Mental wellbeing advocate Katie Piper urges people to allocate time for themselves every day

People are being urged to allocate time for themselves every day to practice “TOYO” (Time On Your Own) to help their mental wellbeing as lockdown lifts.

However, the report has also found that some don’t want to come out of lockdown at all – with a third of British adults surveyed saying they preferred living under such restrictions to normal life.

Mental wellbeing advocate Katie Piper has teamed up with crafting company Cricut to encourage people to put aside 30 minutes daily – with the firm finding that a quarter of people took up a new hobby in lockdown, rising to 37 per cent for under 35s.

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Cooking, exercise and baking were found to be the top three most popular lockdown hobbies, while 14 per cent of survey respondents turned to art and 13 per cent to crafting – and the survey also revealed how UK adults feel that to look after their mental health and wellbeing, they need 34 minutes a day to themselves.

Katie Piper says TOYO 'is important for us all and can make a really positive impact on your wellbeing and outlook on life'. Picture: contributed.

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The new research, released at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and polling 2,000 UK adults between April 16 and 19, found that 53 per cent of UK adults said they felt happier for some periods of lockdown compared to life before, with just over a quarter saying they felt happier for most of it.

Additionally, about one in ten – which equates to nearly five million UK adults – would prefer lockdown to not lift at all.

The additional time it afforded adults to relax was the top advantage, highlighted by a third, while 28 per cent cited having more time on their own.

A new type of exercise - such as open water swimming - was the second most popular hobby to improve mental health at 56 per cent. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.

Amongst those who took up a new hobby, they have been spending on average four hours a week honing their new skills, with many citing a positive impact on their state of mind.

It was revealed that those who took up crafting and creative hobbies noticed the biggest impact, with three of the top five to improve mental health being sewing (54 per cent), crafting (52 per cent) and drawing or painting (52 per cent).

Concerns

However, with lockdown lifting, 37 per cent cited worries about losing time at home and a fifth said they are anxious about the idea of making social plans.

Ciara McCullagh is an enthusiastic convert to open water swimming. Picture: contributed.

Ms Piper said: “The past year has been a hard time for many, and we’ve had to adapt to a lot of change. But as this research shows, many did enjoy the extra time to themselves. Personally, although I’ve really enjoyed spending more time with my family, it’s also been lovely to carve out a little more time for myself when I can.

"I think post lockdown it’s important that people still remember to earmark time for themselves each day, ideally a solid half an hour. ‘TOYO’ is important for us all and can make a really positive impact on your wellbeing and outlook on life!”

Kathy Hodson, craft trends expert at Cricut said: “It’s amazing to see all the creative skills people have developed in the past year and there clearly is a desire to keep them up amongst the hustle and bustle of daily life. If crafting is your thing, or whatever it may be, make sure to book out some me-time and keep mindful post lockdown.”

Ciara McCullagh is one of many people to have taken up open water swimming in lockdown, and said she is now a “total convert”. She explained: “I’m now one of the growing number of Edinburgh people happily migrating towards Wardie and Portobello beaches for a bracing wee dip to start the day.

“For six months I swithered but was never quite brave enough, so in preparation I started turning my shower down to cold at the end and joined a few local Facebook swimming groups. I saw so many photos of grinning, elated swimmers fresh from their early morning swim that I got FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and couldn’t wait until the water got any warmer.

“I took the plunge in early March [this year] and have not looked back. I go in ‘skins’ (swimming costume, no wetsuit – can’t be bothered with the faff) and neoprene bootees and gloves that have been my saviour – if my hands and feet are warm, the rest of me is just great in the water.

“Most swims have been between five to ten minutes, but this will increase along with the water temperature, my resilience and swimming technique. But even that short time in the cold water gives me a buzz like no other form of exercise. Adrenalin and dopamine explode in my brain and keep me buoyant long after I have left the water: I find myself distinctly more capable and energetic on swim days.

“I’m always thinking about when I can get my next swim in. And the local community of swimmers is so friendly and open, it’s always possible to find a swim buddy.”

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