Tag: sleep

Harry Styles Fans Can Now Go To Bed With Him As He Teams Up With Calm App For Bedtime Story

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Ever dreamt of nodding off with Harry Styles whispering in your ear? Well now you can (kinda).

The former One Directioner has lent his dulcet tones to sleeping aid app Calm, in the shape of a bedtime story. 

Harry Styles 

Calm teased the release of the story with a clip on social media, along with the hashtag #DreamWithHarry. 

It didn’t contain much other than Harry saying, “Hello, I’m Harry Styles” in his distinctive soothing voice, but that was still enough to drive his fans absolutely wild. 

THIS IS IT. HARRY IS SAVING 2020.

— 𝓬𝓪𝓼. 🌸 (@cxrneliastyles) July 6, 2020

“hello, i’m harry styles” me, certainly not sounding calm: yeS, HELLO, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE

— 𝐬𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐫𝐚 ◟̽◞̽ PINNED TWEET (@larrycaring) July 6, 2020

I ALREADY CAN’T HANDLE A 2 SECOND CLIP, I WON’T BE ABLE TO FUNCTION AFTER THE FULL CLIP

— ayesha #1 🍒 stan (@kiwisugar18) July 6, 2020

*screams internally cuz i need to be calm* pic.twitter.com/KphzSXE3uM

— anita💚 (@gaaayvodka) July 6, 2020

@calm I’m not calm

— 𝐊𝐫𝐲𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐥♡ (@sweet_hs_camila) July 6, 2020

The firm had earlier teased its collaboration with Harry by posting a watermelon emoji, a reference to his current hit, Watermelon Sugar.

Harry has become the latest famous face to collaborate with the company, which produces meditation products.

Other stars to work with Calm include Oscar-winning actress Laura Dern, Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge and comedian Stephen Fry.

Dream With Harry will be available on the Calm app from Wednesday.

How The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Changing The Way We Sleep

We’re here to guide you through the coronavirus pandemic. Sign up to the Life newsletter for daily tips, advice, how-tos and escapism.

The pandemic has had an unusual effect on most aspects of our lives – and perhaps unsurprisingly, our sleeping patterns have also taken a hit.

Many of us have been going to bed later and enjoying longer lie-ins during lockdown – but our quality of sleep has taken a turn for the worse.

Wellbeing psychologist Dr Andy Cope analysed data taken from Simba’s sleep and mood tracking app between March 8 and April 25. The results from 50,000 Brits suggest an “emotional corona-coaster” during the pandemic, as our sleep quality has gradually declined. 

Wake-up moods were more erratic during the first two weeks of lockdown, and there was a “notable drop” in sleep quality from March 23 – the day lockdown measures were announced.

One possible reason for this is rising alcohol intake, as data from the tracking app shows we’re drinking more booze. This echoes a survey from Alcohol Change UK that found one in five have been drinking more frequently since lockdown. 

“When you drink alcohol, your body creates chemicals aldehydes and ketones,” Cope explains. “Aldehydes block the brain’s ability to generate REM sleep.”

Graph shows our quality of sleep declining and our alcohol consumption rising during lockdown.

A study from Italy shows a similar sleep quality pattern. Data from 1,310 people aged 18 to 35 years old who completed an online survey from March 24 to March 28 revealed many were going to bed later, waking up later and spending more time in bed. They were also reporting a lower sleep quality.

On average, bedtime was delayed by 40 minutes in workers and students. The restrictions had a stronger effect on wake time: workers started to wake up one hour and 13 minutes later than usual, whereas students delayed their wake time by 45 minutes. Overall, workers spent an extra 26 minutes in bed, compared to an extra five minutes for students.

People with depression, anxiety and stress were more likely to have poor sleep quality, the research found. Interestingly, the use of digital media before bed was not associated with a decline in sleep quality.

Kathryn Pinkham, founder of the Insomnia Clinic, has witnessed an uptake in enquiries since lockdown began. “People are getting in touch who have a sleep problem that’s got much worse during lockdown, or were fine during lockdown and now they’re sleeping really poorly,” she tells HuffPost UK.

There are a few key ways to know if you need to improve your sleep quality, suggests The Sleep Foundation: if it takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep; if you wake up more than once in the night; if you find yourself staying awake for more than 20 minutes after waking up in the middle of the night; or if you spend less than 85% of your time in bed asleep. 

So, what’s scuppering our sleep quality?

It’s no surprise sleep has been affected, says Pinkham, because so many things about lockdown “are the antithesis of what you should do for sleep”. 

People aren’t getting up as early as they usually would because they don’t have to commute or do the school run. “They’re not setting their alarms and they’re waking up later,” she says, “and the problem is, if you wake up later, you don’t develop a strong enough drive to sleep well the next night.”

Lockdown also means people are spending more time at home, bored, inactive, and not getting outdoors as much. “They’re not as tired and their drive to sleep is not as high as it needs to be – so then they’re getting into bed and struggling to sleep or finding the quality of sleep is very fractured,” she says.

Dr Andrew Bagshaw, a sleep expert from the Centre for Human Brain Health at University of Birmingham, believes the lack of schedule is a key issue. “The whole life schedule has changed and that’s maybe the thing that’s having the most impact,” he explains. Put simply, again, we’re not tired enough. 

We’re not as tired and our drive to sleep is not as high as it needs to be.Kathryn Pinkham, founder of the Insomnia Clinic

Bagshaw points out that in the Italian study, sleep quality was worse in those who scored highly for anxiety, depression and stress – and lockdown can exacerbate these issues. “Even if they’re not diagnosed, I think there’s a lot of variability,” he says. “Some people are coping okay with this change and some are coping less well.”

Pinkham agrees there’s more uncertainty, stress and worry, which is impacting our sleep. “When we go to bed it’s the perfect time to worry. The problem is, if we get into a habit of waking up at 3am and worrying for a couple of hours, it’s exactly that – it becomes a habit,” she says.

“So then the next night you wake up, you do it again. It’s almost like you’re telling your body clock: this is what I want to do at 3am.”

How can we improve our sleep quality?

Find yourself lying awake in the early hours worrying? Pinkham recommends writing before bed. Spend 20 minutes with a pen and paper, and write whatever is on your mind: the things you didn’t get done today, the things you need to do tomorrow, the things you’re worried about.

“Go back to setting your alarm again,” she suggests. Wake up earlier, go to bed later, and build up your “sleep drive” once more. Stay out of your bedroom in the day as much as you can. Natural light is important for the body’s circadian system – and therefore your sleep – so getting outside more could also help you fall asleep faster. 

