Delivering books by bike and cold showers - just some of the ways you are coping with lockdown
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
We are living through what is being referred to as "the darkest days" of the coronavirus pandemic.
As restrictions on daily life continue and the number of recorded Covid-19 deaths in the UK hits new records, what ways are people finding to cope?
These people have shared their own experiences of getting through this bleak, winter lockdown - which will hopefully help others too:
'It's more important than ever to find things to give me a boost'
Hannah Gregory, 34, a BBC MasterChef quarter-finalist from Bury St Edmunds, said: "I think this lockdown has hit most people harder than the last two.
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"It doesn't help that it's grey and cold outside and there seems to be a sense of foreboding and bleakness. With that in mind I have found it more important than ever to find things to do that make me feel better and give me a boost.
"When we had the 28-day lockdown back in October I made a LockdownLeap list of 28 things that bring me joy - I encouraged my friends to do the same and we held each other accountable for making sure we did one thing a day that would make us happy.
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"One of mine was to do a jigsaw - I have always had a weird obsession with jigsaws but never made the time to do them; they used to be for me, something associated with being home from school sick and I think I had the mindset that if I was well I should be being 'productive'.
"It wasn't until I sat down and started doing one that I appreciated how good they were for me. They occupy my hands and my brain so I can't fall down the mindless scrolling of social media and rather than watch reruns on Netflix I listen to music I love. For me its a sort of meditation.
"The second thing I have begun doing is cold showers! I started with just my hair (it prolongs the colours in such a hard water area). I then began reading the health benefits of cold water swimming and showers. I'm not quite ready for wild swimming in January but the cold showers are working wonders - they invigorate me, give me a huge energy boost and my skin looks fantastic!
"As always, I continue to cook which helps keep the blues at bay and yoga every day without fail. I use Bury St Edmunds teacher Ziar Yoga - she has a great online offering via Facebook/YouTube/Instagram."
'After a bad period of anxiety I wanted to to do something positive'
Nicola Carmichael, 42, from Bury St Edmunds, has got back on her bike to deliver free books to enjoy the benefits of exercise and help others in need.
Nicola, a special projects manager for Taylor Wimpey, said: "I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for the last 20-odd years. Last year was particularly hard for one reason or another and I came into the New Year thinking I need to do something positive for other people and for myself. Mentally it makes a big difference."
Nicola got a new bike just before Christmas and as a result of moving house had lots of books she wanted to get rid of.
Her boyfriend came up with the idea of combining her daily exercise on her bike with delivering the second-hand books to those who need them.
"It's been great. I only started on Monday and I have been out four days this week and done over 40km. I have a lot of people messaging about donating books.
"It's been really good and really positive."
Thanks to a couple of Facebook posts and word of mouth, Nicola has been busy, and currently doesn't need any more book donations.
'Miniatures is a great form of escapism'
For Nicki Dixon, 49, from Sudbury, her miniature projects, working on writing her childhood memoirs, as well as her home study Diploma in Big Cat Studies are helping her get through the pandemic.
Nicki, a schools worker with Future Vision Christian Charity who also does freelance PR, is on her 10th miniatures project to date - a twelfth scale windmill and cottage.
She said: "It's a great form of escapism where I can switch off from the world and get lost in a one twelfth scale world where your only limit is your imagination.
"Building it, making tiny things for it as well as finding things online gives me a real sense of achievement at a time when we can't live a normal life.
"Makani (Hawaiian for wind) Windmill is the latest addition to my collection and has turning sales. I'm planning on creating a kitchen garden on the 'land' around it too."
'Gardening has helped me deal with waiting for lockdown to end'
Green Councillor Wendy Turner, 58, from Thurston, embarked on a project to 'rewild' her front garden, which also became very social as it was a conversation starter with passers-by.
She said: "I think it has helped as I always feel better if I'm outside, whatever the weather, and it has given me a long-term aim and a structure to the week as I plan to do a little bit each day.
"I have a plan and a design which I keep adding to. I am not a naturally patient person so it has helped me 'wait' as growing things can sometimes be a bit slow. I like instant results.
"I also get excitement from growing things from seed; I get a real thrill seeing new plants emerge from the soil - must be my age! This patience has helped me deal with the waiting for lockdown to end as my mind is thinking about my garden and what else I need to do."
Wendy hopes to turn the grass into a meadow with wild flowers and the raised beds will have a mix of vegetables and flowers.
She has also planted a new bird-friendly hedge and two fruit trees.
"There's lots of work to be done in the spring. I will be sewing lots of wild flower seeds in my greenhouse in early spring. I have a huge mix of seeds some of which I don't know what they are as I didn't label the containers - nothing like a surprise for extra excitement!"
She said she needs structure for the week so has a timetable of things to do, with the aim of completing something such as finishing the raised beds or decorating a room in the house. She also has her council work and three live fitness classes a week.
'We all have to be there for each other"
Elaine Channen, 55, from Stanton, said the sense of community where she lives and carrying on with a daily routine lifts her during these difficult times.
Over the pandemic, Elaine has got to know her neighbours; they would dress up on a Saturday night and sit on their doorsteps. And in local woodland residents have created 'fairlyland', which involved painting fairy doors and placing them on the bases of trees.
Elaine, a grandmother-of-five who lives with her dogs Marley and Moochi, said: "It could be worse. It could be a lot worse, but we cannot let it.
"We are fab in Stanton. I have to say until lockdown [last year] I didn't know my neighbours. I just used to go to work, come home."
There is also a Facebook page for her estate, which helps them all stay connected.
She added: "I think in Stanton I know I'm not alone. We are just all here for each other. We all keep saying 'if only it gets a bit warmer, we will get back on our doorsteps'."
But despite the cold weather, Elaine and others will still drop off a baked treat on a doorstep for someone who is feeling a bit down.
Routine also helps Elaine, who says she gets up every morning, puts her make-up on and will walk to fairyland - a place that is for her an "escape from reality and something for the community". But she avoids listening to the news.
Elaine added: "We have just got to carry on. It will get better, it is getting better.
"We all have to be there for each other. We are in the same boat."
- Other people who shared their experiences of how they are coping include John Biggs who found some old stories he wrote about 25 years ago, re-wrote them on his laptop and published three books on Amazon. And Kay Eggleston has been creating decorations out of empty wine bottles using glass paint and fairy lights.
There is a glimmer of hope as the vaccination programme is rolled out, the number of new Covid-19 cases is starting to fall and spring is around the corner.