I know many of you are, like me, experiencing a lockdown or something similar. Here in South Africa, many of us were preparing to go back to life as usual until the announcement came that our lockdown was being extended for a further three weeks. A few months ago I’d probably have been begging for three weeks of time to myself, and now here it is, albeit under slightly stricter rules and unfortunate circumtances.
I’ve compiled a list of things to do, read, listen to and think about during this isolated time.
1. Have a routine. If you want to be productive during your lockdown period, you need to set out a routine for yourself. Set a to-do list in the evening for the following day and try to stick to it. I try and make sure all my admin, chores and exercise routines are done by lunch time, giving myself some downtime thereafter. That being said, it’s important to realise that this is also a time of uncertainty, grief and worry. You don’t have to be constantly productive, and if this isn’t a productive time for you, don’t beat yourself up about it. We all have different paths that we venture on at different paces. If having a routine helps you be productive, try your best to stick to it – it could do wonders for your mental space.
2. Read. You know all those times you’ve told people you’re too busy to read? Well here you have it: time. Dive into your must-read list and find some new books to enjoy. Steer away from your electronics and decide to live in an author’s world for a while instead. I find that indulging in another world takes some of the worries about our current circumstances away. Reading about inspirational, powerful and resilient women has also kept me motivated.
My Feminist Reading List:
- THE POWER by Naomi Alderman
- SHE SAID by Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey
- THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang
- Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
3. Declutter your belongings, declutter your mind. This is the perfect time to organise and sort out everything you swore you would before the new year started but never quite got round to. Give your old clothes away to those in need, get your work / study space structured, dig through some old storage items, and why not attempt a DIY project? It’s natural to get ‘cabin fever’ during this time and the best way to combat that is to ensure your surrounding space stays exciting and creative.
4. Try something new. During this period of time you could try at least one new thing. Whether it is a physical exercise, cooking a new recipe or challenging yourself to some new creative outlets – be daring! Who cares if it’s a flop – that excitement of starting something new could be beneficial for your mind at the moment.
5. Join a yoga or meditation group and practice mindfulness. This is the ideal time to push your reset button and re-align your mind and body. Also, supporting your local yoga studio can be equally beneficial to both you and them. Small businesses need us now more than ever. I personally find it hard to quieten my mind and so have challenged myself to trying more mindfulness practices.
6. Stay active. Home workout tips and videos are all over the internet now – there has been no better time to try out new programs or trainers from the comfort of your own home and find what works for you. Stay active for your mental and physical health, NOT because of any pressure from others or yourself. There are far bigger issues at the moment than physical appearances.
7. Visit a virtual gallery. Since lots of us have had to cancel travel plans for the next few months, galleries around the world have ensured no one misses out on any exhibitions. Use this as creative inspiration and even create your own art pieces at home after your virtual tour.
- National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
- Tate, Britian
- Rjiksmuseum, Amsterdam
- Musée d’Orsay, Paris
- British Museum, London
8. Connect. For introverts like me, this time has been revitalising and energy-generating but even I am starting to feel the physical isolation. Apps such as FaceTime, Zoom and HouseParty have made it easy to keep in contact with those around you. On days that the isolated feeling hits, jump on to one of these platforms and chat it out to some of your friends or family. Being physically distanced can get to our heads sometimes and so it’s vital to stay connected to your loved ones. They’re going through the same emotions and feelings as you so check in with each other.
9. Appreciate, express gratitude and be thankful. It’s easy to fall into a cycle of self-pity during this time. It’s uncertain and scary but there are millions around the world feeling the same emotions. We are lucky if we are able to self-isolate in a healthy, safe and clean environment – it’s a luxury not everybody has. Be grateful for a safe home and for your health above all. If you are isolating with family, express gratitude towards them. If you are alone, be thankful for that precious time you get to spend with yourself. There is always something to be grateful for, sometimes we’ve just got to look a little deeper.
I leave you with a quote from the exquisite Michelle Obama :
“If you do not take control over your time and your life, other people will gobble it up. If you don’t prioritise yourself, you constantly start falling lower and lower on your list.”
Stay safe, stay strong, stay brave.