I’m on my fifth week of isolation and while life is certainly not normal, I’ve found I am adjusting to the new routine. I suppose that working from home regularly meant I was fairly used to being in my office and pottering round the house during the day, but that still didn’t prepare me for
just how much time would be spent at home and what it would be like not being able to see family and friends, and doing all those little everyday things we take for granted.
Despite that, there are some positives that have come from this. Having an enforced ‘pause’ on life as I know it has enabled me to slow down a bit… to carry out some projects and chores around the house I never get time to do and that I certainly didn’t think I’d enjoy so much. I’ve gone back to basics in many respects, analysing whether our room decor still makes me happy, baking like it’s going out of fashion and spending time in the garden (did you know that just 20 minutes outdoors can have the same invigorating effect as a cup of coffee?).
So, if you’re finding your days are a bit of a rollercoaster when it comes to emotions, here are a few ways I’ve found have helped me navigate through these uncertain days.
- Give each day a focus. I started off this period by just waking up and deciding what I needed to get done, but actually, what happened was that there were quite a few days where I felt a bit lost, or ended up not actually achieving much at all. Planning what I’m going to do the night before gives me some structure, so that when the day arrives I have a clear plan of what I need to achieve.
- Exercise with a friend. I was missing the laughs and upbeat energy from my gym classes and found that exercising at home on my own wasn’t giving me the same buzz – which in turn meant that I was crying off more than I was actually getting moving. I’ve started having Zoom calls with one of my friends first thing in the morning, where we’ll both have our TVs on doing the same workout, but we can see each other and chat while we workout. So far, I haven’t cried off and seeing my friend puts a smile on my face – it’s a good way to start the day.
- Think of different ways to make money. It’s not something many of us like to discuss, myself included, but let’s face it, money is a huge deal right now. If you can’t go out to work and you’re self employed, or you’ve had a drastic payout, then it can be a worrying time. I’m no expert on this subject, but I’ve stripped back all of my outgoings, from getting a mortgage break, freezing my gym membership and even declaring my car off road so I no longer need to pay car tax or insurance during this period. I’ve cancelled my business insurance, got a credit card payment break and even stopped Netflix (Wayne has his and we only need one at this time). I’ve also had a big clearout and have been selling items I no longer want on my local Facebook Marketplace – I get the people that buy them to pay via Paypal and as they’re local, they can walk to my house and use the collection as their bit of exercise. I put the item outside on the porch when they are five minutes away, which means we don’t have to have any social interaction at all. And, with everyone wanting to spruce up their homes and get those long-needed DIY jobs finished, there’s never been a better time to sell interiors bits. Granted, it’s not a lot but sometimes those extra pennies really help.
- Introduce ‘happy hour’. We have a garden tiki bar, which makes fixing drinks nice and fun, but all you really need is a shelf, an area on a sideboard or a small bar trolley for keeping your drinks and cocktail-making equipment. For those that follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that every few days we have been having a themed evening, where I cook a meal and make cocktails based on a particular country. So far we’ve had ‘American’ night, where we had barbecue burgers and hot dogs, with a jug of Long Island Iced Tea, and then Mexican night, with burritos and margaritas! Next up is Thai night I think…
- Make your own entertainment. Most of us have seen Zoom and Houseparty apps going down a storm, especially for group evenings with quizzes. We’ve found a way to adjust some card games so that we can play with friends/family on a video call too – you just need a pack of cards for each house and a few tweaks to the normal system. We’ve also got a Mr & Mrs game lined up and are trying to think of other games nights we can do via video.
- Create a place to retreat to. Spending 24/7 with someone can be challenging, so it’s important to have somewhere you can go to spend time on your own when you need it. Myself and Wayne both work from home and have our own offices, which has really helped us feel as though we’re not living in each other’s pockets. I have an office inside, and Wayne has a cabin outside in the garden, and sometimes we meet for lunch! I know not everyone will have this luxury, but it’s worth looking at your home and dedicating an area to relaxation, whether it’s a reading nook in the bedroom or a yoga spot in the garden shed!
- Get beautifying. At first I really missed my regular beauty appointments – having my nails, lashes and hair done is something that’s a routine for me – but I’m learning to embrace my new au naturale state (I’m not sure Wayne would say the same!). Instead, I’m getting my pampering fix in different ways. I’ve put a hand cream by my bed, along with a candle and face serum, which I’m applying religiously at night – actually, the routine of it helps me relax and unwind before I go to sleep. I’m also treating myself to long bubble baths where I read, and this week I experimented with some nail art – granted it’s not very good, but I’m enjoying playing around with colours and again. And now the fake lashes have gone, I’ve been spending more time playing around with eyeshadow and mascara, which has been surprisingly fun – it’s something I never take the time to do when I’m rushing about usually.
- Treat yourself! I know, you’re wondering when, at a time that you don’t want to be spending lots of money, this is possible. Well, I decided that the time to use all those items I was saving for best was NOW. From the expensive candles I hadn’t opened to the earrings I’d received for my birthday but hadn’t had a chance to wear, and the champagne that I’d been saving for a special occasion – what better time to use and enjoy them? I even opened a present I’d bought for a friend (some perfume) and am using it myself (I’ll buy her something else when this is all over) because I really believe that anything you can do to make yourself feel happy and keep you in good spirits during this miserable time is worth doing.
So, those are my tips so far and there may well be more to come as the weeks go on. Although they aren’t particularly groundbreaking, hopefully there might be something you can take away from this to help you, whether it’s a way to keep busy or something to spark a bit of joy. Do let me know any tips you have for getting used to this new way of life, too – I’d love to hear them.
Stay safe – and happy x