Who knew that 2020 would involve self-isolation for so many of us?
If you’re looking for things to do during isolation then look no further! Self-isolation is now a daily reality for many of us as we face the coronavirus pandemic head-on.
And the funny thing is, I kinda live a life of self-isolation regularly, as a freelance writer and nutritionist that offers remote coaching services. So I thought, what better than a list of super-useful things we can all do during isolation (that help with our overall health and wellbeing)?
You and I need to keep ourselves in the best possible health as we live through however many weeks of self-isolation are needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
And yes washing hands and staying safe at home is SO important.
But I just want to highlight an important point about our health and wellbeing – and that’s that our overal health and wellbeing is about MUCH more than just our physical health.
Our overall health and wellbeing is made up these six components or parts:
And while we’re in self-isolation MANY of these different things will be impacted – you won’t be able to socialise in the same way, you may not be able to attend your church service, perhaps you can’t work and are now missing both the intellectual stimulation that brough (hello, boredom!) and socialising with your workmates.
That’s why I came up with this list of XX ideas to make your isolation a positive experience. You’ll find ideas grouped together by the categories I’ve listed above. I did that for a good reason, because I think you should select ideas out of each category to make sure that you’re looking after your OVERALL health and wellbeing.
If you do that, you’re more likely to emerge from isolation feeling rested, relaxed and ready for whatever comes next. So shall we start?
It goes without saying, but keep washing those hands, especially before you handle food or eat and make sure you’ve got all the medications you need during isolation. In most places pharmacies and medical providers are classified as “essential services” and will remain open during lockdown.
So onwards to that list of fab ideas to boost your health and wellbeing!
Our physical wellbeing is impacted by what we eat and drink, exercise, genetics, disability, illness and so on. So along with washing your hands, how about picking a couple of things off this list too:
1. Create a meal plan – aim for a two week plan, that is, 14 different main meals, then you can keep rotating that week. Studies have shown that those who plan their meals generally eat more nutritious meals, I guess because they’re actually planning veges and so on for their meals, rather than grabbing any old food at the last minute.
2. Sort out recipes from magazines – you now that pile or recipes ripped from magazines that’s cluttering up your kitchen drawer? Well now is the time to cull it. Sort through the pile and find those you’re likely to make, maybe add them to your meal plan. If you’re not going to make a recipe then toss the pages in the recycling bin, and sort the recipes you’re keeping into plastic sleeves or folders for salads, mains, desserts, baking etc.
3. Sort through your cookbooks too, box up the unused ones to sell or donate when isolation ends.
4. Tidy up the pantry – toss out all the expired foods, then clean the shelves and put the foods back in an ordered way to make finding and using them easier. Maybe breakfast foods together, baking stuff together and so on. Whatever works best for you and your household, if it’s efficient and uncluttered you’re going to be eating better.
5. Bake and freeze! Now’s the time to try that muffin recipe (assuming you’ve got the ingredients). If you’re feeling brave, get the kids to help with the baking, as it helps them to understand maths in a practical way as you measure and count out the ingredients.
6. Cook dinners and freeze – if you’ve got time and the ingredients (and the freezer space), then now is a great time to crack out a family lasagne or shepherd’s pie and pop it into the freezer for when life gets busy again and you need a quick meal. It can be a great idea to freeze in single portions, so once isolation is over and the kids are back to football practice and music lessons, you will have a nice stock of frozen home-made meals to use – bingo!
7. Do online exercise classes – youtube has loads of free videos, you don’t need to pay anything, just search for your personal favourites. I love body combat classes, for example, and there are plenty of free options on youtube for that.
8. Do online yoga or pilates classes – a great way to stretch, unwind and relax, something your body definitely needs while you’re mostly isolated to your home. Again head to youtube and you’ll be amazed at the variety of free lessons you’ll find, if you’re a beginner then search for beginners yoga or beginners pilates. They’re all there free for the viewing on a daily basis.
9. Go outside for a walk – it’s a great way to unwind and it can really benefit your wellbeing, because you’re getting some sunshine for vitamin D, and improving your cardiovascular health, flexibility, muscle strength and bone health. Of course, this assumes your local authority allows outside walks while in isolation, if not, don’t do it! If you are allowed out to walk during isolation, just be sensible and keep to the 2 metre rule away from other people who are also walking. It sort of feels like a very old-fashioned polite way to walk based on my experience today – with people waiting on driveways to allow others to walk past on the footpath.
