A month ago we all took our freedoms for granted – we could walk in the park, visit friends and have family gatherings. Just a few (seemingly neverending) weeks later we can't leave the house or met up with family members living in another household and only one person is allowed to queue for hours to buy essential food items. Welcome to lockdown living.
The first rule of lockdown living is to remember you are not alone. Because what is DIFFERENT here is that everyone is impacted! Your neighbours, mum, boss and friends, as well as everyone else, around the world, are all going through something similar.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. Viktor E. Frankl
Lockdown living is the challenge each of us must rise to! If we're going to be stuck at home, we may as well make the most of it.
Here Are Things You Can do to Make Your Life Better while Physically Isolated:
1) Create a Healthy, Supportive Routine
When we feel powerless or helpless (as so many of us do at the moment), one EXTREMELY easy, yet powerful thing to do is to create a routine or schedule.
In my article about stress and uncertainty in the pandemic, I share why a routine is the most powerful way to get through lockdown living.
When we're all stuck at home, it's easy to lose our sense of time. Days begin to blend into each other and you start to lose track of time. A routine can give us an anchor and greater sense of control over our lives. And if you have children, of any age, living with you creating a routine is especially important to give them a sense of normality.
This routine or schedule can be as simple as:
- 7am – Wake-up
- 8am – Breakfast
- 9am – Work from home
- 11am – Talk to clients
- 12.00pm – Lunch
- 1-2pm – Homeschooling catch-up
- 3pm – Exercise and doing something together
- 5pm – Make & eat dinner
- 7pm – Talk to close family
- 8pm – Watch a film together
- 10pm – Bed
Be sure to include food preparation, social time, exercise and outdoor time and an expression of creativity so you address all your mental, physical and emotional needs. Baking is a simple way to feel like you're caring for your family and satisfies your urges to provide. Exercise, you probably already know floods your body with feel-good endorphins. And expressing your creativity enables your thinking to adapt – you become a better problem solver as well as being able to cope with uncertainty better.
It's also important to celebrate weekends, because if you don't it becomes too easy for weeks to blur together. So, make a different routine for your weekends. For example, you could include:
- Sleeping in/later bedtime
- Brunch with pancakes
- Movie night with popcorn
- A virtual happy hour with friends or colleagues
- A larger ongoing project, perhaps some art, craft, gardening or home redecoration.
Creating a routine returns the sense of control and mastery over your environment and life circumstances. Reclaim what power you can over your own life, because with all this uncertainty it's important for you – and especially important for children – to have stability.
2) Build Your Physical Strength, Fitness Levels or Flexibility!
Building your physical strength is powerful and health-boosting! Not only is physical strength and flexibility life-affirming and good for our health, but feeling more physically powerful actually helps us feel more empowered and less helpless in life too!
So add some physical activity into your schedule – as little as 15 minutes daily. Maybe by the end of this you'll be fitter or even be able to do 10 (or 100!) press-ups!
There are many options to boost your physical strength and health. Here are some ideas:
- Learn do a press-up or push-up. Then see if you can get to 10 (or more – depending on where you start)!
- There are so many online fitness classes on Youtube – for beginners, experts – with equipment and also with no equipment whatsoever. PopSugar Fitness has many options to choose from.
- Learn to defend yourself – Stanford Warriors teach martial arts online and this is very empowering. Classes are for all people of all ages and you become fitter too.
REMEMBER: BEing stronger = FEELING stronger and more in control! And building your PHYSICAL strength or fitness = REDUCED feelings of helplessness!
3) Learn with Non-Fiction Books:
Use this time at home to teach yourself with non-fiction books. There is so much to be gained – like self-confidence, negotiation skills, health (sleep, nutrition), how to have difficult conversations and much more.
What keeps you up at night? There's probably a book about that! What do you wish you were better at? There's probably a book about that too!
Here are some book ideas to get you started:
- Be more productive or creative with “The Now Habit” by Neil Fiore or “A Whack on the Side of the Head (How You Can Be More Creative)” by Roger Von Oech and “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink.
- Think (or rethink?) how you live with books like “The Omnivore's Dilemma” by Michael Pollan (also available in a young reader's version), “Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures” by Carlo Petrini, “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” by Barbara Ehrenreich, “Doughnut Economics” by Kate Raworth.
