It’s official – Lockdown 2.0 is here. And although England’s second coronavirus lockdown might bring a strange sense of déjà vu, there’s some comfort that, by now, we know the drill – stay safe by staying at home, venturing out only for exercise and essentials.
But unlike the first lockdown, this time universities will remain open, meaning you’ll be spending the month in your Sanctuary Students accommodation. But the new measures don’t mean you should batten down the hatches on your social life – although lockdown is designed to protect our physical health, it’s also important to look after our mental health, and social interaction is a key part of this.
So, with our flats ‘bubbling’ together, we wanted to suggest some fun activities for your household to do together (beyond the classic Netflix binge…).*
There’s a lot of inspiration out there, so we’ve had to split this into two blogs – here are the first nine ideas!
*Please note these activities apply to households that are not self-isolating – for tips on how to manage your mental health if you are isolating, view our recent 10 ways to look after your mental health if you’re self-isolating blog.
1. Host your own ‘Come Dine With Me'
We all love this classic Channel 4 dining show and, while you won’t be able to enjoy Dave Lamb’s hilarious narrative, there’s plenty of fun to be had with a flat-based ‘Come Dine With Me’.
Put different members of your household in charge of dinner every couple of nights – why not choose a theme for each one, like Greek, Mexican or Indian? Make your own themed menus (check for allergies first!), set up a super Spotify playlist and create some voting paddles for the all-important scores. And don’t forget the entertainment!
2. Explore your local parks
Under the new lockdown, you’re still allowed to venture outside for exercise – in fact, the government is actively encouraging it! Exploring outdoors is not just beneficial for our physical health, but has a positive effect on our mental health, too. A study by the creators of Urban Mind suggests that the positive effects of a single exposure to nature can last for seven hours. What’s more, as you log miles, your brain releases “happy” chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, which can boost your mood.
There are plenty of green spaces near our student accommodation for you and your flatmates to enjoy. For example, Denmark Road in Manchester is opposite Whitworth Park, while Grenville Street in Liverpool is a short walk from the docks in one direction, and St. James Mount and Gardens in the other. Coopers Court in London is next to the gorgeous Mile End park, while Moor Lane Halls in Preston are a 10-minute walk from Moor Park, and Henry Scott Tuke House in Falmouth is a short stroll from the seafront.
3. Teach each other a new skill
Why not use the lockdown period to share skills with your flatmates? Research has found that acquiring new skills can help maintain a healthy mind – and you never know, you might discover a new passion. Whether you know a different language or pride yourself on a certain recipe, we’d love for you to share the love this lockdown!
4. Have a pamper night
Just because your local spa is closed, it doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to some pampering. Grab your manicure sets, face masks (the other kind!) and put on some calming music. Remember, candles aren’t allowed in our accommodation.
5. Solve a mystery
Why not hold a Murder Mystery evening? Choose a mystery, get in some themed snacks, dress up as your chosen character and then get together to find out whodunnit! Check out Inspector McClue and Red Herring Games for inspiration.
Just when you thought the biggest mystery you’d face this November would be to find out who’s been pinching your milk…
6. Take advantage of free streaming
Okay, okay, we said we wouldn’t mention a Netflix marathon – but, while we don’t advocate spending entire days in front of the TV, having a set period off lockdown gives you the perfect opportunity to try some free trials of various streaming services.
If you sign up to Disney+, you can get a seven-day free trial, giving you access to Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars films. Now TV also offers free seven-day trials and, as a student, you can also sign-up for a free six-month trial of Amazon Prime.
7. Hold a recycled fashion show
At Sanctuary Students, we’re big fans of recycling and we love the idea of a recycled fashion show! Upcycling bin bags is often a student fancy-dress staple, but there’s no reason you can’t run a catwalk in your flat. Gather up your used newspapers and plastic bags to create some trendy trash attire, from dresses to suits and hats. Don’t forget to dispose of it all correctly afterwards.
8. Get creative
There are endless ways you can get crafty with your flatmates during the November lockdown. Why not do some drawing, sewing, felting or even some paint-by-numbers kits? Getting creative is believed to improve mental health – crafting has even been compared to meditation thanks to its calming effects on the brain and body.
You could even create some handmade Christmas cards or decorations for your flat – as, assuming lockdown lifts on 2nd December as planned, you won’t have chance to make festive bunting as you’ll be too busy enjoying your new-found freedom. Talking of which…
9. Make a list of places to explore when lockdown lifts
We understand the first weeks of uni were a whirlwind and you might not have had the chance to explore your local surroundings properly yet. So why not get together with your flatmates, and make a list of places you want to go in December?
Our student accommodation is centrally located, so there’ll be plenty to do on your doorstep – in fact, we recently wrote about 10 amazing spots that are only a 10-minute walk from our student flats in Bradford. Check out our City Guides for more inspiration!
Need extra support?
We understand that the prospect of not leaving your student accommodation much for the next month could be a little overwhelming, especially if you’re away from friends and family. It’s important to know when to ask for help. Don’t suffer in silence – talk it through with someone. Whether it’s a friend, family member, your GP or university tutor, sharing your feelings will help.
There are plenty of avenues of support you can turn to, including our Student Advice Line from our partners at Health Assured. At Sanctuary Students, your health is our priority and that’s why we offer professional support to help you with any problems you may face from stress and depression to financial issues and coping. The phone line is open day and night, 365 days a year, and everything you discuss is kept confidential, so there’s nothing to worry about.
Call the freephone number on 0800 030 5182 – we’re here as often as you need us, for as long as you like.