Your ultimate lockdown 2 survival guide

Eufemia Didonato

We are wiser today, and hopefully better prepared. Here's how to prep for the next 48 hours - and beyond 
We are wiser today, and hopefully better prepared. Here’s how to prep for the next 48 hours – and beyond
You are not alone - in article puff - compact version
You are not alone – in article puff – compact version

So, here we go again. On Thursday we will see England become the last of the four home nations to be cast back into lockdown, to last at least four weeks.

We all now face an unwelcome re-run of the dark days of spring, when our lives were suddenly restricted in a way we’d never imagined. This time, we at least know what’s coming – though the days will truly be dark, and not just metaphorically.

When coronavirus first forced the UK into prolonged house arrest, at least the weather was on our side. As grim as the headlines became, there remained that miraculous sunshine beaming in through our windows; the promise of summer ahead. Now, the nights are drawing in. What would otherwise be a time of festive excitement, cosy pub lunches and socialising will this year feature little to none of the above.

However determined you are to become ‘one of those all-weather outdoors people’, all but the stiffest resolve will be tested sorely. If you were experiencing pandemic fatigue by September (who wasn’t?), it’s hard to know quite what to call the feeling of overwhelming weariness engendered by our current predicament.

But this need not be cause for despair. We are wiser today, and hopefully better prepared. Many have lost loved ones, jobs or businesses this year; others have struggled on; and some have even managed to claw back some positives from the wreckage of 2020. Let’s focus on these positives now: on getting through the next few weeks armed with our hard-won knowledge. As before, let’s remember we may be physically apart but need not be emotionally so.

Here’s how to get yourself ready in the coming 48 hours before restrictions are reimposed – and then how to survive (and perhaps even thrive…) during Lockdown 2.

HEALTH
HEALTH

The next 48 hours

Reassuringly, there is no need to panic-book your medical appointments before Thursday. NHS services including GPs, dentists, opticians, mental health services and physiotherapists will be allowed to stay open. Professional bodies such as The College of Optometrists, British Dental Association (BDA) and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists are advising members to stay open and continue taking appointment bookings as normal.

However, the government has suggested that key workers get priority during the upcoming lockdown, so booking an appointment might prove harder than usual. If that’s the case, don’t panic.

“We will get patients in,” assures Dr David Cottam, chairman of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee and a practising dentist. “If patients are in trouble or it’s an emergency, we get them in. If you have a problem, call your dentist. Don’t think they won’t be able to see you or give advice over the phone. Emergencies are being looked after and looked after well.”

Your checklist:

The next four weeks

Dropping temperatures, darker mornings and the closure of indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, including gyms and swimming pools… you’d be forgiven for thinking, workout-wise, there’s little to look forward to for the foreseeable.

“When it comes to exercise, there are up and downsides to a winter lockdown,” says personal trainer Lee Mullins, founder of the Workshop Gymnasium. “The upside is that personal trainers and gyms are better positioned than ever before to work digitally because we’ve spent the last six months overhauling our entire business models and moving workouts online.”

The second upside, says Mullins, is this time around, the government hasn’t limited exercise outside the house to one hour once a day, or solely with members of your household. “You can now exercise – at a safe distance – with one person from another household, which might mean your local personal trainer or a friend, which we know increases motivation.”

A study from Michigan State University found that working out with a friend motivates us to work out harder and longer compared with exercising alone. The downside, however, is the weather. “The timing of the last lockdown coincided with the most incredible spring and summer,” says Mullins, who appreciates that his clients find it harder to exercise outside in muddy, wet and windy weather. “However, I tell them there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad workout clothes. So, November-proof your workouts in lots of warm, waterproof, sweat-wicking layers.”

A spell of cold weather can even give your efforts a boost: keeping the core body temperature regulated and blood pumping is far more difficult when the mercury drops, which means you have to work harder to stay warm while exercising. Studies are yet to conclude that we burn more calories exercising in the cold outdoors, but doing so is thought to boost endurance, at the very least, as reduced levels of sweat and dehydration mean fatigue will set in less quickly. Lastly, Mullins says we should think about our emotional as well as physical fitness this time around, and advises mixing up high-intensity workouts with yoga, strength training, walking and being in nature.

