Life during isolation – make it good!

Same as everyone else, during these times, you’re probably in home isolation or quarantine.

If you’re not and you have COVID-19 cases in your area, or even in your country, I suggest you start considering to limit your travels outside your home, since this is really not a joke! But I’m not going to explain this… I hope you already know that and I’m gonna focus on what you CAN do and what you SHOULD keep in mind in your (temporary) new lifestyle of working from home or staying at home.

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Make a schedule! πŸ™‚ Yes, I tend to emphasize this as much as I can everywhere: having a sort of a schedule is highly relevant to how you cope with things in your life. Being a normal working day or a home working day.

Working from home, you’ll find that there are like 1991451 distractions stopping you from work or from whatever you wanted to do, so scheduling (and respecting it) is important.

In your schedule add some “me time” in which you will take care of yourself physically and emotionally.

What is that? Exercise, meditate and check your self-talk, just to make sure it’s not going on the negative. Our minds tend to do that subconsciously without us realizing, and when we do realize, it’s already when we’re with high anxiety or depressed or low mood. Don’t let your mind be a nag these days! Yeah, I know what you’re thinking! πŸ™‚ Take a bit of time to focus on your thoughts and what dominates them, reframe the negative ones, down-spiraling ones to positive views since there’s really nothing that negative right now. We are going through special days, probably months, but these are not the end, and they actually mark a new beginning. The world will come out of this much better, people now realize more than ever how important it is to help each other, to have someone to love and lean on, someone to care for and talk to. Someone who loves and cares for you! And of course, the first person who loves and cares for you is yourself! πŸ˜‰ So don’t talk down to yourself, don’t blame yourself and don’t judge yourself in a way that you don’t do for others. We should be using this time we got for more introspection, for our hobbies, our loved ones and things we “never had time to do”. Now you have it! Use it wisely! It’s a great time for seeing what is important to you, what your soul’s priorities are and what you want your life to be like. A good time to “clean-up the closet” as one would say. Both the real closet and the mental and emotional one. The world is now awaking to the reality of who they are and where the world as a whole is going. We will be able to use this knowledge after this epidemic is over, and we should do it in a way that makes the world a better place for everyone. Let go of anything that has been holding you down and doesn’t serve you. Let go of all repressed emotions and blames, all your fears or judgments. You can see now how irrelevant these all are to the present moment. In the present it counts only how you act, any tiny act can influence your day and your future, or even the society. Consider the extra time we get now as a blessing for solving our issues, for getting the rest we need, for seeing clearly and for spending time with our families and our personal projects.

We are still an irresponsible civilization, and this epidemic shows us exactly that. How a few “inactions” can change the planet to the better, how being less selfish can help save lives, how selflessness is a trait of happiness and how much we are all longing for these traits. And they are in our power! So why aren’t we using them usually? Because of how distracted we are by our daily lives, because we don’t look so much at the bigger picture. The planet is now teaching us a lesson, showing us how much it all matters, every single one of us and our actions. One person can be impacting 1000, and these 1000 impact 100.000 more in total, and so on, so your small “action” or inaction matters!

But back to your day: exercise is important and there’s plenty of things you can do even at home. The internet is full of online classes (weight lifting, weight loss, yoga, zumba, dancing, aerobics, calisthenics, force, etc. also free classes on youtube for, well, almost ANYTHING! πŸ™‚ Pick your favorite and follow that practice as often as you can (I strongly suggest daily, but it’s OK if you skip a day and do it every second day). No time? No?! Not even now!? Are you kidding?

Look: I sometimes exercise while I work πŸ™‚ or while I cook (actually while I have “dead times” in between the cooking phases). If you want time, you find it. Just want it! It’s a thing of will-power and organization, nothing more.

While you work you can do stretches for your back, arms and neck while sitting. You can do leg flexion and muscle toning by lifting each leg from the ground up while sitting in your chair. Full lift-ups, or just half, then extend your legs and flex your knees and so on. πŸ˜‰ You’ll feel it in your tushy and your muscles.

While I cook I do the same: leg toning and stretching, also squats, even planks or push-ups with my hands on the kitchen counter. Try it! πŸ˜‰ You’ll have fun and suddenly will love cooking more!

What else can you do at home to make sure your days are not totally wasted and/or that you don’t feel totally lazy and wasted at the end of the day?

When the morning comes, get out of bed without checking your phone, laptop or news.

Make a morning ritual: grab a coffee/tea/smoothie, get refreshed, get dressed. Yeah, dress up a bit, just so you feel the difference from “home clothes” to another type, doesn’t have to be your work-suit, but something you normally DON’T wear inside. So… yeah, don’t spend the whole day in pajamas! Doing this will stimulate your brain into “work mood” rather than “home relax mood”. πŸ˜‰ And remember to EAT! Yes, when we’re home we usually fall in 2 groups: the ones who forget to eat cause they know they can do it anytime, and the ones who eat non-stop because there’s snacks in the house ;). Balance this! Put normal eating meals in your schedule: breakfast, lunch and dinner! Ok, you can have snacks, but just 1 snack in between meals, alright? Or you’ll come out of the isolation with too much extra weight.

