Being quarantined or in lockdown at first is like a new unexplored adventure, finally many of us are able to sit down and take our lives at a much steadier pace and even begin to notice the little things that we never noticed before. But eventually most people will hit a wall, whether that’s in 4 days, 4 weeks or 4 months and it’s not the easiest thing to climb over. I think that a lot of people will be trying their best to avoid hitting that wall by creating diversions and keeping themselves super active, but it’s not the best thing to do at all. First of all you could end up wearing off all your energy and self-motivation in the first week and hit Mount Everest rather than a meagre wall, but also because it is healthy to hit that wall even if it makes you bluer than blue. You maybe asking why I would say something so demotivating as that. Well, the truth is that if you spend your time avoiding it the chances are high that you are in fact simply pacing backwards and forwards in front of the wall and underneath you’ll be making yourself feel worse. Once you hit that wall, there is a way over it, and once you are on the other side you will realise that there is a whole new adventure and excitement, in whatever shape or form you wish it to be, to be had. So if, or when, you hit that wall I have a few tips of how to keep yourself climbing to the other side.
The following tips come from experience as just before the quarantine I was in a similar form of self-isolation because I was diagnosed with costochondritis and I ended up sedentary, isolated and in lock down for 4 months – cancelling Christmas plans, seeing friends and all the while struggling through my fourth year of university. These tips are from someone who has been there and is doing it again:
Find yourself a Project
I like to use the term ‘project’ because it gives a level of purpose and sincerity to its outcome which in turn motivates you to stick to it. Chose something that will make you feel like you’ve gained something from it, whether it’s simply making you feel happy about it or accomplished or if you end up helping others in the process. A project means that you don’t necessarily have to start and finish it in one day, so it can give you something to look forward to in the days to come. If you don’t feel motivated to do something that will possibly litter up your room, then find something you can do that will help you once quarantine is over, for example, apply for agencies if you’re acting, write stories, think up theories, build a folio, create something that can show case your talent or invent something. Some more unique ideas would be doing your family tree, create a photo album so you can remember the happy times, or if you’re brave enough set up a night where you binge paranormal or horror films/series.
Keep in the loop
Honestly, I don’t necessarily mean keep in the loop with the coronavirus updates, heck, that’s tiring me out mentally and making me feel a bit low because of not only the negative news but the positive things people are doing I can’t be a part of thanks to my medical conditions. However, I keep myself in the loop with friends and family. It may seem like the most basic advise but a Skype call or FaceTime with someone who lifts your spirits is the biggest morality boost ever. Even do something like Netflix Party or download the Mario Kart app and play with friends or if you have a good group, a game of cards against humanity online is an event not to be missed.
Space from the fam or flat mates
It is exceptionally difficult enough being in quarantine, but when you are subjugated to the 24/7 presence of another it can be morally tiring, even if you escape to your room you can still hear the banging and noises from the others in your house or flat. Not to mention if you are used to living by yourself suddenly living under the rules of your parents (for example) can feel caging. However, my unusual tip is to change your hours once a week. What I mean by that is find a night once a week where your family or roommate goes to bed earlier and you can treat yourself to a late night all to yourself without the pitter patter of their presence and the time and space belongs to you. But don’t make a habit of it, otherwise you will end up knocking your body clock and could potentially end up with CRD in the worst case scenario – that is if you do it almost every night.
Find a world you can count on
What kept me going when I was feeling low in self-isolation was the guarantee that I could find comfort, happiness, and friendship with a tv series, book, or film that I could escape to when I couldn’t find anything else to do. I’ve managed to binge Star Wars the Clone Wars, Torchwood and Greenhouse Academy thanks to not only the quarantine locking me down but the quarantine cancelling all my other projects I had. It is important to be able to rely on a favourite world to escape to when this world is getting too heavy.
