This article was inspired to help the increasingly large number of people who find themselves confined to their homes due to the Coronavirus pandemic that is currently sweeping the world.
It’s not about the virus itself, or me telling you to wash your hands or cough into your elbow. You’re a grown-up, I reckon you’ve figured that much out by now!
It’s about how you can make the best of the situation if you’re confined to your quarters, whether out of choice or necessity, as the authorities announce increasingly more restrictive measures to help minimise the spread & impact of Coronavirus.
Self-Isolation Is Not A Punishment, It’s An Opportunity
Self-Isolation is a term that could be misleading… for example, it might conjure images of being locked up in a high-security prison 😨
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to feel like a prison sentence.
I have spent the majority of the last year working from home full-time (largely on my own). There have been periods of days, and weeks, where I have barely left the house (thankfully out of choice, not necessity – except when I broke my foot!). So I have a lot of experience of what it’s like to be surrounded by the same four walls every day!
With this experience, I offer some suggestions & ideas which I hope might inspire you to see the opportunities and make the best of the situation.
My hope is that by sharing ideas we can get through these challenging times together and can all learn and grow in the process. So that we will not just survive, but ultimately we will thrive.
Here are my suggestions for you. Take the ones you like and leave the rest!
Looking after your mental, physical and emotional well-being is important, now more than ever.
1. Find new ways to keep in contact with people
If you’ve been watching the news you’ll be aware of the term Social Distancing. Now, while I won’t argue with the intention behind this phrase, I will challenge the wording.
Social Distancing doesn’t mean you have to stop talking to or engaging with people, it just means not getting in close physical proximity with them.
Unless you are a hermit by choice (which is fine by the way), you may go crazy if you stop talking to people altogether! Trust me, it’s not good for your mental health…
To illustrate how we can get around this, I had an entertaining & lively chat with my friend Simon this morning. I was in at home in England and he was at home in Australia and we connected using a web-based online video-conferencing tool called Zoom. We were physically distanced, but we weren’t socially distanced.
And the only virus either one of us could have exposed the other to was a computer virus!
But people don’t have to be on the other side of the world for you to connect with them online – they could be in the same country, next door, or even upstairs! So why not utilise tools & technologies that are widely available to connect with friends and check-in on loved ones?
The following applications are all free to download, have both phone & video capabilities and work on any device (computer, tablet or smartphone):
… to name but a few.
Zoom, Webex or Skype may feel like they targeted at businesses, but don’t let that put you off – they are free for personal use.
A friend of mine created this video to teach you how to set up Zoom on your computer so you can connect with loved ones through video chat.
And with any of these applications, you can talk as long as you like for free* and have multiple people together on a group call – so you can get all the family together in one place and catch up on everyone’s news at the same time!
*Note that Zoom has a limit of 40 minutes on the free plan if there are more than 2 participants on the call. I’m not aware of any limits on group calls with the others.
2. Do something nice for yourself
Go on, pamper yourself! Why not do something you enjoy but don’t normally get the time to do, like…
- Read a book
- Have a long soak in the bath
- Do some baking
- Potter in the garden
- Go for a walk in the fresh air (maintaining a safe distance between you and other people of course) – as far as I’m aware this hasn’t been banned!
You might as well make the most of the time to relax while you can.
3. Enjoy some quiet time
If you normally live a busy hectic life, give yourself the gift of some quiet alone-time without the distractions of the news or social media or messages.
Turn the TV & radio off, put your phone on silent & set it down somewhere out of reach, find a comfy chair somewhere quiet and just sit in silence for a while. Enjoy the opportunity to be with yourself and your thoughts.
You might like to meditate if you’re into that.
I find it’s a great way to relax by slowing down my mind. I often use this technique to find out what’s on my mind or work out what’s bothering me.
You’ll be amazed at what comes up… this is usually when I get my most creative and inspired ideas!
Although more often than not, it just helps me remember things I need to add to the shopping list…
If you struggle to sit alone in silence, you might like to try focusing on your breathing.
Update: I took some of my own advice and had Digital Detox for a day, and I felt amazing afterwards. Watch my video to find out what a Digital Detox is and how it can help you recharge, re-energise and re-focus on what’s important to you.
4. Keep calm
One of the ways you can keep calm is by practising mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing all your attention and awareness on the present moment: on your thoughts, feelings, emotions, senses and surrounding environment at that moment, in a gentle, nurturing way.