Dr Bagshaw suggests people should focus on scheduling, and setting a routine. “Normally it’s clear when you need to go to bed because you have to get up at a certain time,” he says.

Try sticking to a consistent bed time, having a consistent wake time, and ensuring you have a period where you wind down and relax as much as possible before you go to bed. 

Having Vivid Coronavirus Dreams During The Pandemic? Experts Decode Them.

Dreamface

No, you’re not imagining it: Your dreams really have been more vivid and intense since the coronavirus pandemic began.

You’re not alone, either. Google searches of the question “Why am I having weird dreams lately?” have quadrupled in the past week as all of us struggle to understand why the pandemic and being on lockdown have seeped into our subconscious. 

Poor sleep quality is partly to blame. According to a recent survey of 1,014 adults conducted by SleepStandards, a site that reviews mattresses, 76.8% admitted their sleep has been affected.

We have dreams every night, but the better we sleep, the less likely we are to remember them in the morning. Stress fragments sleep and increases our ability to recall our dreams. 

Research has shown that increased anxiety during the day can lead to more negative content in dreams ― especially during a global crisis like this. After 9/11, researchers found that the collective trauma made our dreams more intense and memorable in the days following the attacks. (You’re not alone if you recall having a plane crash dream back then.) 

In this case, all those pent-up thoughts you have about you or your loved ones catching Covid-19 are bound to make it into your nightmares.

“We dream at night what we can’t think or feel during the day ― and there is a lot of unthinkable shit happening right now,” said Emily Anhalt, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Coa, a “gym for mental fitness.”

“Add to that the guilt we feel for complaining while people are dying, and our emotions have nowhere to go,” she said. “So where do those thoughts go? They present themselves in our dreams, disguised by symbol and metaphor.” 

Is it just me or has everyone been having like super vivid dreams over quarantine. I can’t remember a night where I haven’t had atleast 2 dreams. They have complete story lines, a full arc and ending… not mad. Just suspicious.

— SofiA bRyANt (@sofiakbryant) April 13, 2020

Interestingly, the symbols and metaphors that pop up in our own respective dreams are pretty universal. When we recently asked readers to share some of their most vivid dreams, many of them touched on the same themes.

To better understand our coronavirus dreams, we asked dream experts to decode some of the most common themes readers sent us. Read their analysis below. 

Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Dreams About Public Gatherings

1. “I’ve been having coronavirus dreams every night. Mostly they involve me out in public places that we used to visit. Disneyland, Las Vegas, movie theatres. My three young kids are running around in crowds of people, touching everything while I chase after them, crying.”

2. “In one dream, my husband threw a surprise birthday party for a friend (and I had no idea who this friend was). Guests started to arrive and I was horrified, thinking about how many of them will then die from Covid-19. In another dream, it was our wedding day (at a venue I didn’t recognise), and I yelled in my dream, ‘This wedding can’t happen, lots of people will die!’”

3. “I had a dream I went to Disneyland and realised I forgot to wear pants. I rushed to a store in Downtown Disney to buy something to put on, then realised I forgot to wear a mask. And then I realised I really shouldn’t be at Disneyland at all, anyway. I chalked it up to my fears of being unprepared for a pandemic.”

Weddings and birthdays are milestone events that usually involve a plurality of people. Dreams about them suggest the dreamer is preoccupied with how Covid-19 will affect people en mass, said psychologist Anjhula Mya Singh Bais.

“They’re thinking not individualistically, as they would be if it were a dream about a job promotion, but rather, events that involve love and community like birthdays and weddings,” Singh Bais told HuffPost.

Both events also embody ideas around life and death.

“Birthdays are when you came into the world, which means an automatic countdown has begun toward when we will die, and wedding vows involve ideas like ‘until death do us part,’” she said. 

As for the Disneyland dreams, “Disney is quite often synonymous with innocence, fun and good memories, back in the day when things were good,” Singh Bais said. “Running around there in your dream suggests you miss the freedoms that we maybe took for granted. Now there’s a new world order where no place feels safe.”

As for the missing pants in the last dream? “Forgetting to wear pants as opposed to a shirt or cap symbolises the naked truth that you feel vulnerable,” she said. 

Survivalist, Pop Culture-Inspired Dreams

1. “I’m having survivalist dreams. I’m buying the kind of stuff I know they wished they had on ‘The Walking Dead.’ There are multiple tornadoes coming from [all directions]. I’m trying to keep everyone safe but there’s too many people, so I have to make choices.”

2. “I had a dream a few nights ago where life was a combo of ’1984’ and ‘Hunger Games.’ The 10 richest families in the world released the virus as a ‘Hunger Games’-type contest to see which nation found a cure first. My dream had media coverage, too, but it appeared to be gameshow hosts instead of news anchors on air. Life was very much like ‘1984’ in observation. It was really weird.”

Tornadoes often symbolise destruction and life upended, Singh Bais said.  

“The world as we knew it has come to an end like it did in ‘The Walking Dead,’” she said. “Covid throws up many questions. Your dreams are playing out survival scenarios in a bid to maintain hope, preparedness and stability.” 

In the case of the “Hunger Games” dream, seeing the pandemic as a game likely helps this person step away from her emotions and take a more objective view, said dream analyst Jane Teresa Anderson.

“One strategy for surviving and even thriving in crisis is to switch into cool, objective mode,” she said. “The dreamer might be exploring a ‘cure’ for losing her job, a cure for issues around her relationship that are heightened due to self-isolation, or a cure for any number of personal challenges.”

Missing Snacks

1. “In my dream, Stormtroopers (wearing yellow armor instead of white) from the CDC were raiding houses and confiscating everyone’s personal hoards of Crystal Pepsi, as it was a needed ingredient for the Covid-19 vaccine. They were pounding on the door to my house, which I found weird because I only drank Coca-Cola Clear back in the day, and had neither since 1980-something.”

2. “I’m in my 38th day of isolation because I had experienced symptoms. I really just dream about snacks. I ran out of snacks in week one!”

Dreams about missing snacks are related to feelings of being deprived, depleted and unrewarded, said Carla Marie Manly, author of “Joy from Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend.” 

“Having one’s snacks taken away reflects the fear of being robbed or deprived of what we want and need in life,” she said. “The Stormtrooper dream also reflects anger and irritation at the government-imposed restrictions which may feel overreaching and invasive.”

