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Under other circumstances, the prospect of a four-day weekend with no work to do would fill us with joy.
But with the UK still in lockdown, a good portion of people are probably feeling less than enamoured by the prospect of all that time to fill – indoors and, in some cases, on their own. If the prospect is filling you with dread, think of it as time to yourself, whether you’re going to prioritise self-care, learn something new or just eat some ice cream, have some nice walks – and sleep. A lot.
The weather forecast across the UK is a bit of a mixed bag this bank holiday weekend. Cloud and drizzly rain is expected in the north and west on Friday and Saturday, while it’s meant to be dry and warm further south and east. It will become cloudier with showers as Saturday hits, the Met Office says, and Sunday will see a mix of sunny intervals and showers – although heavier rain is expected in the south.
So how should you be filling your time with four whole days to get through?
Well, before the weekend hits, make sure you’ve washed your PJs and dressing gown (trust us on this one) and have a bottle of wine or non-alcoholic equivalent – hello Shloer – on hand to crack open when the time comes. If your home is looking a bit messy, get the cleaning out of the way once work is done so you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the weekend. This includes clearing away your work so you’re not tempted to return to it.
You can give your bedroom a quick and easy makeover, too. You’re basically creating a staycation feel without leaving your home. Now, crack open your bevvy of choice and treat yourself to a fakeaway or actual takeaway if you’re running low on food. Right, you’re ready to go.
You know that freshly laundered dressing gown? Now’s the time to pop it on and treat yourself to breakfast in bed. Got kids? Get them involved. For those with coffee machines, make yourself a nice brew – check out these tips from baristas, first! – or a lovely cuppa if you’re that way inclined.
Take some time out to read a magazine or newspaper – giving your eyes a break from all those screens you’ve been gawping at during the week. Yes, screen fatigue is alive and real. And if you still feel tired, go back to bed for a bit.
Failing that, get up and move about, maybe taking an online exercise class or doing some yoga. Alternatively, you might want to catch up on any PE with Joe classes you’ve missed – or even try it for the first time (you won’t regret it).
Friday is set to be the best day weather-wise so you might want to dust off the old barbecue and get out and about in the garden, if you have one. Gardening is proven to lower stress levels. It’s also good for physical health, as Dr Carl Shakespeare, consultant cardiologist at The Lister Hospital, explains.
“Gardening has huge impact on mental and cardiac health, with a significant reduction of depression, stress, weight loss, and even a reduction of heart attacks,” he says. It helps you up your vitamin D levels, build bone density and muscle, and it’s just incredibly mindful – but don’t forget your suncream.
At 2pm, tune into Borough Market’s Instagram where bakery school Bread Ahead will be hosting an Insta Live workshop on how to make hot cross buns – the perfect way to ring in Easter weekend.
If you don’t have a garden, use your daily exercise outing to run or walk through a nearby park, forest or beach so you can really make the most of the great outdoors – nature and exercise both boost mental wellbeing. Just make sure you remain 2m away from others at all times, and don’t stop off to sunbathe!
Struggling to cope at the moment? Why not try this mindfulness trick during your walk – pick a colour, then see how many things you spot in that colour. It’s a great one to make into a game with your kids.
Speaking of little ones, parents have been putting up tents in their back gardens (and even living rooms) to create a camping trip at home for the kids over the Easter break. Dig out those sleeping bags that have been gathering dust, some torches, and don’t forget your hot water bottles. If you don’t have outdoor space, you could build a cosy den indoors using sheets and blankets and let them sleep there instead – midnight snacks and fairy lights are a must.
By Friday night (when the kids are in bed), why not host a games night or pub quiz with your mates? Get on a Zoom call and socialise. Alternatively, get on House Party or a group FaceTime.
The weather’s meant to be a bit grizzly so why not try recreating a spa day from your home – treat yourself to a lie-in, then run a bath or take a slightly longer shower. Get a face mask on, paint your nails, get some sliced cucumber on your tired, screen-weary eyes. Switch on the whale or rainforest music, light a few candles, and relax (preferably in your freshly washed dressing gown).
What’s on the cards today? Could you indulge in one of your fave hobbies – or take up a fresh one, whether that’s painting, calligraphy, knitting, origami, baking (banana bread, what else?), keepy-uppies or learning a new language.
