In the most recent issue of The OT Magazine (May/Jun 20) we included a guide inspired by Occupational Therapy New Zealand. The OT Magazine’s Activity Toolkit is designed to support OTs and their clients who may be struggling during lockdown. It compiles resources, ideas and signposts useful platforms that may help everyone get through these strange times.
Whakaora Ngangahau Aotearoa – or Occupational Therapy New Zealand – have said kia ora to New Zealanders on the third week of their quarantine, and introduced their fantastic COVID-19 activity recommendation toolkit (CART), which casts the eye of occupational therapy on the country’s lockdown. It’s an absolutely fantastic list of free online resources, which includes community groups and referral agencies, which will help to keep you mentally, emotionally, and physically in check for the duration of the lockdown.
The basis of their toolkit is to provide meaningful activities that will help New Zealanders who are in isolation or lockdown the potential to thrive. “As occupational therapists,” OTNZ writes in the toolbox’s introductory paragraph, “we really understand the importance of doing meaningful activities to improve your health and well-being. That’s what the ‘occupation’ in occupational therapy refers to – doing activities of self-care, productivity and leisure. Finding the right balance of each will help you live your best life.”
Their toolkit is absolutely fantastic and endlessly comprehensive, and you can view it on their website over at otnz.co.nz, where it isn’t hidden behind a paywall or registration.
We at The OT Magazine were deeply inspired by it, and have used it as the basis of our own version of the toolkit, that better applies to people in the UK. Hopefully, it’ll be useful to you, to your clients, and even your friends and family.
For your safety
Refuge – refuge.org.uk – 0808 2000 247
NSPCC – nspcc.org.uk – 0800 1111 (for children), 0808 800 5000 (for adults)
Urgent emergency service calls – 999
Non-emergency Police number – 101
For your physical health
Don’t put off calling the NHS if you’re worried about your health because you think you might be a strain on the system. They’re there to help you. If you’re worried that you’re experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, or you have a concern, call NHS 24 on 111. You can ask them anything, whether it’s related to coronavirus or not, so long as it pertains to your health.
For financial support
If your income has dropped dramatically because of the pandemic, or you’re worried about making ends meet, Citizens Advice can help you work out if you’re now entitled to benefits of some kind to help you. You can speak with them online at citizensadvice.org.uk or call them on the following numbers: 0800 144 8 444 (England), 08000 241 220 (Wales), 0800 023 2581 (Scotland).
For information on the rules of the current lockdown
If you’ve found yourself in a situation and you’re not sure what the rules are regarding the lockdown, you can check the UK government’s website for clarification. It can be found at gov.uk/coronavirus.
If you’re worried that you’re not getting enough exercise, there are loads of resources available for children and adults that are very easily accessible!
PE With Joe
Body coach Joe Wicks is broadcasting PE lessons aimed at children from his YouTube channel every morning at 9am. The 30-minute workouts are fun for big kids too, and they encourage you to stay healthy and positive.
LV Yoga Fareham
This Portsmouth-based yoga studio is offering three daily classes for free via their Facebook page. They do children’s yoga at 11.30am, and adult classes at 6pm and 7.30pm every day.
Move it or Lose It
Another company offering videos over Facebook, these classes are aimed at older people. In addition, they’ve created a support pack for older people to give them guidance on exercising at home, which is available at their website: moveitorloseit.co.uk.
Keep Cooking and Carry On
Airing daily on Channel 4, this cooking show from Jamie Oliver gives simple, nutritious recipes that can be cooked with ingredients you’re sure to find in the kitchen already. He’s made everything from Korean-style chicken wings to chocolate cake.
Jack Monroe’s Lockdown Larder
When you need expertise on making good, nutritious food using only a few ingredients, Jack Monroe is exactly who you should consult. Jack is taking questions on their Twitter account every day at 5pm, where you can ask what you can make from the random tins you have in the back of your cupboard.