A Mysterious Figure

1. “I’ve had dreams about the coronavirus a few times, each of them different. The most memorable one was when I was patting my 2-year old to sleep one night and begin to doze myself. I was in an auditorium that had a deep red curtain. It was fairly dark there. A few people were in there, none of whom I noticed nor did I really recognise. What I noticed was, in the far corner, a slender human body with an ominous, giant black rabbit head was just silently watching in the back. It was wearing a vertical black and white striped outfit. It made me incredibly uneasy. I knew what it was in my dream; it was a visual manifestation of this virus that’s currently lurking everywhere. The dream was brief but left me uneasy for days. It was early on in the stay-at-home order. I just felt its presence and like it was silently calculating who to come after, no one else aware of its presence. I’ve always been weirded out by artwork or displays of human bodies with mascot heads on, but this was pretty out of the ordinary for me, in terms of dreams. Even weeks later, I still feel uneasy when recalling it.”

2. “I dreamt I was in my living room when something broke into my home right through the wall. I was running from this beast with a loud roar. I hid in the bushes outside while it stomped around my yard threatening everyone and everything I loved. I’m guessing my mind was processing the virus and gave it a visible form.”

3. “Every night, I dream that I’m sheltering in place in a run-down, abandoned mansion with some faceless man that I don’t know. At first I have fun exploring the house and finding secret rooms and passageways. Toward the end of the dream, furniture starts moving around by itself, doors slam shut on their own, and the piano starts playing by itself. I wake up right as I’m about to run out of the house and just take my chances with the virus. Each night, I dream about this same house. Sometimes, I show the man the different rooms that I have found in previous nights’ dreams. For some reason, the faceless man is only wearing a towel around his waist, like he just got out of the shower. He never has clothes on. Awkward. Glad to see that I’m not the only one having weird dreams right now!”

In the first, the auditorium setting is meaningful, said Lauri Loewenberg, author of “Dream on It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life.” The dreamer may feel like our current situation is more like a show, not real life.

“The dreamer, like all of us, may be eager for this show to be over, to close the curtains on this nightmare,” she said. “Also, the dream was dark. Whenever a dream takes place in the dark, it is often because the dreamer’s emotions are dark at the time or the dreamer is uncertain or ‘in the dark’ about a certain issue in his or her life. Both of these could certainly apply.”

The dreamer’s subconscious is using imagery that has always creeped her out to give form to the virus, Loewenberg said. “And the rabbit head may be a reference to how this virus is multiplying like rabbits are known to do.”

In the second dream, the dreamer is right on the money in their interpretation: The virus has taken visible form in the beast. 

“The beast ― or the virus ― broke into the dreamer’s living room,” Loewenberg said. “The living room represents that which do on a daily basis, our day-to-day lives. The dreamer ran out of her living room because her daily, living routine has been vastly disrupted.” 

Covid throws up many questions. Your dreams are playing out survival scenarios in a bid to maintain hope, preparedness and stability.Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, psychologist

The house is incredibly significant in the last dream. Houses ― whether they’re our actual home or imagined ones ― tend to represent the self, Loewenberg said. The type of house and the condition of it says a lot about the dreamer’s current state of mind. 

“Mansions often symbolise a big part of the dreamer, a part of the self the dreamer is proud of,” she said. “Since the mansion is abandoned and she is excited to explore the rooms, this may be a part of the dreamer that she has neglected but is excited to get back to now that quarantine has likely given her tons of extra time.”

Despite the dreamer’s good intentions, the more difficult parts of quarantine are likely starting “to haunt” her since the mansion becomes so creepy she wants to make a run for it.

“I think the man is a part of herself as well and is most likely her male energy: the part of her that is no-nonsense, with assertive energy. On the other hand, unknown women in dreams tend to represent creative, emotional and nurturing energy,” Loewenberg explained. “Just as the man seemed to have just gotten out of the shower, her no-nonsense, ‘get-er done’ side is telling her to cleanse herself of her frustrations and negativity and get back to what she was originally excited about.”

 

A Return To Childhood

“I’ve been dreaming of my childhood home at the age my son is now (9) and of my deceased father. In my dreams, my parents are both alive, healthy and strong, and I feel cocooned by their mere presence. I interpret my subconscious returning to that time in my life as the antithesis of the anxiety and fear I feel now. My nearly 74-year-old mother lives alone, in the Bronx, and I am terrified of her becoming ill. I am no longer the child, but the parent who must provide love, stability and calm. I awake feeling alarmed and winded, as if I have literally traveled through time and space. Despite my fears, however, I know I am among the lucky and for that, I am grateful.”

This dreamer is looking for a solution to the problem of her anxiety and finds just that in her memory of being cocooned by her parents, Anderson said. The dreamer is taking comfort in an era when her mother was healthy, strong and capable of protecting her daughter. It’s interesting that the dreamer is thinking of her 9-year-old son; when our children reach specific ages that resonate with our own childhood, we often dream of being that age again, Anderson said. 

“There may be something around being 9 in her own childhood that she needs to revisit,” Anderson said, “It’s helpful to look at everyone and everything in a dream as representing something about the dreamer: her ‘alive, healthy, strong’ parents in the dream may represent her own healthy parenting abilities, and the child, in the dream, is the part of herself that needs cocooning even though now she’s the mother.”  

Also on HuffPost

How To Interpret And Manage Your Pandemic Dreams

I was roller-skating in a hockey arena last week, while Céline Dionjudged me from the sidelines for not wearing a mouthguard. Over the Easter weekend, archaeologists threatened me with swords unless I helped them dig up dinosaur bones for the Pope. 

A totally real, absolutely factual discovery I made while social distancing. Sure, let's go with that. 

Unless the Canadian icon is taking a break from inspiring quarantine masterpieces and the Vatican is suddenly into fossil-collecting, both occasions obviously didn’t actually happen weird dreams are the new ordinary for myself and countless others, ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started. 

Anyone else having super weird dreams since this CV stuff started? I guess the subconscious has a lot to process these days …

— Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) April 7, 2020

By the way I had a dream that me and Oscar Isaac teamed up to rob a bakery and he paid me in pie, so…I take back that thing I said dismissing people having weird quarandreams.

— Olivia Cole is social distancing & u should be too (@RantingOwl) April 14, 2020

People have puzzled over the strange phenomenon, with the Twitter account @IDreamofCovid socialising dreams that speak to life under lockdown

I had a dream last night that I broke quarantine to go get a haircut and I ended up with a huge bald patch on the right side of my head. My brain is not playing with Covid.

— LOVE & NAPPYNESS OUT NOW (@MattMuse12) April 12, 2020

I just dreamt that all my friends were in a zoom call without me and I was extremely salty. If that ain’t the most quarantine type dream idk what is.