- Get personally inspired with “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts” and “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, or “Man's Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl.
- Up-skill yourself with “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen.
- Learn about the human mind with “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell or “The Whole Brain Child” by Daniel J. Siegel MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD.
- Get healthier with “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” by Matthew Walker PhD.
- Be more confident and discover your strengths with “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman or “Now, Discover Your Strengths (How to Develop Your Talents and Those of the People You Manage)” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.
- Finally, read an autobiography! Choose someone you admire, get inspired and lose yourself in their life. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama or “Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown” by Anne Glenconner, or “Me” by Elton John.
Reading one book will expand your mind, reading several of these books is going to make you more interesting, help you learn new skills – and maybe even make you more employable too!
4) Gain a New Skill with Online Learning:
There are so many opportunities online to gain a new skill and they're growing by the day!
Grow your personal or creative skills or choose a new skill to learn and take back to work with online training. But skip this section if you're furloughed!
If there's a skill you always wanted to learn, search for it. But be sure to read the course descriptions thoroughly, check reviews if there are any – and check money-back guarantees as you need to!
And with so many learning options ranging from FREE to tens of dollars to the low hundreds of dollars, there will be something out there just perfect for you.
- Create Your Successful Online Course (teach others what you know)
- Create Your Email List From Scratch
- From Leads to Sales
- Ideal Client Avatars – the foundation of all your marketing
5) Be in the moment:
In THIS moment you are OK. You are safe. Take one day at a time. One hour or even one breath at a time if you need to.
This tip is about being super-present, not thinking ahead or remembering the past, but practising BEing
This is a learned skill – meaning you will have to do it over and over again – bringing yourself back to the NOW. Over time it gets easier, and it's a great skill to have to take back to “normal” life.
So when you notice you're worrying, feeling twitchy and want to pick up your device and find out what the “latest” is about the Coronavirus situation, say to yourself, “It's Okay. At this moment, I am safe. At this moment I am Okay.” You can also add or say, “At this moment, my children/husband/family are safe.”
Reduce or minimise how often you watch and read the news! And DON'T read or watch the news just before bed! Ensure you turn off your notifications on your phone after 7 pm and be in the present for your family.
6) Laugh. Laugh Loud. Laugh Often.
2 bacteria walk into a bar.
The barman says”we don't serve bacteria here”
The Bacteria reply “Don't worry we're staph”
Distracting ourselves from our fears is a valid technique for feeling better and coping with lockdown living.
Laughter releases helpful chemicals in our bloodstream – Endorphins (our natural “happy” drug) and Dopamine (part of our bodily “reward” system).
- What are your favourite comedy shows? We're bingeing on Brooklyn Nine-Nine at the moment. Make a list and make a point to watch some before you go to bed in the evening.
- Is there a comedian you like? Check out YouTube and see what they have. Michael Macintyre jumps straight in here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUizXmMtODg
- Audible has the “Locked Together” podcast with comedians in lockdown https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Locked-Together-Audiobook/B086XCP151
- Netflix and similar have so many viewing options, so find something that makes you laugh out loud.
Laughter isn't the cure for ongoing and persistent fears in regular life. But for a situation like this, where this isn't much that any of us can do other than stay at home and save lives – distraction can be a great coping mechanism.
Oh, and Amazon is packed with joke books for all ages.
7) Be Kind!
Kindness and compassion are one of the most powerful tools any of us have in our toolbox right now. Many of us are largely housebound, never mind the fear that you or a loved ones might actually catch the Coronavirus So, of course, we're going to feel uncertain, strange and anxious.
- Use kindness to comfort yourself when afraid or feeling anxious or fidgety. Be gentle. Imagine you're soothing a friend, small child or animal who is afraid – what would you say to them? Then say that to yourself!
- Use kindness to give yourself – and others – the benefit of the doubt. Instead of getting upset when you see other people behaving badly, remember that we all do silly things when we're frightened.
- Imagine you have a kinder, wiser self. A part of you that is unflappable, intelligent and unconditionally loves ALL of you. Now, when you need it, imagine that kinder, wiser self is with you, supporting you, maybe giving you a hug – and saying exactly what you need to hear (not just the sugary stuff, but also the tough love and common sense).