Emotional health includes our ability to safely express and regulate all our different emotions. Here are some things you could start doing in isolation to really boost your emotional health.
10. Start a journal – because it’s a great way to help manage anxiety, reduce stress and cope with depression – SOOO important while we’re in isolation at home for extended periods. The process of journaling does this by helping you to prioritise problems, fears, and concerns, track any symptoms day to day so you can see if things are starting to build up. And journalling also provides an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and habits.
11. Start a gratitude journal – because the process of jotting down a few things you’re grateful for each day, before bed, can really benefit your health. Studies suggest that gratitude improves physical and psychological health, enhances empathy, can improve sleep, self-esteem and mental strength. Sounds like a win-win!
12. Learn how to meditate and practice it daily – you don’t need to spend hours meditating, just start with 2 or 3 minutes a day. Install an app on your phone, or look up Youtube for guided meditations, because the benefits of meditation are ENORMOUS. Regular meditation reduces stress, controls anxiety, promotes emotional health, lengthens attention span and may actually reduce age-related memory loss. Meditation can also help us to reduce our dependence on unhealth coping mechanisms like drinking alcohol or emotional eating. It can improve sleep, and help to lower blood pressure.
13. Up your self-care game! When did you last run a bubble bath for yourself? Put on a homemade mask and relax? Give yourself a fab pedicure in your favourite shade of pink, purple or green? How about sitting down in the middle of the day and reading a magazine for an hour (even when there’s a pile of washing that needs folding)? Now is the time to make self-care a priority. You don’t need to, and shouldn’t, be running yourself ragged around your home during isolation. Take the opportunity to rest and truly take care of YOURself.
14. Create a ‘bored’ list – if you find tend to eat when you’re bored (and not actually hungry), then now is a great time to create a ‘bored list’. Which is basically a list of activities and things to do whenever you feel that bored-eating warning sign flashing. Discover how to create a bored list right here.
Is all about our ability to learn, our memory, intuition, ability to plan and prepare and so on. When we don’t get the opportunity to do any of these things, we can quickly start to feel bored and uninspired. But even when you’re under lockdown there are things you can do to stimulate yourself intellectually.
15. Read that pile of books sitting on your bedside table. Enough said.
16. Read online books (or magazines) from your local library (if they have that service), or you can buy e-books from Amazon and the like to read. You don’t need to visit a physical bookshop or library to find new books to read.
17. Sign up for a FREE online course. There are over 450 free online courses run by Ivy League universities. So if you’ve ever wanted to learn more about sustainable living and design, or modern poetry, now is the perfect time AND it costs nothing.
18. Take up crosswords, puzzles, sudoku or whatever else gets your brain cells fired up! Especially if you’re used to working during the day, you might find you need a little intellectual challenge to keep you occupied.
19. Learn a new skill – cooking, gardening, crafting or playing an instrument. You’re only one google away from learning more about that skill you’ve always wanted to have, so whether it’s being the next Julia Childs or gardening whizz, now is the time to stay home and make it happen.
We might be in isolation, but we don’t have to be socially isolated thanks to modern technologies. And it’s important to put some emphasis on this, because social interaction is an important part of our overall health and wellbeing too.
20. Setup a group chat with your family, extended family or girlfriends on Whatsapp or another app – it’s a great way to keep in touch with whatever is going on in their and your life. And often it’s just the simple little fun comments in chats that help to make you feel connected to them (wherever they are in the world) even when you’re not in the same room.
21. Spend 20-30 minutes playing with your kids – not trying to cajole them into home-schooling, or doing chores, or anything else, just playing. If you have a lawn go outside and kick a ball around, throw some lego together, colour in, or play a boardgame. Something fun that you can all enjoy (and hopefully not inspire family arguments, ahem).
