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Making the most of furlough

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Businesses across the globe have had to make difficult decisions and you may be in the position where you have been furloughed by your company. In short, this means a temporary leave of absence from your job. But the good news is this means your company wants you back when business returns to some semblance of normality.


What this means for many people is they all of sudden have a lot of time on their hands in a period where we are isolating at home in worrying times. Isolation comes with lots of challenges for mental health and teamed with a lack of structure associated with working from home, this could lead to some seriously negative consequences for people.


So we’ve put together some tips on how to make the most out of furlough and make sure you come out the other side happy, healthy and raring to go.



Learn


Take the time to learn more about your market or something totally new! There are plenty of resources online to learn about a whole host of different topics.


The open university has hundreds of free online courses that can keep you mentally engaged during this time. From business, to finance, psychology to physics or law to languages, you can brush up on your knowledge or learn something totally new: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/


There’s also plenty of apps like Quantic that allow you access to a free MBA program if accepted, or free open learn courses on the fundamentals of business: https://quantic.edu/


And if you want to brush up on those language skills, check out apps like Duolingo: https://www.duolingo.com/


Don’t forget that the furlough rules also suggest you are entitled to continue work-based training whilst in furlough. So make sure you are brushing up on your skills and don’t get rusty for when you leap back into action.


Budget


The likelihood is that furlough is going to put some kind of financial strain on you. If you’re the kind of person who always feels like they don’t have time to draw up a proper budget now is the time to do so.


Lockdown has probably been an eye opener for many people. Realising that you can live without two coffees a day, or eating out three times a week is going to be hugely beneficial to your back pocket. Why not make a lockdown budget and post-lockdown budget and see how you are going to be affected long-term. See if you can take any quarantine habits with you to increase your disposal income, or help payoff any debt.


You can find useful tools to build a budget here:

https://www.money.co.uk/guides/how-to-write-a-budget.htm


If you’re looking for ways to ease the pinch during the crisis, look for apps that help you find the cheapest provider for utilities & credit like Plum https://withplum.com/ and if a spring clean has been on your to-do list, why not make a bit of extra cash and sell those unwanted clothes with apps like Vinted https://www.vinted.co.uk/.



Get Healthy


Use this time to get Quaranlean! Whether you're new to exercise and just want to use your daily hour for a good walk, or have been experiencing the burn for a while, there’s loads of resources to help you get in shape during this time.


Youtube is your friend for pretty much anything, from yoga & pilates to HIIT sessions & dance classes. And there are also apps like My Fitness Pal https://www.myfitnesspal.com/ that not only help you track those trips to the fridge, but also have loads of free workout routines to do with minimal equipment in the comfort of your home. 


Plan your meals


Taking the time to plan out what you need will reduce the number of trips you need to make, save money and reduce food waste, and if done properly, keep you committed to healthy, nutritious meals (but don’t forget to plan your treats too!).


Explore new recipes, be creative and give yourself something to focus on each day.


https://www.thekitchn.com/best-meal-planning-apps-264934


Focus on your mental health


The world is a strange place right now, and it’s totally normal to be feeling overwhelmed with a whole host of different emotions. Now more than ever, we need to focus on good mental health. 


Using apps like Calm https://www.calm.com/ or Headspace https://www.headspace.com/ can be great for learning meditation and mindfulness, as well as thousands of hours of content on our great friend youtube. There are also lots of free resources for dealing with anxiety, depression and stress. 


Also reach out to your workplace and check what’s included in your benefits package. Lots of businesses offer an ‘Employee Assistance Programme’ that will offer access to helplines and resources to ensure you are supported during this challenging time.


And remember that sometimes it can be simple things, like reading a book, growing plants or other hobbies that can help you to unwind and relax.


Catch up


Remember all those things you’ve said you would do, if only you had the time? Well now is the time. Read that book, watch that movie, binge that TV show. Netflix are offering viewing parties to sync up with your friends & family and to check out this list of streaming services offering free trials https://mashable.com/article/what-to-stream-with-your-free-trials/?europe=true


Get outside


Some people will be lucky enough to have their own outdoor spaces, be it gardens or balconies, but others will not. If it’s safe for you to do so, make sure you are absolutely taking advantage of your hour a day for outdoor exercise and at the very least going for a walk. Beyond the fitness benefits, the fresh air and vitamin D is hugely positive for your mental health. 


If you have been advised to not go outside due to high-risk health conditions, then consider what you could do to make your own little bit of outside inside. Is it possible to set up a reading chair by an open window to ensure you are getting fresh air and sunshine? And how about some houseplants? NASA released a list of 15 houseplants that help to increase oxygen and reduce air-borne pollution in enclosed spaces: https://www.almanac.com/news/gardening-news/clean-house-tropical-plants#


Acquaint yourself with ‘how-to’ videos


Your house is likely to be having a hammering with the majority of people isolating at home and therefore there will be an increase in wear & tear. Plus I’m sure a lot of you will be sat on DIY projects that never saw the light of day. It’s time to dig that tin of paint out of the shed and dust off the screwdrivers and get your house in order!


Ignore all of the above if you need to


There’s been some suggestion that the flurry of productivity articles being bounded about, might actually have an adverse effect on people’s mental health. Whilst it’s important to keep your mind and body healthy, this is also a period of rest. Feel free to take it easy and take a step back from the daily grind. Not every day needs to be a feat of success and not every day will feel great, that’s to be expected. Take the time that you need to be happy and healthy.