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A Crafty Week 5

OUTSIDE THE HOUSE AND INSIDE OUR HEADS


‘Coronavirus is the cure and humans are the virus’


When we press pause and give nature a moment to breathe, it thrives and comes back to life


Air pollution across the countries that have forced a lockdown has plummeted. With car journeys cut back by 60%, airlines parking their fleets of planes on the runways and people restricting their movements out of the home, the impact on the clean air is astonishing. As we continue to shut ourselves inside during lockdown more respiratory irritants are removed from the air, which in turn is protecting those most vulnerable to the virus.


In Delhi, which is known well for its thick smog, and where air quality levels (AQL) reach a severe score of 200, the AQL has been regularly falling below 20 in recent weeks. This unprecedented change demonstrates the impact COVID is having on the planet.The guardian quoted Dr Tharoor “The blissful sight of blue skies and the joy of breathing clean air provides just the contrast to illustrate what we are doing to ourselves the rest of the time”.


At the weekend, The Wandle River was glistening in the sunlight and the water was close to transparent. A rare display. The same has been seen in Venice, where the canals that tourists often complain about, have subsequently cleared up from the lack of tourism on the water.


Since lockdown, animals across the world have been able to freely roam in the places we share with them. From Boars descending to the streets of Barcelona, monkeys flooding the roads of Thailand, Kashmiri goats taking a stroll through the seaside town of Llandudno,killer whale pods spotted in Vancouver, and deer ventured through Japan’s city Nara nibbling plants and flowers. With reduced traffic on the roads in the UK, the very popular hedgehogs, of whom are in rapid decline, are going to be thanking us for more freedom on the roads. Meanwhile, with less air pollution bird song is more pronounced and may lead to more mating opportunities. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all birds, as one source suggests pigeons risk starvation. With city centres now empty and therefore reducing the litter and waste, Pigeons are struggling to find enough food to feed themselves and their offspring. 


It is concerning that it took coronavirus to experience the benefits of such dramatic environmental changes, particularly as it is also causing economic downfall, loss of jobs and extreme uncertainty. However, one positive outcome is that we can see the impact changes in our lifestyles have had and hopefully we can take this with us when life returns to normal, such as limiting unnecessary journeys and sustainable consumer choices. Vogue perfectly articulated this paradox as ‘the temporary easing of global pollution amid the pandemic is both a glimmer of hope, and a humbling reminder of the looming threat of climate change—another seemingly invisible natural threat’


London’s Bloomin’ Perhaps a lost reference on some, but Blossom from the 90s cartoon Powerpuff girls, was given her name for speaking out, being confident and virtuous. London’s Blossom right now is certainly living up to this. Every Spring, around March – April time the trees are bright with blossom; pink, white, and sometimes blue.


Google trends data shows a 30% increase in searches for blossom v this time last year, which would suggest Blossom is having a very good year. Our Craftie, Anna, like many others, has turned her Instagram into a tapestry of blossom spotted on her lockdown walks and runs.Timeout have also showcased some of London’s finest blossom pics since Lockdown. But it’s not the first time we have ever had blossom, so what is it that is making us so transfixed?


Our hunch is that this is closely linked to the hugely positive impact that coronavirus is having on the environment and the planet. Is it a sign that nature and planet earth is taking back its control?


Equally, now that we have more time on our hands, we are noticing and appreciating the beautiful natural world around us, and in turn this new-found fondness for the bird song, wildlife and blossoming trees is helping to remind us of its importance. This could be fundamental in opening our eyes to the catastrophic impact we have had on damaging the environment and how much we should continue to do to save it.


When a person blossoms, they become a more virtuous, beautiful and attractive version of themselves. Perhaps this episode will make most of us blossom, becoming more mindful of the world around us, take responsibility for the world around us, just like Blossom, the Powerpuff Girl.


Why are we all dreaming like we have eaten a fridge full of cheese?


Most of us at Craft have been having a couple of funky dreams lately. It appears that we are not alone in this as it is being reported all over the world during lockdown that many people are experiencing very vivid dreams.Some saying they are the most intense they have ever experienced.