“It’s better for our physical and mental health to do low intensity exercise every day than one punishing workout a week. And it reduces our risk of injury, too.”  

Your checklist:

  • Find a friend to enjoy outdoor exercise with, it’s great for motivation (and a chance to see someone outside your household)

  • Book in for some online workouts as there should now be plenty more to choose from

  • Invest in some warm tracksuits and waterproofs so the weather isn’t quite so daunting! 

By Maria Lally

DIET
DIET

The next 48 hours   

Back in March, we spent the last frantic days before lockdown queuing outside supermarkets. When we made it in, either we bought kilos of pasta and reams of loo roll, or we were met with empty shelves. Steer clear of the emotional shopping this time around, and use these final days to prepare to eat well instead.

If you can buy in bulk, invest in some glass storage jars, says Lily Soutter, a Harley Street nutritionist, adding: “Reducing exposure to air helps to reduce the rate at which food degrades.”

She also recommends stocking up on frozen vegetables and fruit, which have the same nutritional value as fresh.

Your checklist:

For the next four weeks

The new restrictions recommend anyone who can work from home should be doing so, which means a lot of us will feel tempted to eat while we work.

This is a real no-no, says Soutter: “Avoid eating at your desk, in front of your phone or the TV – eating in a distracted manner can increase consumption of foods high in sugar, fat and salt, and decrease your consumption of fruit and vegetables”. She recommends eating mindfully: taking just a short while to focus fully on what you are eating, and listening out for fullness cues.

You can also think about how your environment affects your appetite. If at all possible, try to avoid working in the kitchen, where it can be easy to graze on snacks throughout the day. If you do have to, store tempting food out of sight in the cupboards instead of on the counters. Studies show that when snacks are stored in clear containers, people eat more of them.

On the other hand, working from home for some people means they no longer have a structured lunch break, and may be so rushed off their feet that they miss meals. Soutter recommends keeping some good-quality meal replacement drinks and bars on hand for the very busy days.

She’s a fan of YFood drinks, made from milk, grains and oils and fortified with vitamins and minerals. Eating well can also help us stay feeling mentally well during the next lockdown. Eating plenty of fibre will help prevent energy crashes which can make you irritable.

Fibre will also feed good bacteria in your gut, which play a role in maintaining good mental health. Soutter recommends stocking up on healthy snacks such as hummus and raw vegetables, or peanut butter with an apple or banana.

Also make sure you are eating enough healthy fats by eating at least one portion of oily fish a week. “Oily fish has omega-3 fats which will nourish your brain and help with memory, concentration and mood.”

Your checklist:

  • Try not to eat while distracted and prepare food mindfully

  • Keep snacks out of sight to avoid temptation

  • Meal replacement bars and drinks are a good option for busy days working from home

  • Eat plenty of high-fibre, healthy foods and eat at least one portion of oily fish weekly

MENTAL HEALTH
MENTAL HEALTH

 The next 48 hours

“The single most important thing to remember right now is to not panic,” says psychologist Linda Blair.

“Don’t rush around trying to get everything done, or see everybody, in the next two days. Otherwise you’ll feel like you’ve hit a wall before Lockdown 2 even gets started. We’re far more productive and focused when we learn to slow down.”

Instead, Blair suggests taking several deep, slow breaths whenever you feel overwhelmed and to remember that you have time to buy Christmas presents.

“Lastly, spend some time over the next couple of days imagining how you’ll feel on Wednesday December 3, when the new measures are expected to lift. What will you do? Who will you see? Once you’ve decided, spend time thinking about how you’ll prepare for it.”

Your checklist:

The next four weeks

Give yourself choice: “The key issue we’ll face over the next four weeks is feeling a loss of control,” says Blair. “So allow yourself to choose which, of the following mental health advice, you follow and how you follow it.”

