Since my last post a week ago (oops, missed another book post, sorry!), the UK has stepped up its policies regarding the pandemic, and has now officially restricted when it’s permissible to leave the house. If you’re not out for your one daily exercise (which must start and end at your house, you cannot drive anywhere to exercise), for essential shopping like food, toiletries and essentials, for medical purposes, or for essential work or care duties, you should not be out. Even when exercising, you should only be with members of your household, and a minimum of 2m away from others.
While this is (as far as I’m concerned) a necessary step to protect vulnerable members of society and prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed, it means everyone has a lot of free time at home. And in that free time, it’s very easy to spend hours scrolling social media, reading about the pandemic, and panicking. Panic is absolutely an understandable reaction, and I’m personally definitely afraid of the implications of the virus, both for the health of individuals and the future of our society. However, constant panic is not a healthy reaction. We’re going to be at home for at least three weeks, in the UK, and we’re only three days in to these official new restrictions. I spoke a little bit about my planned routine in my last post, and if I’m being entirely honest, today has been the only day I’ve followed it. Up until today, I’ve been having to pack, move home from uni, unpack and catch up on uni work so I’m prepared for online learning. Now, however, I’m more settled at home, and I’m hoping to get on with my plan. Over the last few days, I have learnt a few tips that I wanted to share, in the hopes that you might be able to make use of them during this period.
1) If you have work to do (assessments, assignments, or working from home), designate a place — and time — to do it. Try to make sure you get some natural light while you’re doing this. My set up is currently at the dining table, looking out into the garden. I can sometimes hear children playing in neighbouring gardens, or my mum watching the TV, so I keep my headphones with me to block out any unwanted background noise and replace it with music.
2) Stay hydrated. For some reason I’ve found I’ve been drinking a lot more than I usually would, possibly because getting up to get another glass of vimto gives me something to do, and a reason to move. Keeping hydrated has definitely helped me focus more despite all the stress.
3) Try to eat properly. It can be hard if the supermarkets are bare, but now more restrictions are coming into place on how much people can buy, hopefully more foods will be available. Even if you can’t eat the meals you would usually eat, try to eat at the same times you would usually eat, to keep you in a routine and help you to break up your day.
4) Have something to look forward to. I’ve been spending my evenings gaming, and I finally managed to figure out multiplayer last night, so now I can join friends and we can play together while video calling. It’s a small difference between video calling while playing different games, and video calling while playing a game together, but it helps you to feel a lot more connected, though even just video calling someone is great to stay in touch.
5) If you’re in a situation like me, having just moved back in with your family, spend time with them, but don’t feel bad about taking some time for yourself and being alone for a little bit if that’s what you need. Don’t feel obliged to sit and watch Eastenders with your mum if what you really need to do is go and have a bit of a cry upstairs.
6) Crying is okay. Times are scary, a lot is uncertain, and a lot of people have lost something even if nobody they know has fallen ill; their jobs, their graduation ceremony, ability to see friends/family. Yes, it’s not the same as losing someone you love to the virus, but you’re still allowed to be upset about it. Be sad, have a cry, and then try to let it pass. Allow yourself to feel sad, then try to find something positive to focus on.
7) It’s ok not to be productive if you’re struggling to focus. Do something that takes less concentration instead. Listen to a podcast, or do something crafty. Don’t be hard on yourself if you find you can’t focus on a book, or your work.
8) If you have a garden, make use of it. Yes, you can go out for your daily exercise in the UK, but you can spend as much time as you want in your private garden. Have meals outside if you like, read outside, or just do a few laps of the garden to get some additional exercise. Fresh air is great!
9) Last one: Make sure you know what you need to achieve. Prioritise tasks, be it household work, assignments, your job, whatever you have to do. Make sure you know what those things are, and figure out which ones are the most important. Once you’ve figured out what you need to get done, and what you can let slip for a bit if necessary, figure out when/how you work best, and make use of that time to focus on those things. Less important things can be done at other times if you feel up to it. But make sure you give yourself time to wind down and relax as well.
It probably goes without saying, but all these tips are for if you, your household and loved ones are all healthy. I hope you all are healthy, and managing okay with whatever measures your country may be taking to cope with the virus. As my Grannie said yesterday when I called her “I’m very glad we have televisions!”. There’s plenty of entertainment available to you in the home, so stay in as much as possible, practise social distancing when you do go out, and take care of yourselves. Lots of areas are setting up community support groups, so if you can, look into joining those, and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help if you need anything, even if it’s just a phone call every now and then. Stay safe, everyone, I’m sending you all best wishes from my house to yours.