Many streaming services require a premium subscription, but there are lots you can watch content on for free in the UK, or access as part of your license fee:
BBC iPlayer – bbc.co.uk/iplayer
ITV Player – itv.com
STV Player – stv.tv
My4 – channel4.com
My5 – my5.tv
YouTube – YouTube.com
Crunchyroll – crunchyroll.com
You can also get free trials or significantly reduced price memberships with streaming services like NowTV, Netflix, Shudder, Disney+, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime. Just remember to cancel them if you don’t want to continue using the services!
There’s also the option of using libraries to check out eBooks, which you can do with most memberships across the UK. If you can’t access that, WikiBooks and the Internet Archive both contain phenomenal collections of public domain literature, which can be accessed completely free of charge and is compatible with screen readers.
Podcasts are also a great way to pass the time, and you can even use them to get CPD!
Staying positive is difficult, but it’s important to preventing you from feeling overwhelmed or out of control. Try not to take in too much from the news, and take time to perform self-care as much as you need. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can help keep you grounded. The Breathe and Yoga apps are great for mindfulness and yoga, respectively.
If you’re struggling without being able to visit your place of worship, there are lots of religious leaders who are now hosting services on Facebook Live or YouTube which will allow you to engage with religious practices from the safety of your own home. If you can, contact your religious leader and they can direct you to a service that you can take part in virtually.
Staying on top of your mental health is important right now. Remember – you’re not annoying or burdening anyone by reaching out. Many people will be experiencing anxiety, sadness, and loneliness just now, and you should not be afraid to reach out to a doctor or mental health professional for any help you should need.
Learn a Language
Use apps like Duolingo to finally commit to learning a new langauge. They have courses for Welsh, Gaelic, Irish, lots of European languages, and even Klingon!
Learn to Draw
RapidFireArt has a great website and YouTube channel which can give you all the basics you need to get into drawing as a hobby. Their website is free and easy to get started with: rapidfireart.com.
Learn to Code
Coding is unbelievably useful – even knowing very basic coding can get you out of lots of binds when it comes to problems with your computer. Codeacademy provides free courses in a wide variety of languages on their website: codeacademy.com.
Learn Almost Anything
Khan Academy is an incredible free resource that provides concrete understanding of an astonishing number of topics. You can learn math, physics, cosmology, microeconomics, art history, electrical engineering – there’s something for everyone and every level. Access their website at: khanacademy.org.
Get on Social Media
In small doses, social media can help us feel more connected to our friends, family, and acquaintances who are in the same boat as us. Social media doesn’t just have to be speaking to friends – you can browse content on Reddit, watch funny videos on Tik Tok, or get pinning on Pinterest.
Schedule Video Chats
Using Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, or any of the video calling clients we’ve mentioned in our article on the subject in this very issue, you can feel like your family and friends are in the same room on a video call. Remember to be patient with those who aren’t good with technology!
Google Chrome add-ons like Netflix Party let you watch movies with friends in a group; Pretend You’re Xyzzy is a Cards Against Humanity clone that lets you make private rooms to hang out with your foul-minded friends; and websites like Tech Radar and Polygon have great guides on how you can play pen and paper role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons over websites like Discord for all the D&D nerds out there.
Maintaining and Creating Relationships
Familiarity breeds contempt, so if you find yourself on rocky ground with the person or people you’re living with, don’t be afraid to spend some time alone. Communication is always key! Regardless of whether you’re spending every waking hour together or apart from your significant other, you should still endeavour to create time for yourselves, and establish “date nights” to enjoy time with each other. If you’re still on the hunt for a significant other, dating apps like Tindr, Bumble, Her, and Grinder will allow you to meet other people, but remember to respect the rules of the lockdown and avoid meeting up.
Creating work/life balance
Many will now be working from home, which can greatly upset your work/life balance, and you may find yourself working outside of your allotted hours as it’s difficult to maintain a schedule at home.
Using tools like Trello can keep you up-to-date with your colleagues’ schedules, and sticking to your standard work day routine will bring structure to your day, which will help see you through the working hours. If you can, try to establish a set location that you work in, and use that place for work only. This will allow you to create a physical working space, and establish better boundaries for your work/life balance.
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