After you get all this done, walk over to “work” (e.g. your home-office space).

For work: prioritize tasks! Make a note with what you have to do and make sure during a day you have both do-able tasks as well as long-term tasks and alternate these in your schedule (e.g. one bad one and one doable one). This will keep you motivated having accomplished some and crossing things of the list while still making progress on long-term ones.

Once you “get to work”: you can check your phone too and limit it to 10 minutes. Then put it away and immerse yourself in the home office. Only check the phone, non-work e-mails and social media in your “breaks” and try to set alarms or counters for the time spent in these breaks otherwise hours fly by like you never imagined. (Trust me, I KNOW!) I used to have a problem when I started to work from home as my breaks turned into several hours flying by without knowing. Realizing this, then every time I took a break I put an alarm for 30 mins from when my break starts so I know I spent already way too much time off and sit back to work. And it works! But smaller breaks are better, use 30mins or 1hr only for the lunch break! And use 15 minute breaks during the rest of the day. Or else your work day will end late in the night.

As a general tip: make sure you tend to distractions and foresee them before starting to work. How? Well, a cluttered home is a distracting space. Clean-up, make your bed, wash the dishes, water the plants, watch the movie you want to see in the evening, cook in normal times (don’t change it just because now you’re home! unless you are good with organizing). The less cluttered the space, the less distractions, and when you set time in your schedule for your “distractions” you will have a better time working efficiently and productively. So you can split these in evenings and mornings. Evening time for dishes, plants, cleaning, movies, etc. Leave as less possible for the mornings, like just make your bed and wash the breakfast dishes and look at the whole tidy house inspiring to do something else. What? Work! πŸ™‚

What do you do with the kids that are now at home? πŸ™‚

The same: make a schedule for them too. Use this time to help them learn responsibilities too. You can teach them to make their own beds, pick up their own toys, etc. There’s a BUNCH of online materials and offers now for entertaining or educational activities for kids and more coming out during these days. Find a few and add it to their schedules, so it goes hand in hand with your work schedule. E.g. from 8 to 10 they can do study, from 10 to 12 they can have drawing or painting time. From 12 lunch with you and then till 2-3PM nap time. And so on. Make it mend with your work schedule, but in the evenings do spend quality time with them, play WITH them, study WITH them if they have questions from their day or curiosities they want to learn about. Give them this time and schedule and you might be surprised how responsive they will be. If they know they get something interesting out of it, they will be doing a lot more with interest, especially getting your attention and appreciation from that.

Socializing: now this will be crucial, but thank God for internet! You can use it for socializing (and try integrating this for your kids too, they too need social interacting with same-aged group) via face-time, facebook or WhatsApp, video-calls even group calls and family calls. Use these options in the evenings or weekends, just like you would have interacted with your friends and family before, beside the usual phone calls. Actually now you can maybe do it even more since you would have some “extra” time in your day from no more commuting. I know it’s not the same as a real live meeting, but I promise having this will still help and make your days brighter! And it will maybe even bond you more to your loved ones.

Spend quality time with your spouse or partner too, this will be crucial now, especially since you’ll be in each other’s face most of the time. Try to separate activities during “work” hours (not to be in each other’s face) and then schedule proper time together in the evening, don’t think that because you’re together all day-long you don’t need it. You actually need it now more than ever! As a tip: make a “date night” without the kids (you can put the kids up for a movie for 2 hrs to get your own time, or set their “social” meeting as video call while you have your dinner date).

So as take-away:

  • morning ritual, without your phone
  • schedule for work priorities, alternating heavy stuff with doable stuff
  • set alarms to avoid your breaks getting too long
  • schedule your meals properly, don’t over-snack!
  • insert physical activities and me time in your schedule, it fits everywhere if you want it
  • distractions and procrastination should be included too! Tend to all distractions before they become an issue.
  • socializing and kids quality time is important, it will help you and them to keep and stick to a positive productive schedule!
  • for kids: use it to deepen their curiosities and interests, kids are very responsive when you try to show interest for their interests!

I hope this will help you make your life better! πŸ™‚

And if you feel one day that you just want to sleep in and do nothing, that is OK! It is normal and you deserve it from time to time to give the whole day to yourself. Do not feel bad for feeling this way. However, if you do have to work though, count down from 5 to 1 and jump out of bed and get to your schedule. BUT remember on Saturday and Sunday to give yourself this sleep-in time! It means your body needs rest and time off the crazy thinking. It will be ok, the kids can sleep in with you, and they’ll appreciate the extra snuggling time. πŸ˜‰

PS: the countdown thing works magic in other circumstances too when you feel like procrastinating rather than doing something productive.

More tips:

Try to stay away from excessive negative news, seriously! Checking the status of the epidemic once a day is more than enough. Don’t immerse yourself in judgmental negative comments and don’t feel drawn in to comment forever yourself. It will take you nowhere and it will alter your mood for no proper reason. Remember: your body reacts to stress and mood. Bad mood and stress downgrade your immune system. Good mood and healthy approach elevate your immune system and keep you strong!

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay responsible and don’t go out if you don’t REALLY need to!

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