Exercise every day: This is the single most important thing to do, says Blair. “Nothing will help you more over the coming weeks. We have studies that show exercise is as good for depression as antidepressants. It’s the most powerful way to keep your mood up, plus it usually incorporates other things on this list, like social interaction, being in nature, or daylight. At least 20 minutes of any-intensity exercise a day will give you the maximum endorphins needed to help your mood.”

Start a gratitude journal: Blair suggests getting a notebook and at the end of each day writing two things in it: “Who am I grateful to today? And what’s the one thing I’m grateful for today? That’s it. It’s so simple, yet this has been shown to have a really powerful effect on mood.”

Don’t ‘doomscroll’: “Flicking endlessly through bad news on your phone or TV screen is completely irresistible, but it won’t help your mood,” says Blair. “However, neither will shutting off from the news and being uninformed.”

Instead, Blair suggests pre-planning when you’re going to check the news (“Don’t do it an hour before bedtime – other than that, it’s up to you”), sticking only with reputable news sources and limiting time spent on social media.

Plan for the worst: “Imagine what a virtual Christmas would look like, so if Lockdown 2 does continue through the festive period, the disappointment won’t overwhelm you.”

Maintain social contact: “Every day, reach out to somebody who matters to you, whether that’s your postman, thanking him for all his hard work, or calling your mum because she loves to hear from you, going for a walk (safely…) with a good friend, or hugging your child if they live with you.”

Our levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, drop, and levels of oxytocin (the ‘safety hormone’) rise when we’re in contact with somebody we love.

See some daylight: Get outside every day to get light exposure, which lifts our mood, and take a vitamin D supplement. Try Wild Nutrition Food Grown Vitamin D (£15 for 30 days supply from wildnutrition.com).

Your checklist:

By Maria Lally

EXTENDED FRIEND AND FAMILY
EXTENDED FRIEND AND FAMILY

The next 48 hours

To stay connected during the first lockdown, we went digital. This lockdown, we’re going postal. Letters, artwork and presents can all be sent in the post and are guaranteed to lift the recipient’s spirits as well as your own; sending a quick greeting card is more therapeutic all round than a Zoom call.

Do an audit of your address book, and look up which of your friends face a dismal Lockdown 2.0 birthday. Buy stylish stationery before the shops close, stock up on stamps, padded envelopes and masking tape, and research joyful delivery companies such as The Happy Mail and Don’t Buy Her Flowers for treats that can be sent directly.

WhatsApp groups will still prove a lifeline for many, so use this time to collect your neighbours’ numbers and to set a few ground rules (offers to buy groceries = yes; month-old memes and conspiracy theories = no). This time there’s no excuse not to have Granny online with you, so before the tech shops shut buy her a secondhand laptop, set her up on Zoom and load her up some good books on Audible.

Age UK has published free guides to helping the elderly navigate the online world, while KOMP is a one-button video call device for those who struggle with new technology (£39/month to hire).  

Your checklist:

The next four weeks

If quiz fatigue set in around week three of the first lockdown, and your group chats get too politically charged to be enjoyable, it’s time to up your Zoom game. Set up a group activity such as Christmas baking, or pay for a live masterclass (Bread Ahead teaches lessons for £10 a head). Watch 2Gether allows you to enjoy big sporting events across households via the BT Sport app, while Teleparty does the same for Netflix.

Gaming has long been the preserve of monosyllabic teens, but now beggars can’t be choosers so it’s worth a shot. Snake Rivals (think Nokia’s addictive ‘Snake’) can be played in a group via an app on your phone for free, while bridge and Scrabble are just as engaging online.

For friends you rarely see but who you love, surprise them with a gossipy postcard or bottle of wine in the post, from the likes of Winebuyers or Naked Wines. To celebrate lockdown birthdays, find a local business to deliver a cake, order matching party decorations and set up a Spotify playlist for a Zoom cocktail hour. For an extra flourish, order them a bespoke video message by their favourite celebrity from Cameo.

If your grandchildren hate video conversations, give them an online tour of around your garden or lockdown project on Zoom or FaceTime, or keep in touch the foolproof way – by sending money – instead. And remember, this time round the ‘one-plus-one’ rule means one person can meet one other person from a different household, so you are not alone: organise a walk with a friend, take a Thermos of brandy hot chocolate, and enjoy the blessed company of someone else.

