Earlier in the year, we were told very abruptly to stay at home, wash our hands frequently and avoid any social interactions with people outside of our household. The biggest pandemic of our lifetime was happening right in front of our very eyes, and it was to no-one’s surprise that we saw a considerable rise in mental health cases within the first two weeks of lockdown. Let’s face it, we have had a whirlwind of a year already which has certainly taken a strain on our health and wellbeing. It is now more important than ever to keep our bodies healthy but not forget our minds as well.
It is a human’s natural instinct to talk, interact and be around other human beings. When you take this out of someone’s day-to-day life, even for one day, it can have considerable negative impacts on their mental health. We, as a nation, had to do this for over 3 months solid. We often see social media as a burden to society however, throughout lockdown, social media has been our means of keeping somewhat sane. Having the ability to see our friends and family over a video call or be able to message them whenever we were feeling lonely has been the best medicine any doctor could prescribe.
Schools are set to begin again in September and for some children, they haven’t been to school since March. To say they have had a change in their lives is an understatement. The government has observed children as being very versatile, they can adapt to changing situations very quickly but this doesn’t mean it won’t affect them at all.
Children and teenagers may react very differently to starting school again. Each and every pupil would have suffered a loss over lockdown, whether that be a relative who has passed or a loss of social interaction and routine. If you are a parent or teacher, look carefully for signs of withdraw, anger, sadness or anxiety as everyone will react in different ways.
The same can be said for adults returning to work. There are plenty of specialist websites or phone lines you can contact or refer to if you are worried about yourself or your loved ones. For example, Samaritans and One You & Anxiety UK. The main thing to remember is that listening is enough. If you are not confident speaking about mental health yourself, allow another person to be able to speak to you. It can take a while for someone to open up to you, so start by talking about a common interest you have perhaps. Talking is the best way to take the weight off your shoulders.
Meeting with friends and family outside of your household is still restricted to 1 metre however we encourage you do meet up for a socially distanced catch up as we are a nation that has been deprived of this for quite some time. As we mentioned previously, talking is one of the best ways to reduce stress and ease anxiety which will, in turn, benefit your mental health.
Completing mindfulness activities like sports, meditation, yoga; anything that enables you to concentrate on that particular hobby is a great way to distract the mind from any worries or anxieties.
During lockdown, there has been an increased number of people nationwide who jumped on the home workouts wagon or taking more time out of their day to do a form of exercise. Now that our schedules are slowly filling back up again, it is so important not to neglect exercise.
The easiest form of exercise is walking. We do it every day. It is free, simple and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. A powerwalk for 10 minutes a day is recommended for your health.
There is a wide range of walking routes in and around Plymouth for your use. Plymouth’s Waterfront Walkway is a great route that starts at Admirals Hard and finishes at Jenny Cliff. There is a free map you can download on www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk which gives you an easy-to-follow route that even the kids can follow! This walking trail will take you along Plymouth’s Maritime environment as you walk the famous South West Coast Path, enjoying the stunning views on the way.
If you fancy going somewhere more manicured, head to Saltram. Grab a picnic and take a leisurely stroll across the regal grounds of the Estate. The paths are ideal for kids and easily accessible for wheelchair users. Saltram is owned by the National Trust, therefore, unless you have a membership, it will cost you £8 for adults and £4 for children to enter the gardens and an additional £3 for parking. Pre-booking is required. For more walking trails owned by The National Trust, head over to www.nationaltrust.org.uk
If you are after a slightly faster-paced adventure, why not try out one of Devon’s many beautiful cycle routes.
Plymouth Bike Hire offers a wide range of bikes with prices starting from £10 for a child’s bike and £15 for an adult bike. If you are worried about Covid-19, all bikes are sanitised before and after every hire. This is located at the beginning of the Plym Valley Trail which you can join for free.
If you own a bike and are wondering where you can take it for a spin, try Cann Woods. Situated near Roborough, Cann Woods is predominantly for the mountain biking enthusiasts with a range of trails and features including twists, turns, jumps and even some berms. There are also tracks which are wider and steadier for the whole family to enjoy.
If you are thinking of doing something different, try out the Cann Woods Segway experiences and glide effortlessly through the trees taking in the surrounding woodland.
With Gym’s re-opening across the country, there are plenty to choose from in and around Plymouth. The array of gyms caters for different interests and abilities; from weight-lifting, boxing and health clubs as-well-as chain gyms.
Fort Stamford Health & Fitness centre offers a lifestyle, not just a gym. With fitness classes, a swimming pool, squash courts and a conservatory overlooking the Plymouth Sound, this is all included in the membership price. For more information and reassurance about Covid-19 and the safety at Fort Stamford, head to the Fort Stamford business profile.
It is virtually impossible to live in a coastal city and not explore the range of activities on the water. Mount Batten Watersports & Activities Centre offers a wide range of supervised sessions to get you on the water. They are providing TryKayak and TrySUP sessions for mixed abilities and ages which is great fun for the family.
With restaurants now open again, this is the time to support your local business and indulge in your favourite foods. Covid-19 restrictions are still in place so make sure you are only with people of your own household or a part of your ‘support bubble’. Many restaurants and pubs now have a takeaway system in place so if you plan to meet a friend for a socially distanced meal, grab yourself a takeaway and eat it outside together like a picnic instead. The Hoe is a great place to enjoy a picnic whilst soaking up the views of the sea.
Take advantage of the digital age and try out some of the free apps on offer for both Android and IOS devices. For apps dedicated to mental health look for; Calm, Headspace and Meditopia. If you are searching for workout motivation, iprescribe Exercise gives you tailored exercise plans based on the information you supply. If you are looking for an app that could change your lifestyle, look for Deliciously Ella, Sleep Cycle and Smoke free. All these apps are free and the changes you make will have a positive impact on your daily life.
Make the most of the eases of lockdown and stay fit and healthy, in both your mind and body. There are endless possibilities for you to get outside and enjoy what Plymouth has to offer. With more places opening up day-by-day, it has never been more important to support local businesses and take care of your wellbeing.