I hope you’re keeping well and safe at home, dear friends; I know, the Easter weekend is coming up and the weather is nice, but we’ll have to sit this one out and stay in if we don’t want to risk our own lives and those of many others. So, I’ve been thinking of more tips to give you on what to do at home in order to keep happy and healthy; and the term ‘wellness’, which has been very popular in recent years, came to my mind. So what exactly is ‘wellness’?
The term has actually been around since the late 1940s, meaning feeling well all around – physically, mentally and socially. No need to say that some big parts of this concept are out of order right now: you can’t go out and meet your friends or even your family, you can’t go to the gym or the swimming pool, and let’s be honest, we’re all a bit on edge psychologically both with all those changes to our everyday lives and with the dreadful news we keep hearing all day about deaths and shortage of doctors and hospital beds and more deaths to come.
Still, there are lots of things we can do to make us feel better in all three sectors, even in these strange days – so let’s start with a combination of the physical and the psychological aspect of wellness: activities involving both your body and your mind.
As I’ve told you, dear friends, I’m not exactly the sporty type, so I can’t give you too many tips on how to keep fit indoors; the obvious things are stretching and aerobics (there are lots of videos for that which you can follow on YouTube), running up and down the stairs in your house or apartment building, and – dancing! And it’s got a double function: it gives you the necessary exercise, and the music will cheer you up as well.
So put on a CD, or have a look on YouTube for some hot music with a great rhythm to dance to – be it some good old rock n roll, or disco, or even an old-fashioned Charleston! Just move any way you like, or try to remember some exercises from your PE days at school… Here’s my all-time favourite ‘exercise song’ – doesn’t that just make your feet and body itch?!
Relax in a hot bath
At the core of many of today’s interpretations of ‘wellness’ is spoiling your body – and there are few better ways of relaxing that having a bath. Just get a bottle of foam bath from the supermarket which will give amazing satisfaction not only to your skin but also your nose – aromatherapy is an important part of a good bath, it’s not only about cleaning yourself up!
While you’re there feeling wonderfully light in the warm water, you’ll have time to collect your thoughts; but do avoid thinking about the latest Coronavirus news, please… There are so many beautiful things to think about; your last summer holiday, or the romantic movie you watched last night – or simply absorb the feeling of your body relaxing and the lovely smell of lavender or rosemary. You’ll feel like new when you’ll get out of the tub!
Unfortunately, not everybody’s got the luxury of a bathtub at home; but you can still enjoy a long hot shower, spoiling yourselves with a delicious shower cream, and you can also boost your blood circulation with a little Kneipp cure. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s one of the best things my upbringing in Germany taught me, a water treatment method named after the 19th century pioneer of alternative medicine, Sebastian Kneipp: alternating hot and cold showers, starting with your legs and arms and then moving on to the rest of your body. It’ll make you fit as a flea in no time!
Having a massage
Another popular feature of ‘wellness holidays’ on fitness farms and of spas and water parks is providing a massage service for customers; and it’s another thing you can do perfectly well at home. The ideal situation is, of course, to have someone with you who can massage you and vice versa; all you’ve got to do is look up the basics of a massage online, there’s no need to become a professional masseur or masseuse… Here’s one I find very helpful and informative:
Again, there are many people who are currently all on their own, with no one to massage them – but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your body massage as well! You can do it yourself, and here’s how:
Meditation – just think positive!
I must confess I’ve never really been into yoga and all those other popular ways of meditation; if you want to learn some yoga techniques, there are plenty of videos on YouTube for you. My own way of gathering my thoughts is based more on the psychological principle of directed thinking and positive thinking. How to do that? It’s really quite simple: you can STEER your thoughts, there’s no need to be a slave to them; and especially in difficult times, when your brain is being bombarded by bad news, you can force yourself by sheer willpower to think of something positive.
Get hold of a negative thought that keeps going around in your mind; like, for example ‘I can’t even go on an Easter trip because of this lockdown’. Then, start a positive counterattack: think of your last holiday and the great time you had – picture the green hills of Ireland, or the beaches of Greece, or the casinos of Las Vegas you saw, or even look through your photos and at the souvenirs on the bookshelf. Then, concentrate on your next holiday, whenever that may be – where are you planning to go? Look it up on the internet, look at the photos and videos and other people’s travel reports – and reassure yourselves that you ARE going to go there, too, some day. Now that’s a goal, isn’t it?
