Coping with Covid19 lockdown

Keep Calm and Change

March 2020 article – we share 3 Kalukanda House ideas on coping with the Covid19 self isolation and taking control of mindset.

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At Kalukanda House we pride ourselves on the experiences and immersion with Sri Lankan culture that we promote, so we want to share some tips on how to remain physically and mentally strong during the next weeks.

We have also included some links to interesting sites we recommend and a couple of popular Kalukanda House dishes for comfort eating that are healthy, hearty and a big fat hug in a cup and a bowl.Thereshould be ingredients for thesethat are still on supermarket shelves too!

Firstly why is a positive mindset so important?

We mustconsciouslychange our outlookin times of fear and depression.

Negative emotions and mindset are crippling and being separated from our loved ones and friends will make it all seem a hundred times worse. Accepting what needs to be done to get through it, re-setting our mindset and becoming creative is the best way to build resilience, and come out of the starting blocks with strength and agility when the lockdowns are lifted.

Creative thinking and the ability for decision making is hugely increased when we give ourselves mental space. The tips below are easy hacks to take control and they do not take up too much time or effort.

Somehow we need to keep life and business rolling until we can get back out there and start to take care of our beautiful world.

When that happens, Kalukanda House will be ready to look after you and give you the space to relax in fresh, oxygen rich air breathed out by our big, beautiful trees and serve you dish upon dish of healthy meals made with gorgeous organic, nutritious ingredients – and a Sri Lankan smile.

Until then…some things you can do at home…

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Made for us by local artisans

1. Create your surroundings

If you find yourself suddenly housebound, and do not have a dedicated home office, it is important to carve out an area for yourself.

For 20 years, I have been talking to clients about how to consider their spaces around them emotionally, “how do you want to feel?” is the question I ask. In fact I spoke about this subject at London Design Week 2020 in March and how this approach shapes my work for my clients and the design of this hotel.

Space is not just about aesthetics and function, it is also about the experience within it, no matter how big or small that space is.

Mindfullycreate a pop up workspace even in the smallest of corners. Make sure that you mark your spot with allocated space for your work paraphernalia. The space needs to be well lit, and well organised to avoid piles of files and paper. Creating order will keep you feeling in control.

Install nice looking pieces of artwork/photos, a candle, a pile of your favourite books to rifle through…anything that means something to you…and that marks this space out asyourworkspace.Being near natural light would be ideal but if you can’t do that, actively make the space nook-like and work WITH what you have.

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makeshift office space at Kalukanda House

Consciously creating this area makes the subject of enforced working from home a mindful activity rather than a sudden invasion into your private space and adds some level of pleasure to your surroundings.

Pleasure leads to positive mindset and wellbeing, wellbeing leads to creative thinking, and creative thinking will help you initially tackle whatever complications have arisen in your life because of Covid19.

2. Mind and Body

Feeling physically strong is so important. There is widespread and well documented evidence around what this does for your mental health and building strength up through the day in bite sized pieces is easy.

It is a proven fact that while our brains control our bodies, we can consciously use our bodies and physicality to send signals back to our brains to control our moods and emotions.

Ever heard the one about pasting a smile onto your face (even if you don’t feel like smiling) and holding it there for a minute or so? Those smile muscles send signals to your brain that you are happy and it has a marked positive impact on mood. Or the trick about standing in a power pose before going to a meeting you might be nervous about, those muscles send messages of empowerment to your brain and build confidence. Magic.

Working out your body benefits your mind, and vice versa so working out both has enormous benefits for your mindset, coping strategies and inner strength.

Try these “lockdown, working from home” tips even if you are fit and work out regularly.

  1. Take a break every 60 minutes andmove for 3 minutes. Set an alarm, get up and walk away from work and do a few pre-planned deep stretches, or do 20 press ups or burpees or sun salutations, anything that will raise your heartbeat.

Serotonin levels will rise keeping you motivated and mentally on top of yoursituation. Feeling those muscles working and slowly becoming stronger through the day has a direct impact on the way you feel about yourself – empowered.

