As an introverted only child who loves staying in and keeping myself busy, I’m probably one of the most prepared to handle the current coronavirus self isolation / self distancing / stay home / quarantine / shelter in place situation that we’re all facing. I recently shared some tips for those who have now found themselves trying to manage working from home (check out this guide here), so I thought I’d also share a broader guide for the whole situation.
I try to see the positives in everything, and I believe this time presents a huge opportunity in four main ways:
- Catching up (on all of the life admin and general things we never have time for)
- Relaxing and resting (which again, most of us never had enough time for)
- Resetting (thinking about our long term goals, habits and how we ideally want our life to be)
- Preparing for the future (working towards whatever lifestyle we want to live)
Of course there will be times where we all just need to take a moment to just cope, and that’s perfectly normal and even necessary. However, if we can use the rest of the time to focus on the points mentioned above, we can also come out the other side of this crisis in the best possible position for ourselves; refreshed, organised and ready to go!
To make sure we are focusing on our health in all forms during this time, I think there’s another four key areas overall of our life we have to balance and make enough time for:
So with those points mentioned, here are some ways to hopefully keep yourself mentally and physically healthy during this time, as well as having fun and keeping busy too:
1) Plan and structure your week
The first point in my work from home post, and it’s important in a general sense too. Even if you’re not working, it’s important to have at least a general structure for your week and a plan for the day ahead. The more we lack structure, the easier it is to just sit around all day, everyday and while that may sound great – it’s just going to leave you feeling meh and worse in the long run. For me, I find that keeping busy and productive during the week and then having the weekend “off” works best.
Coronavirus has really shaken up our lives, and losing this sense of normalcy is one of the reasons why it can mentally take a toll. Generally, change can be pretty scary, and we’ve all collectively had a huge bunch of change forced upon our lives. Having a structure to your week can help you regain some control here and help to feel like life isn’t currently so crazy.
2) Create new habits and routines
This is also a perfect time to create some new habits and routines for the day, many of which you’ve maybe not had time for before. Think about your ideal “day” and life and how you’d like it to be. Maybe you’d like to start off your morning with some fresh tea and 15 minutes of journaling and gratitude, maybe now you have time to go for that morning run you’ve always wanted to – now is the perfect time to get started on whatever it is you think of. Also adding to the point above, new habits also help to create structure and a focus for each day.
3) Get up and get ready for the day
As tempting as it sounds to sit around in PJ’s all day, it can make it a lot harder to get anything done. There’s no need to get fully dressed up (unless you’re feeling it), but getting physically ready for the day can also help you to get mentally ready to be productive and focused.
Try and get some morning sun too, as this helps regulate our circadian rhythms, and helps to keep our body clock functioning properly too. As someone with a sleep disorder I can tell you that this is not something that you want to mess up!
Of course, there may be days where you just need to stay in your pj’s all day and watch netflix…and that’s fine too!
4) Get moving
Keeping fit is definitely a challenge without the gym (trust me, with only 1 dumbbell and a set of bands…I understand), but it’s important to keep ourselves healthy and moving. Obviously, no one is going to be setting any PB’s or breaking records during this time, but even just a little bit of movement each day can help.
There are still however, lots of different options for keeping fit. We’re still able to go out for a walk or run and get fresh air, there are plenty of yoga options available online and it’s actually not too hard to get creative with home workouts too (just make sure you know how to safely perform the exercise first).
Some PT’s are also offering a range of solutions such as one on one outdoor sessions (socially distance style), online video conference training as well as training plans based on the equipment you have and your goals. If you’re wanting some help in this area I recommend checking out Munya at Precision Performance Coaching or also Linda at YUTU Fitness, as they’re both highly educated and experience trainers who both really care about their clients.
5) Organise, organise, organise
Every so often, I get the sudden urge to clean out and organise my house. I actually dread it when this idea pops up in my head, as I love the end result but obviously hate doing it…and I can’t stop thinking about it until I just get it done. Most of us have no reason or excuse now not to get on top of all of the organising and life admin that usually gets placed at the bottom of the to do list.
Aside from cleaning out your house there are lots of other things which can be organised too such as a phone camera clean out and back up, filing, and jobs such as planning out your household budget.
Super boring yes, but great once it’s done.
6) Learn a new skill and find a new hobby
Just as we need to keep our bodies moving, our minds need stimulation too. Once again, this is the perfect time for things you’ve always wanted to do, or learn, but just haven’t had the time. With the economy taking a huge hit, and the whole workforce being shaken up it’s also an important time to be upskilling for the future too.
For learning a new skill, one of my favourite resources is Udemy, which offers a HUGE range of different online courses which are quite cheap too (I’m not affiliated with them – I just love their courses). If you’re exactly sure what you want to learn yet either, there’s just so much free information out there on nearly everything – so perhaps start there and see where your research takes you.
As for hobbies too, it’s also the perfect time to learn something new for fun. Gardening, painting, playing an instrument, blogging, gaming, baking – there’s so many options!