By placing our focus on the present moment, we can accept that at this moment, we are safe and we have no need to worry right now. (I already have 5 rolls of toilet paper, and normally that lasts me a couple of months! So right now, at this moment, I have enough toilet paper. Phew!)
I first learned about mindfulness meditation with a chap called Jon Kabat-Zinn on YouTube, maybe you could start with him? If you’re interested in learning more about where it comes from, here is an article which defines mindfulness and includes a video of Jon Kabat-Zinn giving an introduction to what mindfulness is.
Or there are loads of other mindfulness resources and guided meditations on YouTube, go take a look and see what you feel comfortable with.
5. Keep a healthy & clear mind
Keeping a healthy and clear mind will also help you in this fight against the spread of Coronavirus.
Firstly, by helping you remain calm when all around you are going crazy (I mean, toilet paper, really?!) by reducing anxiety, enabling you to think clearly and rationally.
And secondly, a healthy mind helps nourish our immune system, which can help us fight the virus if we do catch it.
Perhaps right now you are feeling anxious that, for example, you or a loved one will contract Coronavirus, or worried about spending an indefinite amount of time cooped up in your house with your partner or your kids, or anxious about losing your job. (Or anxious that you might run out of toilet paper!) There are a million things we could be worrying about, and worrying can easily leave us feeling scared or overwhelmed or cause us to panic.
Anxiety is caused by fear of the unknown or fear of a possible negative future outcome.
In reality, the chances of everything we fear coming true – in the worst possible way we can imagine – are infinitesimally small, but that doesn’t stop our minds going crazy at times like this and behaving irrationally. Particularly when the news and social media constantly feed our minds with endless doom and gloom.
So if the news is freaking you out, turn it off! There’s an overload of information available right now, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. The news is changing by the minute as new research becomes available and advice & guidance is updated. By reducing the volume of information you are putting into your mind, and you will be able to think more clearly for yourself.
The less anxious and the more centred we are, the easier it is to filter out the facts from the hysteria in the news and make informed, objective and rational decisions.
Make Good Use Of Your Time
You may find you suddenly have more time to kill than you’re used to. What a gift! After all, how often to do we hear ourselves saying “I wish had the time to…”. Well now you’ve got it!
So once you’re bored of kicking back on the sofa and watching endless re-runs of Friends on the telly (which will happen eventually, trust me!), why not make use of that extra time you have been gifted?
1. Dust off your To-Do list
How about you dig out your To-Do list and knock a couple of things off that? You know, the things you’ve been meaning to get around to for ages but just never quite found the time. Especially those odd jobs around the house.
- De-clutter your desk
- Clean up your inbox
- Sew that button back on
- Get up to date on your admin & filing
- Sort through your old clothes and bag up the ones you no longer wear ready to take to the charity shop…
You get the idea.
Just doing one or two of these jobs will make you feel good because you’ve achieved something that’s been on your mind for ages.
You’ll feel like your time at home has been productive.
2. Learn new skills
Pattern interrupts which disrupt our normal routine are a fertile breeding ground for inspiration.
For example, in 1665 Cambridge University closed down to protect itself against an outbreak of bubonic plague. One of its students, a certain Isaac Newton, was forced to return home … and as he was sitting in the garden he saw an apple fall from the tree.
That was the moment of inspiration that led him to formulate his theories on the law of gravity.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying bubonic plague was a good thing! But during his two years at home, Isaac Newton also developed his theories on calculus and optics, as well as the law of gravity. He used his time to good effect.
You may not discover a ground-breaking new theory, but why not spend some time developing new or existing skills?
You can find videos, tutorials, guides and courses on pretty much anything on YouTube or Google these days. So do a search and see what you can learn that may be of value or interest to you.
(If it’s how to start your own online business around your passions and live a life of freedom that interests you, then I can recommend a step-by-step training program that’ll knock your socks off…click here to find out more. Please note that I am biased because I get a commission for anyone who signs up through me. Nevertheless, I can vouch for it as it’s the same one I use and it’s provided by the best online training company I’ve ever come across! Seriously. Hands down.)
