I wanted to start this post by saying that I hope you are safe and keeping well. I also wanted to add a disclaimer that this content might not be applicable to everyone. Although we are all united in unease, our work and home situations are vastly different so these self isolation activities won’t work for everyone.
For some, finding activities to “keep busy” at this time might seem ludicrous if you are a critical worker doing long shifts. I doubt critical workers have the time to read this anyways, so for those people, I hope they are staying safe and resting when possible.
Then there is the category of people who are working from home. Some people are extremely busy, and may also be trying to juggle child care, home school, or other caring and volunteering responsibilities. Again, they don’t need to “keep busy”. However, some of these tips might help keep your kids entertained, or help you de-stress.
There are those of us who are working from home, but at present have little work to do, and those who are unable to work. If you lost your job or are struggling financially due to the pandemic, I’m so sorry.
Finally, from a cursory glance at social media, there are many who are so overwhelmed with anxiety that they aren’t able to do much at all. Tasks such as getting dressed, sleeping, and remembering to eat may be too much. If “keeping busy” isn’t your coping mechanism, that’s okay! But, as someone who suffered from depression for a long time, I find that creating a routine for yourself, however basic, can be helpful.
All that said, here are the things I’m doing to keep busy, and I hope they give you inspiration if you’re getting cabin fever, or your kids are restless.
Keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues
I try to email/message a few people each day just to make sure they’re okay. Now is the perfect time to have those video coffee dates with friends! Kids can also have virtual play dates.
As is hopefully obvious from my blog, I do a fair amount of baking. But, baking ingredients are hard to come by with the food shortages and restricted shopping. Still, you can get creative with substitutions if you’re missing ingredients like eggs or sugar. Next week’s post will have some Easter baking suggestions, and you can search on my blog for more ideas.
Organising and Cleaning
I took the time to organise all my music files, sort emails etc. for GDPR compliance for work, and organised all our house files. I’ve also been keeping on top of the cleaning. With your kids, you could sort through toys and clothes together, or get them to help with the cleaning and spring clear out tasks.
I’ve been doing a fair amount of knitting. Some craft supplies can be ordered online, but ideally you use what you already have. Maybe it’s that adult colouring book that has been sitting neglected on the bookshelf, or that box of watercolour paints that you haven’t touched in years. There are lots of crafts to keep you or your kids busy!
If you are privileged enough to have a garden or patio, then gardening can be very therapeutic. Most garden centres in the UK are closed, but some are still doing online deliveries. I’ve been keeping myself busy with starting a vegetable garden, and growing seedlings indoors. I also have quite a few houseplants to look after! Stocks of compost and seeds are low in the UK because people are stockpiling, so if you’re thinking about getting some supplies, best to order sooner rather than later!
Keep a Diary
A friend who studied the history of medicine with me, and who is now an ER doctor, suggested that people keep a diary during this time as they will be valuable historical sources in years to come. I’ve been keeping a diary with brief summaries of the day as I don’t want to dwell too much with emotive writing, but these types of records are always useful to look back on. If your kids are older, you could incorporate current events journaling (keep it light) or gratitude journaling into their day.
This could be the giant stack of books sitting on your shelf, audio books, or listening to people read stories aloud (check out Instagram live/stories). Many public libraries offer audio books, there are Kindle downloads, and University access to journal articles and E-Books are an option. For kids, try reading aloud to them as an evening activity. Last week I wrote about my Ten Memorable Novels, and you can find other reading suggestions by searching “books” on my blog.
TV and Gaming
For over a decade I’ve had a strict no gaming policy with myself as I spent far too much of my childhood playing computer games. But you know what, I’m playing Pharaoh. Screw it.
YouTube is a great resource for yourself and kids (supervised) for all sorts of interesting content. I’ve also been watching old films. If you’re looking for pure trashy entertainment and have Netflix, then I highly recommend The Tiger King, and also Love is Blind.
This will depend on your situation. Maybe you aren’t able to leave your home, in which case online videos for yoga or fitness routines (or the classic kitchen dance party) will help keep you fit. Jillian Michaels is doing Instagram workouts and Yoga with Adriene and Pop Sugar workouts are popular on YouTube. In the UK, we are permitted to leave once a day for exercise, with social distancing. Lucy and I are fortunate that we live in a semi-rural village so we are able to do field walks. For kids, I suggest home scavenger hunts or obstacle courses, and they can join in with the yoga/workouts.
Avoid the news
Finally, my best piece of advice is stay informed, but don’t spend all day staring at your newsfeed/ listening to the radio or podcasts. A colleague recently made the analogy of feeling overwhelmed being like swimming in the sea. You can deal with small and predictable waves of anxiety. When the waves are crashing over you, it’s hard to breath, stay afloat, and keep the shore in sight. Managing how you receive and process stressful news can help you. I check the news twice a day, ideally not before bed, otherwise it’s another sleepless night.
Stay positive, stay safe! Feel free to add your suggestions for keeping busy in the comments.