How To Remain Positive Whilst On Furlough Leave

Due to lockdown, millions of us cannot go to work and are therefore set to become enrolled on furlough leave in the coming weeks. This unfortunately means weeks spent isolated in our homes away from work. During this time there is a legitimate fear that many of us will develop ‘cabin fever’ type symptoms. These involve feelings of sadness/depression, restlessness, lethargy and trouble concentrating. As a team we have been talking and decided to share with you our very best suggestions of how to maintain physical and mental wellbeing in the coming weeks. I hope these help stave off the boredom and ensure you remain positive in these trying times

Make use of your permission to exercise once a day

We have decided to open with perhaps the most impactful activity you can do. Exercising brings a whole host of physical and mental benefits and ultimately lets you remember what fresh air feels like! The main positive of exercise is it improves your mood by decreasing feelings of depression and stress. The good news is that these particular effects are felt regardless of intensity. According to Healthline, you will feel just as good going for a gentle walk as you will doing a high intensity HIT workout for example. Exercising daily will also help you stay in relatively good shape. Although, this may be difficult in a period that is likely to be defined by snacking and sedentary activity!

On a side note: should you be hampered by weather, Joe Wicks is providing free, streamable exercise classes daily. He has also today announced that all the extra revenue he makes from this will be donated to the NHS. This provides all the more reason for you to get involved!

Engage in puzzles and board games to keep your mind ticking!

Remember it is just as important to keep your mind as well as your body active. A great way to stimulate the mind is to take to completing daily puzzles such as crosswords or jigsaws. Brandpoint also note how independently carried out puzzles have similar relaxation effects to meditation. This is due to the level of focus you exhibit upon a single goal. Alternatively, if your entire household is struggling with isolation, a multiplayer board-game is a great way to get the whole family involved! With the range of mental benefits of puzzles whether played alone or with others, it would be well worth indulging in this often-forgotten pastime.

Maintain a regular sleep pattern

During lockdown you shouldn’t be expected to continue to get up at 6:30am as you usually would when working! However, you’ll benefit greatly from having a consistent time that you go to bed and wake up over this period. According to Jessica Lunsford-Avery in her article on Healthline, maintaining a regular sleep cycle will really help boost your energy levels, maintain a positive frame of mind and decrease stress. The last thing that you need during lockdown is a constant feeling of lethargy. So, ensure that you make a consistent sleep cycle a priority.

Retain your office tea drinking habit 

Many of us (myself included) habitually drink tea daily and this actually has some surprising positive health benefits! Nature’s recently published an article on the “mood-altering magic” of tea. Within this psychopharmacologist Andrew Scholey describes how “tea is calming but alerting at the same time”. This summarises the drink’s benefits perfectly, in that it has a calming effect on you but the caffeine content helps increase your focus. What is more, it does this without radically disrupting your nervous system and therefore your sleep cycle as coffee would (tea contains over 50% less caffeine than coffee!). Continue to enjoy a cup of tea a couple of times a day, safe in the knowledge that it is doing you a world of good!

Complete that box set, book or film marathon

With lockdown in the UK set to be in place until at least April 13th (and likely beyond that), it’s safe to say we have a large amount of time on our hands for the foreseeable. Use this unprecedented amount of free time to get engrossed in a series, boxset or book. It will help to offset boredom and make your time spent indoors more bearable. There are many limited time free subscriptions at the minute (such as Amazon Prime Video and Disney+) which will help if you are struggling for viewing options! I would also say with little to look forward to at the minute, going to bed knowing that you have the next chapter or next film coming up provides some kind of excitement for you. Anything like that to keep us upbeat right now can only be a positive!

Challenge yourself and try a new recipe

This is a suggestion of our team’s that I loved! Not only does the current situation award us time as we have just discussed. It also limits our freedom to shop for items as and when we choose. Therefore, I would suggest now is the time to spend a few hours putting to use those ingredients that have long sat in the cupboard and craft a homemade, healthy meal for your family/partner/housemates. Cooking is an extremely rewarding and satisfying activity which again has a host of mental benefits. Moreover, Nutrino outline how cooking at home will mean that you consume less sugar, carbohydrates and fat meaning that it is the healthy option that will limit weight gain. It also helps you focus and gets the creative juices flowing. So cast away temptation to order a takeaway and challenge yourself of an evening!

Listen to music daily

Whilst you are cooking up a storm or on your daily walk/run it is highly recommended that you do so accompanied by music. Listening to music is proven to release dopamine and stimulate positive feelings. It also has a hugely calming effect on you and therefore helps rid you of stress. If this is isn’t enough, it can interestingly greatly benefit your child’s development. Research conducted in the 1990’s concluded that regular exposure to music can help young children speak more clearly. Music can also aid in developing a larger vocabulary and strengthening social and emotional skills. Many of us will now be at home with young children off school. Playing music will be very uplifting!

Stay in contact with friends and family

There is only so much that can be achieved on your own. It is important that you continue to check in with friends and family using your phones and laptops. With the available technology it is so easy to send a positive message or make a call to stay in touch. This is as important for those you are contacting’s sanity as it is for you. Some people are not as well equipped to deal with this situation than others, especially if stuck home alone. Jane Brody of the New York Times mentions in one of her articles that isolated individuals are more likely to experience elevated levels of stress and inflammation. These, in turn, can harm nearly every bodily system, including the brain. So, reaching out to a friend or family member could be very beneficial!

Finally, steer clear from social media and the news as much as you can!

Excessive intake of news or social media will do more harm than good. The average person in the UK checks their phone 28 times per day according to The Independent. Now that you are not working, you will likely get bored much more easily. Therefore, you will be tempted to pick up your phone even more frequently. Resist the urge if you can! Social media will only worsen feelings of sadness/depression. News stories, as reported by Rolf Dobelli of The Guardian, trigger the limbic system and cause you to stress. Obviously, it is important to keep up to date with government advice but consuming hours of news stories on COVID 19 will only serve to unnecessarily worry you. Consume both social media and news only in short spurts in order to stay positive.

Do the things you enjoy and try not to get bogged down by news

The next few weeks may be tough but remember to stay positive as you are saving lives by staying at home. A lot of our advice centres around carrying out the activities you enjoy as much as possible. If you continue to do this as well as stay connected and try to limit yourself from news and reports, you will maintain your physical and mental wellbeing until normality is restored.

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