8) Help Others
Helping others is empowering and makes us feel better. Here are a few ways you could help others.
- Check-in on a neighbour or friend and see if they need anything. You can do this by phone, or in person, remembering to maintain a 6 feet distance.
- Offer to get someone groceries if you're going.
- Help someone less technically savvy learn how to use Zoom or WhatsApp or whatever they need to get online.
- Host a virtual get-together with your regular friends.
- Reconnect more deeply with friends or relatives who have moved away.
I bet you have some organizational things on your to-do list (like going through winter clothes, sorting out toys to donate or tidying the laundry room, garage or shed) that have been on there for a while. Use this isolation period to get them done!
Getting organized and de-cluttering allows us to exert some control over our lives – and therefore feel less helpless! Plus it'll feel amazing just to have it done.
Organize your closets, your garage, your books, your photos, office, kitchen equipment. Whatever needs organizing. Or perhaps you need to go through your receipts or file your taxes!
- If you need some inspiration (and great clothes-folding tips) you could watch the Marie Kondo series on Netflix!
A simple 3 Step Method to go through your stuff:
- If you're keeping it, be sure to DECIDE where it will “live” from now on.
- If you're not keeping it, create two piles:
- Things to DUMP
- Things to DONATE (and if relevant to pass on to specific people). My middle daughter has only 3 items of clothing after deciding that all her clothes were out of date and unwanted. I highly recommend you supervise your teens in this activity!
- When you're done, put each pile into bags or boxes, and then once this crisis is over you can get rid of what you no longer need.
You don't need to do any of this ‘in one sitting', do an hour a day – you'll be surprised how much you get done if you keep it up for a week!
10) Grow Something
There is nothing quite like growing something – whether it's flowers, fruits or vegetables that makes us feel good! Even if you live in an apartment and you could grow fresh herbs on your windowsill or balcony to cook with! I say this as someone with black thumbs who only has to look at a plant to kill it.
- Get some seeds, (a pot and some soil if needed) and get started.
- You order seeds etc. online.
- Follow the instructions – and remember to water it!
If growing something is just too much work, get yourself a spring bulb or cactus, or you could get an indoor plant like a Peace Lily -it's is good for cleaning the air of pollutants (and easy to take care of). Remember that some plants are poisonous to pets – so please check before you start growing.
11) Send “Real” Snail Mail Letters or Cards
Go old-fashioned. Who doesn't love to receive a lovely card or handwritten letter in the post box! Rediscover the lost art of letter-writing and make someone's day.
Yes, you could send an email appreciating someone, and that's great. But imagine your recipient's face as they pick up that hand-written card in the mailbox.
Wondering what to say? Write from the heart! Here are some ideas to get started:
- I really appreciate having you in my life because ________.
- I love hanging out with you when we ________.
- I've realised that you bring ________ to my life.
Add in your own tips or suggestions for what to say!
12) Begin a Meditation Practice
Meditation is a practice that has been proven scientifically to calm us, help us be more creative and be happier (for starters). It's extremely beneficial.
There is a lot to learn about meditation – and it's called a Meditation Practice for a reason. But it's also not as hard as it sounds. You can start with as little as 5 minutes a day – and it's good to build a routine, so you meditate at the same time every day. Get a book on “Meditation for Beginners” or go to Youtube or Google and search for “How to Meditate”. Another good place to start is “Metta” or “Loving Kindness” meditation. Again, search online and you'll have lots of options to choose from.
It helps to have a quiet space without interruptions – which many of us don't have at the moment. And for some people, trying to meditate when anxious can be stressful. If this is the case, listen to a relaxing guided meditation instead.
So, which of the above ideas resonated with you? The areas I am focusing on are more family cooking and film time. We naturally did this before lockdown living, but now we are doubling down in the cooking skills and have even made regular choux buns.
Believe you have the skills and power to tackle this situation and you will! Choose to make the best of a difficult situation and no matter what – you'll find a way.
Remember, this too shall pass. And when it does you will be able to look back on this time in history as a time that brought you closer together.