In these current circumstances, it’s easy to feel despondent during free time. Dark evenings and cold weather mean that we can feel more restricted than we did over summer. Keeping your brain engaged and healthy is just as important in these times as physical activity. With that in mind, here are five ways to keep your mind active during lockdown.
You can always count on a book to transport you away from the problems of the world for a few hours. Now is the time to pick up the book that’s been staring at you from your bookshelf gathering dust. Why not dive back into a favourite series? This is also a good opportunity to get stuck into a chunky novel. There’s no excuse for turning a blind eye to Anna Karenina now! I’d avoid The Yellow Wallpaper for now though… Our Library has plenty of reading recommendations!
Colouring for mindfulness is scientifically proven to lower stress and anxiety levels and has been picked up by millions of people worldwide. There are countless colouring book options online, not to mention some that cater to popular films and TV shows like Downton Abbey, Sherlock and Harry Potter. Why not try doing some colouring whilst listening to an audiobook or calming music? It’s a wonderfully cathartic experience.
Journaling has seen a tremendous increase in popularity in recent years as it has become a therapeutic means for teens and adults to express themselves creatively. There are no rules when it comes to journaling; one can use it as a diary, a mood board or simply somewhere to jot down your thoughts. There are many very popular social media accounts dedicated to recording the creation of journals – you can use them for inspiration! A few good ones that I’ve found on Instagram include @the_positive_planner, @planningmindfully, @abulletandsomelines and @menwhobullet.
One of the best ways to keep mentally active during lockdown is to take up an online class in something you’re passionate about. If you don’t usually have time to research then now is the perfect opportunity! The best websites for online classes are MOOC.org, coursera.org and edx.org. These sites have thousands of free classes, some of which are interactive. The courses usually consist of a series of video lectures that you can take notes on or just watch. There are courses offered by the top universities in the world and conducted by experts in their field. Personally, I very much recommend the French course on Nihilism uploaded by the Sorbonne which can be found on the edx.org website.
Is there no better combination than a good puzzle and a nice cup of tea? Having an ‘ongoing’ puzzle is a great way to unwind and is a fun continuous project to have on the side. It encourages a temporary unplug from social media and is a fantastic tool for mediation. It exercises both sides of the brain and improves both short term memory and visual-spatial awareness. Jigsaws are also a fun way to connect with family – the silent teamwork that comes with doing a jigsaw puzzle with other people is a lot more relaxing than the sour divisions often caused by an especially tense game of Monopoly!
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