Like so many people around the world, about six weeks ago I found myself struggling due to the facts that my work-life had been turned upside-down, I was house-bound and quarantined in my own home with nobody but my parents and sister for company, while a deadly virus swept through my nation and furthermore, the rest of the planet too. If you ask me, this sounds like the plot to a bad dystopian YA novel, but hey, this is our reality right now.
Naturally, this is an extremely stressful and scary time of uncertainty for all of us, which is why I thought it might be beneficial to some if I shared the things I’ve been doing and focusing on to keep my sanity intact and well throughout this coronavirus crisis.
However, it’s important to note that there is no right or wrong way to deal with this situation, and that as long as you’re feeling happy and healthy, that’s all that matters. Below are a list of the things which have helped me during this time, from new skills I’ve taken up, habits I’ve developed, along with some good ol’ boredom busters. If you’re running out of things to do in lock-down, then perhaps these will help inspire you too.
Just keep running!
I know you’ve heard it all before, but getting outside and doing some exercise is just so important and good for you right now. I’ll be honest, before this quarantine-regime, my fitness level was at an all-time low, and I genuinely couldn’t tell you when was the last time I had worked out. That’s why after spending a few weeks stuck inside, gorging myself on banana bread and Netflix binges, I decided to finally bite the bullet and download the ‘Couch to 5k’ app. This is a brilliantly motivating programme designed to train yourself to run a 5k in 8 weeks.
I’m nearly half-way through the programme now and I’m absolutely delighted with how far I’ve come already. Not only does it feel great to push myself physically, but it’s also hugely invigorating mentally, to get outside for 30 minutes a day, get my heart-rate up and ultimately, feel alive!
Expand your recipe repertoire
Now is the perfect time to experiment in the kitchen and brush up on your culinary skills. I’ve taken this time to try new recipes and really gain some kitchen confidence, once and for all. Seen as I’m a relatively keen home-baker, I’ve always been comfortable in the kitchen, but less sure when it came to cooking. Sure, I had my small collection of recipes which I knew like the back of my hand, but if you were to ask me to whip up something different, then you may want to get ready for a slightly stressful kitchen atmosphere…
I must say though, I’ve had so much fun falling in love with cooking during quarantine. I started off by going through my collection of cookbooks and Easy Food magazines which haven’t seen the light of day in quite a while, and marking the recipes which looked delicious and which I thought the whole family would eat. I then would meal-plan for the following week, with those recipes in mind and go about making my shopping list for the ingredients. It’s been really stimulating tackling a skill which I initially found challenging and learning to slowly but surely ‘master’ it (I’m still no Jamie Oliver, but maybe one day!).
Have a movie marathon
Much to the delight of my dad, I’ve started a ‘Marvel Movie Marathon’ — whereby each weekend we sit down and watch one of the marvel movies, in the chronological order they’re set in. As of now, we’ve watched up until the first Avengers film, and have quite a few more to keep us going. This has been a great substitute for the cinema, seen as we always make sure to have plenty of snacks on hand and the volume at an unreasonably high level (we live in the middle of nowhere, so no need to worry about the neighbours). If Marvel movies aren’t your thing though, why not opt for a Harry Potter marathon, a Pixar movie marathon or even a Star Wars themed marathon? Instead of focusing on a series or genre, you could focus on an actor instead. For instance, you could watch all of Tom Hanks’ or Meryl Streep’s filmographies from the beginning. The options are truly endless!
Bring socialisation into your schedule
At the start of lock-down I found it a little too easy to fall back into my old introverted routine of little socialisation and a lack of contact with my friends. I was finding it hard to motivate myself to reach out to any of them — which is not a good thing! Without the mundane act of coffee with a pal or pre-drinks before the big night out, what are we left with? Zoom-quizzes? Is that all we’re capable of now? Seriously?! At the beginning of all of this, I was a bit reluctant to accept the quiz invite from my group of good friends, because it just didn’t seem like my kind of thing. However, after joining them for one the following week, I soon realised that it didn’t matter what the purpose of the zoom call was, as long as I was on it and catching up and laughing with my friends. That’s why I recommend scheduling socialisation into your weekly to-do list. If you don’t take the time to make time for it, then it might never happen.
No more news!
I was finding at the start of quarantine that I was getting significantly more anxious and stressed over the entire situation, because it had simply enveloped my entire life. My work-life had been flipped upside-down, all of my plans for the rest of the year were up in the air, not to mention I was seriously worried about my parents and what might happen if they contracted the virus. It was truly suffocating. That’s why in order to distance myself from the situation a little bit, I decided early on that I was going to limit my news intake to only once a day, max. As well as receiving live news notifications on my phone, I was also watching an average of 2-4 hours of news on the television each day, which looking back, was excessive. I noticed immediately that my mood and mental health improved significantly once I decided to stay within my own news restrictions. While I think it’s important to stay informed, there’s also such a thing as ‘too much information’, especially when it’s only speculation or not coming form credible sources. Therefore, I try to make sure that the news which I’m taking in is as legitimate as possible.
Make a list of gratefulness
This is an idea I got from a blog post written by Kat O’Conner over on Scribbles By Kat, which really helps me catch my breath when things seem a little ‘much’. The idea is that you take a few minutes to write a list of everything you’re grateful for in that moment, no matter how big or small. I find that the action of writing it all down really helps ground me and realise that there actually is some good in the world, and in my life right now too. So, the next time you’re feeling a bit hopeless or overwhelmed, try to sit down with a pen and paper and write a list of things you’re grateful for, whether it be that big cup of tea you had after breakfast or the fact that the sun is shining — it’s the little things that make all the difference.
So there you have it — everything that’s been keeping me sane during this pandemic. If you have any tips of your own about how to get through lock-down, then please share them in the comments below this post. Or, if you’re looking for a book to escape in during these strange times, then check out my article recommending 5 books to help you forget about the global pandemic.