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Life under lockdown – practical tips from the UN

March 18, 2022

26 March 2020 — With many people being asked to socially distance themselves from others, while other cities have placed their residents under mandatory lockdown to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, the United Nations has tips for those seeking to strike the balance between vigilance and the need to maintain some normalcy in their lives.

With school closures, parenting has become increasingly challenging. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has issued six parenting tips for parenting during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“School shutdown is also a chance to make better relationships with our children and teenagers,” says UNICEF in the guidance document. “One-on-One time is free and fun. It makes children feel loved and secure, and shows them that they are important.”

UNICEF recommends parents and their children to create a flexible but consistent daily routine. “COVID-19 has taken away our daily work, home, and school routines. This is hard for children, teenagers, and for you. Making new routines can help,” it says.

In a document on how to talk to children about the coronavirus disease, UNICEF says “children have a right to truthful information about what’s going on in the world, but adults also have a responsibility to keep them safe from distress”, recommending that adults use age-appropriate language, watch children’s reactions, and be sensitive to their level of anxiety.  UNICEF also offers some advice for employers on how they can support working parents during the coronavirus outbreak.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is rallying international organizations, civil society, and private sector partners in a broad coalition to ensure that learning never stops.  The agency has also release a document listing distance learning solutions and recommendations.

The closure of gyms, sports facilities and stadiums, public pools, dance studios, and playgrounds means that many are not able to actively participate in individual or group sporting or physical activities. But that does not mean, people should stop being physically active, nor should they disconnect from the coaches, teammates, and instructors. In the lead up of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (6 April) the United Nations is working with influencers in sport to create social media messaging encouraging audiences to be active and to foster solidarity against the challenges posed by COVID-19.

The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both. WHO also have some tips on how to achieve this with no equipment and with limited space. There is an abundance of free and accessible online and digital tools targeted at encouraging people of all ages and abilities to stay active and mobile while remaining indoors.

Changes to lifestyle during this difficult period can adversely affect people’s wellbeing. It is always important to protect mental health.  WHO has released a 31-point guidance on mental health that specifically targets the general population; healthcare workers; health facility managers; childcare providers; older adults, care providers and people with underlying health conditions; and those who are living in isolation to try and contain the spread of the pandemic. (Read UN News story on this).

UNICEF has some tips on mental health for teenagers. One recommendation is to find new ways to connect with friends via social media. Get creative: Join in a Tik-Tok challenge like #safehands. “I would never underestimate the creativity of teenagers,” says Dr. Lisa Damour, expert adolescent psychologist, best-selling author and monthly New York Times columnist. “My hunch is that they will find ways to [connect] with one another online that are different from how they’ve been doing it before.”