Your checklist:

  • Up your Zoom game by looking into online group activities like baking and sporting events

  • Consider trying your hand at some online gaming (well, if you can’t beat ’em…)

  • Don’t forget to take advantage of the ‘one-plus-one’ rule and have a walk with a friend

By Yolanthe Fawehinmi & Lisa Williams

DIY
DIY

The next 48 hours

The closure of hardware superstores at the start of the first lockdown caught many would-be DIY-ers by surprise. But you won’t have to make do, redecorating the spare room in whatever leftover paint is in the loft, this time. Hardware shops are likely to stay open, so there is no rush to get decorating materials in before Thursday.

However, be aware that paint companies struggled to meet demand first time round, when sales were up over 300 per cent on last year – so it might be worth getting your order in soonish. One of the most transformative things you can do in a room, particularly during the winter months, is to get your lighting right.

Although tradespeople will be allowed to enter your home during lockdown, there’s plenty you can do without having to call in an electrician, such as fitting dimmer switches, and ordering colour-changing lightbulbs that allow you to transition from a bright light during the day to a warm glow in the evening (available on Amazon).

Buying table lamps to create pools of light in the corners of a room, rather than relying on overhead pendant lights or spotlights, also helps to create a cosy ambience. Changing up your accessories can also make a room feel completely different: buy sheepskins or blankets to cover armchairs, or try swapping in a few new cushion covers for a change of scene (H&M has a great range in lots of colours and patterns, from £2.99).

Your checklist:

  • Paint may be one of the items in short supply, so think about an early order

  • Improve your lockdown mood with some new lighting or changing up your soft furnishings

The next four weeks

With any luck, this lockdown will be shorter than the last one, so don’t be too ambitious with planning any decorating or DIY projects that you won’t get around to completing. Painting is one of the cheapest ways to transform a room, and you don’t need to cover all four walls: adding a mural or updating a piece of furniture will add impact and might only require a tester pot or two.

For inspiration, take to Instagram and follow interiors bloggers Lisa Dawson (@_lisa_dawson_), Melanie Lissack (@melanielissackinteriors) and Bianca Hall (@frenchforpineapple), all of whom have plenty of ideas for painting tricks, decor hacks and styling (and helpfully post tips and how-to videos). Check out influencer Lily Pebbles too (@lilypebbles), who recently posted a video showing how she painted a simple arch mural in the corner of her office – a neat trick for pepping up an uninspiring home workspace.

Painting a chair – or, perhaps, garden furniture, in readiness for when outdoor entertaining is back on – is another project that you can do in a day (if you’re one of the thousands who have bought up garden gazebos over the past few months, you could use it to set up a dedicated alfresco painting station). Farrow & Ball’s colour curator Joa Studholme suggests painting wooden indoor dining chairs the same colour as the walls for a sophisticated effect, or trying a bold colour on just the legs of your chairs or table. As she points out, strong colours are easier to live with when they are below the eyeline.

Finally, now is the time to organise a thorough clean of your home, whether you’re embarking on it yourself or booking a cleaner (also currently still permitted). Don’t forget your windows: making sure they are sparkling clean on the inside as well as the outside will help to maximise what natural light there is over the coming weeks, and cheer up your view of the outside world.

Your checklist:

  • Painting a piece of furniture or a mural is a short-term project that could see you through until December

  • Seek out interiors bloggers on Instagram for inspiration

  • Embark on a thorough house clean, either yourself or with the help of a cleaner

By Jessica Doyle

WFH
WFH

The next 48 hours

In the last lockdown, Britons experienced a ‘posture pandemic’ caused by working on makeshift office equipment. So this time around, focus on designing a workspace that is ergonomically perfect.

“Before you leave the office, ask your HR team what’s needed to create the right setup: your laptop should be elevated, you should have an external keyboard, and a chair that improves your seated posture,” says Sadie Restorick, a specialist in workplace wellbeing. She adds that for optimum productivity in winter, we should position our desk by a window to get the most natural light possible. For the long evenings, consider buying a SAD lamp for your desk to help maintain your energy levels. Even a simple pot plant can have a mood-boosting effect.

