So here we are, all in this together. There are many of us who don’t really know what to do with ourselves when we are at home for long periods of time. For those of us who need to isolate at home, there is no need to fear the potential boredom and isolation. We are so lucky to live in an age where we have the technology to remain connected with one another online and to have access to so many online resources which allow us to actually use this as a time to nourish our body, minds and souls.
First of all, assuming you are in good health, let’s stop and rebrand it as sacred “me” or “us” time. It is a time when we can, and should, prioritise self-care and wellbeing. Let’s be honest with ourselves, most of us have at some point, secretly wished we could stay home for a week or two to have some time to ourselves, so now is your chance to make the most of it. This is a golden opportunity to spend time with yourself and your family. Turn off the TV, unplug your devices and turn on your creativity and imagination. The key to making the most of isolation time is set the tone for a positivity and compassion. Limit your news consumption to the minimum necessary to keep yourself informed, then switch it off. Set a rule, say 10 mins each day and I suggest reading your news rather than watching TV which tends to be very repetitive.
1. READ & LEARN
Many of us have piles of books that we’ve been meaning to get around to reading. It’s also a good time learn things, so if there are subject matters you are interested in, you can be pretty sure there is a book or online tutorial available these days.
2. JOURNAL & WISH MAKING
Get some drawing paper, or a journal, coloured pencils, pretty pens, glue, stickers and start a journal. Spend time expressing all your life wishes. Express them as freely and innocently as children do – without judgement of yourself or reality. This means daydreaming, reflecting, even meditating if you wish. Really speak from the deepest longings in your heart. Literally stop and ask yourself over and over “what are the deepest longings and wishes in my heart?” and see what comes up. Nothing is too silly. No one else will ever read or see them unless you choose to share them so be as adventurous as you can be. You may choose to turn these into action points if you like, in which case, simply ask yourself what are some steps I could take now towards making these a reality? You might try breaking this up over several days and see if more things arise or if your attention returns repeatedly to the same thing – which might be telling you something about your life choices. You can also write down 3 things each day that you are grateful for. It’s your journal, your creativity and art so be as free as you dare.
3. MEANINGFUL CONNECTION & CONVERSATION
Have meaningful conversations and connect with the people you know and love. So often our daily conversations with our nearest and dearest can be quite mundane and skim the surface of things, how often do we go deeper and really get to know each other in a more meaningful way? Do you know the deepest longings of the people you love? Be in the moment in conversation and really listen to each other.
The School Of Life has wonderful conversation card prompts that such as “100 Questions”, “Know Yourself”, “Pillow Talk”, “Emotional First Aid”, “The Confessions Game“, “Am I Normal?” and “What Should I Do With My Life?”. I’ve used some of these and they really helped start fascinating conversations about things I would never have thought of asking. You can use these in your online conversations with people too. They also have hundreds of brilliant short videos on YouTube to get you thinking.
Get your board games and musical instruments out. If you have pets or kids, play with them and their toys. Like a child, be really in the moment and ridiculously playful. I’m sure many of us play half-heartedly with our pets and children most of the time because we are usually too busy and distracted. Switch off the electronics for an hour and just play. Quality play time with your kids and pets will be appreciated and improve your connection with them. Make cubby houses and toys out of discarded objects. Our cats love empty toilet paper rolls, empty boxes, as well as the usual mice on string, and they love it when I’m on my hands and knees being a mouse for them. And you know what? I love how it makes me feel to play! We should experience joy like this more often, it’s excellent for mental health.
5. UPLIFTING FILMS & VIDEOS
Get all the comedies and Pixar films ready to watch. Laugh a lot, be moved and let your imagination free. Swap ideas and suggestions for uplifting things to watch with friends. Try to avoid dark films and TV series if you know they pull your mood down. This is a time to select what you are watching carefully for your sense of wellbeing.
Suggested Online Videos:
6. UPLIFTING MUSIC
This is a great time to get into “High Fidelity” mode (as in the book/film) and create your own awesome playlists. There is nothing better than creating your own lists of handpicked songs. So here are a couple exercise you could do:
- Create your own Desert Island Discs selection. Select 5-10 of the most meaningful songs of your life and on a piece of paper or journal or your blog, explain why you have chosen these songs and the meaning they have for you. Why not share it with your friends? Here is the official BBC website for the official archive of Desert Island Discs.