— Ismail Barkley (@ismailjavier0) April 12, 2020

An informal HuffPost callout for dreams got nocturnal visions from people both mundane and bizarre. One mum Marcia Steeves has been dreaming of meet-ups with former classmates and visiting their favourite hangouts. 

“Our old teachers would wave from afar, it made us all feel warm and safe,” she told HuffPost Canada. 

The pandemic’s timeline has affected nightmares too. In a direct message on Twitter, one dreamer from Saskatoon noted that theirs became vivid when locals started panic-buying toilet paper. A Toronto-based author’s nightmares were funny once he woke up, such as the imaginary fright he got when his house was trashed by partiers.

now having nightmares about roaming house parties busting into my place like i’m the square in a rock video

— Midsgar (@ZaaackKoootzer) March 28, 2020

But as Ontario’s state of emergency continues, he’s been more troubled by dreaming. 

“The most distressing one was about being in Honest Ed’s, repeatedly touching my own face and getting upset at myself,” he told HuffPost Canada.

Others have found themselves dreaming of former stressors, like 31-year-old Ottawa resident Kayla Spagnoli. She’s been having nightmares five times a week about her former job as an embalmer, plagued by imaginary bodies piling up and her calls for help going unanswered.   

“I’m trying to sort and casket bodies upon bodies,” she told HuffPost Canada. “So who’s going to do pick-up at the morgue? I’m trying to problem-solve and nobody’s answering.”

Bad dreams run rampant in the minds of many Canadians coping with the pandemic.

Experts shared with HuffPost Canada likely reasons for the spike in vivid dream recall, as well as how to interpret what you see at night and manage them should nightmares become too distressing. If you’re among the fitful sleepers, here’s what you should know about dreaming during a pandemic:

Sleep cycles, stress and late-night vices may play a role

Data is still emerging on pandemic dreaming, but early small-scale studies suggest the pandemic has caused more vivid dreaming and poor sleep quality: A YouGov poll of more than 2,400 adults found that nearly 30 per cent of respondents say their vivid dreaming has increased, and a SleepHelp survey found that one in five adults have been getting less sleep because of Covid-19. 

The jury’s still out on why exactly we’re dreaming more vividly, but several dream experts have shared theories to explain the phenomenon. 

One commonly accepted theory? We’re not having more weird dreams, but we are remembering them more. Scientific evidence has shown that we’re more likely to remember dreams that occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) cycle of sleep, which occurs right after the stage of deepest sleep. Because of this, both those who are sleep-deprived and trying to pay back their sleep debt because of a quieter schedule, as well as those who are sleeping in, may be prone to vivid dreaming, the New York Times reports.   

“Many of us are not being woken by an alarm right now. When you wake up without disturbance, the chances of recalling a dream also improve,” Montreal Gestalt counsellor Layne Dalfen told HuffPost Canada.

Another line of thinking points the finger at crisis-related stress. New York City neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez told HuffPost Canada that the subconscious is where the brain processes emotions and thoughts through memory associations.

 

 

Being in a crisis situation with uncertainty around when it will end would certainly give our minds plenty of overwhelming emotions that need processing. 

“Our brains are going to places our conscious minds may not allow us to delve into while we are awake… When we are in REM sleep, [there’s a] confluence of all the anxiety and fears we might try to suppress during our waking hours,” she said over email. 

Hafeez also points out that substances people may be using to cope such as drinking alcohol before bed to fall asleep faster actually disturbs one’s REM cycles.

“The body does something called ‘REM rebound’ as a means of compensation. It is in this phase that dreams become more intense,” she added.

How to interpret your pandemic dreams

Leading scholars like Harvard Medical school assistant professor Deirdre Barrett are collecting Covid-19 dreams for analysis. She told Vice that many have shared nightmares involving insects, from finding worms to encountering swarming bugs. 

Others are bringing social distancing measures into their dreams, or are terrorised by nightmares of the virus personally affecting them or their loved ones.

my mum dreamt that i got the corona virus……… idk what to do with this information.

— Rishtha Shuja (@_Rishthashuja_) March 3, 2020

While dreams like these might be helpful to take at face value ― worrying about Covid-19 all day would likely translate to those worries manifesting at night ― science has yet to definitively prove that what we see in our dreams speaks to anything concretely, with some neuroscientists theorising that dreams are just by-products of memory storage processes conducted by our brains. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t carry meaning based on how we feel about them.

“You have a worldview and I have a worldview. Every night we change that world view slightly but significantly, depending on what happens during the day. That is an important function of dreaming,” American psychiatrist Allan Hobson told South China Morning Post, to explain how the emotional meaning of dreams are significant from a survival standpoint.

Dalfen emphasises there’s no one-size-fits-all dream dictionary that can interpret every fantastical image, as what you see in a dream is unique to your life experience. But if you’re hoping to get insight into a recurring feature in a dream or want to pinpoint what daytime anxiety you may be ignoring, it might be emotionally helpful to decode a dream.

Using six “points of entry,” Dalfen says dreamers can figure out what aspect of a dream resonates most strongly with their waking self: how you feel during it, what action occurs, the plot of the dream, repeating patterns in the dream, symbols and wordplay. From there, a dreamer can draw their own conclusions and potentially address any real-life anxieties they have. For example, a recent client told Dalfen she dreamt of being in Target and found the store choice interesting when she was awake, as she had felt “targeted” since the pandemic started.

How you interpret a dream will depend on how you feel about certain symbols, people, patterns or memories that take place in it.

For many, thinking about how they feel about a dream’s imagery has helped them process real-life worries. Spagnoli says she believes her embalming nightmares come from a place of guilt, as that’s how she feels both when she’s asleep and when she’s awake, thinking about not being on the front lines. Understanding that concern has helped her work towards alleviating her guilt.

“I’ve talked to people I trust [about feeling guilty], including my twin,” she said.  

If your vivid dreams have been about mundane tasks like going to work or commuting, Hafeez says this may be because our brains are nostalgic for when times were better.

Steeves realised that how safe she felt in her schoolyard memories was a sign she was nostalgic for feeling like an invincible youth again. For her, it was helpful to look at how school was a symbol of security.

“Our teachers and the buildings represent the securities of our childhood that we are all yearning for right now,” the mom wrote to HuffPost Canada over Twitter.

Dr. Hafeez’s sleep routine for better dreaming

Drawing on her neuropsychology background, Hafeez shared a nighttime routine that may help reduce the likelihood of having a pandemic-related nightmare. 

  • Don’t drink alcohol: This includes other stimulating substances like sugar, caffeine or narcotics before bedtime.

