recyclable products and even label themselves the "home of conscious candles".

holistic london, clean candles, keeping calm during the lockdown
Have you checked you have a clean candle?


These include heavily scented Neroli and Chamomile to soothe the mind, zesty Grapefruit and Rosemary to lift the spirits and the woody tones of Lavender and Patchouli to help with a good night's sleep.

"Studies show that paraffin candles release harmful chemicals," said a spokeswoman for candlemaker Holistic London. "These can cause problems which affect your skin and health. Many of the fragrances used can be just as dangerous if they're not natural.

"Often overlooked the wick could be another problem as it can leave fumes when made from non-natural materials such as natural cotton. Holistic London searched far and wide for organic and non-toxic alternatives. We realised the need for well-designed, natural and healthy candles."

Candles have long been associated with helping to boost relaxation. Candle-gazing is practised to calm thoughts and emotions, while Trataka - a form of tantric meditation - involves staring at a single point, such as a candle flame, to control a restless mind.


WRITE IT DOWN

These are unprecedented times with long periods of isolation for many that will spark deep emotions and anxieties. Help to release those feelings by writing them down in a journal or using them to create ideas that could go a long way towards one day getting published.

writer's creative workbook, keeping calm at home
Try writing to relieve your anxieties


Reflecting on your situation and writing it down helps you gain perspective and evaluate it with a clearer mind and sometimes in a different light days later.

Writing is also seen as a good way to reduce stress as it can help people to process their thoughts and sometimes draw a line on issues that have been bothering them.

In the same way, lists can be a valuable tool in de-cluttering the mind and planning ways to keep busy over weeks and months when your life has been disrupted by the lockdown.

For those who want to get more creative and one day publish a book, there is The Writer's Creative Workbook that aims to help a person find their voice on the page.

writer's creative workbook, writing during lockdown
From poems to being more descriptive


Written by Joy Kenward, the workbook has a range of writing tasks to prompt words in blank spaces to help the writer express themselves better.

This could be from describing types of emotion to recounting memorable people in your life in words and creating poems and haikus.

The Writer's Creative Workbook is published by Leaping Hare Press.


UNDERSTAND YOUR SLEEP PATTERNS

The COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown have played havoc with people's sleeping behaviour worldwide. Some are waking in the early hours of the morning while others are finding it hard to sleep at all.

The Sleep Foundation warns that sleep is vital in protecting emotional wellness and mental health, helping to beat stress, depression, and anxiety.

Sleep is also critical to physical health and effective functioning of the immune system.

sleeping, lockdown, keep calm during coronavirus tips
Sleep is an important part of maintaining positive mental health


Profound changes to normal daily life can be a major cause of sleep problems, especially as it becomes hard to keep track of time without regular time "anchors" such as picking up kids from school or working in the office at certain hours.

Natural light in the home can also play a big part. A Sleep Foundaiton spokesman said: "Being stuck at home, especially if it has low levels of natural light, may reduce light-based cues for wakefulness and sleep, known as zeitgebers, which are crucial to our circadian rhythm.

"If you are not working at the moment or your weekly hours have been decreased due to COVID-19, you may be tempted to oversleep each morning. Sleeping more than seven to eight hours per night can make waking up on time much more difficult, even if you use an alarm. Oversleepers may also feel groggy, irritable and unfocused throughout the day."

Advice from The Sleep Foundation includes creating a schedule to your day - and that includes showering and getting dressed even if you aren't leaving the house and eating meals at the same time each day.

Other tips are to avoid using electronic devices for an hour before you go to bed. This is because the blue light produced by electronic devices, from mobile phones to tablets, and computers, has been found to interfere with the body's natural sleep-promoting processes.

You can read the full advice and tips to sleep better by the Sleep Foundation here.

Making changes to behaviours and your environment can lead to better sleep according to James Wilson - aka The Sleep Geek .

James suffered from insomnia from a young age which prompted him to train as a sleep practitioner as an adult. With his company The Sleep Lab, he now helps children, teenagers and adults solve their sleep issues, providing a programme individually tailored to their personal needs. The Sleep Lab even works with companies to solve employees' sleep issues.

James encourages people not sleeping well to understand their sleep pattern, make simple behavioural and environmental changes to create the ideal environment to sleep in and
build a personal sleep plan. James has some quick tips to help with sleeping during the Coronavirus outbreak in the video below from his YouTube channel.




CONCENTRATE YOUR MIND WITH SCANDI-NOIR

It's easy to multitask while watching a film or TV series. How many times do you find yourself checking social media or browsing a magazine at the same time?

Allow your mind to concentrate on one thing and fully escape by watching a foreign film or programme in a language you don't speak, where it forces you to focus on the subtitles and screen - so you can't do other things at the same time.

You'll not only find you enjoyed it more because you were fully immersed in the story and details but it will help you to relax your mind too.

trapped, foreign language films, keep calm at home during lockdown
Trapped is an acclaimed foreign language crime drama from Iceland


If you need inspiration in top foreign language movies and boxsets, there's a wealth of Scandi-noir series from the original The Killing, The Bridge to political drama Borgen and icelandic crime thriller Trapped.

We also have this top 10 list of most romantic French films here or have a browse at our top 10 German films with heart and soul here.

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