Since deliveries aren’t really an everyday option for most of us, we’ve all got to cook at home these days, anyway, so we might just as well enjoy it… Like my daughter Marianna, who until recently hardly knew how to do a pancake or a pot of spaghetti – now that she’s all on her own in our flat in Piraeus, she’s learning new recipes every day, and she loves it! No matter whether you hardly did any cooking until now, or just the necessary, or whether you’re a hobby cook anyway – this is a great time for trying out new things in the kitchen.
Simple things like sandwiches or pasta sauces can bring endless fun with new variations (I’ve already put together some recipes for those two categories, you can look them up on my blog; and there’s more to come soon), and there are lots of cookery programmes on TV every day where you can learn even more – some of them combine cooking and travelling, too, so you can explore Italy with the Hairy Bikers or France with Rick Stein without having to leave the safety of your flat – and without paying a penny for the journey!
I’ve pointed out before on my blog how important it is to play a game once in a while, but this goes double, of course, in our present days of lockdown. The good old board games, like Scrabble, Cluedo, Trivial Pursuit, Draughts or Snakes and Ladders bring everybody in your household together in neverending hours of fun! And if you don’t happen to have any of those at home, you’ll at least be able to obtain a deck of cards from the newsagent to play some Poker or Canasta – and if you’ve never played any card games before, you can always look up the rules of one online! Here’s a very simple one I used to play with my family back in Germany when I was a kid:
If you’re alone, of course, the only pal you’ve got to play with is your laptop, tablet or smartphone – but even that can provide hours and hours of fun and entertainment! There are countless free games you can play online or download for free – want to build a farm or a town, or even an empire? Want to combat dragons or zombies? Want to solve puzzles or mysteries? You’ll find literally EVERYTHING on the Web. And you can even play with other players online and get to know new people that way!
Have a drink!
Let’s face it: this is NOT the right time to quit drinking. Unless you’ve always been a teetotaller or haven’t had a drink in years, you’ll probably all feel an enhanced need for a drink in these trying days – especially after the evening news. So, let’s not develop a guilty conscience about it: it’s not our fault, and we’ll all go back to normal once this crisis is over, because we’ll have the willpower to do it.
Try to keep a lid on it, though, because too much drink can lead to depressions, or to rows with your partner or flatmates. And don’t just knock it back like a bitter medicine – enjoy it, and experiment with it, try out new cocktails and mixtures, make it a part of your effort to cheer yourselves and others up during these dark days! And another tip: diluting alcoholic drinks with soft drinks like lemonade, cola or soda water makes them last longer and less dangerous.
Watch a funny programme
Comedy isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but this isn’t the time for gloomy melodrama either. No matter whether – like me – you’re perfectly satisfied with any sort of nonsense from “Carry On” to “Father Ted” (both of which are regularly shown on British Freeview TV), or whether you expect something at least as sophisticated as an Oscar Wilde play, it’s important these days that you choose something for your evening entertainment that’s at least in some way uplifting. There’s nothing wrong with a good laugh and a happy ending, and we all need it more than ever!
Especially over Easter, British TV channels are making a real effort to entertain us all day long, so we won’t miss our trips and walks too much; you can check the programme here any time:
And here’s an online guide for my American friends:
So, look out for those comedy programmes, dear friends!
This is the social aspect of wellbeing, and the maybe MOST important thing to take us through this pandemic: talking to people. Talk with your loved ones about how you feel, ask them how they feel, cheer them up, laugh with them, until you and they forget about the grimness of the situation. Keeping your thoughts and feelings to yourself is the worst thing you can do; your brain will start going around in circles, and depression will set in. Share your hopes and fears, your worries and dreams, your inner self with someone, and you’ll immediately feel better.
Being in lockdown with your partner and/or children or a good friend is, of course, the ideal thing – I find it unbelievable how many couples are fighting these days because they’re cooped up together, instead of being happy and thankful that they’ve got someone to hold on to! While there’s lots of less fortunate people who are all on their own right now – but even for them it’s perfectly possible to talk, even in lockdown…
Thanks to our modern technology, we’ve now not only got the phone to talk to our loved ones who are far away from us, but also video calls, messaging, emails and so on – so nobody really is alone! And even if you can’t think of anybody to ring up or send an email to – why don’t you sign up to a social media site if you aren’t on one already? You’ll get to know lots of nice people in no time, you’ll find other lonely people who are looking for someone to talk to, you’ll find people with similar interests – and you won’t feel lonely anymore!
Those are my tips for you, dear friends, for achieving this marvellous thing called ‘wellness’; there are so many different ways of feeling happy, you’ve only got to find the ones that work for you. And if you find a new one, I’d love to hear about it in the comments – we can learn so much from each other!