The COVID-19 crisis has radically changed our lives. Just a few months ago, we had no idea our ‘world’ would be confined to our homes! If someone had said to us that our streets would be deserted, our shops and restaurants closed, and family and friends all separated…… we would never have believed them. This all just shows just how much we need human connection!
Remember you are not alone. Because what is DIFFERENT here is that everyone is impacted! Your neighbour, family, boss and friends are all going through something similar. You may also be struggling with cancelled fertility treatments, appointments or investigations and it’s tough. However, if we’re going to be stuck at home, we may as well make the most of it.
Here Are 15 Things You Can do to Make Your Life Better while Physically Isolated:
1) Create a Healthy, Supportive Routine
When we feel powerless or helpless (as so many of us do at the moment), one EXTREMELY easy thing to do is to create a routine or schedule.
While we’re all stuck in anxiously waiting at home, it’s easy to lose our sense of time. Days can begin to blend into each other. A routine can give us an anchor, a greater sense of control over our lives, and a sense of normality.
This routine or schedule can be as simple as:
- 7am – Wake-up
- 8am – Breakfast
- 10am – Exercise
- 11am – Talk to friends
- 12.00pm – Lunch
- 1-4pm – Learning or a home project
- 5pm – Make & Eat Dinner
- 7pm – Talk to close family
- 8pm – Reading, Journaling
- 10pm – Bed
Be sure to include food preparation, social time, exercise and outdoor time and some learning or creativity so you get some benefit from this challenging time.
It’s also important to recognize weekends because it’s too easy for weeks to blur together. So, make a looser schedule for your weekends. For example, you could include:
- Sleeping in/later bedtime
- Movie night with popcorn
- A virtual happy hour with friends or colleagues
- A larger project, perhaps some art, craft, gardening or home redecoration.
So, create a routine for a sense of control and mastery over your environment and life circumstances. Reclaim what power you can over your own life, because with all this uncertainty it’s important for you to have predictability.
2) Build Your Physical Strength, Fitness Levels or Flexibility!
Building your physical strength is powerful and health-boosting! Not only is physical strength and flexibility life-affirming and good for our health but feeling more physically powerful actually helps us feel more empowered and less helpless in life too!
So add some physical activity into your schedule – as little as 15 minutes daily. Maybe by the end of this you’ll be fitter or even be able to do 10 (or 100!) press-ups!
There are many options to boost your physical strength and health. Sp take advantage of all the free online exercise classes available during this time. Here are some ideas:
- Take up a yoga practice – excellent for strength-building, flexibility – and calm! There are lots of online options. Here is one with everything from 10 minutes for beginners to an advanced practice.
- Learn do a press-up or push-up. Then see if you can get to 10 (or more – depending on where you start)!
- There are so many online fitness classes on YouTube – for beginners, experts – with equipment and also with no equipment whatsoever.
3) Learn with Non-Fiction Books:
Use this time at home to educate yourself with non-fiction books. There is so much to be gained – like self-confidence, negotiation skills, health (sleep, nutrition), how to have difficult conversations, art, gardening and much more.
Reading one book will expand your mind, reading several of these books is going to help you learn new skills or develop a new passion.
4) Gain a New Skill with Online Learning:
There are so many opportunities online to gain a new skill and they’re growing by the day!
Grow your personal or creative skills or choose a new skill to learn and take back to work with online training providers Udemy.
If there’s a skill you always wanted to learn, search for it. But be sure to read the course descriptions thoroughly, check reviews if there are any – and check money-back guarantees as you need to!
And with so many learning options ranging from free to paid for, there will be something out there just perfect for you.
5) Explore your Life Vision:
Rather than watching endless news streams, you can choose to focus on a bigger picture – your future. What do you want from the rest of your life? What is your dream?
Having a clear vision of how you want your life to be is a powerful motivator. A vision helps us work towards our goals, take action and make change. Soon, we’ll all be super-busy again – and a vision might be just what you need stay focused!
