Staying at home FAQs

Covid-19: every man’s guide to the great indoors

If you’re spending a lot of time indoors, there's no need to go mad. Check out our guide to staying at home successfully. Whether you’re self-isolating or social-distancing, we hope you’ll find something here to help. (This is about health obviously but money may well be a big issue too - and there some links on that here.)

What’s the difference?

You need to self-isolate if you or someone in your household has symptoms of Covid-19. We all need to socially distance whether we have symptoms or not. Follow the links for more information on both. Either way, you should be spending all or nearly all your time at home. (Obviously some men are still going out to work but even so there might be some ideas in here you find useful.)

Is it really that serious?

It is. Online you’ll find people who think that Covid-19 is a conspiracy against capitalism or Brexit or Trump or Liverpool running away with the premier league. If you’re getting this junk in your social media feed, think about blocking it.

Once it’s over we’ll have to look at how we do things differently in the future but those are questions for another day.

For now, just understand that it is serious: potentially the most serious threat to this country in decades. And stay home. If you’re struggling to see why such extreme measures are needed, read: Social distancing is about understanding risk.

How will I cope at home?

Enjoying life is not so much about the things that happen to us as about our reaction to them. Try to approach this period with your head in a positive place. View it as a new and unusual experience that you can get something out of rather than as an imposition or a problem.

This period will end. So, for example, instead of focusing negatively on the holiday you’ll miss, perhaps focus positively on learning the language so you’ll have an even better time if and when you do go.

Most of all, this is an opportunity to get better at the thing we often find hardest: being with ourselves. We tend to try to avoid it. Filling every minute with things, people and places. But the truth is the only journey that really matters in life is the one inside your head. You could see this period as an extended exercise in being in the moment, with yourself and being OK with it.

As well as getting to know yourself better, this is a chance to get to know the people around you better, a chance to develop your talking and listening skills. The people in your household are in an unusual situation too - talk to them about how it feels. We will all be directly affected or know people who are and it's going to be tough at times. Perhaps, we can come out the other side better at communicating with each other.

You’ve probably heard about the five ways to wellbeing: five things that any of us can do to lift our mood. They are: connect, be active, keep learning, give, and take notice. Four and a half out these five can be done indoors.

You can connect with others. In today’s tech world, it can be hard to phone someone. Now you have the perfect excuse. It’s certainly OK to text someone and just check in on them.

You can keep learning. There are internet tutorials on everything. Learn that ukulele that’s been sitting in the corner since Christmas before last or learn how to say “I am social distancing’ in ten different languages. Learn a new video game. (Get the kids to teach you.)

You can give. Keep in touch with family and friends. It’s OK to go outside to help a vulnerable adult. (But if you do, make sure you follow all the hygiene and social distancing advice to avoid infection.) The NHS is also looking for volunteers - see below.

Take notice of your environment. What are the things you like about your home? Make a list of things you’re grateful for. Do things you don’t usually do. Tidy your sock drawer. Clean the car. Have a bath. Repair that broken chair. Bake bread or a cake.

True, being active indoors is tougher but there are some suggestions to come.

Finally, try to make sure you sleep properly. It’s always a good idea and particularly important at times of change and stress.

What about working from home?

If you haven’t done it, working from home before can be a challenge. Some suggestions:

  • stick to a routine (respect your working hours)
  • set the alarm
  • only use one cup
  • make a proper lunch (as you’re at home, there’s no need for a sandwich on the run - a real bonus)
  • put your trousers on (especially before a tele-conference)
  • establish boundaries with your employers 
  • and with your household. Agree with those in your household when you’re available (although kids stumbling into your tele-conference or live TV interview can make for an excellent viral video).

If you no longer commute, you could replace that time with a walk. This creates a space between work and home, clears your head and gives you time to think about what you need to do that day.

I’m overwhelmed by Covid-19. It’s everywhere.

It’s good to be aware of your feelings including the feeling of being overwhelmed or snowed under. But feelings don’t last forever. And nor will lockdown or the pandemic.

Meanwhile, stick to reputable sources like the NHS and the BBC for your information and don’t gorge on it. Try to watch/listen to the news just once a day. For the latest official government guidance, check gov.uk

There is lots of junk being shared on social media. Be wary if you don’t know the exact source (even if it was shared by a good friend). Especially if it begins: ‘A friend knows someone high up in the government/NHS/University of Neverheardofit who says…’ or ‘this is advice given to hospital staff…’ or ‘the real reason for Coronavirus is …’

How do I keep fit?

It’s OK to go out to exercise everyday - walk, run, a bike ride. But stay local.

At home, you can still exercise even if you haven’t any equipment. There are plenty of videos online. Focus on mellowing, relaxing exercise rather than high intensity stuff. Yoga is good physically and mentally.

Dancing is a great exercise that you can do at home. Housework burns more calories than you think. Have a clear out. Declutter. Do a deep clean. Do the garden, if you have one. DIY. Clean the car. And, there’s always sex. (Yes, even in the afternoon.)

Whatever you do, it's important to keep your weight down. According to data from critical care units in the UK, people who are overweight make up 75% of the deaths from Covid-19. Men are also 75% of the deaths. So it's fair to say that being overweight and male is a risk factor.

I’m already sick of social media.

For once, we actually need our technology to keep in touch. But that means it’s doubly important to know when you’ve had too much and take breaks. Mental health charity Mind recommend a break if:

  • you’re feeling disconnected, especially from those in the house with you
  • doing things online is getting in the way of you doing things offline
  • you’re thinking about your online activity even when you’re not doing it
I’m bored

No, you’re not. You just haven't used your imagination.

There are over 30 million books currently in print. Read one.

Then there’s umpteen millions of movies and TV series - a lot of choice even if you don’t have subscription. Maybe, find one you can watch with the kids.

The same goes for computer games. (But avoid Football Manager - so addictive you’ll still be playing it when the next pandemic strikes.)

Or do something you’ve always wanted to do: start that blog, write that book, poem, song or musical, take up painting, carpentry or DJing, learn to knit, cook or bake, fix your bike or car.

What about doing something to help?

The NHS is looking for volunteers to help the Covid-19 effort. They need help in four areas:

  • delivering medicines from pharmacies;
  • driving patients to appointments;
  • bringing them home from hospital;
  • making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home

You’ll need to be over 18, fit and well and prepared to accept some rules on social distancing etc. If you’re in a high risk group, you can still offer telephone support. 

How do I deal with stress and anxiety?

Anxiety UK suggest an APPLE:

  • Acknowledge - notice your feeling
  • Pause - don’t react. You’re at your most powerful in the moments after something happens and before you react to it.
  • Pull back - call out your feeling for what it is: just a feeling.
  • Let it go - just watch that feeling float away. Sing a rousing chorus from Frozen if it helps.
  • Explore: explore the present moment. Breathe. Focus on your breath. In this moment, all is well. Move on and focus on something else.

If you need help, check our useful links.

Although Samaritans are currently closed to visitors, you can still phone (though it may take longer to get an answer when volunteers are ill). Perhaps best to email or even write a letter. Writing down how you’re feeling always helps anyway.

Cruse offer bereavement support. 

Anything else?

Living with others is not easy and this period will test you. Relate support couples in difficulty.

If you’re on the receiving end of domestic violence or a perpetrator, follow the links for support.

The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. Especially during a major pandemic like Covid-19. So we’re asking.

Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.

Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.