Staying sane during the Covid-19 outbreak


Staying indoors

We all find ourselves in a position more novel than the coronavirus we’re trying to avoid: We have to stay indoors as much as we can. We’ve never been in this position before! How on Earth do we go from beer gardens to the back gardens we haven’t tended to in months? Many of us are either having to work from home or have been furloughed, leading to a very odd existence at home. As a teacher I have been working from home for the most-part, but of course right now it is the Easter break, so there isn’t a lot of work to do. I’ve found myself falling out of my sleeping pattern almost straight away. I reckon when the apocalypse comes the first thing to go won’t be the dumb friend in your group, it’ll be the need to wake up at 6am. A lot of the things we do naturally rely on us being away from home, be that the gym, going out for food and drinks, looking at shops etc. Now that we can’t do that we are all now having to create pretty much brand new routines. That’s hard, it’s draining, and it’s very easy to give up on. We can still get snacks from the supermarket but there’s very few reasons to be motivated to do much else. Creating a positive home routine is going to be tricky, but I think there’s a lot of positives to be gained from having a crack at it. At the end of the day a good routine will look different for each of us, but I think it’s useful to know what you might do in the event that the external activities you rely on suddenly disappear. There’s value in creating routines and rewards that are more intrinsic and don’t rely on things you can’t really control. So in that spirit I’m going to share the things I’ve seen people doing, and some of the things I’ve been doing myself to stay sane during the Covid-19 outbreak. Enjoy!

Disorder isn’t always bad

As I said, a good routine looks different for each of us. You probably thought I was going to drone on about runs, yoga, meditation, and waking up at 7:30am every day. HAHA. I want you to actually read my blog all the way through.

It’s absolutely fine to lose it sometimes. My sleeping pattern has completely gone out of the window. I haven’t had a clue what I’m doing some days. I haven’t put together a blueprint in my head for what I’ve wanted to get done and that’s led to unplanned days with unplanned events. I couldn’t live like this all the time, I’m someone who likes having routines and clear goals pretty much every day. However, I think it’s quite important to let yourself become somewhat accustomed to dealing with uncertainty. This is a time where you might go from watching Netflix to being in a Zoom call with your friends until the early hours. There isn’t any order to the way we’re living our lives so the rules of old have started to disintegrate. What’s left is a lot of people pining for something to do, or for someone to talk to, at times that prior to Covid-19 just wouldn’t have worked. Remember the last time you could do a virtual pub quiz at 12 in the afternoon? Me neither.

I think it’s very valuable to build a routine during this time, and the rest of the blog will be focused on things you can add in to your routine. However I think it’s almost as important to acclimatise yourself to disorder. It’s absolutely fine that some days are just disorganised shambles, nobody has a clue what’s going on anyway. People on social media are having a field-day getting others to look at their perfectly-organised home routines, but that doesn’t mean you ought to do the same all the time. Let some things not work out, let nothing happen at all, and do away with the idea that you always need to be doing something. This is just the silly capitalist notion that you’re only of any value if you’re being productive.

A bit of exercise or a lot of exercise

I say a bit of or a lot of because it really depends on your relationship with exercise. If you don’t like exercise and you’re not interested go and skip ahead. I was quite stressed about exercise to begin with because I pretty much relied on my gym for everything. All the machines and contraptions are there. How do I cope without a squat rack?! Thankfully there’s been a LOT going into exercising in lockdown, probably because most of us don’t have access to gyms at home so it’s forced people to get quite creative. I started off mostly surveying what other people were doing, and from there I went and started experimenting with a few different things. I started off with the most crude home circuit imaginable, like I literally did it all from my bedroom. I used my bed for decline press-ups, a towel for rows (thanks Arnie!), and my carpet for literally everything else. From there I scoured videos and started to build my own workouts. I’ve mostly settled on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) because there’s a tonne of them available from accessible sites like YouTube, you can add in or take away exercises, you can set your time and pace to something that works for you, and it’s a bloody good workout in little time. I’ll add some links to sites I’ve found useful below!

I’ve noticed people have been busying themselves with various challenges. One of my favourites is doing a handstand against a wall and trying to put a shirt on. Tried it, fell over, was good fun at the end of my workout! I think it’s very much about keeping it fun and enjoyable. That’s why it’s important to do either a little or a lot, whatever works for you. It’s important to think a little bit outside the box, too. I carried my shopping bags home from ALDI and turned that into a workout!

I’ve rambled on about the things I’ve been doing for exercise but I haven’t said why I’m doing it. It’s quite simple, exercise makes me feel good. I do just about enough to make myself feel better and it still leaves me wanting to do some again the next day. It took a bit of time to find what worked for me, but the internet is awash with resources for us to use. It’s suddenly become a part of my daily routine again and I enjoy it; I seek it out. That being said, some days I haven’t done anything at all and that’s perfectly fine too.

Reconnect with something you’ve stopped doing

We don’t get a lot of time these days to just sit and enjoy something for the sake of doing it. As I mentioned earlier, this could be sitting and doing the grand total of nothing. You aren’t obligated to pick up a hobby during the lockdown, not one bit. If you do fancy picking something up though, now could be the time to discover something new or reconnect with something you once enjoyed. I’m going to side with the latter because it’s more likely you’ll still have the necessary resources to start something up again. This isn’t really something I’ve done. I’ve taken the time to write this post for sure, but to be honest I’ve been doing the things I usually do at the weekend but every day now. I’ve read more, written slightly more, exercised more, watched more, and gamed more. If you miss something, why not have a go at it again? I say this because I find a lot of peace doing all the things I’ve mentioned above. Writing blogs I find very therapeutic. I almost free-write and then edit later because it feels so good just typing away! You don’t need to dive into anything head-first, just taking a bit of time with something you’ve lost could bring some much-needed peace of mind, some enjoyment, or just something other than wondering who killed Carole Baskin’s husband (we all know who did that).

Cook new food

Now this one I like, because food is something we all need so at some point you’re just going to have to cook! When the lockdown came, one of my first thoughts was about how I might just have the time and headspace now to cook some things I’ve been meaning to have a go at for a while. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but I’ve usually done it in bulk to save myself time. During the lockdown I’ve cooked more than once each day. It’s felt really good just to make fresh food on the day. I’ve used healthy ingredients for most meals, and I’ve really enjoyed making my own treat meals instead of ordering food in. It almost goes without saying, eating good food is probably one of the most important things for building a healthy routine for yourself. On many days, a good meal has been my only achievement and that’s felt absolutely fine; I can package off that day spent playing Doom Eternal as a complete success.

Cooking also has a bit of a mindful aspect to it. Chopping vegetables is quite relaxing, it helps you to focus your mind on something instead of perhaps withdrawing inside of yourself. Timing your cooking also has much the same effect; any chance to escape the overwhelming deluge of Covid-19 news is welcome to me. Have a go at cooking something, be it new or old.


Going beyond keeping occupied

Reading back through this, it seems I have placed a lot of focus on things we can do to escape. By escaping the news of all that’s happening with the coronavirus and the lockdown, we can enjoy moments that perhaps feel more normal to us. But nothing about this is normal; even having spare time to enjoy all these activities, that certainly isn’t normal! Life is one great big rush all the time, and the sudden halt is no doubt going to take its toll on people’s lives. I think that’s why an implicit theme of this blog is escaping- getting away from this surreal situation for a while. But more so we need to appreciate that doing things doesn’t mitigate the issues faced by so many of us. I’ve been very lucky to have friends, family and colleagues dropping in to check on me. So to wrap this one up, go and speak to your friends and ask them how they’re doing. Stay safe!

Nick

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