Much research in the past has been done around whether our cheese consumption is the cause for our unsettled dreams. Interestingly, searches for cheese have gone up 117% in the last month, during lockdown. Apparently, according to Kantar and AHDB, 38% more meals are being eaten at home per week as a result of lockdown, and the majority of this uplift is being driven by increase in lunches. Consequently, this increase in lunches has led to 37 million more occasions of cheese eating a week at lunchtime (due to simple meals like sandwiches). Is it the increased level of cheese consumption in UK households causing the wild night’s sleep?


Heightened stress is certainly playing a role. Current studies have suggested that many participants’ dreams and sleep experiences are mirroring with the symptoms expressed for PTSD, in line with us experiencing stress from the global pandemic. They argue that ‘Bizarre dreams laden with symbolism allow some dreamers to overcome intense memories or everyday psychological stressors within the safety of their subconscious.’ This would suggest that dreaming is a defensive mechanism preventing anxiety and stress to impact us throughout the day. Some experts believe it is the withdrawal from our usual environments and daily stimuli leaving sleepers with a lack of current “inspiration,” forcing our subconscious minds to draw more heavily on themes from our past and in turn increases or dream recall. However, the most common reason according to sleep expert Dr Barrett, is that most of the time we are living on sleep deprivation, and now that we have more time in the evening and in particular the mornings to catch up on sleep. This is the single biggest correlator to dream recall.


Lockdown, a time to catch up on sleep


Using lockdown to catch up on lost sleep is certainly one thing in our power right now. If you have read the book ‘Why we sleep’ by Mathew Walker, you will be familiar with the theory that humans evolved to sleep, rather than be awake, and the amazing mental and physical health benefits we gain from embracing this period of the day. It is also well known that a good night’s sleep can boost the immune system, which is extremely important during a time like this.One study researching the impact of sleep on infection showed that those sleeping less than 6 hours a night was up to 4 times more likely to develop symptoms related to infection. Keeping active and only taking naps before 4pm can also help with better sleep patterns at night.


We reached out to Craft’s friend Kate Cohen, who is a qualified and experienced Sleep Consultant, she helps tired families solve their sleep issues through straightforward and simple advice, you can find her at www.sleeptimebaby.co.uk.


Kate has compiled for us some top tips for adults and kids to improve sleep during this time:


For the Adults:


Keep Your Bedtime Consistent and Calm

Going to sleep at the same time each night will help our bodies know that it is time to go to sleep and through consistency the sleepy hormone Melatonin will naturally be produced at that time. Have a power down hour before bed to do something relaxing that you enjoy, such as yoga, meditation, bath or reading.


Exercise helps Sleep but coffee and alcohol has the opposite effect!

Aim for 30 mins of brisk exercise a day to help the body know that it is daytime. It's important to avoid any exercise 2hrs before bed (aside from Yoga and Meditation) as that can hinder settling for sleep.

Caffeine as you can imagine doesn't help sleep at all, so avoid caffeine in the after 3pm and alcohol 2hrs before bed.


Create the best sleep environment.

Aim for a cool environment to sleep in and make it as dark as possible to encourage great sleep. Using screens can affect sleep so stop them 1hr before bed. Using an eye mask, ear plugs and lavender spray can also help.

Lastly if you can't sleep, don't stay in bed and worry about it, perhaps get up and do something calming until you feel tired again and then go back to bed!


For the Kids:


Understand your children's sleep

The first step to improving your little ones sleep is understanding what they actually need in terms of sleep, whether that is naps in the day or nighttime sleep. Head to Kate's website to find out more. 


Think about how they settle

The starting point to address sleep issues is to look at how they are settling - do they need a lot of help to fall asleep and if so could they be waking up in the night to find it? If they are then perhaps work on settling them along.


Create a great environment and be consistent.

Keep your child's sleep environment simple and safe (look at the lullaby trust for guidelines). You also need to remember to stay consistent, they'll might test you if you vary too much!


Crafty thumbs up

 A time to grow your own  Our founder, Jen, wowed us over Zoom this week with her array of tiny pots of growing goodies. The most impressive however, is her attempt to grow celery and spring onions. Caroline has been growing giant sunflowers too as a toddler friendly activity. Raising money and heart rates Anna has been hosting charity workouts to raise money for St John’s ambulance. Drop us a note if you want to find out how to get involved. Sam aka Banksy We were very impressed this week with Sam’s sketch of this living room using just pencil and no room for error as he had no rubbers!



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