Live Better Blog: April Round-Up
Having spent the last few months in a third national lockdown, it’s safe to say that the recent lift of certain restrictions is very welcome.
Before we pack our picnics and head out the door, let’s take a look back on the last month – a mixture of re-opening businesses, immovable ships, and a big focus on reducing stress…
Lockdown is lifted (somewhat).
In accordance with the government’s roadmap out of national lockdown, it was made clear that the lift of restrictions that were due to take place on April 12th would only happen if certain criteria were met.
Low and behold, we are now seeing the re-opening of ‘outdoor’ pubs, bars and restaurants, as well as hairdressers, gyms and non-essential shops. This is great news considering hospitality venues and other shops were closing at a rate of 48 per day during 2020, with around 17,500 outlets disappearing from locations around the country.
It will hopefully bring a much needed boost to the economy and give all of us back a sense of normality (aaand breathe).
Despite the controversy back in 2020, one business that’s looking forward to a bright future is one that everyone is familiar with; the Wetherspoons pub chain has announced plans to open 18 new locations and create 2,000 jobs within weeks after April 12th. They’ll be investing £145m to boost its business across the UK, and that’s just the start of their 10-year expansion plan…
From 17th May we can look forward to restrictions easing even further with the return of indoor dining, greater capacity at weddings and other life events, re-opening of outdoor entertainment venues and concerts, indoor sports and the possibility of booking a holiday on the horizon.
In the words of Bon Jovi, we’re halfway there.
Savings slump, housing bump.
Despite Brits saving over 16% of their income in 2020 (the highest on record), many savers were happy to see the back of the tax year that ended in early April…
It was the worst on record for returns, with the average Cash ISA rate sitting at just 0.63%, and inflation since last April 2020 has averaged 0.78%, meaning savers have lost money in real terms.
But it’s been good news for first time buyers with the return of the 95% mortgage. Yorkshire Building Society became the first lender to relaunch the product after almost a year, following the government’s mortgage guarantee scheme announcement back in March.
The catch? The deal will only be available to first-time buyers and can’t be used to buy a new build property or a flat. Considering house prices are rising – they went up 0.8% in the 4 weeks to 6th March, 0.3% higher than the previous 4 weeks – the return of the 95% mortgage has come at a good time.
A closer look.
Remember the mega-container ship, Ever Given, which got stuck in the Suez Canal back in March? Yes, that one.
Whilst it was beached, it held up more than 400 other ships carrying some £7 billion of global trade every day due to the canal being one of the world’s busiest trade routes.
The ship in question was eventually freed on the 29th March (after almost a week of being stuck), but Egyptian authorities haven’t given the Ever Given a green light to set sail just yet.
According to the BBC: ‘The chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), Osama Rabie, said on Tuesday that the Ever Given had been “seized due to its failure to pay $900m” in compensation, Egyptian state media reported. The figure was based on the “the losses incurred by the grounded vessel as well as the flotation and maintenance costs”, he added.’
So it seems as though the Ever Given will remain moored in the Great Bitter Lake, which forms part of the Suez Canal, until an agreement has been made.
Stress Awareness Month
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year, they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
April 1st marked the first day of Stress Awareness Month, an event held every April since 1992 to increase public awareness about the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.
Although this may not seem surprising, since the COVID-19 restrictions started last March 65% of us have felt more stressed than usual, whilst 53% have felt more anxious, and 43% have felt more depressed.*
The main causes of this are disconnection, uncertainty, and a worrying loss of control (which is understandable given the last 12 months), but if you’re feeling stressed, there’s plenty of things you can do to help manage it.
Are you up for the challenge?
This April, the Stress Management Society have developed a 30-day challenge, which will encourage you to take three actions a day as positive steps towards de-stressing your life.
Click here to find a PDF full of actions to get you started – try and do one from each category every day: a physical action, a mental action, and an emotional action.
It takes 30 days to turn actions into habits, and by practicing every day, it’ll maximise your chances of turning useful techniques into positive behavioural change.
What else could you do for Stress Awareness Month?
Talk about it.
Work together to reduce the stigma associated with stress by talking about the topic openly and freely with friends, family and colleagues.
Share your coping mechanisms.
If something has worked for you, why not share it? It might benefit someone else.
Be nice to those who are stressed and anxious.
We’re all going to experience stress and anxiety in our lifetime, so treat others going through it with compassion and empathy.
Look after yourself.
The most crucial thing you can do when you are stressed or anxious is to make sure you are continuing to look after yourself. Make time to relax when you need to and take time out of your day to do something that you enjoy.
*Statistics taken from the Stress Management Society.
WIN a beautiful bouquet from Bloom & Wild!
We’ve partnered with Bloom & Wild to give 5 of our social followers a monthly chance to win a free bouquet! To be in with a chance to win this month’s bloom, just do the following:
1. Like our Facebook page
Simple! (Don’t forget to set your shared post to ‘public’, otherwise we won’t be able to see who shares it!)
Winners will be announced at the beginning of next month, so stay tuned to our social to see if you’ve won. (T&C’s apply –https://bit.ly/2uhOyZx).