Want to do better than just ‘survive’ the lockdown? Here’s some simple ways to actually flourish. Posted on April 17, 2020April 17, 2020 by Peter Meadows While in quarantine during the plague, Shakespeare wrote King Lear, Macbeth, and Anthony and Cleopatra. And while in isolation, Sir Isaac Newton he made some of his greatest discoveries including gravity. You and I may not reach such great heights during the present lockdown. But we can use the time to do better than just survive. Yet it won’t ‘just happen’. I like the approach of the author Guy Dauncey on keeping SANE during the crisis. With SANE standing for Strong, Active, Neighbourly and Energetic. With that in mind, here’s some realistic suggestions that could lead you to coming out of the lockdown with something under your belt – and, hopefully, with it a notch or two tighter. Establish some rules Avoid the risk of just drifting, and letting things take their course, by establishing some rules to follow. I’m not suggesting mine should be yours. But here they are in the hope they give you something to think about. Exercise 6 days a week Be productive 5 days a week No TV mid-morning or afternoons most weekdays Make proactive phone/Facetime calls at least twice a week Occasionally reward myself for good behaviour Set yourself goals Again, this is about not drifting. And having goals give you something to aim for and have a sense of achievement when you’ve ticked them off. Your goals will be personal to you. But, again, here are mine in the hope they inform your thinking. When this season is over I want to – Be fitter Be more connected with family, friends and neighbours Have a more rounded perspective on life Have touched up lots of paintwork in the home Have sorted our historic family photographs Have learned to play the ukulele Have sold some of our stuff on eBay Keep the right focus This is the spiritual bit. When walking on the water to Jesus, Peter began to sink because his eyes were on his circumstances. Perhaps this was in the mind of the writer to the Hebrews who encourages us to run ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart’. Hebrews 12.2-3 At a time when the fierce storm of Covid 19 is raging I can think of no better place to fix my attention to see things in perspective. And, to help you do so, strongly recommend the free daily prayer app Lectio 365 Get sunlight and fresh air Open those windows when inside and take every opportunity to get outside that the ‘rules’ allow. And fill your lungs – good deep breaths – when you do. This is not just a good idea. Sunlight produces vitamin D which cheers us up. And fresh air is seen to improve blood pressure, reduce stress levels and improve the way we feel. Keep active Get things done – things that keep both your body and mind active and with thoughts other than on the crisis. Make a list and get to work. From those kitchen cupboards to disorganised drawers. A new project for the garden to a new hobby or learning experience. Look after your appearance When tucked away, with no need to be ‘presentable’, the temptation is to slob out. Perhaps not with full-on slobbery. But with a gentle drift to taking less care in the sprucing up department. Taking care of our appearance increases our sense of well-being, helping keep us motivated. Don’t keep looking at the same four walls Cabin fever comes from the impact of being stuck in the same environment for days on end. A smart move is to change the ‘cabin’. Could you rearrange the furniture, redecorate, find a way not to spend all your time in the same room? Even swapping some of the pictures or having a big declutter of ornaments and pictures can make a positive difference. Maximise the opportunities for human engagements People need people and there are many ways to engage in the lockdown era – including social media and online via Skype, Zoom, etc. Use them to the full. This is not the time to be shy or to leave the initiative to others. One simple way is to hold a Come Dine With Me dinner party – inviting a few friends simultaneously share a meal while joined together on Zoom. Enjoy the experience of eating well In the old ‘normal’, life could be too busy to cook from scratch, right down to making our own sauces or using a range of herbs and spices. That’s no longer the case. You can now enjoy the relaxation of creating a self-prepared meal and the benefit from eating less processed food. So dust off your cookbooks, search Google – BBC Food comes recommended. Better still see the great recipes in Rosemary Conley’s Stay Young Diet. Develop a new skill or interest Though stuck at home, it’s still easy to work at a new skill or hobby. For a mass of ideas see this list on Wikipedia. To help make it happen, Skillshare has hundreds of free classes led by those they say are ‘icons, experts, and industry rock stars excited to share their experience, wisdom, and trusted tools’. Do something for others Shift the focus from the virus and yourself by helping others – which is good for you and good for them. A simple way is to create a list of those you could cheer up with a phone call. But you could do something more substantial either through your church or some other way. The charity Rest Less has some practical ideas including – Good with languages? Then put this to good use by volunteering for Translators Without Borders (TWB) Help those visually impaired. Use the Be My Eyes app to make life easier for people who are partially sighted around the world. Anything from helping them check food expiry dates to distinguishing colours or navigating surroundings. Give practical support to overseas missionaries. Can you post a magazine? Search the internet? Audio type? Then MissionAssist will like your skills to urgent needs. Be a grandparent to children on another continent. Though called Granny Cloud, it links male and female volunteers by Skype into remote locations to chat with, listen to, read with and play with underprivileged children in Colombia, Cambodia, Mexico, Greenland and Jamaica. Contribute to peace and sustainable human development. As a United Nations Volunteer your time will impact the wellbeing of others by matching your skills to the opportunities. Everything from writing and editing to teaching and training. Art and design to research. Administration to event organisation. Exercise at least a little each day There’s a lot more benefit to moving around with some energy than you may imagine. Along with strengthening your body parts your brain gets a treat as well. This is because exercise causes the brain to release hormones- endorphins – that cheer you up and help you to sleep. If this thought is new to you then start small and build up. A short sharp walk is good for starters. And check what is free on Google that you can do at home and do as much as you can. For more on this see the AfterWorkNet webpages on Keeping Fit. Don’t be too driven Finally, in these challenging and strange times cut yourself a little slack. You won’t hit all your goals or get everything done you’d hoped for. But celebrate what you can do and treat yourself when you at least get somewhere there. If you think others will be helped by this please share using the links below. Do you have a ‘rule’, ‘goal’ or insight on making the most of the lockdown? Please share it here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community Peter Meadows Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director and presently under ‘house arrest’ and missing his grandchildren. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and dreams of escaping to Spain when travel permits.