We’ll continue to push for climate solutions from the government, but our main priority right now is each other.
The pandemic is likely to take a financial, physical and emotional toll on us all in ways big and small. That’s why we’ve put together some suggestions which may help your wellbeing during this unsettling time. Plus, they’re good for the planet.
This virus reminds us that we're all part of the same global community, and we need to co-operate to solve global problems. Look after yourself, look after each other, look after the planet.
Of course, it’s important to remember that government advice on COVID-19 is constantly being updated – so please check the latest guidance before undertaking some of the activities outlined.
1. Create a wildlife-friendly haven
If you have a garden, patio or roomy windowsill at your disposal, turn it into a mini-haven for our wildlife.
There are numerous ways to give nature a boost, however small your outdoor space is:
- Help feed our bees and butterflies by planting nectar-rich plants and shrubs. Pots on a patio, herbs in a planter and even a hanging basket or window box can help. There’s so much satisfaction from seeing a tiny little seedling sprout, so for added incentive, put a seedling or two by your laptop and watch it grow daily.
- Build a bee hotel for your garden and provide a home for these crucial pollinators. Attract them to your little patch of the world with our Bee Saver Kit, which contains wildflower seeds (as well as a garden planner and cute bee postcards).
- Create a woodpile. Woody cuttings from trees and shrubs can provide a habitat for mosses, lichens and fungi, as well as insects.
- If you have a lawn, give your mower – and back – a rest by letting some of it grow longer. When you do mow, cutting less often will help give pollinators and other insects places to feed and shelter among the grass.
- Use peat-free compost – this is really easy to do and just takes a quick check of the packaging. Peatlands are important habitat for birds, insects and plants, and they store billions of tonnes of carbon. Help keep our threatened peat bogs intact by using one of the many good alternative composts that now exist.
- Dig a small pond, or research how to install a water feature to provide a habitat for insects, frogs and newts – as well as water for birds. Go rogue and using anything you have lying around rather than thinking you must go shopping for materials first. This is definitely one of the more time-intensive home activities to embark on, but we promise that these are the ones that massively repay with added satisfaction.
- Put up a feeder to attract birds to your garden, balcony or windowsill – the RSPB has simple, family-friendly instructions for making your own – and learn the songs of different birds.
2. Keeping distance but staying in touch
With social contact temporarily on hold, our need to stay connected with family and friends still needs to be met. Even introverts are starting to miss people. As well as standard phone calls, get familiar with group calls and video chats on places like WhatsApp and Facebook, and explore platforms like Zoom if you want to chat online to a bigger group.
When did you last take time to write mail that wasn’t electronic? A lot of us have forgotten what our handwriting looks like and nobody can deny the delight of a letter from a friend, near or far. Staying connected doesn’t mean total reliance on a wi-fi connection. Until Royal Mail indicate otherwise, the post is still operating as normal, so re-discover the original instant messenger and pen a letter to a someone: it'll make their day, and help fill yours with satisfaction from handwriting instead of constant keyboard typing.
It’s also a great time to get to know your neighbours if you don’t already (at a safe distance, of course). Many communities have already banded together and created WhatsApp groups to help vulnerable people or those in self-isolation – check out COVID-19 Mutual Aid to see if there’s a group in your area. Or just ask your neighbour over the fence.
3. Ace of green space
We’re currently allowed outside our homes for just a short amount of time each day, so make the most of it and drink it in.
A run or a bike ride to a local park or other green space will help combat cabin fever and take a break from the same four walls. And you won’t just be getting exercise. The World Health Organisation says green spaces are important for improving our wellbeing and helping our mental health.
Thankfully, you don’t need to confine wildlife to your daily jaunt outside. Take the time to research and learn a bit more about nature near you. What's that bird you can hear, what's that wildflower you walk past every day? Follow the RSPB’s #BreakfastBirdwatch hashtag to learn more about the birds singing in your garden. Or download one of the many apps that help us read natural signs and learn what nature is trying to tell and show us, especially in the first phase of spring.
4. Physical and mental wellbeing
There's so much you can do at home to boost your physical and mental wellbeing. Sit-ups, burpees, planks, and other exercises give you great workouts without needing any equipment. And, of course, there’s the bottomless trove of the internet for exercise inspiration and free workouts for all abilities.
Yoga is well-suited to doing at home, as it requires minimal space and equipment, and you can do it to fit around your daily routine. If you're a beginner or need some guidance, our partner Liforme has produced a guide to home yoga practice to get you started.
Take a quick look at YouTube and you’ll see body coach Joe Wick getting children active all over the UK with his free PE classes every weekday at 9am.
Looking after our mental wellbeing is important at the best of times. Meditation apps such as Headspace can help you de-stress and focus, and there are countless other meditation resources online to explore while we're adapting to new routines.
5. Soul food
As the old saying goes, cooking is good for the soul. It can also be a chance to get creative, particularly as food shopping becomes more challenging. We’ve put together a list of cheap and (relatively) easy recipes as recommended by staff and supporters, so try giving them a go.
And if there’s any food left over after you’ve done your magic in the kitchen, then try composting your food waste if you don’t already. It makes great soil improver, which can be used to grow your own herbs and vegetables.
6. Become a bookworm
Tired of being taunted by that half-finished biography by the bed? Catch up on all the reading you meant to do but could never prioritise. Why not just peruse your shelves for any book with a bookmark – now’s the time to finish it. There's no end of immersive worlds in reading so it’s a perfect time to delve into that as-yet untouched novel, or finish one you’ve already started. Take a look at recommendations from our staff on books and films to distract yourself with and maybe even try making yourself sleepy by reading a real book before going to bed.
7. Spring into action
"The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home..."
A spot of spring-cleaning may not be the most enticing idea, but you might never get a better time to mend that broken shelf, (finally) clean the oven, or revamp the spare bedroom. And, if you’re clearing out your house and garden, remember to check which items can be refilled, re-used and recycled.
While you’re at it, try your hand at making eco-friendly cleaning products. Vinegar is a cheap, non-toxic alternative to popular cleaning products – and we promise it won’t leave your home smelling like a bag of chips.
8. Keep on quizzing
Is there hidden plastic in your teabags? Do birds flying low mean it'll rain?
Test your knowledge – and challenge your friends at your next Zoom party.
9. Make your voice heard
From climate breakdown and plastic pollution to protecting our precious wildlife sites, there’s a wide world of environmental campaigning that you can be part of and help bring about positive change. Go online and find out how you can help make the world a better place.
And finally, there’s brilliant advice out there, from the innovative to the unexpected, for filling this strange time on our hands. But you know what? Let’s also remember to down digital tools and just daydream, watch a bird out of the window or stare into the middle-distance. Many of us have more time on our hands because the commuting distance from bedroom to "office" is considerably shorter, so let’s see what it’s like (and what creativity abounds) when we let ourselves be bored.
Stay well, everyone.