What should I do if I have been furloughed because of coronavirus
1. Develop a new routine
Without work, it can help to develop a new routine. Having a routine can help to give your days structure and to achieve goals. You can write down what you want to do if that helps.
You can plan what time you get up and go to bed and what practical and fun activities you want to do. If you live with others, think about how they affect your routine and how you might affect theirs. You can develop an agreed routine as a household.
It might help to think about changes to your routine that will improve your life. So, you could build in time to chat with a friend or relative about how you are both feeling.
2. Plan your budget
You might be living on a reduced income if you’ve been furloughed, so you can plan your budget to get the most out of it. And this might help to ease any money worries you may have too.
First, work out your income. Include any monthly income from employment, benefits, tax credits, pensions, maintenance and any other income. Add these together to get your total income.
Next, write down your total expenses - everything that you need to spend money on each month. This includes rent or mortgage, utilities bills, other costs such as council tax, food, your phone bill, travelling expenses, money you spend on debt, like loans, credit cards and child care costs, for example. Make sure you include everything. Then add up all of these things.
Then, do a quick sum: your total income minus your total expenses. You will either have a surplus or not enough money to pay all of your expenses. If you have a surplus, you can plan what you want to spend it on. That might include saving some of it.
To help, you can use the free Lloyds Bank online budget calculator.
You may not have enough money to pay all of your expenses. To begin with, look at your expenses to see if there are any you can cut or reduce. If you still don’t have enough money to pay your expenses, it’s best to get debt advice. You can get free expert, debt advice from Mental Health and Money Advice.
3. Look after your mental health
You might find the experience of being furloughed difficult. And the effect of the coronavirus crisis could mean that you are more anxious than normal too.
Talking about how you are feeling can have big benefits. People who care about you like friends and family are usually happy to listen and support you. However, you can also find more information about mental health help or advice for you or someone you know through the Mental Health UK website.
Here are five things you can do to help improve your mental health:
- Get enough sleep. Having enough sleep is really important to good mental health. Find out more about the importance of sleep and tips on how to sleep better from the NHS website.
- Practise mindfulness and meditation. It can improve your mental health to pay more attention to the present moment. Find out more about mindfulness from the NHS website.
- Eat healthy foods and have a balanced diet. This can be good for not only your physical health, but for your mental health too. Find out more about eating a balanced diet from the NHS website.
- Keep physically active. Exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety. It can increase the levels of serotonin and endorphins which are your body’s natural ‘happy’ chemicals. Find out more about keeping physically activity from the NHS website.
- Connect with others. Face-to-face contact has reduced for everyone during the coronavirus crisis. However, you can find new ways of connecting with other people from Mental Health UK.
4. Volunteer or support your community
If you’ve been furloughed, you could spend your time volunteering. However, you would need to be able to return to work if your employers say they need you. Helping others is not only good for communities in need, but it can boost your mental wellbeing too.
If you’d like to find out about organisations you could volunteer for, you can look at the websites below.
People have also set up local WhatsApp or Facebook groups, so local people can support each other throughout this difficult time. You can find your local groups on the Covid-19 Mutual Aid website.
You can also support other people without joining an organisation. You could ask friends, family or neighbours if they need help. This could be things like helping them with shopping or getting medication. Or you could just contact people and ask them how they’re doing, and be there for them if they want to talk.
For information about helping others during the coronavirus crisis visit Mental Health UK.
5. Learn a new skill or hobby
You could make use of having more free time by learning a new skill or hobby. This might be something you think will be useful in your work or home life. Or you might just want to do it for fun.
Learning a new skill or hobby can bring normality to your life and give you a sense of achievement, which is important for wellbeing. You could learn things like cooking new recipes, painting or craft, a new language or how to play a musical instrument. YouTube can be really useful for all of these.