Are you in social isolation? Maybe in your area you’re just social distancing. Or maybe you’re stuck in lockdown in Spain like some friends of ours.
You’ve got loads more time on your hands because you’re not out socialising nor are you spending time on the dreaded commute.
But you feel restless, purposeless. You wanted more free time but somehow not like this.
You don’t want to just watch endless TV. It’s fun for a while and then it gets boring. And the news everywhere is just dire – if you’re like me, you’ve stopped watching it.
How can you feel better? What are you going to do with yourself during these days of social isolation?
Never fear. Here is a list of 41 big and small projects to bring you purpose, joy and fun in this difficult time of social isolation. Have a go at some of them.
Rally Round your Friends and Family
1 Contact your friends and family, one by one, either on the phone, email or on social media, to find out how they are and how they’re coping. Make it a personal message and really listen to how they are. You don’t want them to feel socially isolated.
2 Write letters and post them if you can. Otherwise, save them up to post after you’re out of quarantine.
3 Volunteer to talk to neighbours and the more socially isolated in your community. You don’t have to go out. You can do it by phone, skype, whatsapp or facebook. It might turn into a lifeline for somebody vulnerable. Isn’t one in your area – why not start one?
Foody Things To Delight Your Taste Buds and Keep You Healthy
4 Learn more about nutrition so that you can strengthen your immune system. It will stand you in good stead whenever you’re ill and is even more important in these virus-ridden times.
5 Stock up on vegetables and fruits that last for a long time to help you with the logistics of shopping whilst you’re in isolation.
6 Look up lots of new recipes and do more cooking. If you cook in batches and freeze extra portions, it will make life easier as well as being fun. How about learning to make sourdough? I’ve been making chutney. I’ve just made a batch of sauerkraut too – fermented foods are really good for your immune system.
Fun Making Your Own Drinks
7 What about stocking up with some wine and doing some wine tasting? You could start a wine diary so that you can remember which ones you like (rather than just going by price). Do a bit of swotting up about the different grapes and tastes. Don’t forget that a glass of red wine is heart-healthy. (And don’t forget that excessive amounts aren’t healthy at all!)
8 You could try making your own wine – some country wines are delicious. Another possibility is to make your own beer. It doesn’t take all that long: it’s ready in about a month. Try looking online for kits to start you off.
9 Another great idea is to learn how to make cocktails. It could be a lot of fun.
One intensive care doctor has suggested making Quarantinis: It’s a martini that you drink alone in your house!!
Let’s drink to the Doctors!!
Reorganise your House
10 Try reorganising your house, or the garage or your shed or the spare room which has turned into a junk room. Do a Mari Kondo – she promises joy when you tidy up! Or maybe just sort through the junk in your own sweet way. It will make you feel wonderfully light at heart.
11 Found a few treasures during your house makeover that you don’t really want any more? How about trying to sell them online? Put them on e-bay or does your area have a Facebook page for such things? You might make a bit of money.
12 Sort out all your photos. If you’ve got boxes of them, put them into scrapbooks or photo albums. If you’ve got digital ones, sort them out into subject files and throw away all the duplicates, the blurred photos and the photos of your fingers, feet or the inside of your pocket. Have a great time reminiscing. Send good ones to your friends to remind them of good times.
13 Do all the housekeeping you never get round to on your computer. It will free up space and make your computer faster.
- Emails: Set up a filing system for emails you need or want to keep. Ditch all the rubbishy ones.
- Documents: Go through old files and bin the ones that are obsolete.
- If you don’t have one, install an app that cleans ups your computer. I use Clean My Mac. It frees up memory and makes the machine run faster.
Makeover Your Wardrobe
14 Don’t want to tackle the house? Reorganise your wardrobe. Put the old things in good condition on one side for thrift shops when you can get back out again. Chuck out the socks with holes in the heels or toes.
15 When you’ve done your clean out, see if there is fabric that you could repurpose into a quilt and take up quilting. You could end up with a beautiful heirloom. Here’s everything you need to know about getting started.
A Makeover For You is Such Fun
16 Make a face mask and treat yourself to a home spa day to use it. My granddaughter is going for a manicure/pedicure makeover with sparkly polish. Try making a face mask to slather on so that you feel wonderfully soft and fragrant. Here’s a link to some amazing recipes: Best saffron face masks.
If you want something really quick and easy, try coffee grounds or bicarbonate of soda mixed in with honey. Messy but fun and great results.