  • Unplug from bad news: Consuming grim Covid-19 updates non-stop can be detrimental to one’s mental well-being, which the neuropsychologist says can lead to anxiety that your psyche may need to address. 

  • Use a calming ritual: A wellness or guided meditation app is an easy way to build relaxation into your routine, Hafeez notes. Other calming rituals might include making your sleep schedule more consistent, using soothing scents — Spagnoli recommends lavender — light stretches, low-intensity yoga poses, and writing what you’re grateful for in spite of the pandemic. Reducing technology use can reduce stress, too.

  • Watch or read something happy: Hafeez recommends capping off your night with something funny or uplifting.

  • Keep a dream journal: It may be helpful to track recurring patterns in dreams or nightmares, as externalising a dream can help process it and make nightmares less scary. 

If your nightmares are consistently waking you up in the middle of the night because of how disturbing they are, or if they start affecting how you function during the day, Hafeez recommends seeking professional help. Ongoing vivid nightmares can be a symptom of PTSD or another mental disorder; Spagnoli, a longtime nightmare sufferer, says antidepressants and therapy for borderline personality disorder have equipped her to better handle pandemic-related bad dreams.   

The bottom line is, if your pandemic nightmares are leaving you overly distressed, “it’s time for you to schedule a virtual consultation with a mental health professional, like your therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist,” Hafeez advised. “We can’t really control our dreams.”

Skin Issues Caused By Coronavirus Lockdown, And How To Deal With Them

If you’re not one of the many essential workers either labouring to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic or provide those of us able to stay home with the necessities to stay there, you’re probably not going outside much right now.

Chances are you’re eating different foods. You may not be exercising as much. Or maybe you’re exercising more. You may not be sleeping well, or at odd times. And you’re likely pretty stressed out right now.

As a result of all of this ― plus all the other factors in your life ― your skin is probably freaking out in a number of ways. We talked to two dermatologists about how to take care of your skin when all your normal routines have been upended.

Thirty percent of people pick at their skin, and times of stress and anxiety can make people pick more than they normally would.

“Your skin is a reflection of your overall health,” said Heather D. Rogers, owner ofModern Dermatology in Seattle and Doctor Rogers Restore skin care. “Focusing on just your skin is too microscopic.”

You need to take care of your whole self. 

Get enough sleep.

“You need a schedule and you need to get eight hours of sleep,” Rogers said. She suggests setting an alarm to tell you when to go to bed, as well as when to get up.

This seems very simple, but inadequate sleep can cause your bodyto release more cortisol (the stress hormone) that can cause inflammation in your skin, which can manifest as acne or psoriasis. 

Remember to exercise.

You’ve probably heard that exercisecauses your body to release endorphins, those wonderful little morphine-like hormone molecules that elevate your mood.

Exercise also burns cortisone, Rogers said, making it a great way to reduce stress and anxiety and help keep your skin clear.

What if you’re exercising more?

“Exercise elevates testosterone levels, which can wake up acne,” Rogers said.

If you find yourself working out more than once a day because, well, you have the time, just remember to wash your face before and after (as well as taking a shower post workout).

“Please don’t sit around in your sweat,” said Nazanin Saedi, director of the Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Centre at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, “and wash your face.”

What about all that sun you’re not getting?

We all know the importance of wearing sunscreen to protect our skin from harmful UV rays, but what happens when we spend too much time inside? First, our bodies still need vitamin D, so consider taking a supplement or getting a UV light, Rogers said. 

Supplements or UV lights can help boost the vitamin D levels of those who can't get outside.

“Many people are inside in dry, conditioned environments,” Saedi said, “and this can lead to drier skin.” She suggests using a humidifier to help put some moisture into the air. (A bonus: Recent research shows that high temperature and high relative humidity may reduce the transmission of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus). “Also, try not to take too many long, hot showers: the hot water sucks the moisture out of your skin.”

Wash your face. Just not too much. 

“If you over-wash,” Saedi said, “you’re stripping the natural oils, so your skin will start producing more.” She suggests usingbenzoyl peroxide once a week and sticking to washing your face once or twice a day.

If you’re prone to skin problems, use aglycolic acid-based product to help get rid of dead skin. Saedi also recommendsa topical Vitamin C serum every day to brighten the skin.

Use skin masks, peels and exfoliators with caution.

With extra time on your hands, you might be tempted to indulge in all kinds of masks, exfoliators and peels. Rogers cautions about getting carried away with these kinds of treatments.

“You could really be jacking your skin,” she said. “All of that exfoliating and peeling affects your skin’s acid mantle. You have good bacteria and bad bacteria. You don’t want to get rid of all your good stuff. If you over treat, your pH levels go up and that can lead to skin problems.”

Don’t forget to moisturise after you wash your hands.

We’re all washing our hands much more often (or we should be!). Saedi said she’s been seeing a lot more hand eczema cases with her patients.

“All that washing and hand sanitiser dries out the skin,” she said. Many people are experiencing cracked and chapped hands. “If your hands are cracking,Vaseline is one of the best things you can use.”

You don’t even have to buy one of Vaseline’s hand lotions, you can just use the regular, original petroleum jelly if you want.

Avoid picking and scratching in your newfound free time.

Both Rogers and Saedi caution against excessive skin picking and scratching.

“Thirty percent of people pick at their skin,” Rogers said. Times of stress and anxiety can make people pick more than they normally would. The most common areas that women pick are the neck and back, while men tend to pick at the skin on their calves.

If you notice yourself picking at a higher intensity than you’d like, Rogers suggests using an ice pack or a package of frozen vegetables to quiet your nerves. “Nerves can’t itch and be cold at the same time,” she said, “so the ice cold will stop the itchy feeling.”

Running out of skin care? There are household items you can use. 

While none of the following should necessarily make up your entire regular skin routine, Rogers said that coconut oil has been shown to help with eczema and blocked pores. “Don’t put on your face, though,” she said.

You can, however, use castor oil on your face. As a source of triglycerides (which help retain moisture in the skin), ricinoleic (an anti-inflammatory) and other fatty acids, castor oil can be beneficial to your skin. Just keep in mind that there isn’t a lot of real research about the use of home cooking oils so results can vary.

“If you have a dry scalp and hair, sleep with some olive oil massaged into your scalp and it should help,” Rogers added. 

“All in all, take advantage of being less rushed,” Saedi said, “Take care of yourself. Moisturise. Be compliant with your skin care regime. If you’ve haven’t had time in the past to stick to a routine, now is an excellent opportunity to do that.”