With schools remaining open, home-workers won’t have the additional strain of childcare. However, to combat the pressure of appearing ‘always on’, Restorick says it’s a good idea to have an honest conversation with your manager about your family’s schedule over the next month. “Be upfront about what you can’t do, and the times you will be unavailable, such as during the school run,” she says.

Your checklist:

The next four weeks

We tend to feel more lethargic in the winter months, which could increase our risk of developing burnout. According to Restorick, shifting your exercise routine to the morning will improve your energy levels.

To avoid overworking, workplace wellbeing expert Anji McGrandles says we should log off at the same time each day, and reserve the dark evenings for mood-boosting activities. “Batch-cook healthy meals, sign up to an online course, or start to plan your Christmas gifts,” she says.

Heating bills may be a cause for concern this year, too. According to a study by Energy Helpline, the average household energy bill could climb by £107 this winter for those working from home five days a week. Under existing government rules, workers are guaranteed compensation for remote working costs via tax relief from HMRC; between £1.20 and £2.40 a week, depending on the rate of tax you pay.

“Your company might support you when it comes to covering some of the cost of utility bills, so it’s always worth asking,” says McGrandles. Alternatively, buy a small electric heater to go under your desk, or some draught excluders for your doorways.

Dreading Zoom fatigue already? There might be new rules for that. According to Imogen Dall, author of The Burnout Survival Kit, some companies have introduced ‘think-time’ since the last lockdown, when Zoom calls are banned during certain times in the day. If this option isn’t available, be clear about your boundaries and don’t get drawn into office politics.

“This time around, we know that not every meeting has to be a video chat; send emails where you can, and don’t be afraid to say no to co-workers if you’ve got too much on,” says McGrandles.

And, finally, get a virtual Christmas party with your colleagues in the diary. “Having something to look forward to in these times is an important way of boosting team morale,” says Restorick.

Your checklist:

  • Move your workout to the morning

  • Log off at the same time each day and fill your evenings with activities that make you feel good

  • Make sure you find out about your entitlement for help with winter energy bills

  • Cut back on Zoom calls, if you can

  • Book in a virtual work Christmas party

By Alice Hall

ENTERTAINMENT
ENTERTAINMENT

The next 48 hours

Just when we hoped that the live arts were getting back on their collective feet, theatres, concert halls, museums and galleries will all close from Thursday. So, for a final curtain, you should try and head to the National Gallery’s Artemisia exhibition, which showcases the work of art history’s greatest ever heroine, and for some mordant laughs Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt at London’s Apollo, based on his bestselling memoir of life as a junior NHS doctor.

You will also, of course, want to make the next month more bearable by organising yourself with some online subscriptions. For films, try Mubi, which is currently offering a 30-day free trial (that’s 30 days of film watching), while, for the whole family, you could do worse than subscribe to Disney+ for £5.99 a month, to prevent temper tantrums during those long autumnal weekends (and at least adults can watch The Mandalorian).

Meanwhile, bookworms with time on their hands should look at the ethically responsible website bookshop.org, which not only offers some decent discounts but also allows independent booksellers to essentially offer a shopfront on the site with the stores receiving the full profit margin from each sale. Happy hunting!

Your checklist:  

  • Head to the National Gallery’s Artemisia exhibition or, for laughs, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt at London’s Apollo

  • Look into some new online film subscriptions, like Mubi or Disney+

  • Ethically responsible website bookshop.org is a must for booklovers

The next four weeks

Traditionally, the autumn is a strong time for TV, and this year is no exception. The most talked-about show will no doubt be The Crown, which moves to the era of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership and the marriage of Charles and Diana, and is available to stream on Netflix from November 15. Meanwhile, the second series of His Dark Materials (based on Philip Pullman’s superb fantasy trilogy) will air on the BBC from November 8, while Steve McQueen’s masterly quintet of films about Black British life, Small Axe (already raved about on the festival circuit), comes to BBC One from November 15.

