6 Ways to Stay Busy While Isolating at Home

Are you in social isolation?  Maybe in your area you’re just social distancing, or even stuck in lockdown.  Where I live we are able to go to the grocery store or pick up prescriptions as long as we stay two metres apart, but otherwise we’ve been told to stay at home.

In any case we’ve now got loads more time on our hands.  We’re no longer socializing.  Employees are working from home or they’ve been temporarily laid off.

Home-bodies like me don’t actually mind staying at home.  They might miss their outings, but many have lots of solitary activities that keep them busy.  Outwardly oriented people are not used to be alone.  They are more accustomed to active social lives and love to talk and interact with others.

Sometimes it’s OK just to do nothing, but after a while you can start feeling restless and purposeless.  People who lack social contact can become depressed, lonely and anxious, especially if  they stay glued to the TV watching doom and gloom news reports.

It’s easy to get sucked in to watching endless TV, mindlessly binge-watching old Gilligan’s Island  reruns or streaming Netflix or other such services.  It’s fun for a while and then it gets boring.

couple taking online course

Resist the temptation to stay in bed or lounge around in your PJs all day.  To keep a positive outlook and gain some sense of control I had to get back to planning projects and becoming more productive.

Here’s some ways to put some structure into your day.

1.  Stay in contact

One of the hardest parts about social distancing and self-quarantines is the fact that we are kept apart from others.  But just because you may not physically be able to see people, it’s important to stay connected.

Use the technology we now have to keep in touch with family, friends and neighbours – particularly with those who are alone.  Find out how they are and how they are coping.

You can phone, text, email, and see each other face-to-face with Skype or WhatsApp. Or use social media to stay in contact.  Groups of people can get together with Zoom.  You may even find that people are a little more chatty and less distracted.

My mom who lives in a retirement home (thankfully all the residents are healthy) is under lock-down and I can’t visit her right now.   So I make sure I phone her more often.  Even though she can ramble on about the same old things for hours at a time, I schedule the time to talk (and maybe play some computer solitaire at the same time 😇).

2.  Get those nagging chores out of the way

Now is the perfect time for some spring cleaning.  Open up your curtains and let some natural light into your home.  If the weather permits, open the windows too and get some fresh air blowing through.

Reorganize your closets,  the garage or the spare room that somehow turned into a junk room.  Sort through the clothes you don’t wear and have them ready to take to your local charity when you are able to.

Get your taxes done, and you’ll have one less thing to stress about.

3.  Begin that project

Take some inspiration from Sir Isaac Newton who self-quaranteed for a whole year during the Bubonic plague in 1665.   He was quite productive during that time.  It was while lazing around under his apple tree that he formulated his theory of gravity.  He also worked on serious math problems and experimented with optics and light waves.

You might not create similar notable works but you have time now to get back to working on that huge awesome goal I encouraged you to start in January that you’re stalled on.

I know.  Some things like training for a marathon or cruising around the world will have to be put on hold for now.  Try to think of some steps you can take that will give you a head start. 

Dive into your hobbies.  Begin that novel that’s been dancing around in your head.  If you have a musical instrument tucked away somewhere, pull it out and learn how to play.  Or try some other creative outlet like painting, creating jewelry or dancing.

4.  Learn something new

You know how us baby boomers are always being told to exercise our brains?  Now is the perfect time to do so.  One great way to learn new things is with online classes and tutorials.  There’s lots of how-to videos on YouTube.  Many businesses are offering some of their courses free of charge now.  It’s a great way to find classes that interest you without worrying about the cost.

Check your local library for free online resources that go beyond e:books.  Find newspapers and magazines on all kinds of topics from around the world.  Watch the Global Road Warrior and plan your next trip. Tutorials cover topics from web design, photography and genealogy to learning a new language.  Try listening to different kinds of music.

Many of the world’s most famous museums offer virtual tours. You may not be able to go there physically right now but you can virtually. 

You’ll have something to talk about when you finally get together with friends and family rather than recapping TV shows or how the latest celebrity has been coping with isolation.

5.  You have time to read or listen to a book

Social isolation is the perfect time to read all those books you’ve always wanted to read.  Get them from the library or download free classics on Gutenberg.org

Whether you want to escape present reality for a time,  or be educated on a particular subject you enjoy, diving into a book is a great way to reduce stress if you pick something you enjoy.

6.  Make time to excercise

I’m one of those weird people who enjoys exercising. It’s also the ultimate stress reliever.

There are plenty of ways to get your heart rate up with exercise at home.  Go on YouTube and search “exercise at home” and you’ll find lots of different workout options from yoga to calisthenics.

As we move toward warmer weather you’ll have more opportunities to be outside.  Go for a walk around the block or a bike ride and get some fresh air.

Some things I’m doing to keep busy

  • Relearning German with Rosetta Stone available at my library.  When I was younger I was could speak five languages – English, French, German, Ukrainian, and Latin (I went to school in England).  I’ve lost most of my fluency over the years (especially Latin as there were not many people to converse with after school).  So I decided to relearn how to twist my tongue around the proper pronunciation of those 36 letter German words.
  • Easy ballet lessons.  I took ballet lessons as a child and I still remember the basic five positions.  I found some videos on basic adult ballet steps.  I’ll never again be able to lift my leg so my ankle touches my ear, but the easier ballet moves are great for coordination, posture and flexibility which decrease substantially as we get older, especially if we spend a lot of time sitting at the computer or watching TV.
  • Finally organize our 40-plus years of photos.  I went to Michael’s to get archival photo boxes and some albums to replace those nasty ones with sticky cardboard pages and “magnetic” plastic.   I’ll throw away the duplicates, the ones where I can’t identify the subject, the blurred photos and the ones with half the heads cut off.  My husband and I will have a great time reminiscing.  

The bottom line

Human beings have proven to be remarkably adaptable, and we’ll adapt to this as well.

Count your blessings as you see the sunrise each day.  Stay busy with things you enjoy.  Recognize something you’ve accomplished.  Be grateful for the people you have in your life. We can choose to adopt positive attitudes.

“The greatest measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

We need to continue to remind ourselves that by doing our part we are all contributing to solving this problem and protecting not only ourselves but all those around us.

Remember that we are all in this together.

What are you doing to stay positive?

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