  1. Yogic breathing. At break times (or more) take 3 really deep, slow breaths. Gently close your eyes and breathe in slowly through your nose, filling up your lungs and into your belly and hold for 3 seconds. Then empty very slowly out through your mouth as if you are gently blowing one big bubble through a hoop (make sure you can hear the sound of the out breath). Empty until your belly gently contracts without straining, hold for 3 seconds, and repeat.

The act of breathing like this is quite similar to the yogic Ujaya (ocean) breath and switches your head off and tunes you into your body.

  1. If you meditate, take the opportunity to do this daily at a set time, perhaps you can replace your commute time? If you have never meditated before, you could start by tuning into a mindfulness app that can lead you in as a beginner – HEADSPACE

Closing our eyes and turning our attention inwards creates a unity between mind and body. Just a few minutes a day is powerful, and helps to build inner strength and access deep wells of reserves you can draw on to help make decisions that are right for you and your life.

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Kalukanda House yoga retreat

Here are a few great online sources for working out at home, which we personally recommend and use.

BODYCOACH(online workouts for adults and children)

ALO MOVES(yoga online with lots of different teachers, 7 day free trial)

3. Comfort recipes to drink and eat

In these lockdown days, healthy, easy to make and in-expensive recipes are what we need. Here are 2 house favourites.

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DRINK – Massala Chai – dairy free and caffeine free optionsavailable

This is a lovely, creamy drink that is warming and so delicious. Different ingredients can be used for dairy free and de-caffeinated. Lots of recipes are available all using the same base ingredients and you can adjust quantities to taste, this particular recipe is fromThe Minimalist Baker

  • 6-8greencardamom pods
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 1tspwhole black peppercorns
  • 3-4wholecloves
  • 2½cupswater
  • 2Tbspgrated ginger(for less intense ginger flavor, slice instead of grating)
  • 3Tbsploose leaf black tea(or ~3-4 black tea bags // use decaf as needed)
  • 2cupsdairy-free milk(we favor oat milk, coconut milk, and cashew milk // use thicker, richer dairy-free milks like canned coconut milk
  • Sweetener such as honey, stevia, organic cane sugar, or maple syrup to your taste


  1. Add cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, peppercorns, and cloves to the bowl of a mortar (or cutting board) and use pestle (or heavy pan) to slightly crush the spices. You aren’t pulverizing into a powder, just slightly crushing into small pieces.
  2. To a medium saucepan add crushed spices, water, and grated (or sliced) ginger and bring to a boil over high heat. (Note: For a less gingery chai, reduce amount of ginger and slice rather than grating). Then reduce heat slightly to medium/medium-low and maintain a simmer for 15 minutes or until it reduces by about one-third.
  3. Add tea (loose leaf or bags) and dairy-free milk of choice (we love light canned coconut) and lower heat to low. Cover and continue cooking for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Then turn off heat and let steep for 5 minutes more (covered) or longer for deeper flavor.
  4. Add sweetener of choice to taste (we prefer stevia or maple syrup, but sugar is more traditional). Strain before serving.
  5. Keep strained, cooled leftovers covered in the fridge up to 3-4 days. Reheat to drink. Not freezer friendly.

FOOD – Creamy Dhal Curry

Vegetarian, healthy, filling and so popular – this recipe is one of the basics and a house favourite, guests love it. Adjust spicyness and if all you have is red lentils, onions, stock water, salt and pepper the dish is delicious, our recipe below is really creamy and filling. More house favourites are on a previous postKalukanda House recipes

  • 2-3 cups Red lentils
  • 3 sliced green chillis
  • 2 rampay leaves (nice to have, not necessary)
  • 1tap fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 large shallot 1/2 salt
  • 1/2 broken cinamon stock
  • 1 tin coconut milk


  1. Rinse and wash the red lentils well.
  2. Add all the ingredients, cover with water and simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the tin of coconut milk and keep simmering and cook through for another 5-10 minutes until the dhal is creamy.
  4. Season well to taste and serve with breads of your choice or a steaming bowl of rice.

Stay well and healthy everybody, we will get through this, let’s support each other.


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