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Baking

There’s something very therapeutic about getting your Mary Berry on. Perhaps it’s those nostalgic memories of packet mix cupcakes and icing that magically changed colour when you add water.

Baking is great because it keeps your mind busy and there’s a delicious treat at the end.

If you’re a complete beginner, then we recommend getting hold of a recipe book to guide you through. Mary Berry’s Baking Bible is a fantastic resource for baking the first time. 

If you’re more of a visual learner, then why not turn to good old YouTube? Cupcake Jemma is a channel dedicated to baking. With 1.74m subscribers, the channel offers lessons in making cupcakes, rainbow cakes and tips on the best baking equipment.

Finally, if cooking really isn’t your thing but you want the nostalgia of baking, then why not head to Netflix for some great cookery shows. Sugar Rush is a fast-paced baking competition with some impressive bakes to keep you entertained, while Nailed It is a hilarious cooking show dedicated to…let’s just say, less than perfect bakes. Both shows have a feel-good vibe that is perfect for having a chill day.

Why not try our delicious caramel cake recipe? 

Dancing

It could be as simple as turning up your favourite song and dancing around without a care in the world, or it could be following an online tutorial.

Whatever form your dance moves take, we all know that dancing just feels good! As we dance, our body releases endorphins resulting in a feeling of high, or euphoria. This can happen with pretty much any physical activity, but dancing has to be one of the most accessible. All you need to do is turn on some music and move.

If you are looking for some structure to your solo dance party, then why not try an online video. Davina McCall’s Own Your Goals is offering 30 days of free exercise for everyone at the moment and included are some really fun dance party workouts that are easy to follow and surprisingly fun.

On YouTube, POPSugar’s Dance FitSugar playlist offers 60 dance videos with a variety of styles. They are workouts so include periods of cardio amongst all that dancing.

YouTube and Refinery29 favourite, Lucy Fink, also has some really fun 20-minute Hip Hop Dance Classes on her channel.

Cinema Day

Watching telly during the day really feels like a guilty pleasure. Even when life is on hold, it can feel a little naughty sitting down to watch TV when you would normally be at work. Now, it definitely wouldn’t be good for your wellness to be sitting in front of the TV every day, but why not treat yourself to a weekend cinema day to break up the week?

Darken the room by closing the curtains and pull your chair closer to the TV, prepare your favourite snacks and put on one of your old favourite films. Disney+ is great for watching some beloved childhood films, or why not have a Harry Potter marathon and watch a film a week?

Technically, watching a film is actually good for us. A recent study found that watching a good film, whether it made you laugh or cry, lowered blood pressure and produced endorphins similar to those when we exercise.

So, if you needed an excuse for a movie day, there you have it!

Need inspiration? Check out our latest culture round-up.

Puzzles and Games

Puzzles and games are extremely satisfying, whether it’s a crossword or a video game. During times of anxiety, they can offer a great distraction and a way to use up some of that nervous energy by focusing our attention on the problem.

We’ve all heard of brain training and puzzles and games can help us to improve our minds. Puzzles exercise both sides of the brain, both the logical and analytical left side and the creative right side. Puzzles also help improve short-term memory, working our brain like a muscle in the gym. Games can also improve our reasoning abilities and it has been suggested that a Sudoku a day can help to keep our minds young as we age.

Perhaps most important of all at the moment, puzzles are relaxing. If you’re entirely focused on a puzzle, it’s difficult to also worry about other things. Therefore, next time you have an anxious moment, why not dust off a jigsaw puzzle?

Reading

Reading is a great way to entertain yourself and relax. There are numerous studies suggesting that reading is really good for our mental wellbeing and that it could even slow the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

For children, we use reading to teach them about the wider world, improving emotional literacy so that they can articulate how they feel and also giving them useful knowledge of geography, history and much more without them feeling as though they are actively learning. I think as adults these benefits still apply.

Not only that, but reading is just really fun! Whatever topic you’re interested in, there’s a book on it. Whether it’s travel or food or fashion or history. There is always going to be a book on the topic you want to learn about.

Plus, reading is a great alternative to screen time because the lack of blue light means it makes the perfect wind-down to sleep. In a 2009 study at the University of Essex, it was found that reading could reduce stress by 68% and was more efficient at doing so than drinking tea, listening to music or going for a walk.

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