Also on HuffPost

This Is Why You Feel So Tired Right Now

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How To Have The Best Staycation At Home This Weekend

With the UK on lockdown, you’d be forgiven for scratching your head a little when it comes to your weekend plans.

And yes, while you could clean your home or do some DIY, given the current climate we think it’s only right to take some time out for yourself. Use this time to switch off, relax and – dare we say it – have some fun.

But how to do that without leaving the house? Milla Lascelles, a holistic health and lifestyle coach from London, shares her tips for the ultimate staycation.

1. Set the scene.

“Sometimes all we need is to rework our habitat,” says Lascelles, citing that feeling you get when you rearrange some furniture, declutter your coffee table or pop some nice new products by your bath tub.

One way to create that staycation feel at home is to give your bedroom a quick and easy makeover. “I think before you do anything, make your bedroom a minimalist haven, similar to what you’d find in a hotel room,” she says.

“Declutter the room, fold your towels on the end of the bed, perhaps move that radio in your kitchen to your bedroom and invest in a brand new, cosy, white robe to hang on the back of your door.” (Or just giving your existing dressing gown a wash to freshen it up!)

In the morning, why not grab a tray and treat yourself to breakfast in bed?

2. Soak it up.

If you’ve found that a week of working from home or just general life stress has left you with tense shoulders, it might be helpful to run a bath to relax those muscles.

“Bathing is really therapeutic and the ritual allows the mind to slow down and rest,” says Lascelles. Turn your bathroom into a spa with bath oils and a face mask. Slice some cucumber for your eyes. Whale music optional. Get some candles on the go if you can and keep the lighting low. Go the whole hog.

3. Have a picnic.

Put a fancy picnic together in your garden – or, if you don’t have one, on your balcony or even in your living room. “Why not get your picnic basket out and and find a lovely spot in the garden where you can stay put for an afternoon with your family?” says Lascelles.

Pack some sandwiches, snacks and drinks, and you’re good to go. Just don’t forget your picnic rug!

4. Camp out.

If the weather permits, you could even sleep out under the stars in your own back garden, says Lascelles. This is a great option for those with kids.

Dig out that old tent or those sleeping bags that have been gathering dust, grab a portable BBQ (to make dinner with) and don’t forget your hot water bottles.

If you don’t have the outdoor space, why not build a cosy den indoors and sleep there instead – midnight snacks, fairy lights and blankets are a must.

5. Unplug.

While connection is key during the lockdown, it’s wise to give yourself time to disconnect for a little while. “Try and unplug from the noise when you can,” says Lascelles. “If anything, due to current circumstances, screen time is up so try and make your staycation weekend device-free in certain rooms in the house. 

“You could even try and carry this on throughout the coming weeks. You may feel uncomfortable at first and even become bored but you will adapt quickly and start to enjoy it.”

6. Get moving.

As it stands, we can all leave our homes once a day for exercise – so try and find a new route to explore. Preferably one where other people aren’t going or a place where you can keep a good distance from others. A good hour’s walk will leave you feeling invigorated and like you’ve actually escaped for a bit.

Failing that, treat yourself to an exercise class as you would if you were staying in a hotel with a gym, says Lascelles. There are plenty of online fitness classes to choose from – we tried them – and most can be done from your living room with no extra equipment needed. We even chatted to Joe Wicks about his one!

7. Get creative in the kitchen.

There’s something really nice and fulfilling about preparing a proper meal – whether you’re making it for yourself, or for others in your household. Pick a recipe, something you’ve never made before, and embrace the challenge. If you live with others, get them involved in making dinner too – then make sure you all sit down to eat together.

Make your own pizzas. “Not only is it cheaper it’s also a fun activity to get the whole family involved with,” says Lascelles. And if all else fails, order a takeaway.

How To Stop Coronavirus Nightmares From Ruining A Good Night’s Sleep

See the latest stories on the coronavirus outbreak.

Despite sitting indoors pretty much all day, every day, you may be feeling more tired than usual at the moment – and, yes, coronavirus is probably to blame.

Stress impacts on “both the amount of sleep we achieve and its quality”, says sleep specialist Dr Michelle Miller, associate professor in Biochemical Medicine at Warwick University. And few things are as stressful as a global pandemic. 

Perhaps the Covid-19 situation has left you struggling to switch off at night. Or you doze off – but wake more frequently than usual, and find it hard to get back to sleep. Fighting to get some peaceful shut-eye affects both our physical and mental wellbeing, says Dr Miller. Heightened levels of stress or trauma are also known to increase frequency of night terrors or “anxiety dreams” in adults.

“Sleep is important for memory consolidation [the process where our brains convert short-term memories into long-term ones] and immune function,” she tells HuffPost UK. 

Conversely, sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on mental resilience, making coping with the pandemic – and the precautions we are being asked to take – that bit harder during the day. It has also been shown to mirror brain activity in anxiety disorders and can exacerbate pre-existing ones.

“Lack of sufficient sleep affects emotional regulation, inhibition, control and judgement,” Dr Miler says. “It is associated with low mood, irritability and the inability to concentrate on performing tasks.” Which is why it’s important to address sleeping issues – but how can you best do this when you’re already feeling overwhelmed?

Sleep consultant Maryanne Taylor, founder of The Sleep Works, recommends some proactive steps to regain control over your situation. If you’ve been struggling to fall asleep, she advises spending 10-15 minutes in the early evening writing your worries and thoughts down on paper. “Think about the thoughts you have when you are lying in bed feeling anxious and write them down,” she says. “The simple act of writing them down and seeing them visually in front of you can help alleviate their build in your brain.”

Getting the basics of good sleep right will also help. These include detoxing from the news cycle and social media before bed, trying to stick to a regular bedtime and wake time, and making the most of daily exercise (don’t skip it because you’re tired!)

“Have a light dinner and as varied a diet as possible, as many dietary compounds can boost the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and reduce the stress-hormone cortisol,” Dr Miller adds. “Try to exercise early in the day, not immediately before bed, and dim down your lights in the evening.”

Taylor also recommends listening to an audio book (hundreds have recently been released for free on platforms like Audible), having a hot shower or bath, then listening to a meditation or breathing exercise while lying on your bed. 

“All this allows us to maintain a sense of calm leading up to bedtime.”

If you’re worried about waking regularly, Dr Miller suggests it can help to remind yourself that it is completely normal to do so. “We sleep in cycles of approximately 90 minutes. If you wake up, remind yourself it’s not uncommon to wake up in lighter phases of sleep and try to settle down again,” she says. 