- Create a playlist of songs guaranteed to cheer you up. This is the kind of playlist you can play anytime when you need immediate uplifting or to help you do boring things like household chores or perhaps when you want to party. For me it’s usually 80s music, but make a list that you can go whenever you need it.
- Listen with all your senses. When was the last time you just lay there listening to a song without distraction, just lying on the floor, with your eyes shut, feeling the music throughout your whole body, listening to all the sounds and lyrics and letting it transport you? It magical, try it. Spend 30 minutes really really listening to a playlist or album.
7. MOVE YOUR BODY
Dance, do yoga, pilates, whatever is your thing. On YouTube you will find videos to follow for pretty much everything, whether it’s dance choreography, yoga, stretching, fitness, it’s all there. It’s important to move your body and get the oxygen flowing even just 30 minutes a day.
8. SPRING CLEAN
Use the opportunity to go through your things, tidy up and clear things out. You can sell things on eBay and prepare items to give to charity. Get rid of all the things you don’t need. If you are worried about your finances, you will be surprised how much you could make by selling unwanted items on eBay. You can sell almost everything, your trash is someone else’s treasure as they say. Big tip: Take lots of photos in good natural light (near windows) for your listing and write a detailed description, including why you are selling it. People tend to bid on listings that people have put a bit of effort into.
9. SILENT RETREAT & MEDITATION
If you’ve ever thought it would be nice to go to a meditation or silent retreat, now is a perfect opportunity to have your own one at home. Set aside a full day, more if you’re brave and spend it completely unplugged, in silence. Some silent retreats are very strict and don’t allow reading or writing or any forms of entertainment and distraction, it’s about just being alone with your thoughts, but decide for yourself what works best. See if you can just be in the moment, observe your monkey mind thoughts, sit in silence. Even an hour of doing nothing but staring at the ceiling or our the window counts. If you prefer to just meditate, try the Calm or Headspace apps on your phone to help get your started.
10. DIY, GARDENING & LIFE ADMIN
Sort out all the stuff you’ve been meaning to fix, plant, prune, organise. These tasks are incredibly grounding and help increase your sense of wellbeing because you can feel good about having done constructive things to improve your home.
11. ACT OF KINDNESS
This is a time when we need acts of kindness and compassion more than ever. All of us feel the comfort, reassurance and simply magic when others reach out to us with kindness and the world really needs more love like this. This really is a time when we need to think more like a community and not lone individuals. There are so many things you could do, here are just a few suggestions to get you thinking:
- Help the elderly, vulnerable or neighbours in need with shopping or errands;
- Send a private message of appreciation to someone who has moved you in some way – it could be an author whose book you enjoyed, a person who organised an event you really enjoyed, a company whose customer service you really appreciated, your mum for cooking you dinner, whatever it is – everybody appreciates being appreciated and a single, small compliment can totally transform someone’s day.
- Think of ways you can offer your talents, skills and time for a good cause once life returns back a bit of normality. Many of us talk about wanting to do volunteer or charity work but never do anything about looking into it. You have the time to research it now. It could be a regular thing or even just a one off project or donation. There might be charities who need help so look up causes that you are interested in and see if you can help in some way. If there is no such charity, you could also just volunteer some time for a project or regular help with something you know they might need. Or start your own little revolution. For example, a web designer can help create a professional website for a charity or cause, or you could just pick up rubbish you find in your neighbourhood.
12. WRITE LETTERS
Write handwritten letters to friends or loved ones who you’ve not had a chance to catch up with for a while. Perhaps they live on the other side of the world, perhaps in the next street. This is such a lovely way to connect with others and even if you can’t post it for a while, it doesn’t matter, the magic is that you sat down and dedicated time to create a heart felt and thoughtful message in a way we cannot do on social media.
This is, of course, a limited list of things you could be doing in a time of isolation, it doesn’t really matter what you do but prioritise things that uplift you, make you feel good and are ultimately kind and compassionate in some way. Let’s look after ourselves and each other.