Ways to Stay Busy During Isolation & Lockdown

We have been told to stay at home during the Corona Virus (Covid- 19) pandemic so what can we do? How can we spend our time?
This can be quite odd for many as we are used to being able to do whatever we want. It may feel limiting to have our freedom taken away so how can we stay busy while in self isolation?

1) Take the time to enjoy nature

It’s spring and nature is flourishing. With quieter roads and planes grounded the sound of bird song at least appears to have increased. Watch your bird feeder, crack open your window to hear the sounds of nature or grab a pair of binoculars to look further away at any wildlife near your home.. When did you last have time to do this? Even observing a pigeon for 5 minutes can be mindful and unusually enjoyable. Enjoy nature

2) Get your creative juices flowing

Being creative is wonderful for the soul. Whether painting, drawing, crafting, sticking, glueing, sewing or even designing a wall mural by using up emulsions stored in the garage, you can immerse yourself in a new creative challenge. Use left over cereal boxes as a canvas or rubbish to create a collage with kids. Even the simple pencil or a biro, as I used here, can be great to draw a quick (or prolonged) still life. Alternatively use a adult colouring book to open the artist within you.  Be free and experiment. What about this from The Getty Museum. Pull out any arty bits and bobs – pom poms, ribbon & pipe cleaners, fabric & sewing machine, brushes & poster paint, crayons & a colouring book, a pencil & a notebook and get artistic.

3) Turn up the volume and get those feel good endorphins flowing

Pull out your old CDs or vinyl  and sing away. Play albums in their entirety and relish every song. Tim Burgess of The Charlatans claims that you know an album is great when track 1 of side 2 is good. Maybe you can ask Alexa for some ideas of what to play today. Our memories are reactivated when we play a song from our past. Bring back care free days with your favourite teenage band or play the tunes you first went clubbing to and dance your socks off. Close the curtains or use earphones if you insist or have your own personal silent family disco a whirl – now there’s an idea.

4) Get your Mary Berry head on

Get baking or cooking. Fill your home with the smell of freshly baked loaf or Victoria sponge – oooh, yummy! Now is a great time to try new things that you have always wanted to make but never had the time. New bakes and cooking techniques can be explored – have fun and enjoy alone or with others, It is also a great time to turn this into a game at meal times,  Have you always wondered what you should you do with that tin of anchovies? Like the TV show, ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’, plan something different using the remnants of your fridge and store cupboard hideaways. Use the internet for inspiration to find the recipe if you prefer. Eating is already a popular way to use time so eat something delicious and new.

5) Bored… then board games it is

Dig out your cards, jigsaws, Trivial Pursuit, Lego or the chess set. If there was ever a time to play a long winded board game like Monopoly or Risk then now is it. My younger son loves a strategy game and we all sigh when he suggests it. Now we have agreed, much to his excitement. Yes, we are now in full throws of Risk that we actually have the time to play. Lego is a great way to have fun with younger children. Have a Lego face-off, in a set time limit see what you can each make and then enjoy each others creations or vote for a winner – family dynamic permitting. We have had several with the kids already and it’s a real leveller. Jigsaws are surprisingly therapeutic for some. Getting in the zone and looking for different shapes, colours and images can be wonderful immersive and inclusive.

6) Read a classic

Perhaps you have always wanted to read Shakespeare, Orwell or Bronte. Well maybe this is the day to start. Reading some fiction is a great way to escape into a new space, a new world and move away from pressure or worry. Perhaps you have a favourite book that you have always wanted to reread. What better time. The other day, I spoke to a friend who has created a mini book club at home. I love that. By buying several second-hand copies of Animal Farm her family are all reading this well known novel before they take the time to discuss what they thought. I generally prefer non-fiction books, psychology and true crime are my faves and have dug out my childhood book of Winnie the Pooh – maybe not high brow but it brings back many memories. Revisiting the kids old faves from their younger years can be a great way to read and reminisce with them too.

7) Love learning lingo

Since this pandemic began I have started learning Italian. I went to Venice on a bargain trip just before we got married. I would like to go back to some other parts of Italy when this is all over. In the past we have tended to prefer Spain because both of us can speak some Spanish. Visiting another country is so much easier, and fun, if you can speak the native tongue. There are several apps and online platforms to learn a new language of your choice such as Duolingo, Babbel and Memrise. Certain apps have free elements too, Practice is key to learning something new so spending at least 10 minutes each day will help you to embed the language. I tend to immerse myself for half hour blocks and then realise I’ve skipped a couple of days. Its always easiest when I repeat every day. You can also write out vocabulary as you learn it too. Keep your eyes on the prize – that future travel trip.

8) Reap what you sow

Plant, cultivate and grow in your garden, patio or even in a window box. It seems loads of nurseries are suffering at this time. Their bedding plants are going to waste so perhaps contacting your local independent garden centre or grower to arrange a delivery could work. Taking the time to sew seeds or bulbs and care for them and then watch them flourish as the warmer weather arrives is satisfying. At the weekend I  spent half a day clearing all the leaves from under the bushes outside and planting some red hot poker tubas (is that the right name? I am not a gardener at all). It felt very cleansing to clear space and connect with the space. It has never been a better time to enjoy taking care of something and watching it flourish.

9) Get your heart racing

Exercise – anything that gets you going – yoga, zumba, star jumps, press ups or burpees are all ideal indoor options for exercise. While we are able to get out jog, run or cycle even if you have never done it before. If you are lucky enough to have more than one floor then use your staircase to run up and down to create a sweat and get your heart racing. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for a short burst or a hour of aerobics in your living room can both be exhilarating. When added into your life regularly it helps to create a routine. I have decided to do online Yoga every other day – sometimes for 20 mins and others for an hour. I was aiming for first thing in the morning and then realised that with work and home schooling that mid afternoon seems to be more realistic for me. Last night we all had a boogie with a made up game of adding dance moves one after the other and then remembering and repeating. Very funny too. Do what works for you. What exercise makes you feel good and can you adapt it for inside?

10) Get cuddly with your pets

You can have a snuggle with your fluffy or feathered friends. Our Dog, Lottie, has been my saviour. She is a sure fire way to alleviate stress and pent up emotions. When tensions get high a hug with my hound is so gorgeous. She is always so up for human pampering and maybe you have a fabulous feline who will snuggle up on your lap and enjoy a stroke for a while. Of course cuddling your fish isn’t possible but watching him swimming can be so calming and tranquil. Some fish can even be trained to play games or perform tricks and this could be the time to teach your Nemo something new. I am sure whether you own a gerbil, a hen, a rabbit, a fish or even a bearded dragon you can gain from the bond you through positive interactions.

11) Write to your nearest and dearest

Hand written letters are so gratefully received. A4 printer paper, a postcard or a special writing set are all acceptable ways to begin. When we first received emails we bounced with glee – letters were old hat. Now we love it if something other than a circular arrives on our doormat. I hate the array of bills and free leaflets that come through the door. Since the start of the year I have been writing 2 letters each month to friends. I hadn’t sent many Christmas cards as my son and I had what I now believe was Corona Virus for 2 weeks in December. I’m still playing catch up and have had some lovely comments from those who have received them. It feels so nice to slow down, if it a little impatiently strange, and wait for a response from the receiver. I remember writing the first one and having not even sent it had a passing though as to why I had not heard back. I am used to quick back and forth chat via social media. Letter writing is a lost art and I have found it a great way to slow down.