COVID-19: how to cope with the winter lockdown in the UK

January 8, 2021

After two national lockdowns in the spring and autumn of 2020, England is preparing for another. We take a look at how to cope – from staying connected to getting out in the open.


Take advantage of your daily outdoor exercise time

Under the new rules in England you can exercise outside once a day in your local area with one person from another household. As long as you stay 2 metres away from one another it is also the chance for some social interaction. But remember exercise at home is unlimited. Joe Wicks is bringing back his online home workouts for three days a week for lockdown 3.0, while there are plenty of online classes for yoga, dance, boxing and even – for cycling enthusiasts.

Online activities

The idea of yet another zoom call might seem unappealing, but a huge number of activities are now being run online – and getting more sophisticated.

Pottery, embroidery, cookery and language classes are just a few options, and offer the chance to develop a new skill and get to know new people. Theatre, concerts and other events are also available online – and are sometimes free. Explore these live talks as part of the Natural History Museum’s series of online lectures.

Top tip: set one realistic and achievable goal and only once you have completed that, set another one. It’s easy to set yourself up to fail by committing too many things at once.

Doing things differently

If you’ve been spending a lot of time at home during the coronavirus pandemic, you may already have a routine of activities. But it may be helpful to think about how you can adapt this for the winter months. Trying out a new winter routine might help give you a sense of change if you’re struggling. For example, you could spend more time cooking and trying out new winter recipes, or learning a new skill. Duolingo is a free to download, language learning app that you can spend as little as 10 minutes a day perfecting your Spanish, French, German, Japanese or even Latin.

Mental health matters

It’s easy to get sucked into watching the news at moment and whilst it’s important stay up to date on government rules and guidance, be mindful of ‘doom-scrolling’ – searching out endless articles and comments on the pandemic, which can end up fuelling your uncertainty – leading to more anxiety. If you are feeling more anxious you are less likely to sleep and if you don’t sleep as well that is more likely to make you feel more anxious.

Top tip: avoiding news feeds and bright screens a few hours before bed will help with a good night’s sleep, including avoiding caffeine and smoking.

Coping with working, and schooling, at home

Experts say a clear work/life balance matters. Here are a few tips to help:

· Make sure you take at least a 30-minute lunch break, ideally getting outside for some exercise

· Try putting a reminder in your diary when you plan to finish working and communicate this to your colleagues so they know when you’re contactable

· At the end of the working day, turn off your computer and any other devices so you’re not tempted to check work emails and try to take your mind off work by doing something else.

Top tip: if your current working arrangements aren’t working for you and your family, speak to your employer about what support they can offer.

Need some extra support?

If you’re feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal you can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email or talk to CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or via webchat on

Other phone numbers you can ring for help are:

· Young Minds 0800 108 2138

· The National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247

· ChildLine 0800 1111

· Anxiety UK 03444 775 774

· Mind 0300 123 3393

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