22. Connect with groups online – facebook is a great place to join groups of people with the same interests as you. And there is no better time for facebook groups to come into their own than now, right? Got a hobby, a favourite car, your church, or a favourite TV show? There’s bound to be a facebook group of like-minded people out there – so go and join them. Speaking of which – my facebook group for non-dieters is: Intuitive Eating & Gentle Nutrition in The Real World, come and join us 🙂
23. Make virtual dates with friends and extended family – use a video-calling service like whatsapp or Facebook messenger or Facetime or skype and then book a time to catch up over a cup of coffee or a meal. My mum and I usually have lunch together every Friday, but now that we’re both in lockdown I’ve suggested we carry on the tradition but just do it virtually – she at her house with her lunch, and me at my house with my lunch. We can still chat and see each other thanks to the wonders of whatsapp and facebook messenger.
It’s also important to have an environment that honours your health and wellbeing too. If you’re living or working in a space that brings your down, then now might just be the perfect time to do what you can to sort it out, right?
24. Get the kids to sort through their toys – which ones do they want to keep and which can you donate or sell? Pull them all off the shelves (yes scary I know), then work through groupings of toys (which cars to keep, which dolls to keep, which soft toys to keep) and see which ones they can let go of. Getting their bedrooms and toys more organised will really improve how everyone feels about being home together during isolation.
25. Declutter a space just for you – is there a room or cupboard that just annoys you every day because of all the clutter and stuff piled up in there? Imagine how good you would feel if you sorted it out now! Put aside one day, or part of a day, and get to work on it. Whether that’s starting with one drawer, one cabinet, or one room, just take one step at a time. Personally I’m a big Marie Kondo fan, so go ahead and google her tips to organise your decluttering efforts.
26. Spring-clean your bedroom – sleep is SUCH an important part of your health and wellbeing. When you’re not getting a good quality and quantity of sleep it impacts your food choices and how much you eat. So take a look at your bedroom and see what you can do to improve your “sleep hygiene.” Such as removing technology, covering up bright lights/alarm clocks, swapping over bedcovers to make sure you’re warm but not too hot, tidying it up and decluttering to make it a more relaxing space.
27. Tidy up your garden or yard – it’s something a lot of us put off right? But now is the perfect time to get outside and do some weeding, cut back those overgrown bushes, mow the lawns, wash dirty fences and walls, and create an outdoor area that you actually WANT to relax in. You’d be amazed at what a little bit of elbow grease can accomplish.
What your spiritual health looks like depends a lot on your beliefs, but generally it revolves around a belief in God or a sense of meaning in life that includes higher values of hope, purpose and faith. It’s especially important at this time that we make these a priority to help us through
28. Bible reading – if you’ve struggled to find time for regularly reading your bible, now is a great time to start a new habit. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 30 minutes really doesn’t matter, it’s just about building a habit of daily turning to the bible for guidance. Put it in your diary so each day you carve out that time for it.
29. Powerful bible scripture – pick out a powerful bible scripture to help you through self-isolation. Right it up on cards to put on your desk, your mirror, your kitchen bench, or if you’re a little creative then create a poster with your kids and pop it on the wall. Something to remind you that God is in control of all things and He works for the good of those who love Him and have been called for His purposes. Amen!
30. Bible studies – now is a great time to really soak in your faith and centre your thinking on God, so how about a bible study? There are plenty of free bible studies online for women (and men). Or you can often pay a minimal amount a download their study guide, so you don’t need to go to a physical shop to buy a book or anything.
31. Pray, pray and pray – “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). That was the instruction to us, so what better time to start? It doesn’t need to be fancy or include a lot of complicated words and theology, just open your heart and the communication lines with God now.
I hope this is a help for you and you find something inspiring to start you on a healthful journey during isolation. I just want to finish with one helpful little warning…
For many of us this is a time of huge stress and a lot of big emotions are coming up… so PLEASE give yourself plenty of compassion if you’re doing a bit more emotional eating. You’re not ‘bad’, you’re just having a very human reaction – so please be kind to yourself. But if you do want a little help with it, then check out my blog posts on how to overcome emotional eating right here.
Finally, let’s all give a huge thanks to those working on the front-line battling the virus in hospitals and facing increased risks in delivering essential services for our community. I pray for their safety as we fight together to protect our community – each of us doing our part, us by staying home and isolating, them by taking a huge personal health risk to battle the virus head-on through their job. So thankyou, from the bottom of my heart.
P.S. Worried you’re going to overeat during self-isolation? Grab a free copy of my Ultimate Guide to Overeating, because it has loads of helpful tips to help you sort it all out: