Make the Most of Isolation with these 8 Activities

 This COVID-19 emergency has radically changed our lives. Just a few months ago, we had no idea our 'world' would be confined to our homes! 

This crisis is a powerful reminder of how important freedom is - and how much we need human connection. 

Remember you are not alone. Because what is different here is that everyone is impacted. Your neighbour, parent, colleagues and friends, as well as your counterparts around the world, are all going through something similar.

So, it's important to remember:

Everything can be taken from a [person] but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. Viktor E. Frankl

This is the challenge each of us must rise to. If we're going to be stuck at home, we may as well make the most of it.

 

Here Are 8 things you can do to make your life better while physically isolated:

1) Create a Healthy, Supportive Routine

When we feel powerless or helpless (as so many of us do at the moment), one extremely easy thing to do is to create a routine or schedule.

While we're all waiting at home, it's easy to lose our sense of time. Days can begin to blend into each other. A routine can give us an anchor and greater sense of control over our lives. If you have children, creating a routine is especially important to give them a sense of normality.

Be sure to include time for food preparation, socialising, exercising, the outdoors and some learning or creativity so you get some benefit from this challenging time.

It's also important to recognise weekends because it's too easy for weeks to blur together. So, make a looser schedule for your weekends. For example, you could include:

  • Sleeping in/later bedtime

  • Brunch

  • "Treats"

  • A film night with popcorn

  • A virtual happy hour with friends or colleagues

  • A larger project, perhaps some art, craft, gardening or home redecoration

In short, create a routine for a sense of control and mastery over your environment. Reclaim what power you can have over your own life, as with all this uncertainty it's important for you, and especially important for children, to have predictability.

2) Learn with Non-Fiction Books

Use this time at home to educate yourself with non-fiction books. There is so much to be gained - such as developing self-confidence, negotiation skills, health awareness and much more.

What keeps you up at night? There's probably a book about that! What do you wish you were better at? There's probably a book about that too!

Here are some book ideas to get you thinking:

  • Be more productive or creative with "The Now Habit" by Neil Fiore or "Thinkertoys” by Michael Michalko.

  • Think (or rethink?) how you live with books like "Nudge” by Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sustein.

  • Get personally inspired with "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl or “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Shwartz.

  • Learn about the human mind with "The Chimp Paradox” by Prof Steve Peters or "The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy PhD, DD.

  • Get healthier with "Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams" by Matthew Walker PhD.

  • Grow your confidence and discover your strengths with "Unlimited Power” by Anthony Robbins or “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers.

  • Finally, read a memoir! Choose someone you admire, get inspired and learn how other people think - and live their lives.

Reading one book will expand your mind, reading several of these books is going to make you more interesting, help you learn new skills - and maybe even make you more employable too!

3) Gain a New Skill with Online Learning

There are so many opportunities online to gain a new skill and they're growing by the day!

Grow your personal or creative skills or choose a new skill to learn and take back to work with online training providers like Coursera or one of the many other providers.

If there's a skill you always wanted to learn, search for it. Be sure to read the course descriptions thoroughly, check reviews if there are any and any money-back guarantees as required.

With so many learning options ranging from free to the low hundreds of pounds, there will be something out there just perfect for you.

I'm currently working through and enjoying ‘The Science of Well-Being’ offered by Yale and available on Coursera.

4) Explore your Life Vision

Rather than watching endless news streams, you can choose to focus on a bigger picture - your future. What do you want from the rest of your life? What would you be disappointed you did not do? Where do you envision yourself in 10 years?

Having a clear vision of how you want your life to be is a powerful motivator. A vision helps us work towards our goals, take action and make change. Soon, we'll all be busy again and a vision might be just what you need to stay focused.

Here are 5 questions to ponder on or explore:

  • What do you desire or yearn for in your life?

  • How do you want to feel?

  • What do you really, really want to be different in your life?

  • What would have happened in 3 years' time such that your life is spectacular and you feel magnificent about yourself?

  • What's your dream for this lifetime? Imagine you're 90 years old and looking back over your life; what did you do that made you proud and happy?

TIP: Remember to think possibility not probability! Don't limit yourself and your ideas because you don't believe something is likely. Instead believe it's possible and, even if you don't get all the way there, you may get close or even find something better along the way!

If you'd like some help with creating a vision for your life, I'm offering a Life Visioning Session. Just email me to set this up.

5) Laugh

Distracting ourselves from our fears is a valid technique for feeling better!

Laughter releases helpful chemicals in our bloodstream - Endorphins (our natural "happy" drug) and Dopamine (part of our bodily "reward" system).

  • What are your favourite comedy shows?

  • Is there a comedian you like?

  • Netflix and similar have so many watching options, so find something that makes you laugh!

IMPORTANT: We should NOT over-use laughter as a distraction technique. It shouldn't be used for ongoing and persistent fears in regular life but for a situation like this, where there isn't much that any of us can do other than sit and wait, distraction can be a great coping mechanism.

6) Be Kind

Kindness and compassion are one of the most powerful tools any of us have in our toolbox right now. Many of us are feeling the effects of being largely housebound, experiencing anxiety and uncertainty about the future.

  • Use kindness to comfort yourself when afraid or feeling anxious or fidgety. Be gentle. Imagine you're soothing a friend, small child or animal who is afraid - what would you say to them? Then say that to yourself!

  • Use kindness to give yourself, and others, the benefit of the doubt. 

  • Imagine you have a kind, wise self. A part of you that is unflappable, intelligent and unconditionally loves all of you. Now, when you need it, imagine that kind, wise self is with you, supporting you, maybe giving you a hug and saying exactly what you need to hear (not just the sugary stuff, but also the tough love and common sense).

7) Help Others

Helping others is empowering and makes us feel better. Here are a few ways you could help others.

  • Check in on a neighbour or friend and see if they need anything. You can do this by phone or via another virtual resource.

  • Offer to get someone groceries if you're going, especially if they are unable to leave their house.

  • Help someone less technically savvy learn how to use Zoom or WhatsApp or whatever they need to get online.

  • Host a virtual get-together with your regular friends.

  • Reconnect with friends or relatives who have moved away.

8) Live Your Values

When we know our values, we understand what motivates and drives us. When we build our lives around our values, we create a life that is meaningful. When we align our actions with our values, we're being truly authentic - this is a satisfying and fulfilling way to live.

Living your values could be the single most important thing any of us can do right now.

Here's an exercise you can do:

  • List your values on a piece of paper or in your journal.

  • Give each value a score ___ / 10 as to how well you are living that value in your life now (where 0 is not at all and 10 is totally).

  • For the scores that are 8 or more - great!

  • For the scores that are 7 or less, ask yourself, "How could I express this value more in my life right now?" "What could I do differently or approach differently, so that I feel good about how I live this value in my life?"

For example: You have a value of creativity but you're only managing to 'go through the motions' right now and your score is 4/10. Ask yourself how you could be more creative during this time - whether it's cooking, gardening, art, writing, helping your children do something creative or even watching a documentary about someone creative you admire...?

If you don't know your values, now is a great time to learn. I'm offering a Values Kickstart Session or Values Review Session. Just email me to set this up.

Wrap-up

Which of the above ideas resonated with you?

Believe you have the skills and power to tackle this situation and you will! Choose to make the best of a difficult situation and no matter what, you'll find a way.

This current and strange time will end. And when it does, you'll be proud you made the effort to learn something - whether it's about yourself, fresh knowledge, a new skill, and who knows what else!  

©2020 Matt Verrell

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