It’s really important for you all to stay physically active, not just for your body, but for your mental health, too.
The current advice is that it’s OK to walk outdoors as long as you stay two metres away from other people. (Going outside doesn’t increase the risk – only being close to other people or touching things they’ve coughed over.) The advice about moving around may change slightly, so keep up to date with the latest guidance from the NHS. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, spend time there, maybe doing some exercise, maybe pulling up some weeds or tidying.
The NHS website has lots of ideas for exercises that need no more equipment than a chair, a pillow or a sofa. Tins of beans could be used as weights.
One of the few forms of exercise that requires almost no space. There are hundreds of free online yoga tutorials on YouTube. Yoga with Adrienne is the most popular series. Cole Chance is also recommended – her workouts, for beginners to more advanced practitioners, take from 10 minutes upwards and target all parts of the body and different times of day and moods.
All you need is some good music. Play your favourite tracks and dance around the house together. It’s such a laugh and will cheer you up no end.
Joe Wicks is streaming live keep fit classes for kids and adults every day at The Body Coach TV https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAxW1XT0iEJo0TYlRfn6rYQ
Sworkit Kids – Fitness routines https://sworkit.com/youth-initiative There is also an app on the Apple app store and Google play store.
Mental health experts agree that it’s important to maintain a routine in the days of isolation, or everything can blur into sameness. Mark out different parts of the day for different activities. Agree a schedule with your kids, so they know when it’s time to do some gaming, when they need to move about, when they need to make food or be helpful, when they need to sleep.
It’s currently difficult to find certain foods in some supermarkets, but there are already lots of ideas online for meals to make with store-cupboard staples. Eat a balanced diet. Get children involved in planning meals and in helping to prepare them. Make sure everyone drinks lots of water, too.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has some excellent advice, including to avoid looking at the news constantly – limit yourself to a couple of times a day. (A constant stream of updates can be very disorientating.)
The WHO also recommends sharing good news – if you hear about a successful vaccine trial, for example, or a slowing infection rate.
This is the time to be mindful about your social media use. Are you really concentrating when you pick up your phone? Could you wait another hour before you look?
This is related to exercise – we all tend to sleep better if we’ve been physically active. So try to fit some exercise into every day. Try some evening yoga to calm you down. And now is definitely the time to enforce a no-screens-before-bed rule.
Lose yourselves in creative activities. It doesn’t matter what the end product looks like – it’s all about the process and maybe learning something new e.g.
Use the time you’ve got to learn something new – perhaps with your children. See the websites under each subject on this page.
Work with your kids on whatever they’re learning – and don’t forget all the useful life-skills that aren’t covered by the curriculum.
Bake and cook together, do some gardening, diy or decorating, learn an instrument or language.
Try everything above and if none of that works, do something you can control. Write down what you’re worried about – in a diary, say – and put it away.
Practise meditation (lots of courses online) and deep breathing. Focus on helping others.
The Headspace app is recommended by some of our staff and is currently free during the crisis. https://www.headspace.com/covid-19
The WHO has very helpful advice, including:
Encourage children to express their feelings. If they feel anxious, they should be able to say so.
Provide them with information. Be honest, but be sure to emphasise the positive: they are not likely to die, more people have recovered from the virus than have passed away.
If they are in a high-risk group, keep them socially isolated and assure them that you are doing everything to protect them and that if you follow the rules together, there is no reason for them to be infected.
And of course, remember that children may need extra love and attention. Keep them close!