It is easy to start feeling anxious or unproductive when you are stuck at home during a global pandemic. To inspire you, I have collected a list of 20 simple things you can do while the lockdown lasts, and maybe even beyond.
1. Start your day with music - I know you have already been told not to start the day with reaching for your phone but if you still do that, instead of jumping straight to Instagram or emails why don’t you play some music instead? While you are at it, why not also dance along, do some stretching and begin your day feeling energised. If doing a morning shimmy is not your thing, you can simply start with some relaxing music to slowly wake up fully and set a positive tone for the rest of the day.
2. Do some yoga - this one is already a popular idea but have you tried starting 'every day' with yoga? If you haven’t, now may be the best opportunity you have to give it a go with the extra time many of us have gained from not having to commute. The benefits of yoga are both enhanced physical and psychological wellbeing, plus you get an immunity boost. All things we currently need even more than usual. You can start small with just 15 minutes (do a quick search on YouTube for free tutorials) or join one of the many yoga teachers on Instagram. One of my favourites is Annie Clarke who does live videos on her Instagram and also offers classes for a small fee in her own Online Studio.
3. Review your skincare routine - humans are habitual beings and as a result we rarely stop (or have the time to stop) and think whether what we are doing is the best for our skin. Perhaps now you have the perfect opportunity to pause and examine your usual skincare routine. The main question to ask yourself is whether your skin is feeling happy, and if not what can you do to improve that? During stressful times our skin can be the first organ to show the signs of anxiety so remember not to be hard on yourself in the process. To give yourself a head-start, check my previous blog posts with ‘Everyday skin tips for healthier skin at any age’, ‘How to manage your oily skin’ or ‘5 Tips to tackle dry skin’. Also, having a natural skincare routine can really help with removing additional synthetic stressors from your body right now, here is a blog article on the topic with a list of ingredients to avoid and the benefits of organic skincare.
4. Marie Kondo your home - implement the idea of the famous Japanese author who created her own principle based on keeping only what sparks joy and discarding the rest. Simple things you can do include sorting through your clothes and putting some aside to donate / sell on apps like Depop; decluttering a cupboard a day - only leaving essential items; redecorating a room - from putting a new picture up, changing the cushions on your bed or sofa, to painting the walls. Considering how much time we are all spending at home perhaps this idea should be at the top of the list?!
5. Clear your email inbox - in line with decluttering your home, you will gain some headspace by seeing a clean inbox every time you open your email. I did this recently and can’t tell you how much happier I am when I don’t see thousands of unread messages (this wasn't just me, right?!). If you have the time and energy, also unsubscribe from the lists of senders where you haven’t opened the emails in the last few months. This will ensure a continuously smaller email inbox and unnecessary noise in your life.
6. Buy yourself flowers - this one will spark immediate joy for most of us! There are many delivery services so no need to leave your home to make this officially 'unessential purchase' or to wait for someone to send you flowers. With a simple purchase you will literally bring spring inside of your home and make your space happier and brighter for a few days.
7. Remind your body how to breathe - this may sound strange if you are unfamiliar with the topic but please read on. Our breath is one of the first things to suffer when we are anxious or staying sedentary with bad posture: just think couch potato and Netflix. Or even right now - are you sitting up with your back straight, shoulders back, neck and crown of the head held straight up to the sky (not leaning forward)? Posture and breathing are closely related. How we breathe is often overlooked but learning how to correct your breathing pattern can instantly calm your nervous system and transform the way you feel. I have recently discovered Ritchie, a.k.a. the Breath Guy and his website and YouTube channel are a rich source of information including free tutorials.
8. Meditate - you probably expected to see this one here as meditation makes it to almost every well-being list and of course there is a good reason for that. The benefits are endless: meditation improves both your health and happiness by reducing stress, boosting the immune system, lowering tension, lowering high blood pressure, and bringing an overall feeling of calm. Check out my blog post if you want to learn more and still aren’t convinced why it’s good for you, and also you'll find out how to get started. If you are already meditating but not every day, I highly recommend making it a daily practice - wake up with it or do it before bed and you will see the benefits start to compound just a few days in.
9. Learn a foreign language - English is my second language so I am especially partial to this one. Having extra time at home now is an opportunity to start learning a new language or brushing up on one you learned some time ago. It’s a fun way to fill your time and has proven mental health benefits including prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia, plus it will make you sharper. Duolingo is one of my favourite free apps for this; if you willing to pay a small fee then Rosetta Stone is another good resource. In general, the best way to learn is to immerse yourself in the culture of a language: listen to its music, watch movies (even if with subtitles), or read a children’s book - depending on your level of course. Give it a go, don’t be shy!