For those still struggling to drift back off, Taylor says there’s no point lying in bed tossing and turning. “All this does is build up our anxiety and stress levels and enhance our thoughts, which always seem more catastrophic during the night when all is quiet,” she says.

Instead, during this uncertain period, Taylor recommends building a ‘nest’ in another room other than your bedroom, if you have the space. “Make it a nice, comfortable space, with dim lighting,” she says. “Put a book, or headphones with audiobook or music ready. If you are not feeling sleepy within around 10-15 minutes, get up and go to your nest.”

However tempting it may be, do not look at your phone while visiting the ‘nest’. “Even a quick check of the phone with alerts on screen can be enough to trigger anxious thoughts,” Taylor says. “When you are feeling sleepy, go back to bed and hopefully you will find it easier to get back to sleep.”

For more article and tips, read The Sleep Edition from HuffPost UK. 

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI – this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@themix.org.uk
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on www.rethink.org.

The Best Mindfulness Apps That Will Help You Stay Calm

Many people are feeling uncertain or anxious about what’s happening in the world right now. Our version of normal is changing, but whether you’re practising social distancing or working from home for the first time, there are small steps you can take to bring some calm back into your daily routine. 

Mindfulness apps can be a really good way to develop a more manageable mindset, without feeling too overwhelmed. We’ve handpicked 10 apps to get you started, or if you’re an experienced user, new ones to try.

Some are free, some charge a subscription fee; all are designed to offer a helping hand in a worrying time. Just don’t forget to keep your phone clean when you’re using them!

The One Your Friend Has

Headspace – Free to download, optional monthly (£9.99) or yearly subscription (£44.99)

Headspace

Meditation and sleep app Headspace is one of the best known on the market, offering the first 14 days free so you can get a feel for its 10-part basic courses before committing to a monthly or annual subscription. You can tailor exercises to suit your needs, whether you’re looking to get a better night’s sleep or manage stress and anxiety, in three, five or 10 minute bursts. Headspace CEO Richard Pierson announced on Twitter the app would be introducing services to help caregivers, healthcare providers, parents and workers, along with tools and tips to help talk to young people whose schooling is affected by coronavirus.

Download Headspace.

The Deep Breathing One

Just Breathe – Free to download

Just Breathe

This completely free app offers guided meditation with a teacher, music or timer in two, eight or 20 minute sessions. With soothing sounds, simple instructions, it’s brilliant if you’re new to meditation and need a bit of help in finding what works for you. We’d recommend trying it for eight minutes to get you started, long enough to get into a better headspace, but not too long that it takes you off task, especially if you’re working from home. But the longer practices are great for starting or finishing your day. 

Download Just Breathe

The Sleepy Celebrity One

Calm – Free for a one week trial, then an annual subscription (£28.99)

Calm

Calm has a great variety of meditations and bedtime stories to follow, narrated by celebrities including Stephen Fry and Matthew McConaughey. As soon as you open the app it plays outdoor sounds, from rain to waves, which you can adapt to your preference, and there are different meditation option dependent on your experience. It’s a welcoming bit of peace away from the chaos. 

Download Calm.

The Truly Escapist One

Portal – £3.99 for one-time download

 

Portal

If you’re struggling to sleep or suffer from insomnia, try Portal, a mindfulness app that has a wide selection of relaxing sounds from nature to enjoy quietly on their own or as an accompaniment to audiobooks and podcasts. The name is the aim: offering you a portal to a calmer state whether that’s a beach in Hawaii, or a lake in Japan, and each option comes with landscape imagery to really set the scene for you. 

Download Portal

The Naysayers’ One

Simple Habit – Free to download with an optional annual subscription (£38.99)

Simple Habit

If taking time to practise mindfulness feels like another thing on your to-do list, Simple Habit is designed for people who don’t or can’t find the time for a few minutes of self-care. The audio meditations are as short as five minutes but can make all the difference if you need to feel at ease. Choose topics that are relevant to you, whether’s that reducing stress on the commute you’re still having to do or relaxing post a social-distancing argument. We could all do with a bit of that. While there is a price tag attached to access more content, what you get for free is generous so don’t feel like you have to fork out.

Download Simple Habit.  

The NHS-Approved One

Feeling Good: Positive Mindset – Free to download with in-app purchases

Feeling Good: Positive Mindset

As one of the apps recommended by the NHS for managing your mental health, Feeling Good: Positive Mindset offers a series of audio tracks to help you build a more positive approach to things, particularly helpful if you know you’re prone to looking at the negative aspects of situations. It works to improve your overall mental wellbeing, concentration and confidence in approaching tasks, too, using cognitive behavioural therapy techniques. You get four free tracks accompanied by music and coaching to begin with, then a 12-track positive mental training audio programme available as an in-app purchase. The programme has been used by the NHS in Edinburgh for 12 years to help recovery from stress, anxiety and depression in over 75,000 patients. 

Download Feeling Good: Positive Mindset

 

The Gamified One

Thrive – Free to download

Thrive

Another app with the NHS tick of approval, Thrive is game-based programme to help you take control of your emotions. Through meditation and deep-breathing tips, the aim is to manage negative thoughts and be more relaxed in how you deal with stressful scenarios. Meanwhile, the Mood Meter tracks how you’re feeling to guide you into recognising what changes you could make if you’re feeling many things at once and finding it hard to address them. 

Download Thrive

The Thoughtful One

Stop, Breathe and Think – Free to download with an optional monthly subscription (£9.99) or annual sign up (£54.99)

Stop, Breathe and Think

Before you start a guided meditation or quick yoga session with Stop, Breathe & Think, it thoughtfully asks you to check in on how you’re feeling physically and mentally, to help make your choice of activity that little bit more beneficial. There’s five minute sessions you can squeeze into your day or if you want something longer, there’s practices that go on upwards of 20 minutes. The free download grants you access to 30 activities, although if you did want to invest on an annual premium subscription then there’s over 100 more to use. 

Download Stop, Breathe & Think

The Social One

Insight Timer – Free to download, with an optional annual subscription (£55.99).

Insight Timer

If you prefer group meditation, Insight Timer is the app for you. You can invite friends to join you, see who iis meditating nearby or get a global view via a map of who is opting in too. Within it you can joining community group where meetups are encouraged and discussion topics are varied. It boasts a free library of 30,000 guided meditations, which comes with ambient background sounds to keeping you feel as zen as possible. 

Download Insight Timer

 

Why Am I So Tired After A Big Sleep? A Quick Guide

Your weekend lie-in might seem like a good idea at the time, but if you’ve ever woken up after a big sleep feeling even groggier than before you went to bed, you’ll know it’s not always for the best.