Here are 5 questions to ponder or journal around to go deeper:
- What do you desire or yearn for in your life?
- How do you want to feel?
- What do you really, really want to be different in your life?
- What would have happened in 3 years time such that your life is spectacular and you feel magnificent about yourself?
- What’s your dream for this lifetime? Imagine you’re 90 years old and looking back over your life; what did you do that made you proud and happy?
TIP: Remember to think possibility not probability! Don’t limit yourself and your ideas because you don’t believe something is likely. Instead believe it’s possible – and even if you don’t get all the way there, you may get close – or even find something better along the way!
6) Be in the moment:
In THIS moment you are OK. You are safe. Take one day at a time. One hour or even one breath at a time if you need to.
This tip is about being super-present, not thinking ahead or remembering the past, but practicing BEING.
This is a PRACTICE – meaning you will have to do it over and over again – bringing yourself back to the NOW. Over time it gets easier, and it’s a great skill to have to take back to “normal” life.
So when you notice you’re worrying, feeling twitchy and want to pick up your device and find out what the “latest” is about the COVID situation, say to yourself, “It’s OK. In this moment, I am safe. In this moment I am OK.”
EXTRA TIP: Reduce or minimise how often you watch and read the news! And DON’T read or watch the news (or articles about COVID-19 or similar) just before bed!
Distracting ourselves from our fears is a valid technique for feeling better!
Laughter releases helpful chemicals in our bloodstream – Endorphins (our natural “happy” drug) and Dopamine (part of our bodily “reward” system).
- What are your favourite comedy shows?
- Is there a comedian you like?
- Netflix and similar have so many watching options, so find something that makes you laugh!
IMPORTANT: We should NOT use over-use laughter as a distraction technique. And it shouldn’t be used for ongoing and persistent fears in regular life. But for a situation like this, where this isn’t much that any of us can do other than sit and wait – distraction can be a great coping mechanism.
8) Start a Journal!
If you’ve always wanted to journal, now is a good time to start. More than just keeping a record of your day, a journal can help you explore and sift through your feelings and experiences and learn from them. It’s a great way to get to know you.
It’s great to choose a beautiful notebook, but the most important thing is to just get started. Here are some prompts to get started with:
- Today I am feeling _________. I think this is because __________.
- One big thing I have learned during this crisis is _________.
- I remember the last time I was stuck in the house _________.
- One thing that’s surprised me recently is _________.
- What matters most to me in life is _________.
- Describe your ideal day _________.
9) Be Kind!
Kindness and compassion are one of the most powerful tools any of us have in our toolbox right now. Many of us are largely housebound, never mind the fear that you or a loved on might actually catch the COVID virus! So, of course we’re going to feel unpleasant and weird.
- Use kindness to comfort yourself when afraid or feeling anxious or fidgety. Be gentle. Imagine you’re soothing a friend, small child or animal who is afraid – what would you say to them? Then say that to yourself!
- Use kindness to give yourself – and others – the benefit or the doubt. Instead of getting upset when you see other people behaving badly, remember that we all do silly things when we’re scared.
- Imagine you have a kind, wise self. A part of you that is unflappable, intelligent and unconditionally loves ALL of you. Now, when you need it, imagine that kind, wise self is with you, supporting you, maybe giving you a hug – and saying exactly what you need to hear (not just the sugary stuff, but also the tough love and common sense).
10) Help Others
Helping others is empowering and makes us feel better. Here are a few ways you could help others.
- Check in on a neighbour or friend and see if they need anything. You can do this by phone, or in person, remembering to maintain a 6 feet distance.
- Offer to get someone groceries if you’re going.
- Help someone less technically savvy learn how to use Zoom or WhatsApp or whatever they need to get online.
- Host a virtual get-together with your regular friends.
- Reconnect more deeply with friends or relatives who have moved away.