Personally, this is the area I struggle with the least, as I always already have too many hobbies and things I’d like to learn more about.
7) Find time for fun
As adults, we rarely “play” anymore and just do things for fun. Play isn’t just a great way to have fun and stay entertained, it can also be a great form of stress relief.
I’ve found especially during this time that playing Nintendo Switch (especially Animal Crossing – it’s addictive) has been amazing for my mental health as it helps me to just switch off and enjoy the moment. Adult colouring books are another great example of a fun and relaxing activity.
It makes sense that puzzle sales have also been on the increase (who would’ve thought Scotty would be right about that one), and I’m glad that more and more people are starting to make time for play.
8) Plan and prep your meals
Another point from the working from home post, this is also important for everyone. Not having a structure to the week can leave you feeling meh, and not having structure to your meals can also leave you reaching for the fridge every 10 minutes.
If you’ve never meal prepped before then now’s a great time to learn (check out my guide on this here), as having them actually pre-prepared also means you’re more likely to eat them too.
Of course, it’s also a great time to support local cafes and restaurants via takeaway (this is the excuse I’m using for when I’m too lazy to cook dinner or I really just want a burger), and if you don’t like cooking then there are lots of great pre-prepared meal options too.
But if you are finding yourself gaining a little extra quarantine weight and needing to reach for some comfort snacks, then don’t beat yourself up about it either.
9) Find time for mental health
This time is hard for everyone. I’ve seen a few articles pointing out that the weird feeling we’re all experiencing is grief; for the loss of our old lives and habits, and also worrying for the future too.
Practising gratitude is something I find that really helps. A great, simple routine for this is basically thinking of 3 things you’re grateful for before bed, or before you get out of bed each day, and it can help to shift your mindset.
Relaxation and meditation are great tools too, and this can be as simple as quietly lying down for 20-30 minutes and taking time out. I’ve shared a great mediation guest post guide here, and I also recommend checking out background relaxing tracks such as healing music on YouTube or also the app Relaxation Melodies (free version is fine) for making your own chill out sounds.
Mental health is always important, and in this time especially we need to do what we can to try and best manage it, and also don’t be scared to reach out to loved ones or for professional help if you need it.
10) Treat Yourself
While most shops may be closed, there’s no reason you also can’t indulge in a little online retail therapy. Yes, it’s probably time where it’s wise to make sure you’re staying within your budget, but a little treat can’t help.
New comfy isolation clothes, fresh flowers and things to do are all perfect shopping ideas. Plus, as with the point above about supporting local restaurants via ordering delivery, it’s also great to continue to support some of your local and favourite businesses too!
11) Stay in touch with friends and family
We’re so lucky to be facing this time of isolation with the modern wonder that is the internet. Just as it can help us to keep working from home, learn new skills and keep us busy, it also helps to keep us all connected. From social media apps, to video call services like Zoom and House Party, we’re lucky to have so many ways to stay in touch.
If you’re missing your weekly drinks and catch ups with friends, then there’s no reason you can’t schedule virtual hang outs instead!
As an INTJ this is probably the lowest priority on my list (though my friends and family know I still love them), but I understand why it’s important for others. Also – if you don’t know what an INTJ is, taking the Myer Briggs personality test is also something you can do, as it’s a great way to learn more about yourself!
12) Make time for rest
While I mentioned above that it’s important to get up and get ready for the day, as well as trying to keep a normal schedule, it’s also important to make sure you’re getting enough rest if you need it.
Our lives are usually so busy and fast paced that adequate, quality sleep is one of the things we may skimp on – but it’s one of the most important (and free!) things we can do for our health.
So if your pre-isolation life saw you running yourself into the the ground then don’t feel guilty about using this time to make sure your catch up on that sleep debt you owe yourself!
13) Plan ahead and thing about your next holiday
Sure, we may not actually be travelling for a while yet, but there’s no reason you can’t plan your next trip away. A common workplace conversation is that you always need a holiday to look forward to – and it’s true!
Just as COVID-19 has shaken up our normal lives, it’s also forced us to put our lives on hold and made it hard to plan for the future – which is another reason why it can be mentally tough. So just like we can take control of our everyday lives with structure and keeping busy, we can also take control of our futures too by planning great things like holidays and adventures.
Read travel blogs, check out online reviews, and then when we’re all able to travel again you’ll be perfectly prepared and ready for your next trip!
14) Evaluate your life and think about your future
Finally, this time is the perfect opportunity to take a breather on our lives and assess. What are you happy with in your life? What are you missing? What would you like to do differently? It’s not only a great time to consider these questions, but actually start thinking of action plans and ways to implement positive changes in your life too.
I had this opportunity when I quit my seven year career and it was the best thing I’ve ever done. Most of us now have this chance for a time out, so use it to potentially change your life for the better.
(PS – all of these gifs are from Parks & Recreation, and if you haven’t seen it, consider an additional point 15) Watch Parks & Rec)