It certainly goes without saying, the past few weeks have been somewhat surreal. Never could I ever have imagined something so globally devastating would occur during my lifetime, yet here we are, and amidst the Coronavirus pandemic it is difficult to know what lies around the corner. During these uncertain times, we have all had to make adaptations to our lives and I have slowly began to adjust to this new 'normal'. So whether you are currently self-isolating or practising social distancing, here is my small guide with ways to keep busy and look after yourself.
Maintain your daily routine Initially, this is what I struggled with the most. If I do not need to go into university and my place of work is closed, then what is the point in getting dressed? or even getting out of bed? I found myself stuck in a rut, unable to have an active role in society and contemplating my purpose for the following months. What I have come to accept is that these feelings are totally normal, and are likely being experienced by a large proportion of the population. My advice is to take one day at a time and concentrate on the hear and now. We are creatures of habit and so you should continue your average routine and prepare for the day - set your alarm, get up and make breakfast, shower and get dressed. Even when restricted to the confines of our own homes, establishing a reliable structure is important to see us through to the end of each day.
Keep a dedicated workspace Many workers and students alike have made the transition to working from home and are adjusting to find their new work-life balance. Working from home, it can be very easy to become distracted and your initial impulse would most likely to be to binge-watch every show imaginable, I know mine certainly was. I have found that keeping a dedicated workspace away from distractions helps me to focus on work, whether this is university learning or more personal projects, such as this blog. Even for those not able to work from home, maintaining a certain level of productivity brings something new to each day and provide us with purpose, helping us to continue to grow. It is also equally as important to remember to have time for ourselves. Ensure to take frequent breaks, eat regular and healthy meals, and enjoy some free time once your day's work is complete.
Avoid unnecessary media exposure Excessive exposure to the media often creates a heightened sense of anxiety, particularly around what is already a stressful situation. Whilst it is important to keep informed and be up to date regarding the latest guidance, you should be selective of your sources and limit your time scrolling through social media. In the UK, the gov.uk website provides relevant and factual information about the most recent government updates, in addition to information for the public such as methods to prevent spread. So all those hours you may have spent panicking over what you may have read online can be used to focus your energy into something more positive.
Try to stay active For those of you who previously practically lived at the gym, myself included, maintaining the same level of activity may present as a challenge, especially to those of us who aren't fortunate enough to have a home gym. I felt totally out of my comfort zone having to adapt to home workouts and, whilst I much prefer the rush I get from lifting heavy, I haven't totally hated my new workout regime. Again, I have found it helpful to structure my workouts, adapting my familiar routine whilst I am learning what works for me in this new environment. In addition, I have been trying to incorporate regular cardiovascular exercise into my day, whether this is in the form of a bike ride, a light run, or a walk outside in the fresh air (responsibly of course). Not only have I found this to be beneficial to keeping a healthy body, but also a healthy mind.
Tackle DIY projects In the back of my mind, I always have my to-do list, full of little odd jobs to complete around the house. My list usually starts with a few simple tasks like put up a mirror or paint the bedroom, but gradually it gets longer and longer and becomes a thing of dread that I try my best to put off. Being confined to my home I have run out of excuses, now is the perfect time to start ticking off those pesky little tasks one by one, maybe I'll even finish unpacking those last few boxes from when we moved two years ago...
Learn a new skill If you are still finding yourself with an excess of free time I would definitely recommend joining Skillshare - An online creative community where you can learn pretty much any skill you can think of. Whether that is a new language, cocktail mixology, computer animation, creating youtube videos, or starting your own business, this is the perfect way to spend your free time (and the first two months are free!) I've personally joined a few digital illustration classes, so watch this space!
Nourish your body With many restaurants currently closed and delivery at a minimum, now is a great time to perfect your culinary skills and spend some time in the kitchen. Whilst certain products are currently near impossible to find, such as tinned products and pasta, you can often still find an abundance of fresh produce which is all you need to provide your body with the nourishment it requires. My go-to meals are usually buddha bowls, they are an ideal way to pack a load of nutrients into one meal, they are really simple to make, and there are so many different flavour combinations you can create.
Go local Many people will have taken a substantial hit during this time, most notably local businesses. Now more than ever is the best time to shop locally to support your local community. Rather than travelling to a large supermarket that you will have to spend a while queuing outside only to find the items you are looking for have already sold out, when possible, take a walk to your local greengrocer, bakery, or health food store, where not only will you be able to find an abundance of fresh produce and essential pantry items, but also will be supporting the people who need it most. In addition, many local restaurants that are currently closed are offering takeaway or delivery for when you just don't feel like cooking yourself!
Self-isolation doesn't mean social isolation This is, in my opinion, the most important thing to take away. Social distancing can be taxing, it is frustrating having to stay at home and not being allowed to visit your friends or family, but it is important to keep in mind the bigger picture. Social distancing saves lives and there are plenty of ways to maintain social contact, minus the physical contact. Try to stay connected with loved ones via texts, phone calls and social media, set up skype calls to check in with your friends, and you could even host a Netflix party so you can enjoy the company of others even though you are not together.