Now that we’ve been in isolation for over a month it’s become ‘the new normal’, although the way many of us are feeling, is anything but. Some days, we feel fine, even positive, while other days we find ourselves overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted. Each and every one of us is likely to experience a rollercoaster of emotions during this extraordinary time, yet there are many things we can do ourselves to carve some normality into our day-to-day. We’ve created a list of 10 ideas to improve your wellbeing and incorporate into your quarantine routine.
Start your day with a moment of gratitude. Although it might feel like there is little to be thankful for during this time, there is always something. Getting into this habit will also train your brain to naturally look for the positives. This doesn’t have to be a big or time consuming gesture, it can be as simple as mentally thinking of one thing you are thankful for, the moment you wake up from the comfort of your bed. If this doesn’t work for you, physically writing a list of 3 things that make you smile, can take under a minute. This morning, I listed Jasmine tea, my garden and my cat!
A moment of stillness
If you are able, start your day with a moment of quiet. Instead of automatically reaching for your phone and scrolling through emails or social media platforms without thought (like many of us do), take a moment to yourself instead. This could be simply sitting quietly for a few moments before you start your day, perhaps with a cup of tea. Or it could involve using one of many free guided meditations apps such as insight timer if silence feels challenging. As little as 5 minutes of quiet each morning is enough to have a calming impact on the rest of your day.
Research shows that music can be a pretty powerful tool in helping to significantly boost your mood, reduce stress levels and improve overall wellbeing. Naturally, different frames of mind require different styles of music, so it’s important to tune into the right tunes for your mood. With this in mind, we’ve created a calming playlist over on Spotify to pair with a moment of peace in your day.
In today’s fast paced world, it’s not unusual to find ourselves rushing through a magazine article, a book or a newspaper, to get to the end. But why, what is the rush? We are so used to what feels like an endless supply of information that our overstimulated brains try to absorb as much as possible. Slow reading is a conscious act against information overload, which can help to cut stress and improve understanding of what you are reading. Not all text is worthy of slow reading, but when reading for pleasure, consciously try to slow down and really absorb the words, it will make for a calming and more enjoyable experience. And if your friends enjoy reading, why not start a virtual book club?
Like with reading, our meals are another thing we often speed through, and often carelessly or whilst partaking in another activity such as watching television and not really concentrating on our food. Given the opportunity to slow down, why not try a mindful meal. Take pleasure in each part of the process, first taking a moment to look at your meal before doing anything else, thinking about the journey each ingredient has been on and how it has come to arrive on your plate. Then whilst eating, maintain an in the moment awareness of the different sensations of taste, observing how you feel and when you feel full.
A new hobby
Some of us may find that while I quarantine, we have more time on our hands and may feel at a loose end wondering what to do with it. Having excess time is something we may have cherished prior to this moment, so why not use our time to get creative. Try out a new hobby, such as colouring (it’s not just for children), painting or learning a new language. Duolingo is a fun and free app that’s helping me to learn Spanish.
If you’re someone who is working from home, and haven’t done so previously, it can take a while to establish a routine. You may be worried about making sure you work as hard as you would if you were in an office, but it’s also easy to slip into the habit of being online more often than you need to be as well. Try to stick to your set working hours, and have a dedicated work space if possible, away from where you relax. Most importantly, take lots of tea (or coffee) breaks and don’t rush them, savour the moment. It’s important if you spend a lot of time at a screen, to give both your eyes and your brain a welcome rest. Little breaks taken regularly are also likely to increase your levels of productivity.
In the first week of quarantine, I seem to remember my phone telling me that my screen time had increased by a terrifying percentage compared to the previous week. I was obsessed with reading the news and like many others, constantly checking for updates and asking others what they’d read. It was unhealthy, but probably not uncommon. Now I try to spend at least some part of the day phone free, whether that’s first thing in the morning, while enjoying my lunch in the garden or the hour before I go to bed. It may seem unnatural at first but I can promise your brain will be grateful.
Those of us who are in self-isolation who wear a fitbit or other step-tracking device, may have noticed a continuous reminder to get moving. It’s likely that many of us are taking far fewer steps than we’re used to, so it is a good idea to get some sort of movement into your day. It doesn’t have to be strict, at a set time of day or for a certain duration and if you’re not feeling motivated there are loads of free lessons online; try anything from PE with Joe Wicks to Oti Mabuse’s dance lessons.
Write a bucket list
As none of us are able to travel at the moment, the idea of a holiday might feel somewhat far fetched, but our time in quarantine will not last forever. And it is important to think about the future, however distant it might feel, with positivity and hopeful plans. Writing a bucket list of things to do once this is over is a healthy way to get excited for what the future holds. My bucket list has increased tenfold since the beginning of lock-down, with new additions including Portland, The Amalfi Coast and Japan’s Nagano prefecture. For further inspiration check out our recently written featuring our top 10 European bucket list destinations.