In terms of TV streaming sites, you should look beyond the usual suspects and consider Channel 4’s All4, which has an extraordinarily rich catalogue from the broadcaster’s history. Similarly, if British drama is your thing, head to uk.acorn.tv, where you can see recent fare as well as classics such as Rumpole of the Bailey, the perfect comfort viewing.

As the future of theatre is thrown once more into doubt, you will need to start streaming – you should catch What a Carve Up, based on Jonathan Coe’s satirical novel. In terms of other theatrical streaming services, broadwayhd.com includes content that is bound to cheer you up, such as 42nd Street and Billy Elliot. Obviously, with cinemas closing, big blockbuster films are going to be in short supply, but Mank, about the nightmare of making Citizen Kane and starring Gary Oldman, comes to Netflix from November 13.

Curling up with a good book is, no doubt, essential, and so Barack Obama’s A Promised Land (due November 17, and the first of the former president’s two-part memoir) arrives at a perfect time. Most intriguing is Kiss Myself Goodbye, in which Ferdinand Mount unravels the secret history of his Aunt Munca. The fact that she named herself after a Beatrix Potter mouse is the least extraordinary thing about her.

Your checklist:  

  • Your TV must-sees: The Crown, His Dark Materials, Small Axe

  • For streaming, try Channel 4’s All4 or uk.acorn.tv

  • Seek broadwayhd.com for online theatre offerings

  • Mank tops the best movie releases on Netflix

  • Books include Barack Obama’s A Promised Land and Ferdinand Mount’s Kiss Myself Goodbye

By Ben Lawrence

SHOPPING
SHOPPING

The next 48 hours

If we learnt anything last time, it was that owning six years’ worth of toilet paper did nothing except waste space in the house. 

Supermarkets and essential shops will remain open, and the British Retail Consortium said last month that supply chains were “stronger than ever before”. No issues around the availability of food or other goods were anticipated during a future lockdown.

Your focus in the next 48 hours should rather be on anything you might need from non-essential shops and which can’t easily be bought online. Be warned that if you opt for a last-minute Ikea trip, the queues are likely to be long. 

Your checklist:  

The next four weeks

Stricken retail businesses are pleading with consumers to start their Christmas shopping early to help keep them afloat in what’s been a disastrous year. For many retailers, the so-called “golden quarter” between Halloween and Christmas is their busiest and most profitable time of the year. Being forced to close just as we head into it is expected to take a heavy toll on an already struggling high street. 

You can help support local independent shops by buying from them over the phone or online during these weeks, some are even offering video call ‘tours’ of their shelves to help you shop. If there ever was a good excuse to get in the Christmas spirit early, then helping businesses stay afloat might be it.

Popular purchases during the last lockdown included plants, storage solutions, office furniture and candles. Perhaps now is the time to think about board games, books, festive decorations and cold weather clothing and footwear. 

There was some excitement about firepits earlier in the autumn, as the possible answer to all our problems. If you’re genuinely likely to sit in the garden with your family of an evening, when you could be curled up on the sofa, then by all means get involved. But given the restrictions on inviting friends over to your garden, this may be a time to think more of how to improve your time spent inside instead.

Among suggestions being shared online yesterday for how to make lockdown life bearable were: a bike; some seeds to plant; a pair of knitting needles; a cross-trainer; posh tea; and a dog. Be aware there’s no easy way of ditching the cross-trainer or the dog after lockdown.

Bear in mind also that in addition to supermarkets and other food shops, businesses allowed to stay open include pharmacies, health shops, newsagents, pet shops, hardware stores, garden centres, petrol stations and bicycle shops.

Your checklist:  

  • Choose independent shops over big chains for Christmas shopping

  • Think about winter activities like board games, books, festive decorations and cold weather clothing 

  • Pets (and cross trainers) are not just for lockdown so consider purchases carefully

 By Lisa Williams

BEAUTY
BEAUTY

The next 48 hours

For those with barnets in need of urgent attention, many hairdressers have extended their opening hours for tonight and tomorrow night to cram in as many last-minute appointments as they can. “Ask for a haircut that will still look good as it grows out in the next month or two,” hairdresser Desmond Murray says.

