Magazine Advice The A-Z of lockdown life We have put together an alphabetical list of hints and tips to guide you through the lockdown, from the serious to the silly. A IS FOR APPS Sex and dating apps can provide people who are isolated and alone a lifeline. It’s absolutely fine to still talk to people on Grindr or establish a connection on Tinder, however it’s very important to not hook-up. I know it’s probably tempting, and the tedium of lockdown is now really setting in, but for your own health, and health and the health of others, it’s extremely important to maintain social distance. If you want to see more of each other, then there are many creative ways to do that (webcams, virtual dates etc). Keep reading the A-Z for more details on that. B IS FOR BANANA BREAD Everyone is making banana bread. Apparently. C IS FOR COMMUNITY Now, more than ever, it’s time to support your LGBTQ+ family. You can support older LGBTQ+ people who may already experience high levels of isolation by signing up to Opening Doors telefriending scheme or LGBTQ+ homelessness charity The Outside Project has set up an online support hub for the community to provide help to those in need, especially those who are homeless or in insecure circumstances. In the group you can provide your details so you can then be connected with a nearby LGBTQ+ person in need of support. D IS FOR DATING You may have noticed that the lockdown has curbed your dating life somewhat, but don’t let that stop you making a connection. You can’t meet up with anyone for a date, but there’s nothing stopping you replicating the experience online. Why not eat dinner together over Zoom (you could even light a candle and set the table) or watch a movie together on Houseparty, just start the film at the same time and enjoy the experience together. It may seem a little absurd but that might make the date that much more special and unique. E IS FOR EXPECTATIONS You might be seeing social media littered with the achievements of others during the lockdown, whether that’s baking, home workouts, or learning Mandarin. That doesn’t mean you have to. There are no expectations for lockdown. You don’t have to ‘achieve’ anything. You may be finding the isolation hard and your motivation low, and that’s OK. Don’t put pressure on yourself. You set your own bar. F IS FOR FRIENDS Your friends can be a lifeline during this time, especially if you live alone or are isolating with your family. Try and arrange regular chats, whether that’s on camera or a telephone call. Set up a weekly quiz on Zoom or arrange Saturday night isolation drinks on webcam. There’s also no pressure to ‘socialise’. If you don’t feel up to it, let them know and they will understand. G IS FOR GAMES As stated previously, organising online quizzes are a fun way to remotely socialise and see your friends. Maybe you didn’t have time to play video games due to pressures of work or your social life pre-lockdown? Now is the time to pick up that controller. It’ll keep your mind sharp (it’s less passive than just watching TV) and helps wile away the hours. H IS FOR HAPPINESS Try to do something once a day that makes you happy. Did you enjoy going out for a coffee before lockdown? Then make yourself a fancy latte. Do you miss the gym? Then set aside thirty minutes for a daily work out. Is the stress of working remotely and at home becoming too much? Set aside some time to yourself to sit down, watch TV and relax. If you are a key worker and have to isolate from your family, then allow yourself time to call friends and loved ones. We appreciate you I IS FOR ISOLATION Self-isolating can be hard but there are things you can do to ease the difficulty of the lockdown. Check in with friends. Your regular plans have been cancelled, but that doesn’t mean cutting yourself off from friends. Keep talking with them by whatever means you can. Get outside within reason. This very much depends on your personal circumstances and advice from the government. If it’s reasonable to do so, and you’re not putting anyone else at risk of infection, then be sure to get outside and get a breath of fresh air. Private spaces like gardens are most suited for this. If you’re self-isolating, then the current advice is to stay indoors. Vary your escapism because Netflix binges can become monotonous very quickly. If you’re not going out, try to vary the activities you’re undertaking indoors. Read books, take an e-learning course, try some indoor exercise - whatever you’re going to find stimulating or soothing. J IS FOR JERKING OFF Well, you do have a lot more free time... K IS FOR KINDNESS We all are going through a lot right now, The pandemic is unprecedented and it’s a stressful and worrying time. People in your life and even online may act out in different ways. The way they act or the things they say may not be the nicest but try and come from a place of compassion. You might not know everything they are going through and may just need an ear or a kind word. We aren’t asking you to excuse behaviour (e.g. a racist is a racist after all) but by showing a level of understanding you might be able to make them aware of their poor behaviour and help them make a change. L IS FOR LOVE The lockdown may have seen you parted from your significant other and we understand that may be difficult and put strain on your relationship. It’s important to communicate. If you are struggling, then talk to your partner and tell them what you are going through. Set up a date night or two. Set aside some personal time together via a webcam app to maintain intimacy. Also try experimenting with cam or phone sex. Keep your love life spicy by trying out your solo fantasies together. M IS FOR MENTAL HEALTH It’s important that during this time you look after your mental health and wellbeing. Lots of gay and bisexual men experience depression and anxiety so if you are one of these people then make sure to look after your mental wellbeing. Talk to people if you’re feeling low and arrange to move your therapy session online if you have a therapist or counsellor. For more tips on looking after your mental health head to www.outlife.org.uk. N IS FOR NEW HOBBIES Now could be the time to try something new. Always wanted to dance? Then why not try an online dance class (you also don’t have the potential embarrassment of a class full of people if you’re terrible). Why not explore your artistic side with crafts and painting. Start a home improvement project that you have been putting off or why not do nothing at all? How often in life do you get the chance to just rest. O IS FOR OUTLIFE If you are feeling sad, depressed or lonely, the head to www.outlife.org.uk, where you will find lots of