A new way of living in 2020

A new way of living in 2020

When the government announced lockdown measures, many people found that their lives were turned upside down overnight.

Doing a day’s work in an office and maintaining a social life and leisure activities became out of bounds.

One might compare a change of this degree to sudden incapacitating illness, redundancy or retirement. In fact, lockdown has proved to be even more stressful for people as it happened so rapidly and, in many cases, has been associated with financial insecurity or outright financial hardship and fear of being infected with the Coronavirus.

No-one should feel guilty or inadequate if they are finding it difficult to cope with a new way of living.

Human beings are creatures of habit and therefore one possible way of coping is to establish a new routine. I have presented here a possible daily routine to follow to support good mental health.

This is only a guide, and it can be adapted depending on personal circumstances. It may also need to be reviewed if lockdown measures tighten as they have in many other countries.
As a Consultant Psychiatrist, I can see that there are some positive aspects to lockdown and perhaps we should see this as an opportunity to come to know ourselves better, to understand the core ingredients or foundation blocks that we need to support our mental health and to learn resilience and patience. I have presented the schedule which can be printed off etc. and then elaborated on some of the categories as a further guide. In particular, you will need to decide each day on what Activity 1, Activity 2 and Project sessions consist of. These will be different for each person. A planning session is included once a week so that you can look ahead to the following week, plan activities and order any necessary equipment/ resources.
Good luck and have fun discovering more about yourself and what you need to stay well!

Weekly Planner During Lockdown

Planner during lockdown


(Please print and complete)

Personal-Planner for lockdown


This is loosely classed as “work”. Here are just some ideas

  • Working from home
  • Voluntary work
  • Running errands for a vulnerable/ elderly person
  • Teaching school-age children
  • Updating CV
  • Applying for jobs
  • Setting up new business from home
  • Online training
  • Open University
  • Deep cleaning
  • Decluttering
  • Decorating
  • DIY
  • Vehicle repairs/ maintenance

 Activity 2 

This is loosely classed as “leisure”. Here are just some ideas

  • Any existing indoor hobby or interest
  • Reading
  • Creative writing
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Playing musical instrument
  • Singing
  • Playing computer games
  • Playing board games
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Sewing
  • Knitting
  • Editing photographs
  • Online storybooks
  • Local history
  • Genealogy/ exploring ancestry
  • Bird watching
  • Cooking/ baking

And many more!


An hour is allocated each day for general administration/ household management.

Do any of the following activities

  • Open post
  • Pay bills
  • Respond to emails
  • Make household-related phone calls
  • Ordering of goods online
  • Apply for mortgage holiday or business loan
  • File paperwork
  • Shredding
  • General financial planning


This is your daily one-hour outdoor exercise slot. There is very good evidence that exercise at least three or four times a week benefits mental health and can help to manage the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. You may want to walk (with/ without dog!), jog, run or cycle. If you feel physically unfit, do not worry, start with a 15-minute walk and build this up daily by 5 to 10 minutes. Try to walk as briskly as you can. Make sure that when in the vicinity of other people, you maintain at least a 2m distance.


A weekly planning session is included on a Sunday, but you may decide to do this on a different day. You should use this to plan your weekly shop, write a shopping list, plan the following week’s activities and write a list of any additional items you will need e.g. decorating materials, art and craft supplies.


The project session is different to both Activities 1 and 2. This is about something that you have always wanted to do, but until now have never had the time! How many times have we said to a friend “I would love to learn to speak Spanish” or “I wish I’d got time to re-arrange my downstairs rooms”? Well, this is your chance! You can carry out a project alone or with members of your household. Here are just a few ideas

  • Learn to speak a foreign language
  • Learn sign language
  • Write a poem
  • Write a book
  • Enrol on an online training course or degree
  • Learn to type
  • Learn to play a musical instrument
  • Learn to cook
  • Learn to knit or sew
  • Learn to paint or draw
  • Learn wood-turning
  • Upcycle furniture
  • Record an album
  • Make a video and post online
  • Plan a holiday
  • Learn IT skills
  • Design a website
  • Design a computer game
  • Learn to dance (any type!)
  • Lose weight
  • Change your image
  • Update your wardrobe
  • Re-design a room in your house
  • Convert the loft space
  • Build a shed/ greenhouse/ conservatory
  • Grow plants
  • Grow herbs/ vegetables

You will think of many more, I’m sure.


This is a one-hour slot before bedtime. It is surprising how few of us know how to relax before we try to get to sleep. Put your phone down. Don’t be tempted to spend hours texting and messaging people just before bedtime. Read a book. Check the latest news. Meditate. Have a hot bath. Have a warm milky drink. Prepare your body for sleep. Tell your worries that they are shelved until the following day. With any luck, they won’t come back! Sleep well.


There is nothing more depressing than getting up to an untidy kitchen or house. If you keep on top of things, you will probably not need to spend as much as an hour a day tidying. The kind of tasks this time is designated for include

  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Unloading/ re-loading the dishwasher
  • Food preparation for the following day
  • Tidying away children’s toys
  • Attending to pets
  • Hanging up clothes
  • Emptying the bins or recycling
  • Filing paperwork

Remember “a place for everything and everything in its place”! Collect items that belong upstairs in a basket at the bottom of the stairs and take them up on your next trip. Put them where they belong.


For those people who enjoy going to the gym normally or doing exercise classes, I have included a one-hour slot five days a week for an indoor workout. You may want to do more or less than this depending on what you are used to. If you have never tried this type of exercise, start with a session twice a week for 30 to 45 minutes and build it up. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear and beware of slippery wooden flooring! Open a window for ventilation. Many forms of exercise can be performed indoors including

  • Exercise bike/ rowing machine
  • Treadmill/ cross-trainer
  • Skipping rope
  • Workout video on TV/ Youtube
  • Virtual exercise class where you join others online
  • Wi Fit
  • Step session
  • Floor workout with mat
  • Weight-lifting
  • Session with weights or kettle bells
  • Session with resistance bands
  • Tai Chi
  • Exercises whilst sitting
  • Exercises to improve balance

Are you beginning to wonder how you fitted in your day job? I know the feeling! Notice what you enjoy doing. Notice what lifts your mood. Notice what you are naturally good at doing. Be sure to do more of those things when life returns to normal.

Copyright April 2020, Janet Meehan, Janet Meehan & Partners.

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