Maybe an extra centimetre or two off and avoid any blunt fringes or high maintenance looks. The clever way to frame your face is with ‘curtain bangs’ – a longer fringe that has its shortest point at the tip of the nose, graduating longer down the sides (think Goldie Hawn and Sienna Miller).

It looks chic and also allows you to clip it back or tuck behind your ears as the style grows out. Colourist Anita Rice from the Buller & Rice salons suggests opting for highlights or balayage instead of a block colour.

“By gradually lightening your hair with pieces of highlight or balayage, you can give the overall appearance of lighter hair without dealing with the obvious regrowth of block colour,” she says. Stylist John Vial has also noticed a rise in women asking for lighter pieces of colour around the face, “which is good for looking more polished on Zoom calls without a big commitment,” he adds. 

If you do want a quick manicure or pedicure before Thursday, many mobile booking services including Blow LTD, Beautii and  Ruuby all have appointments available nationwide for the next 48 hours. 

Your checklist:  

  • For last-minute trims, ask for a cut that will last 

  • Book in for a quick manicure with a mobile booking service

The next four weeks

If you’re desperate for a style update mid-lockdown, hop onto hairdresser George Northwood’s excellent YouTube channel for easy-to-follow tutorials. Also invest an array of hair masks and conditioners – particularly important in the winter months.

One of the bestselling products since the first lockdown is the No. 3 Hair Perfector mask by Olaplex (£26, asos.com). ASOS, Space NK and Cult Beauty all reported this hair hero among its top-performers. For a good bath-time allrounder, the new Rose Pink Clay Mask by Aromatherapy Associates (£40, johnlewis.com) is a nourishing treatment that can be used on the face as well as the hair. 

For beauty treatments light therapy is proven to boost your serotonin and dopamine levels for an instant feel-good factor. The beauty team swear by the Boost at-home light therapy mask by The Light Salon. It’s pricey at £395, but you can use the at-home device as often as you like for a quick 10 minute session.

It helps to stimulate collagen and is instantly relaxing. As for your bathroom cabinet, invest in a good ceramide-rich face cream to tackle any dry skin brought on by the cold weather. Kate Somerville’s Delikate Recovery Cream (£69, cultbeauty.co.uk) is instantly soothing, as is the High Performance Moisturiser by ADC Beauty (£55, harveynichols.com). 

For at-home nails, nail expert Marian Newman regards a cuticle oil such as Solar Oil by CND (£6.95, lookfantastic.com) as “the single most effective product to keep your nails in good nick while you’re at home”.

For a quick paint update, she’s been using a nail brightener to make the nails appear healthier in a flash. Try the Je Glow Nail Brightener by Le Mini Macaron (£12.99, lookfantastic.com). It’s easy to use and you don’t need an overly steady hand for good results. 

Your checklist: 

  • Invest in some hair masks and conditioners

  • Boost your mood with some light therapy

  • Seek out ceramide-rich face cream to tackle dry skin

  • For at-home nails, a cuticle oil is essential

By Sonia Haria

KIDS
KIDS

The next 48 hours

Parents should give their children an age-appropriate explanation of what is about to happen. The aim is to avoid raising their anxiety levels while answering their questions as best you can. Sometimes this might mean admitting you don’t know the answer. 

Elaine Halligan, London director of the Parent Practice, says: “We need to say, ‘I can’t guarantee what’s going to happen but all I know is school is continuing for now, we stay in our little bubble, and our playdates and activities with other people are going to be temporarily restricted again.”

It’s also worth reminding your children how well they coped last time, and while you might be tempted to cram in one last play date or activity while you still can, preparing your children mentally and emotionally will count for far more. 

On the other hand, it wouldn’t hurt to nip out for some last minute sparklers and toffee apples for Bonfire Night.

Your checklist: 

  • Give honest, age-appropriate explanations for what is happening

  • Remind children how well they coped last time and prepare them mentally for what’s coming

  • Don’t forget a last-minute Bonfire Night outing!

The next four weeks

The key difference from the first lockdown is schools are set to remain open, at least for the moment, so your children will retain something of their usual routine. 