At the same time, too much screen…
Going for walks, sure, they’re a little limited to one a day, and if you don’t have a back garden then popping outside for some fresh air and less screen time can be a little on the difficult side. At this time we are so grateful for the advance in technology allowing us to keep in touch with people, reality and have a huge world of opportunities, fun and activities at the tip of our fingers, but too much screen can leave you feeling like you walked headfirst into a concrete wall. Even though sometimes it may seem hard to believe with this ever expanding technology based world there are other means of entertaining yourself that can have the same effect. A book for example, as one to state the obvious, art, board games, redesigning your room, learn a new skill like in photography, design make up or hair dos or clothes designs, work on a cosplay outfit, go out your way to confuse your pets… the list goes on. But one I think that is severely under rated is audio books. Sometimes reading can be challenging for people especially with dyslexia, or maybe you don’t have the energy and just need to relax; pile up a corner with a beanbag or cushions and allow Stephen Fry to read the Harry Potter books to you.
Engage with the people around you and keep the atmosphere positive
I’ve noticed that you can be in a great mood but if one or more people in the house are in a really miserable mood it can bring down the whole atmosphere in the house. Go out of your way to organise a wee event like a board game with a cup of tea and home baking, or some wine and nibbles with a game of cards. Small things you pick up on about people can make them, and in turn yourself, feel so positive. But remember not to be too pushy, that’s when you can definitely have the polar opposite effect!
If you go down to the woods today…
There are a lot of very anxious full of energy children out there who need some positive vibes and one of the things people are doing is putting cuddly teddy bears in their windows so that little children when going on a boring walk can instead go on a teddy bear hunt! By taking a moment to do something special in your window for little ones you’re going to make not only a possibly miserable child happy but a parent who will be grateful for your help happy as well. Knowing you’re doing something like this can lift your spirits, especially if you end up spotting them notice your teddy bears! Our neighbourhood has a primary school slap bang in the middle and as such there are a lot of children in our neighbourhood.
Become your own Chef
I think this is a very good opportunity to discover your inner chef, whether it’s your inner Mary Berry, Gordon Ramsey, or Remi Rat. Not only is baking and cooking so rewarding when people enjoy your masterpieces there is something that makes the place feel more homely with the smell and taste of home made goods. Plus, it’s a great way to boost your moral and happiness spending time baking or cooking alone or with someone else – keeps you motivated. My uncle, an exceptional Italian chef has put up a YouTube channel to help you bring exceptional Italian cuisine to your own kitchen - see The Restless Chef
Not everyone is a gardener, and not everyone has a garden, but if you are able to make some time to bring a little bright life into your garden, room or house you’ll find that planting from scratch or picking up a plant from the shops can make your place feel and smell much fresher and freer. It’s incredible how much having bright plants in your life can do for your mental happiness and wellbeing, even if you aren’t the biggest fan of gardening. On top of that, if you’re worried about the panic buying stealing your much needed veg then there’s nothing to stop you from growing your own vegetable patch and saving some dosh and worry.
Try to get a job or volunteer
At this time many job opportunities have opened up at the same time as many have been temporarily (or permanently) lost. Supermarkets are in need of shop assistances and thousands have applied to be a volunteer to buy groceries and help people who are either vulnerable or quarantining. Obviously these can only really be done if you have a mode of transport and understandably for many that’s normally the public bus. So if you can’t get a job out on the field because of transport or even health conditions you can always look online for jobs. There are many online jobs, and right now there’s no doubt that these places will be thriving and will probably be looking for more people to help out. If you’re worried about dosh, then try working from home from a slightly different point of view.
Make your own videos/films… Have you considered starting a YouTube channel yet?
Some of the greatest short films have got minimal locations and minimal characters, and right now there isn’t a grand choice of locations or actors. So be creative and use what you have to create a short movie that you can send off to competitions and/or festivals or even pop up on your YouTube channel. It’s a great way to make yourself feel productive and keep your minds active, not to mention the filming process is a lot of fun, even if the final cut ends up making you cringe.
Alternatively, you can document your time in quarantine in a video diary explaining how you feel and what you are doing. One day, you never know, some big shot film director might be looking for footage like these for their Coronavirus Blockbuster Pandemic Movie in a couple of years’ time! Haha, no in all seriousness it can be a really great way of channelling your locked up feelings or anything that’s been bothering you in a very simple way. You can turn it into a collated video diary after the lockdown’s lifted or you could just never look at it again. Either way it can help you feel better if you don’t wish to burden friends or families with these feelings as it’s understandable you might feel unwilling to as everyone else is going through the same thing as you.