10. Take an online course - what have you always wanted to learn more about? Maybe now is the time to pursue your passion. Whether it is for furthering your professional career, going deeper into a hobby, or just starting something new from scratch, there are multiple online resources. Here are a couple that come immediately to mind: for fashion lovers, the Business of Fashion are currently offering a 30-day free trial on their membership which also includes access to their learning portal; for any professional development learning, LinkedIn Premium also have a 30-day free trial and offer a variety of courses in the ‘Learning’ section.
11. Learn to bake sourdough - completely jumping topic here, learning to bake can be so therapeutic. Since most cafés / bakeries are closed and trips to the grocery store are limited, why not learn to make your own healthy sourdough bread. I recently came across Emilie’s blog the Clever Carrot where she also teaches you how to make your own sourdough starter from scratch - all you need is flour and water, have a look.
12. Start knitting - winter may be behind us but there are still some funky items you can make yourself, such as a headband or a crown for your pet. It is a super therapeutic thing to do and you will be proud with the finished result for many days to come. I have been following Lauren Aston Designs for a while and am in love with her style. You can download knitting patterns and guides from her website and start instantly.
13. Plant seeds for the summer - there is special magic in watching the progress of a growing plant. You don’t need a garden either - this can be done indoors, on your window sill or your balcony if you have one.
14. Write your thoughts down - pouring out your thoughts on paper can be very powerful. Here I don’t mean writing a diary, which is also great, but just writing your thoughts down on a sheet of paper on a regular basis. Seeing your thoughts on paper creates headspace because it is a natural way of organising your thoughts; it also feels like sharing and helps to let go of patterns that don't serve us. Especially in moments when you feel overwhelmed or worried, try writing everything down on a piece of paper and then tear it into small pieces and put it in the bin. By destroying the paper you are releasing negative thoughts and letting go. Give it a try and you will be surprised how therapeutic it feels.
15. Take up photography - this one can be as easy as checking all the functions of your phone, googling around to see what it can do, and then experimenting with light and different angles. Or if you have a professional DSLR camera, maybe now is the time to read its manual or watch some YouTube videos and start exploring the hidden corners of your home and the interaction of different objects.
16. Start working on a side hustle - if you’ve ever wanted to start something but never found the time to, maybe you finally have the perfect chance. With more time for self-reflection, you can fine-tune your idea and build its foundations. Or just continue the work you started in the past and revive your passion.
17. Do something good for others - there has never been a better time to help someone out. It doesn’t need to be traditional volunteering, simply checking in on your elderly neighbour to see if they are ok and offering to do the shopping for them, or calling a friend or relative you know may be lonely or in a sensitive mental state at the moment. Making time to do this regularly will not only benefit the recipients of your actions but you will also feel more satisfied with giving something back to those around you and the overall effect will be one of enhanced wellbeing for everyone.
18. Join a digital book club - if you enjoy reading, this may be the perfect way to expand your knowledge in an area outside of the usual topics you cover. It is also an opportunity to exchange ideas with others and as the need for community currently bigger than ever. One book club I can recommend is the ‘Thinking space books club’ psychologist Kimberley Wilson holds every month over on her instagram account. She discusses topics around psychology and mental health, and her account is very positive and insightful.
19. Pick up a new craft - trying something new is not only fun but also keeps your brain healthy by developing new neural pathways. I mentioned knitting above but other ideas include jewellery making, painting (doesn’t have to be grand), floral design, experimenting with textiles and clothes: making cushions or painting on some old clothes and reviving them. Clare Therese is offering a bunch of free printable nature inspired colouring pages to download.
20. Do something daily - whatever it is, just pick one thing which you do every single day (if it just showering then that's fine as I have heard some people have struggled even with just doing that...). There is something special about the power of rituals and you will feel а sense of achievement once you’ve done your daily activity. Let me ask you, what do you love doing? And realistically, what is currently easy for you to do every day? There you have it, your new daily activity.
21. Bonus idea - watch Friends. Yes, if all else fails watching Friends will at least make you laugh.
I'd love to hear how you get on, do tag me on Instagram when you take action on any of the above. And if you enjoyed reading this article, please sign up below to hear from me next time or shop my organic skincare products.