3. Get creative
Why not find creative approaches to solving challenges this outbreak presents… like a friend of mine in the Netherlands who posted this on Facebook:
“We just got notified that we’re not allowed to visit my mom in the nursery home anymore… Lock down… She’s 97 and doesn’t understand [any] of what’s going on. She’s too deaf to talk on the phone, there’s no way we can reach her. Because we so much wish to cheer her up a bit, we decided to send her a funny post card every day from now on. Just to get her to smile every day. We’ll keep doing that until we’re allowed back in. Idea for you as well? ❤️”
If we put a little thought into it, we can often find innovative solutions to our challenges!
Be Compassionate & Understanding
1. Be empathetic
If we spend too long in our own heads, worrying about ourselves, we can often find ourselves getting into a downward negative spiral of increasing doom and gloom.
To counter that, ask yourself “Where can I be more empathetic and help others?” By being empathetic to others, we stop looking inward and stop focusing only on ourselves.
For example, let’s consider for a moment the people who have already lost their lives to this virus. Spare a thought for them, and their loved ones. Especially when it’s becoming increasingly difficult to hold a proper funeral service right now.
Does your life seem quite so bad now?
2. Show compassion
We don’t know who is, or is close to someone who is, at risk from Coronavirus. It’s not just the people over the age of 70 – many people are walking around with underlying health conditions we are not aware of. So let’s not judge others or make assumptions about how they’re feeling.
And let’s be mindful that contracting Coronavirus may not feel like a big risk if you’re young or otherwise healthy. However, our vulnerable citizens are relying on the healthy people, like me and (hopefully) you, to do our bit to minimise the spread.
So let’s show compassion for how other people may be feeling at this time, and what they are going through.
Maybe you could pick up the phone or send a message to someone you know who might be feeling anxious or lonely or vulnerable right now. Check on them, and just see how they’re doing.
3. Maintain A Sense Of Perspective
Over the last two weeks, I have watched my social calendar slowly empty as one-by-one engagements have been cancelled. However, missing out on a trip to the cinema or having to cancel a gathering of friends at a pub is hardly life-altering. (I’ve already arranged an online meet-up instead with the pub crowd.)
And my disappointment seems trivial when people have had to cancel, or indefinitely postpone, events that have been in the planning for years – like weddings and holidays-of-a-lifetime. And then I think about those who are at risk of losing their jobs. Or who are sitting by feeling helpless as they watch their businesses slowly go under.
And then I think about the keyworkers who are working hard to keep essential services running. And the health professionals who are putting their own health on the line to look after the sick people in the hospital. And then I think about those who are fighting for their lives right now.
There’s always someone else worse off than you!
So let’s maintain some perspective here, and retain some flexibility as the situation evolves.
Thinking like a victim helps nobody.
And remember that the disruption to our life is only temporary. It may not pass without pain or suffering, but it will pass. We will get through this, and so let’s do what we can to come out the other side stronger than ever before.
Look for ways to help others
This is a real opportunity for us to pull together and get through this together.
And the bonus? The best antidote to anxiety is to help others that are less fortunate than ourselves.
1. In your local community
If you’re not required to self-isolate, then maybe there are elderly or disabled people in your neighbourhood who aren’t able to get out. Can you go to the Pharmacy for them and pick up their prescription? Or offer to mow their lawn, put their bins out, walk the dog, bring them a newspaper…?
An enterprising lecturer from Cornwall called Becky Vass has created a downloadable printable postcard to drop to your elderly neighbours asking if there’s anything they need help with. You can download the printable PDF by clicking on the image below:
If you’re in the UK for example, take a look at Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK to see if there’s a volunteer group established in your local community.
And if there isn’t a group in your local area already, why not start one yourself?
2. Donate to charities or organisations
Examples of organisations that have specific Coronavirus relief funds are:
- World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund
- GlobalGiving’s US-based Worldwide Coronavirus Relief Fund
And other organisations that are supporting the young, vulnerable and needy are:
Please note these are just a handful of charities to get you thinking, but please do your own research to find charities that you feel best serve your desire to help.
3. Give Blood
The UK NHS’s Give Blood Service is encouraging blood donors to keep their appointments as patients in hospitals “are still relying on your life-saving donations.”
I’m sure you can come up with many more ideas of your own too – please share them in the Comments section below so others can benefit as well.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope I have inspired you to look for opportunities to help yourself and be compassionate to others, as we patiently wait for this pandemic to run its course.
There is a real opportunity for us to all work together to get through this. After all, we are stronger together.
Stay safe, and look after yourself & your loved ones,