You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather. ― Pema Chödrön
How often have you woken up before work, just wishing that you could roll over, stay in bed and binge on Netflix all day? We’ve all been there, however too much of a good thing can be, well, too much, and I don’t know anyone who is quite as excited at the concept of being forced to stay cooped up indoors for the upcoming period of time.
There are memes circulating about previous generations being sent to war, and we’re just being sent to our sofas and there is definitely a lot of truth behind it. However, it is a psychological fact that being forced into ANY situation with a perceived lack of control can be extremely debilitating for your mental (and even physical) health, and this is something that we cannot allow to happen, especially right now.
So, don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to suck it up and enjoy your “vacation”. However, I’m going to try and give you some hints and tips to take back some control, and look after your mental and physical health during these difficult times.
First and foremost #
Limit screen time! One of the hardest things about being stuck at home is boredom, and it’s oh so easy to turn to your screen (TV, computer or phone) for an easy source of comfort, however experts say this is the last thing you should do. Instead of whiling away the hours binge-watching series or scrolling through Facebook, turn to one of the following 10 ideas listed below to keep your mind and body active and entertained during quarantine.
1. Plan, plan, plan #
A helpful solution to feel like you are in control of the situation (and something that will also take up some time!) is to make a schedule of your week. The level of planning is up to you, however by creating a daily routine and sticking to it will help you feel a sense of accomplishment and busyness which will allay feelings of boredom and stress. Schedule times for leisure, for doing household chores, and for including each of the below items at a certain time or day during the week.
You may feel worried that you’re going to be a lot less active while quarantined in your home, so it’s especially helpful to schedule times, and even details of what you’re going to eat during meal and snack times to avoid overeating and feeling physically lethargic.
If you have children at home, creating set times for them to play (if you have a garden, fantastic! Otherwise playing games indoors), do art or something creative, keep up with schoolwork to keep their minds active, and having allocated screen time will go a long way to reducing stress for them and for you. There are countless online resources for science projects, school activities and games that you can use, and if they’re old enough, get them to sit with you and plan activities to do (on their own, or together with you) during the week. For more inspiration read this article>>
So get out your computer, open up Word or Excel and get to work creating a schedule of how you’re going to maximise this time at home!
2. Keep in touch with friends and family #
If you live alone, feelings of loneliness and isolation can be particularly challenging during this period. If you can, arrange with your close friends and family to have a scheduled video call at a time/day that works for you. If you’re an expat and have family overseas, this can be a great time to take advantage of the time differences and have longer conversations during the day when normally you would have been at work.
Depending on your personal needs, you may schedule several video calls a day, or maybe you just need one or two a week; however, keeping in touch with loved ones is of utmost importance to look after your mental health. If you’re struggling to think of things to talk about, there are many online sources with games you can play on the phone, or lists of “get to know you” questions that may result in you becoming closer to friends and family than you ever have been before!
3. Cook #
Luckily for us here in Mallorca, the supermarkets are still open and there are plenty of food supplies available now that the “panic buying” has subsided. This is a perfect opportunity for you to try your hand at some new and interesting recipes. Check out our recipes for all seasons >> Food & Drink
Try going for something detailed and complicated that has a lot of steps to keep you busy. Or, something like a slow-cooked roast will take several hours of popping in and out of the kitchen and will fill the house with deliciously tempting smells. The best part is that at the end of the day you’ll have a delicious reward waiting for you!
4. Hobbies #
While shops are closed so you can’t buy any new materials, I’m sure many of you (just like me!) have a bunch of hobby supplies stashed away for “one day” when you have time. Maybe you’ve been wanting to learn to crochet, or perhaps you have a recipe book or photo album waiting to be sorted through and put together, or maybe you have a pile of clothes that need to be repaired. Make the most of this free time to finally do something that has been put on the backburner for far too long and enjoy the inevitable feeling of accomplishment that comes with it.
5. Exercise #
Everyone knows that physical health and exercise are closely linked to mental health, and as the gyms are all closed and we can’t even go for a walk, this is something that, while a little more challenging to incorporate, is super important! I suggest scheduling in time to exercise first thing each day. Depending on your level of fitness, there are THOUSANDS of at-home, equipment free workouts that you can download, within even the tiniest amount of space. Break out the Bluetooth speaker (or your headphones if you have housemates!) and get those beats pumping during your workout. If you’re lucky enough to have a rooftop terrace or garden, this is the perfect opportunity to get some fresh air.
6. Learn something new #
Maybe you’ve been wanting to learn Spanish or another language, or maybe there’s a skill that would be helpful for your job that you’ve just never gotten around to developing. There are thousands of online courses that you can do – many of them free – from the comfort of your own home. If you schedule in just one hour each day to study, that’s at least 15 hours of self-improvement. 2 hours a day, and you’ll hit 30 hours! If it’s a language that you’re learning, mix it up with a combination of language courses (such as duolingo) and YouTube videos, as well as “rewarding” yourself with a movie or TV show in the language. You’ll still be learning at the same time as having fun!
7. Listen to music #
I can’t underestimate the importance of music, especially when the world seems so quiet! While you’re busy occupying yourself with all of these quarantine ideas, why not listen to some fun tunes while you’re at it to lift your mood and keep you feeling happy!
8. Support a local business #
On a serious note, many many local businesses are already feeling a tremendous financial strain, and with no clear end in sight this is an extremely distressing and difficult time for them. If you are in a financial situation to do so, consider jumping online and ordering food delivery or buying a voucher from a local business to use at some point in the future. When going to buy food, if you can buy from a fruiteria(fruit shop), carniceria (butchers) or smaller tienda rather than the bigger supermarkets you will be making a huge difference in somebody’s life. For more in-depth information about the economic impact of the corona epidemic, read this article >>
9. Catch up on sleep #
Another critical factor for looking after your mental health, and something that tends to suffer even at the best of times, use these days of quarantine to make sure you get enough sleep! Tempting as it might be to stay up until all hours of the night and wake up as late as you want, this is a terrible option! Instead, set yourself a scheduled bed time – the same or earlier as normal, if possible – and wake up early. Not only will this help you mentally to feel like you’re in a more normal situation, but it will make it FAR easier to adjust to regular sleeping and working hours when the time comes.
Kate Stone Matheson
10. Reach out if you need #
While the above suggestions will be helpful for alleviating day-to-day boredom and feelings of inertia, obviously this is a time full of fear, uncertainty and can be particularly distressing especially for those of us with mental health issues. Remember that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and if you feel yourself experiencing symptoms of psychological distress or if you need help or support, please reach out. We are lucky to have a tremendous medical and support network here in Mallorca and they are there to help you. If you know anyone who may be suffering in silence, take a moment to send a message – or better yet, call – and check in on them.
For in-depth information about the coronavirus and what the epidemic means for Mallorca, read our ULTIMATE GUIDE COVID-19 (coming soon).
Hopefully this article gave you some ideas of how to make a challenging time just a little bit less difficult. If you have any other ideas to add please add a comment!
#Coronavirus #COVID19 #quarantine #Mallorca
By Jessica Tatam
17 March, 2020