Growing Things To Help You Grow Too
17 Order some seeds on-line together with a seed tray and a bag of compost. Nicki will tell you how to get going. Try growing your own food. It could be herbs such as basil, mint, sage or thyme, onions or garlic, lettuce or chives. If you’re more ambitious, try tomato plants – how about growing purple tomatoes in a gro-bag? Peppers or cucumbers are possible too, even in a small flat. So much better to eat such things fresh, tastier too.
18 Get out into your garden if you’ve got one. It’s good exercise out in the fresh air and if you can make a start on the weeding and planting, you might have a wonderful display of flowers in the summer. It may even be time to mow the lawn.
The Luxury of Time to Read Those Books You Always Wanted to Read
19 Social isolation is the perfect time to read: quiet and peaceful. You’ve got that ever-growing list of books you want to read. So get them out and start reading. Can’t get to the library? Try downloading free books to a kindle app. You can find free classics on Gutenberg.org. Loads of authors do a freebie on one book to attract you to buy more of their stuff. Type ‘free kindle books’ into your local Amazon and it will give you a very long list. You can even choose them by genre! I’ve discovered lots of great authors this way.
Fulfil Your Writing Dreams – Social Isolation Gives You Time
20 Start by writing a journal of what you did in social isolation. Then you can look back at it as a difficult time you made into one of the best times of your life.
21 Want to make your journal beautiful? Try a visual journal. Here’s a link to some great ideas from my friend Cathy, who’s a visual whizz and tells you exactly how to begin to keep a journal and fill it with lovely pictures. Here’s a great article from her blog. It’s for both artists and people just beginning!
22 You always knew you had a novel or a play in you. Maybe it’s a screenplay. Even a poem. Whatever! Now is the time to get the outline done and start writing. Get stuck in and you’ll be wishing that the social isolation goes on longer so that you can finish it all off! No excuses right now.
Challenge Your Brain For Lots Of Fun – Even in Social Isolation
23 Do you pick away at typing with one finger? Download a programme and learn to touch type. It makes writing messages SO much quicker and it’s a great exercise for your brain too.
24 Learn a language: it’s fun learning online. Try busuu.com or duolingo or lingQ. They all have free programmes you can use and if you’re really keen you can sign up for their more sophisticated programmes too. Busuu offers the bonus of connecting you up with foreign friends and you even get to speak to people. (I’m learning Portuguese on practiceportuguese.com.)
25 How about learning to juggle? So frustrating and so satisfying! You just need 3 tennis balls or similar. Even balls of wool would be a good start for a lot of fun.
26 Improve your memory. Working on your memory stops you being labelled as past it because you can’t remember things. You build up cognitive reserves to draw on should you ever develop dementia or Alzheimers.
Take a look at my friend Anthony’s website, Magnetic Memory Method. He runs a free taster course you could easily fit in during social isolation. It might make all the difference to you in the long term.
Write your business plan for a new side-hustle
27 The crisis has made you see that it’s a really good idea to have a side hustle. So write a business plan for that business you’ve been dreaming of starting up. Write down all your ideas, pick the best and plan it out in a business plan. Social isolation is the perfect time! Get your pencil out or rev up your computer and go for it.
28 How about building a website? Here’s a guide from WP Beginner that shows you exactly how to do it. A website side hustle brings you into contact with many new people, dispelling your social isolation.
Exercising In Social Isolation is a Whole New Game
29 Make sure you exercise. If you can, go out for walks. If you’re literally stuck at home, watch a get fit TV programme or download a get fit course to give you ideas. Put on some great music and just dance. What about learning to belly dance? Do yoga. At the very least you can walk on the spot whilst you watch TV!
30 Learn to stand on your head. Last year I did it as a 30 day challenge. I practised a little bit each day. and eventually I could really do it without touching the wall and with my legs straight up.
(Give this one a miss if you have high blood pressure or glaucoma or other medical conditions that make it inadvisable.)
31 If you can’t go outside, go on virtual walks. Plot a route on google maps – say to walk to see some family or one of the world’s classic hikes. Clock up your steps and miles on a pedometer. (You’ve probably already got one on your phone. If not download one.) Then plot the distance along your route and mark it on the map. Here’s an app that lets you do that: Virtual Walk App. Learn about the places that you get to each day.
