Just because life as ‘normal’ can’t happen right now (stay inside, please!), doesn’t mean life is cancelled. As someone who has had to spend a lot of time at home due to poor health, I am an expert at keeping entertained in captivity. So, stay with me as I guide you through some of my favourite things to do!
Let’s get physical!
This might not be one for every day and everyone, but our bodies need some movement, whether that’s dancing in your seat, stretching in the morning or some high intensity interval training (if that’s what your heart desires!). Just because the gym isn’t an option right now, doesn’t mean you can’t get those good endorphins. Take your example from Joe Wicks, the Body Coach, who is doing free P.E. classes Monday to Friday, as well as having recorded videos for every ability, from fitness beginner, to more gentle exercises for the older mover, to fast paced, feel-the-burn instruction. You can find all of his videos for free on his channel here. I also love Gymondo, an app and website that provides varied and exciting workout options. I really enjoy the yoga videos for their relaxing qualities and bone cracking stretches. Even when I can’t do all the movements (some of them put too much pressure on my joints that have a habit of dislocating!), the breathing movements are a wonderful way to start, end or punctuate your day. If you click this link, you can have a subscription with a free trial and then 25% off your next payment period. If you physically can, then make exercise a friend. Don’t do it for a delayed pleasure, like weight loss. Take pleasure in the small movements, the stretches, and the endorphin hit that’s really going to boost your day.
What’s cooking, good looking?
Have you always wanted to make your own pasta? Do you have a cookbook collecting dust on your shelf? Are your cookie cutters desperate for the look for love? Now’s the time to try something new. It doesn’t have to be crazy complicated or use weird ingredients. For example, this gnocchi recipe is wonderfully simple and brilliantly delicious! With only two ingredients, you can make a fabulous meal (it has a toggle to adjust the ingredients for the amount of people you need to feed!). If you have problems with grip, ask a friend or family member to help you and make it a fun group activity. A sweet treat with minimal ingredients and maximum fun are sugar cookies which can decorated later with multicoloured icing, sprinkles or whatever else comes to hand! The BBC recipe can be made vegan by using an egg substitute like flax seed (1tbsp of flax to 3tbsp of water to make up one egg) and a vegan baking spread.
While you’re spending time at home, why not try to cultivate your space into a more pleasant one? Clean out your junk drawers, recycle those Tupperware lids that have lost their bottoms along the way, hoover under the bed and free those dust bunnies. Ask for help from those you’re isolating with to clean the bathroom or to change your bed. Maybe you’ll move your furniture around. Maybe you’ll take out your stress on a horrible ornament. Go with it. It’s especially important in this time to keep clean, so remember to clean your clothes, shoes and self after leaving the house. I like to hoover and mop as soon as we return home using some hot water to dilute floor cleaner to avoid spreading the virus into your home. If possible, leave your shoes outside of your living space for a few days after returning home. We’re set to have some good weather over the next few weeks (typical) so throw those windows open, if safe to do so, and let the air flow through. You’ll probably have less sunlight during this time, so try to let the sun flow through your windows into your home as much as possible by keeping blinds and curtains wide open.
Catch some rays
Some of you out there will be blessed with the option of a garden, balcony or outdoor space. For those who don’t have this, if there is a safe way to get outside, give it a try. A canal walk (or roll, if you use a wheelchair), a mosey through allotments, an accessible path through a deserted town, a wander around a park or even just heading outside your building for a few minutes will top up your vitamin D levels, give you a breath of fresh air and a change of scenery. You can give other people a wide berth or wait until you don’t see anyone around. Right now, we’ve had to lock down our windows because our neighbour’s chain smoking habits are starting to perfume my habitat. Living in a flat is always interesting!
I’ve been meaning to read that…
Is there a pile of books keeping your coffee table company? Are you wedging up the sofa with War and Peace? Does your Kindle crave some attention (other eReaders are available)? A wonderful way to distract yourself from the current situation is to disconnect entirely from tech and get immersed in something new. Fiction or non-fiction, let yourself escape for a couple of hours with whatever takes your fancy. Recently, I’ve finished reading The Five, about the lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper. It wasn’t something that I would normally go for, but the blending of historic fact, Victorian scene setting in places like London, Birmingham, Wales and Sweden, storytelling and research makes for a really wonderful read. I would definitely recommend it! For a giggle, Miranda Hart’s Is It Just Me? ticks so many boxes. For me, anything by Daphne Du Maurier, Toni Morrison, Charlotte Bronte or Margaret Atwood works!
There’s always something to learn! Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to learn. Alongside my university studies, online courses are amazing to broaden horizons and there are so many free resources, with more being made available everyday. If you’re into languages, try Duolingo which has languages from Welsh, French, and German, to Korean, Hebrew and even High Valyrian. It’s free with adverts, or for a fee, can be made advert free. To learn about anything from serial killers to modern politics to how entrepreneurs of huge brands began, look up some podcasts and settle in. If you want something more structured, online courses are available in just about anything and most of them are free or available for a very small fee. I can’t even choose a site to cite here – there are so many available on Google just by typing ‘online courses’. Feel free to be more specific if you like! Gentle reminder though, your productivity has nothing to do with your worth. This is a scary time, so don’t pressure yourself to come out of isolation with five new languages, a degree and a macrame suit for your cat.
With the pressures and anxiety keeping up with the news, carving out some time for yourself is the ultimate necessity. Forget pasta, forget toilet roll, you need to take care of yourself at the moment. During social distancing, it can be easy for mental health levels to drop and equally as difficult to pick them back up when the things that you usually do, such as a trip to the beach or a lunch out, aren’t a viable option. However, there’s always ways to feel better. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to process the situation as it evolves. Shut off the tech if it stresses you out and have some quiet reflection time. If you’re in isolation with friends or family, make sure to keep an open dialogue if it’s safe to do so. Reach out to people you can’t be physically with through messages, FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, Instagram, send a postcard, get on Moonpig, anything. Similarly, if you know that someone is on their own or not in a safe family situation, do your best to reach out to them and let them know that you’re available to them. Other ways to take care of yourself at this time could involve journalling to keep a track of events, a relaxing bath or shower, feeding your body, putting on some music that feeds your soul or getting completely immersed in a new film. Take some time to live in the moment and take the day as it comes. Stay safe and stay inside!
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