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Keeping busy during lockdown

30 Jul 2020

Up and down the UK, there have been some absolutely fabulous activities going on to keep everybody happy, healthy and occupied during lockdown. Whether you were involved by organising activities or getting stuck in and taking part, we think you’re all doing amazingly well and we couldn’t wait to share some of your fantastic ideas and photos.

COVID Time Capsule

Staff and service users at our services in Milton Keynes had a fantastic time creating and burying their COVID-19 time capsule. The worksheets, which are available online, encourage everybody to explore their emotions, write themselves a letter, draw pictures and reflect on some of the positives of life under lockdown.


Gardening and enjoying the outdoors

The summer sun has brought out the gardeners in all of us! During the past few weeks, with the sun shining brightly, people at all of our services have been enjoying the great outdoors, planting, watering and weeding the gardens ready for summer.

Aamir and Mohammed at Highbury Gardens have been busy getting their planter prepared for this season’s produce. Last year, their hard work in the garden meant that they had plenty of lovely home-grown vegetables to enjoy – with everything from peppers and lettuces through to runner beans, courgettes, beetroot and sugar snap peas. With such a bumper crop last year, everyone at Highbury is looking forward to seeing what they manage to grow this year!

For those that haven’t yet got their hands dirty in the garden, it is worth noting that the mental health benefits of gardening, or ecotherapy, can be enormous. With so much negative news and uncertainty, it’s easy to feel unsettled and anxious. Gardens are sensory places, full of sounds, smells, textures and fresh air which can help calm an anxious mind.

Plants such as lavender and rosemary also have scents which can be very calming, while planting edible crops and watching them grow will bring a huge sense of satisfaction – as well as some delicious fresh food to enjoy.


 Celebrating milestones

With limited trips out and big changes to our usual routines, there is a danger that days will run into one another. At times like this, milestones such as birthdays and special events become even more important. It has been great to see so many of you celebrating – from birthdays to easter, to Sparkle for Social Care, to Tutu Thursday(!) and finding an excuse to get everyone together for some fun, food and dancing (there seems to be a lot of dancing!) is a great way to pass the time under lockdown!


Crafting and art

Art therapy has long been used to help people explore their emotions, relieve stress and improve symptoms of anxiety, so it stands to reason that simple crafting activities may also have some benefit beyond just having fun!

Screenshot 2020-07-30 at 5.08.47 PMActivities such as this one, which has instructions for how to make a “Worry Eater” are a great way to have fun, enjoy the calm of crafting and also encourage conversation about the current situation.

  • Use empty tissue boxes to make the monster (any box would work as long as you can cut out a mouth).
  • Decorate the monster using paper, eyes, feathers, pipe cleaners etc. You could also make an animal, shark or whatever else may be more engaging instead of a monster.
  • Talk about worries or “thinking” and identify some worries, thoughts, frustrations, etc. that they/you would like to not think of in that moment.

After you have noticed and written down the worry or thought, you could let it go by feeding it to the monster, or simply acting out the thoughts from your mind and throwing it into the monster’s mouth!



Mindfulness and exercise

The team at Milton Keynes recently shared a fantastic video of everyone getting involved in some mindfulness and meditation sessions designed to release tension and anxiety. While not everyone will have the confidence or knowledge to run these sessions, evidence suggests that any kind of physical activity can have a similar effect and boost mental health. With walks and venturing outside strictly limited, it is great to see so many of you enjoying the gardens, visiting the local park and even dancing inside!


Sensory activities and walks

Lots of you are enjoying some great sensory activities, from mindful colouring and crafting to going out for walks and enjoying the sounds of spring. A good way to help feel calm during times of anxiety can be to acknowledge five things you can see around you: four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two you can smell and one you can taste – incorporating this activity into a daily walk could help to calm anxieties.



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