But Covid outbreaks in the classroom will continue to force whole year groups to quarantine at home. Last time round, parents put themselves under huge pressure to home-school their children while working. Halligan advises we cut ourselves more slack this time. 

“Parents need to lower their expectations, give up notions of perfectionism and practise being a good enough parent.”

It is nonetheless helpful to maintain a routine or structure, as children will benefit from having some certainty at a time when everything feels unpredictable.

Research shows they experienced an increase in mental health difficulties during the first lockdown. Halligan advises we listen to and validate their feelings. 

“The most important thing is we don’t tell them not to worry,” she says. “There’s a huge temptation to place a sticky plaster over it and say ‘calm down’. When we acknowledge and name their feelings it makes them feel more able to problem-solve.”

The good news is playgrounds will remain open this time and unlimited outdoor exercise is permitted, so get your children outside as much as possible. Children under school age will not count towards the two-person limit on meetings of members of different households outside. Many childcare services will also continue, making life easier for working parents.

The atmosphere you create at home will play a big part in dictating how your children experience the next few weeks, and it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom: order some new books online to enjoy on cosy afternoons indoors; decorate the house; bake some seasonal treats. And make the most of the bonus family time, knowing it won’t be forever.

Your checklist: 

  • Cut yourself some slack with home-schooling

  • Try to keep to a set routine and daily structure

  • Listen to children’s feelings and validate them rather than telling them ‘not to worry’

  • Get outside as much as possible

  • Make the most of family time together and get cosy with warm afternoons indoors

By Rosa Silverman

RELATIONSHIP
RELATIONSHIP

The next 48 hours 

The next few days would be a great opportunity to set up some guidelines for your relationship over the next lockdown, says Kate Mansfield, a dating and relationship coach. During the last lockdown, plenty of couples felt suffocated by each other as they struggled to work, live and look after children in the same four walls.

If there is shared workspace, she recommends couples divvy up time when each person can use it alone, perhaps while the other is out exercising, thus giving each person some mental space.

“Timetabling can feel clinical but it can work”, she says.  She also recommends making the most of the final 48 hours, and going on a date to a restaurant or cinema which will shortly be closed.

“Go and do the thing you can do as a couple that you won’t be able to do for a while”, she says.

Your checklist: 

The next four weeks

If you live with your partner, it will be crucial that you schedule in time away from them during the next lockdown, says Mansfield. Needing some time to yourself is natural, and not a mark of a bad relationship, she says. During lockdown, you can make use of your exercise time outside to be alone and get some space. 

With someone under your feet all the time, it can be easy for annoyances to build up, which can lead to long-term resentment, says Mansfield. Try to nip this in the bud, by working through problems as soon as they arise, rather than bottling them up. 

Mansfield recommends starting conversations using phrases like “Can we work as a team on this?” to show that you are committed to working together with your partner, rather than claiming the moral high ground. 

Things are very different if you are single. Online dating apps are still open, but Mansfield recommends slowing yourself down and using apps just once or twice a day for a limited amount of time, making sure you are thoroughly looking through profiles, rather than just swiping based on looks.

Lockdown has proved to be a surprisingly good time to start a relationship for many of her clients. Social distancing and video call dates encourage you to “focus on finding an emotional bond and finding things out about a person that you might miss if you’re blinded by the sexual chemistry”. 

It is still permitted to meet up one-on-one outside, as long as you maintain social distancing, which can be a really good way to get to know someone, says Mansfield. “A much more traditional type of dating emerged – we call it the Jane Austen walk”, she says. 

But this might also be a good time to have a break from dating altogether and not feel bad about that, she says: “Use the time to think about what you really want in a relationship and what has gone wrong in the past”.

Your checklist: 

  • Make sure you have time alone, rather than being under each other’s feet 

  • Work through problems as soon as they arise, rather than breeding resentment by bottling them up

  •  If you’re single, don’t over do time on dating apps and use them mindfully

  • If you meet up with a date, enjoy the benefits of social distancing and get to know them properly

  • Consider taking a break from dating all together to think about what you really want

By Helen Chandler-Wilde

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