Keep entertained: HuffPost Entertainment is full of great recommendations. Many movies due to land in cinemas have been released early to watch at home; check out this extensive list of things to binge on Netflix; or get gaming (we hear Sims 4 is a great way to pass time right now). Video games are not only a great way to switch off from your surroundings but a way to connect with your kids – get them to teach you what to do if you’re in over your head.
Other options to keep you (and your household) occupied include dusting off the board games, playing cards or cards, or reclaiming the humble jigsaw, which has seen a huge renaissance of late. Or there’s always charades.
On Saturday and Sunday, Camp Bestival is hosting a stay at home ‘Easter Sleepover’ with lots of fun activities and workshops suitable for families. Adults will likely enjoy the 11am silent yoga Easter special. There’s a 6pm bedtime story with Kate Winslet too, which is pretty cool.
If you’re still twiddling your thumbs, catch up on all the jobs you’ve been putting off: that DIY project, clearing out the back bedroom, sorting out the cupboard under the sink – you’ll get a real sense of achievement afterwards, honest. And yes, you might even want to devote half an hour to filing away all the bills and other paperwork you’ve accumulated this past year.
Boredom can very easily slip into mindless grazing, but you can do better than munching cereal straight from the box for dinner. Take time to plan and really enjoy the food you make and eat this weekend. If you don’t have the right ingredients for the job, flex your culinary muscles and get creative, Masterchef-style. If you live alone, why not call or FaceTime a friend while you both cook?
Once 6pm hits, you’d be forgiven for treating yourself to a cocktail. Waitrose has some ideas available on its specially prepared Easter cocktails hub to help you on your way. Once you’ve got a quarantini (or two) down you, it’s time to dance – in your kitchen. For bonus feel-good factor, switch to Magic At The Musicals (one of the best radio stations out there right now, trust us) and sing along to some absolute showstoppers.
Maybe go for something a lighter breakfast if you’re planning on consuming your body weight in Mini Eggs and a Sunday roast today – and yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to make a roast for one. And eat all the chocolate, for that matter.
Those with kids might want to host an egg hunt. This doesn’t have to be anything too lavish. If you don’t have lots of little chocolates in, hide their favourite toys around your home and make clues for where to find them. The last clue can lead to an actual Easter egg, if you’ve managed to source one.
You could also get techy with your egg hunt if your households are split. Dial in your family members for a virtual egg hunt – get the adults to hide eggs around their own homes and have the kids try to spot them during a live video tour.
If you’re stuck for inspiration when it comes to Easter lunch, check out this mouthwatering lamb recipe or these vegan alternatives. Not feeling the washing up? Don’t worry, it’s totally fine to have cheese and biscuits instead.
Obviously it would be rude not to bake a Creme Egg cake at some point over the weekend – here are three recipes from the official Creme Egg recipe book.
After lunch, treat yourself to a nice walk as your daily exercise allocation, and after that, maybe have a 20-minute snooze. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon knowing you don’t have to get up early to work from home tomorrow – you’ve got another day of rest and relaxation. Ahhhh.
If the kids are bored, get them set up with some crafting – they could make egg decorations out of old cardboard and hang them with string, or Easter bonnets. Hotel Chocolat even has some Easter activity packs that you can print out.
Camp Bestival’s stay at home ‘Easter Sleepover’ continues with a Big Fish Little Fish family rave at 2pm followed by a family quiz.
Fill today with the things you enjoy doing – you deserve it. If you’re not sure what that might be (or you’ve already exhausted all option), think about your community and what you could do to help those who are vulnerable right now.
If you signed up to become a NHS volunteer, make sure you check your emails and have followed the next steps to start helping. Or check out Co-operate, an online community centre by Co-op. It connects vulnerable people to local and national support initiatives, but also to volunteers who are willing to run virtual events such as exercise classes, music groups or arts and crafts classes.
Volunteering has been shown to boost mental health and reduce loneliness – so it’s definitely worth looking into. If you’re feeling inspired to take action in the coming weeks (because let’s face it, we’ll probably be in lockdown for a while yet), check out Covid Mutual Aid Group and find a volunteer group near you.
Treat yourself to an early(ish) night on Monday and mentally reset – put fresh sheets on your bed, paint your toes, have a shower or bath, get into clean PJs and read a few pages of that book you still haven’t picked up. Set your alarm, making sure you’re give yourself a good 7-8 hours of shut-eye so you can kickstart the week feeling as refreshed as possible.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.