help and advice, as well as an online forum where you can talk to your peers and talk about what you are going through. And yes, this is a shameless plug for GMFA’s sister site. P IS FOR PETS There may be lots of downsides to the current lockdown but it’s a glorious time to spend more time with your pets! They love you unconditionally and can give you lost of joy. As well as maintaining your Instagram content which has suffered due to the lack of social events. However, don’t just get a pet because you are in lockdown. Eventually life will go back to ‘normal’ and if you don’t have the capacity to properly care for them, then it’s unfair on the animal. Q IS FOR QUARANTINE If you have the symptoms of Coronavirus or live with someone who does, then you must self-isolate. This means you shouldn’t not leave your home for any reason, and if you need food or medicine, order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home. You shouldn’t have any visitors. The NHS advises that if you have symptoms, you’ll need to self-isolate for seven days. After this time, if you don’t have a high temperature, you don’t need to self-isolate, but if you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal. If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day their symptoms started, as it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear. R IS FOR REACHING OUT If you are worried about someone, get in touch with them. Give them a call or hop on FaceTime. They will appreciate someone taking the time to reach out. If you are worried about their health, particularly regarding to Coronavirus, direct them to NHS 111 to get the best and most up-to-date medical advice. S IS FOR STAY AT HOME This one is very simple: stay home. Go out and exercise, go to the supermarket but otherwise, for your own and other people’s safety, stay home. Don’t worry, there are plenty of suggestions in this A-Z to occupy your time. T IS FOR TIGER KING Have you seen it? It’s INSANE. U IS FOR UNDER THE INFLUENCE It’s OK to enjoy a drink and now that bars and pubs are closed, we have no choice but to drink at home. However, it’s important that alcohol doesn’t become a crutch during lockdown. As long as you are drinking sporadically, not bingeing and not self-medicating, then it’s fine to enjoy your favourite tipple. There are four warning signs that you may be dependent on alcohol: 1. worrying about where your next drink is coming from and planning events around alcohol 2. finding you have a compulsive need to drink and finding it hard to stop once you start 3. waking up and drinking or feeling the need to have a drink in the morning 4. suffering from withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, which stop once you drink alcohol. If you’re worried that you have alcohol dependence, talk to your GP or talk to an organisation like Antidote to find out what support they can provide you. V IS FOR VIEWING PARTY Are our friends big Drag Race fans? Are you obsessed with Tiger King? Then why not set up an online viewing party for you and your friends? It’s a great way to binge watch your favourite shows together and to test out which witty tweet you’re going to post about the latest episode. Grab a glass of wine or your preferred non-alcoholic alternative and settle in to see how amazing Heidi N Closet is.. W IS FOR WORKING FROM HOME Working in your house or flat can become really tedious, really fast, especially if you have never done it before. Here are some tips to improve your WFH experience. Separation of space - Keeping your work area separate from the parts of the home you relax is key. Don’t open your laptop in bed. Select a part of the house or flat that is your designated workspace and use it during work hours. This could be a desk, or that kitchen table, but preferably not the areas you use for recreation or sleep. If lots of space is not a luxury you have, then try creating a work area by moving around furniture a little. Keep regular hours - It’s tempting to wake up late and shift your hours around, but this will lead to working late into the evening and quickly blur the lines between work and recreation time. As much as possible, keep to your regular schedule, and clock off when you usually would. Have a shower, get dressed - If you don’t get up, shower, and get dressed, then every day begins to feel like Sunday. No, you’re not going out, but dressing and morning showers are also important for our self-esteem and can help us maintain a sense of regularity. Avoid the temptation to work in the same set of pajamas for days on end. X IS FOR XXX With our sex lives restricted and with all this extra time at home, now is a great time to explore some more explicit solo pleasures. Dig out that dildo or buy one online if you don’t have one and find out what turns you on. Without the pressures of a hook-up, you can explore your body, work out new kinks or even try something new. Talk to sexpert Topher for his self-satisfaction tips during the lockdown. Y IS FOR YOUR IDEAS Is there something you think we should be covering during the lockdown or something you want to know about, then let us know. Email [email protected] and tell us what you’d like to see. And if you think this section is a cop out for an A-Z then wait until... Z IS FOR ZZZ Sleep is important. Even during the lockdown when time pressures may seem less important, it may still be a struggle to get a good night’s rest. If you are finding you can’t switch off at night, then try these tips. In the hour before bedtime, try reading listening to music, or even simple crafts like knitting instead of screen-based activities. Take a relaxing bath to help your body reach the temperature that is ideal for sleep, as well as helping you unwind. Try bathing just before bed. Avoid afternoon caffeine as it can linger in the body for many hours and try restricting your intake to the morning. Set a regular sleep time, as going to bed at a regular time can help program your body clock to send you to sleep, and awake, at set hours. Relaxation exercises, such as gentle yoga, or stretching exercises can help you unwind before bedtime. Don’t engage in vigorous exercise right before bed, as this will stimulate your body and brain, having the opposite effect. Avoid drugs and alcohol. When your mind is racing, or you’re feeling particularly low, drugs and alcohol may appear an easy way to escape your problems. However, the knock-on effects of both are often far worse than the fleeting relief they provide, including disruption of natural sleep. For more health and life info during lockdown visit www.outlife.org.uk. This article is taken from FS magazine issue 177. Read this issue in full here.