- If you have the time and capability Volunteer as an NHS Volunteer
11) Live Your Values
When we know your values, we understand what motivates and drives us. When we build our lives around our values, we create a life that is meaningful. Finally, when we align our actions with our values – we’re being truly authentic. It’s a very satisfying and fulfilling way to live.
And living your values could be the single most important thing any of us can do right now.
Here’s an exercise you can do:
- List your values on a piece of paper or in your journal.
- Give each value a score ___ / 10 as to how well you are living that value in your life now (where 0 is not at all and 10 is full-out).
- For the scores that are 8 or more – great!
- For the scores that are 7 or less out of 10, ask yourself, “How could I express this value more in my life right now?” “What could I do differently or approach differently, so that I feel good about how I live this value in my life?”
For example: You have a value of creativity, but you’re only managing to ‘go through the motions’ right now and your score is 4/10. Ask yourself how you could be more creative during this time – whether it’s cooking, gardening, art or writing or helping your kids do something creative, or even watching a documentary about someone creative you admire…
I bet you have some organisational things on your to-do list (like going through winter clothes, sorting out toys to donate or tidying the laundry closet, garage or shed) that have been on there for a while. Use this isolation period to get them done!
Getting organized and de-cluttering allows us to exert some control over our lives – and therefore feel less helpless! Plus it’ll feel amazing just to have it done.
Organize your wardrobes, your garage, your books, your photos, office, kitchen equipment. Whatever needs organising. Or perhaps you need to go through your receipts or file your paperwork!
- If you need some inspiration (and great clothes-folding tips) you could watch the Marie Kondo series on Netflix or YouTube!
A simple 3 Step Method to go through your stuff:
- If you’re keeping it, be sure to DECIDE where it will “live” from now on.
- If you’re not keeping it, create two piles:
- Things to DUMP
- Things to DONATE (and if relevant to pass on to specific people).
- When you’re done, put each pile into bags or boxes, and then once this crisis is over you can get rid of what you no longer need.
- TIP: You don’t need to do any of this ‘in one sitting’, do an hour a day – you’ll be surprised how much you get done if you keep it up for a week!
13) Grow Something
There is nothing quite like growing something – whether it’s flowers, fruits or vegetables that makes us feel good! Even if you live in an apartment and you could grow fresh herbs on your windowsill or balcony to cook with! Right now I’m digging for victory in my raised beds and have even just slurged on a greenhouse!
- Get some seeds, (a pot and some soil if needed) and get started.
- Many plant nurseries are still open and are doing deliveries, or you could order seeds etc. online.
- Follow the instructions – and remember to water it!
14) Begin a Meditation Practice
Meditation is a practice that has been proven scientifically to calm us, help us be more creative and be happier (for starters). It’s extremely beneficial.
There is a lot to learn about meditation – and it’s called a Meditation Practice for a reason. But it’s also not as hard as it sounds. You can start with as little as 5 minutes a day – and it’s good to build a routine, so you meditate at the same time every day. Get a book on “Meditation for Beginners” or go to YouTube or Google and search for “How to Meditate”.
It helps to have a quiet space without interruptions – which many of us don’t have at the moment. And for some people, trying to meditate when anxious can be stressful. If this is the case, listen to a relaxing guided meditation instead.
Another idea is to listen to a sleep meditation or “Body Scan Meditation” before going to sleep.
15) Just Pause
When do we ever get the opportunity to just pause? One thing for certain is, we’ll never get this again. Don’t feel you need to be super productive all of the time. Pause, stare out of the window, walk taking in the spring beauty around us, let the sunshine on your face.
So, which of the above ideas resonated with you? The areas I am focusing on are learning, gardening (big time), meditation and just pausing.
This current and strange COVID-19 situation will end. And when it does, you’ll be proud you made the effort to learn something – whether it’s about yourself, fresh knowledge, a new skill – and who knows what else……..