So why does this happen? Rebecca Robbins, a sleep researcher at Harvard Medical School and co-author of Sleep for Success, tells HuffPost UK it’s because we’re throwing our systems out of sync.

Our bodies are creatures of habit, she explains. The circadian rhythm relies on structure, including: exposure to light first thing, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, and adopting bed-time patterns that tell your body you’re gearing up for sleep. 

To put it simply: we love a good routine, so when we sleep past our usual wake-up time, our body (and brain) get confused. Cue, the grogginess.

We’re basically giving ourselves jet lag, or social jet lag, as scientists call it. “We may have actually tricked ourselves into thinking we have hopped in an airplane and flown to a new destination, making sleep the subsequent night also challenging,” says Robbins.

If you have snatched, shorter sleeps throughout the week, it’s probably not best to switch off your alarm on the weekend and sleep for hours and hours.

“When we cut our sleep short and have to ‘catch up the next night’ the stages of our sleep will be out of sync, causing us to wake up and feel disoriented after sleeping for longer than usual,” says Robbins.

The best sleep is one that is sufficient (7-8 hours ideally) and consistent, which means it follows a similar schedule from night to night – yes, even at the weekend.

“This allows our body to know when it is supposed to be tired and when it is supposed to awaken,” she says. “Our sleep will organise itself very efficiently within this window, slipping in and out of the various stages that allow us to wake up refreshed.”

So if you’re tempted to have a big kip, try to resist. The best option is to keep sleep consistently throughout the week and make up for lost sleep with a short power nap – 20 minutes should do the trick.

“This will pay back some of our sleep ‘debt’,” says Robbins, “without the tax of the groggy sensation after a longer than normal period of sleep.”

Self-Isolating For Coronavirus? Here’s How To Avoid Cabin Fever

Update: See the latest stories on the coronavirus outbreak.

One in five workers – around six million people – could be forced to stay home during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, prime minister Boris Johnson has said.

As cases of Covid-19 rise in the UK, more people are being encouraged to self-isolate in at attempt to reduce the spread of the virus, which so far has proven a particular risk to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

While self-isolating might sound like a dream scenario for the introverts among us, two weeks alone with yourself can very quickly become boring and frustrating. In some cases, people might find their mood is affected, says NHS England – people might feel low, worried or have problems sleeping. 

So what can you do about it?

1. Get on top of things.

Yes it’s not ideal you’ve got to stay at home for two weeks but think of it as a great time to do some of those things you’ve been putting off (like booking that dentist appointment or researching staycations). Reprioritise your wellbeing and happiness. Have a nice bath (or five), paint your nails, practise mindfulness, do some yoga. It all helps.

2. Use social media for good.

Social media should never be a replacement for physical contact with other human beings, but when you’re in isolation, you have to compromise. 

Instead of scrolling mindlessly through your feeds, use social media to connect with friends and family. Find new networks and communities, join or promote worthwhile causes – perhaps one of those helping the vulnerable during the outbreak – or reach out to others who appear to be struggling.

Make use of Whatsapp and Facetime. It can really help to lift our spirits to connect regularly with those we love. Failing that, do it the old-fashioned way and give an old friend (or your gran) a call. 

It’s good to stay informed about the best health precautions, but you don’t need to be glued to every single news update, as this can feed and fuel our fears. If you find it’s all getting too much, avoid the news, turn off notifications and mute specific words on social media.

And if you find yourself spending too much time online, limit your use to a certain time (ie. 6pm) each day.

3. Read a book (or three).

Reading is considered very therapeutic, so throwing yourself headfirst into a good book (preferably an uplifting one!) could work wonders for the soul. Why not revisit our favourite holiday reads – because you’re ‘kind of’ on a break.

When you’ve got your nose in a good book, time passes quickly and you find yourself immersed in an entirely new world – one where you’re not thinking about coronavirus. A study by cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis showed that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by a whopping 60%. In fact, it was found to be better at reducing stress than music, having a cuppa, going for a walk and playing video games.

4. Marie Kondo your room.

When Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow returned to the UK from Iran, he was told he had to spend two weeks in isolation. What did he do in that time? He organised his ties, of course.

If you’re house- or bedroom-bound, try to focus on what you can be doing to sort out the area you’re confined to. Is it finally time to have a clear out? How about putting up those curtains that have been sat in their wrapping for eons? Or tidying up that bedside table drawer that’s crammed full of junk? You’ll feel totally satisfied and fulfilled afterwards. Not to mention a little calmer.

My ties are getting hung up! pic.twitter.com/6cmNKqSV6b

— Jon Snow (@jonsnowC4) February 27, 2020

5. Buy yourself something nice.

It’s seriously crap being stuck indoors and you’re doing the best you can, so buy yourself something nice (online, of course). Bloom & Wild do lovely flowers you can have posted straight through your letter box or why not splurge on some new linen for the bed you’re having to look at and sit on day in, day out? Obviously if you’re being tested for coronavirus, or you’ve tested positive, you should be letting your delivery driver know that they should call you and leave the items on your doorstep when they arrive to limit interaction.

6. Prioritise sleep, but not too much.

You might want to sleep lots when you’re stuck indoors and bored, but don’t be tempted because it can really screw up your sleeping pattern. If you’re self-isolating, use the time to catch up on sleep (7-8 hours per night is enough) and don’t be drawn in by the temptation to nap for three hours each afternoon. Prioritising your sleep can help boost your mental health, but getting too much sleep can actually make us feel 10 times worse. Read more on sleep here.

7. Get creative.

Studies suggest that when we’re bored, we’re at our most creative, so use this time wisely. Write that book you’ve been putting off, paint that blank canvas, pen a poem or song, compose some music. Do something.

Alternatively, learn a new skill. YouTube is a great starting point. You’ll find tutorials for pretty much anything – whether you’re learning how to draw, knit, or even cook. If that’s not for you, why not download an app to help you learn a new language.

8. Dance

You’re confined to your room, you’re bored out of your skull, there’s only one thing for it: it’s time to dance. Turn up your music (upbeat songs only) and spend 20 minutes dancing around – not only will it boost your mood, it’s also a good way of squeezing in some exercise without leaving the house.

9. Focus on the future. 

Remember this is a temporary situation, it’s not forever. So why not focus your mind on the things you’re looking forward to in the year ahead? The weddings you’re attending, the holidays you’ve booked, the big career or house move, spending summer in beautiful beer gardens, going to the beach, landing that promotion. If we focus on the future, there’s less chance to catastrophise about the present.