Time to get the Creative Juices Flowing
32 Do this artistic challenge. Sign up and, each day for the 30 days in April, you get an email and have to submit a little work of art. It’s about stimulating your artistic juices.
33 Does that challenge sound too hard? Try creating a work of art out of all the extra toilet rolls you’ve bought. You’re not a hoarder – good for you! Well, you could try drawing or painting. Can you capture that beautiful view from your window? Or maybe recreate a photo by painting it. You’ll learn lots and it’s very satisfying to see your creation. Here’s my creative offering!
PLEASE DON’T HOARD TOILET PAPER (or anything else)
34 Learn origami. Here’s a site that shows you how to make easy things from paper. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can move on up. At the very least, you could learn how to fold red paper napkins so that they look special for holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving.
35 Take up woodwork. If you think that’s too much of a big project, then try whittling. It’s what sailors used to do to while away their time when they were off duty. All you need is a piece of wood, a stick would do, and a sharp knife. That Swiss Army penknife you love might finally come in handy. Whittling is really relaxing and therapeutic, but highly satisfying as a hobby. Here’s a link to tell you how to begin.
36 Order some wool over the internet with some needles and learn to knit: here’s a link to a knitting lesson or you can search on Youtube for a lesson. There are loads!
That’s me doing my knitting!
Become a Music Buff
37 Do like the Italians are doing in their lockdown and sing! Sing at the top of your voice. It’s fun. It’s good for your lungs and did you know that it can help you stop snoring because it strengthens the muscles at the back of your throat. Sing your favourite pop songs.
Belt out the nursery rhymes you learned as a child or folk songs. Try and learn a Schubert song. I’d love to be able to sing one of Strauss’ 4 Last Songs but they are SO hard. Or maybe the Queen of the Night’s song from the Magic Flute.
38 Try listening to different kinds of music. Good for your brain to get your head around new things. Plus, you just might like Icelandic folk songs (we have a friend who is an expert on them!). How about romantic Bollywood songs? What about this one. I’ve been listening to my granddaughter’s favourite Ed Sheeran all afternoon and love his songs and I’ve just discovered the incredible Dimash!
39 If you’ve got a guitar, a violin, a clarinet or a trumpet or any musical instrument tucked away somewhere, now’s the time to pull it out and learn how to play. The didgeridoo counts if you’ve got one.
Relieve the Viral Stress of Social Isolation with Mindfulness or Meditation
40 Practise mindfulness so that you really appreciate all the things that you are able to do whilst you are in your social distancing phase. Appreciate your friends, your food, your own body, your sense of taste, your food, your home, nature as you look out of the window – anything that you come across.
It’s a great thing to do as you’re doing a mundane task like cleaning. You can smell the nice smell of the cleaner or alternatively notice that you really don’t like it (time to change it then), appreciate the softness of your cloth and admire the difference the cleaning makes to the surface you’re cleaning. Notice how much better you feel for being mindful. Cleaning doesn’t seem so much of a chore.
41 Take up meditating which will calm any stress you’re feeling. Here’s a link to a really straight forward way to start meditating. Or choose a guided meditation from Youtube. And if you’re put off by thinking that you can’t sit cross legged, here’s a great article from diyogi.com on how to sit still and like it even if you normally can only do it for a couple of minutes!
Psst: you don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor. You can meditate just as well sitting, lying down or even standing.
Making the Most of Social Isolation
Of course, it’s a shock to change your way of life and spend so much time indoors away from others. You want to help others and you want to help yourself. Imagine that you’ve tried out a few things. Imagine how will you feel about social isolation then.
You’re feeling good because you’ve finally cracked cooking new recipes. You’ve filled up your freezer with tasty, healthy meals so that you’ve got more time to read books and write your very own novel.
You’ve done more exercise than you usually do in a week so you’ve had to slow yourself down with meditation.
Your brain cells have really got moving. All the new skills you’ve learned makes you wonder what you’ve been doing for the last 20 years. It’s a wonder your brain hasn’t exploded!
Best of all, you’ve spent more time talking to family and friends. You’ve connected with people in your community You did it for them, but you feel less socially isolated too. It’s hard in these challenging times. Even if you’re home alone, you feel you helped others too.
You’ve been cooped up and the news is dire. Nevertheless, you’ve made the most of your social isolation.
More things to try though – and you’ve told yourself that you’re going to keep up on a lot of these new ways of doing things. After social isolation daily life is not going to be the same.
Get going today.