Self-Isolation & Social Distancing:
Activities

With social events, festivals and concerts all being cancelled, it’s likely we are all going to have a lot more free time on our hands, but with more limited options of what to do with it. Whilst the thought of binge watching Netflix in bed might sound appealing initially, it’s likely to get tiresome pretty quickly (plus you don’t want to rinse all the good series too fast!), so it’s a good idea to start thinking of other activities to keep busy and motivated.



Exercise

Whilst exercising in groups or at the gym is not available right now, continuing to exercise whilst social distancing or self-isolating is important to maintain muscle strength and for its psychological benefits. If you can do this outside in your garden or in a quiet local green space this has the added benefit of fresh air and exposure to the sun, to help you make more vitamin D, which is a really important nutrient for the immune system. Otherwise, doing what you can in your house is still a good option. Many personal trainers are uploading videos of exercises you can do at home online.


Reading & Virtual Book Clubs

How often have you complained about not having the time to read books anymore? Now is the perfect opportunity to get stuck into the pile that has been on your bed-side table. To add a more social element, why not set up a whatsapp or skype group book club with friends, where you all read the same book and discuss it afterward. With digital and audiobooks now readily available, you have an entire library at your fingertips without having to leave the house.


Online Cooking Tutorials

Restaurants are likely to be some of the worst hit businesses in this crisis. Some are hoping to continue trading by providing home delivery meals, which may help some who are self-isolating (although there is still some risk). Others are providing boxes of ingredients, recipe cards and even online tutorials so you can cook along with the chefs. If cooking is something you like to do with a friend or relative, why not set up a healthy cooking club, where you try out different recipes, share photos and videos and discuss what works about the recipe and what doesn’t and what you would change next time.  


Digital Photo Albums

With digital cameras we now have literally thousands of photos stored on a hard-drive or in the cloud that we will likely never look at again. Why not spend an hour each day sorting through them, reminiscing about good times and choosing which ones you will print and frame. 

DIY

Make a list of all those little jobs you’ve been meaning to get done around the house an get cracking. Who knows, by the end of quarantine it could be like you’ve had the team from Changing Rooms round!  Even if you don’t have any DIY to do, how about taking the opportunity to de-clutter and reorganise. 



Gardening

This is a great time of year to start tending to your garden as it wakes up for spring. If it’s the only outside space you can spend time in when self-isolating you may as well make it nice, plus being in contact with microorganisms in soil has been shown to help support a healthy microbiome and immune system,12 so get weeding and planting. You may want to consider sacrificing some flower beds for growing veg or buying more grow bags/pots this year to help you be more self-sufficient in the month’s to come. Stock up on all the tools, compost and seeds you might need now. 


Learn A New Skill

Make the use of your free time by learning a new skill so that you have something to show at the end of your confinement. For example, if you used to love drawing and painting when you were younger, how about stocking up on supplies from an art shop, or plenty of flour if you’ve been meaning to give sourdough bread-making a go, perhaps set yourself a challenge of learning to knit and making someone a gift, or finally get that language course CD down off the shelf and start practising your pronunciation. 


Start A Gratitude Journal

Watching the news at the moment is scary and it’s easy to sink into doom and gloom, especially if feeling isolated. It’s important to remember there is still much to be thankful for in the world, and crises such as this can often inspire many acts of kindness. Studies indicate that practicing gratitude can be beneficial for mental well-being,13 so may be particularly useful at times like this. Note down a couple of things each day that you are thankful for, and if feeling low read over them. Sharing what you are grateful for with someone else by phone or text will also help spread this positivity to others who may be feeling low.


Meditation

Another good way to help reduce stress and anxiety levels is through mindfulness meditation. Many people notice the psychological benefits of meditation when they practice it, but it often falls by the way side in our busy lives. With a little more space to breathe at the moment, why not download an online mindfulness or meditation app such as Headspace or Calm and set aside 10-15 minutes each day to put the worries of the world out of your mind. 

Learn more about Mindfulness.


Dance Like No One Is Watching!

Listening to music is a great way to lift the spirits. Why not spring-clean your digital music collection or dig out your old CDs and make a playlist for different occasions or with a specific friend or family member in mind. These can be compiled and shared with others on platforms such as Spotify. This also provides you with a great opportunity to dance around your living room and get some extra exercise. 

Reach Out To Others

One positive from the current situation is that many communities are banding together to support the elderly, sick and vulnerable. Although we are all self-isolating you can still provide support by offering to phone and speak to an elderly or vulnerable person living on their own, so that they have some social contact each day.  And don’t be afraid to ask for help from support networks yourself if needed.