And I’m sure at some point, with everyone out there on the internet now and with your free time you’ve considered starting a YouTube channel. If you feel you have something to offer, don’t hold back! But maybe consider your target audience and see if you can do something to help others over the internet during this time. It’s all about a feeling of productivity and a part of the community, as well as potentially boosting your name and helping promote yourself.
I’m sure you’ve heard of some random dude…. Jo Wicks or whoever. Kinda famous now…
Well all I can say is, if you fancy some hard core yet unequivocally outstanding, motivating, and helpful fitness routines to keep you physically alive then pop over to watch Jo Wicks – The Body Coach. Not only is his workout routines to die for… No I really mean die for, still not recovered from the first one I did… he is so wholesome, making his videos entertaining and he has even donated profits to the front line of this war – NHS.
Remember though when doing work outs, if you aren’t doing it just to keep fit but to loose weight then make sure that exercise routines are targeted to those specific goals of yours. Otherwise you won’t succeed.
Back to the Future
At these times it’s not about thinking about what could have been or where you are because you could fall into a bit of a psychological mentality that can’t look forward. If you keep the past and present in mind but make sure that you are looking forward towards the future where you will be leaving this lockdown and be seeing friends and family again then the stuff you do and the way you see things during the lockdown will be positive and productive. Keep in mind that being in the now is still an important state. If you struggle with these mindsets meditation is an excellent way to channel these. Don’t underestimate the value and importance of meditating, especially when the world around us is falling into a bit of chaos.
Two stars and a wish
I bet you remember those primary school days when you had to mark each other’s work and give “two stars and a wish”. Whilst that annoyed me, and probably plenty others, back when, it is actually a great way of keeping yourself mentally aware. This does not have to be shared with anyone else, but at the end of each day if you give yourself two stars and one wish you’ll be able to see the good things that came from a day that otherwise you’d feel is wasted because of the place we’re in and you can look to see how you can improve things for tomorrow. May seem childish and weird, but it will help you mentally hugely.
The ‘blah’ challenge
Waking up and preparing yourself for another challenge is often a good way to boost yourself. I have started the Instagram ’30 Day Song Challenge’ where each day you put up a song that abides to the rules of that specific day. It’s honestly a lot of fun to think them up and then share them. Not only does it give you something to look forward to each day but sharing it gets people chatting because you’ve found a common interest/favourite song. There are many of these challenges around, find the one that you enjoy.
Count UP not DOWN
When looking at the days in which we are in lockdown, try not to see it as days wasted in a countdown to freedom but see it as opportunities and a ‘gift’ of time to be fulfilled. I’m sure many of you were working with busy schedules before the pandemic halted all of your plans and work. The expectation of life has bound us to an insanely busy and unbreathable timescale and since the pandemic hit we have all been forced to stop our robotic production of life and breathe. Not many people can say that they have lived through a hell hole of time like this pandemic, but not many people will also be able to say that they have been given the opportunity to stop and breathe from the grinding works of life. So if you are one of the people in this epidemic who has been given this unusual time, use it wisely. You may be bored, you maybe busy, but what you should do is use it as a time to heal, breathe, do the things you may not have done before and appreciate what life has to offer when you aren’t at work.
Isolation does not mean every day is a sedentary day
By this title, it also doesn’t mean ‘use this chance to lose weight and keep fit by exercising everyday’, it means use your lazy days for when you need to treat yourself. For someone who has spent 4 months sedentary, I can tell you that it is often way more exhausting and draining sitting and binging than doing exercise. Because of this you should use those lazy/slob days as a ‘treat day’ or for a day when you are feeling blue. This way you won’t lose the value of having a Netflix and chill, which you will if you do it every day.
The Next Big Breakthrough
You could think about this time as a break that could encourage your next big breakthrough! Whether you’ve discover the final ingredient needed for your perfect recipe, the chemicals that will react to make your science experiment work or the epic finale to your novel that you’ve been looking for. You now have the space of time to let your mind and body work at a steadier pace, and you never know, maybe you’ll find what you’ve been searching for.
One thing that you will most likely lose with no university/school/work schedules is you’re daily routine. At first this will seem like some holiday fun, but this isn’t a two week vaycay, it’s a possible 6 month lockdown. Without routine, and in some cases mornings, you will loose a sense of being and reason for each day. Respect yourself, get yourself dressed and out of your pjs, keep yourself clean and fresh and try and keep your routines as normal as possible. This subtle method keeps your mental wellbeing on check and whilst the activities you do during the day may not be ‘routine’ hopefully you’ll be able to see a moral difference by keeping your timings as normal as can be and not loose days.
Be a part of the fight
It can be hard sitting back and doing nothing or being locked in your house because your medical conditions limit your abilities to go out and help. So, why not consider donating, creatively promoting, or fundraising from home for the heroes who are out there fighting to save our lives – for the NHS and other organisations that are helping to keep the planet moving. Feeling like you are doing something for this fight can help you feel less caged/trapped and even less helpless/useless. It’s also a feeling of being a part of something bigger and a part of the community. When so many people are out there fighting for you and you’re sitting back at home – even though staying home saves lives – you can feel pretty out of it, invisible and helpless.
Changes happen throughout your life, some bigger than others… some you struggle to know exactly who you are because it’s such a huge step in your life. No matter how big or small there are always parts of yourself that you can discover, and what better time than during a worldwide lockdown? Finding something new about yourself can bring hope and a feeling of achievement and discovery that is personal to yourself that you can grow with. Finding out a little more about yourself, your surroundings or even the people you are trapped with can bring yourself closer to appreciating and understanding where you are in life.
Tidy and clean
Yikes, I brought it up. But having a tidy room/house/flat, especially at this time is hugely beneficial to not just your mental state. It is a known fact that the state of your room/house is very reflective of your state of mind. It can also work vice versa, if your place is a mess you can lower yourself into that state of mind because it is your state of being. Not only that but keeping your house tidy reduces the chances of spreading and/or catching bugs. This is advice for everyday living, not just when there’s a massive pandemic outbreak. There’s less dust around as well so it will cause less skin conditions, allergies and of course sneezes.
Lastly, I’ve got to make this point – if you end up self-isolating in your room or your house without getting a breath of fresh air, can you say that you would successfully survive both physically and mentally if you have to have your meals in bed on top of a pile of junk? And if you’re feeling claustrophobic or caged just being in your house, what will it feel like if you have to go into your room for 14 days and it’s piled up with junk. This is something I have learnt from my four months self-isolating – keeping your room tidy keeps your mind tidy.
Keep your mind active
We talk a lot about keeping physically active, but we also need to keep our brains and minds active too. You don’t want to walk into quarantine about to discover the cure for cancer to leave having forgotten how to add numbers. There are many ways to keep your brain active and my personal favourite are games. Board games with families and friends are usually the most exciting and energising (if potentially argumentative), games that get you to use strategy are often the best for brain workouts rather than quizzes and games of luck that use only one part of the brain. There are also brain training games and apps that you can download onto your phone where you can do one a day brain training games and it keeps your mind alert and active. One very simple way though to also keep your brain active is by reading. Maybe not your favourite activity but the eye calculation and aligning when reading along with the process of transferring the words into your mind gives your brain a big workout. Hence why people can get easily sleepier when reading than looking at the computer.
Lessen your social media time
When you aren’t able to go out and about, see your friends, socialise, dress up, look alert or feel great sitting on social media scrolling through everyone else’s feed can be morally demeaning. You can feel more isolated, less worthy and if you’ve been slobbing you can get ‘body-image’ paranoia which can lead to something known as social media depression. If you feel you’re beginning to have negative feelings towards yourself whilst on social media or even envy towards other people’s posts I’d advise moving away from scrolling down social media and try calling a friend. Chances are high they’ll pick up; they’ll probably be equally happy to chat.
Find one positive word a day
What better way to shoo away the blues than to find one positive word to describe your day each day of the lockdown. If not a word find a positive situation/scenario or feeling or elaborate from your chosen word. Keep these in a notebook or shared on a clipboard so that you can have a moment each day to see a positive that’s come out of a fairly negative global situation.