Lovely people, this is going to be a long post. If you’re mostly here for the fun things, hit the link below and you’ll jump straight there. Otherwise, read on!
I checked my Bookbub deals this morning, and one of the first titles that popped up was The Hot Zone by Richard Preston.
Which, I don’t know. Maybe it seems like something we shouldn’t be reading in the middle of a pandemic? (For those of you who haven’t come across it, it’s about the rise and spread of viral haemorrhagic fevers. I remember it as very good, but I’m not sure it’s something I need to be reading right now).
Although, it’s probably not any worse than the fact that I keep checking the news every hour or so. Which is unhelpful but, I guess, understandable. This is new territory for all of us. The only things in our control are ones that feel desperately small. Wash our hands. Stay in. Keep our distance. Don’t buy all the toilet paper. And stay updated.
(Some bad language in the vid – and a serious earworm…)
So we read. We watch. We listen. And all any of it does – the conflicting messages from politicians, the footage of empty streets, the footage of full streets – is make us feel more out of control. More worried. More scared.
Lovely people, things are uncertain. Things are scary. We all have loved ones who are at risk. We’re at risk ourselves, to a greater and lesser extent. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be worried. It’s okay to want to just crawl into bed and ignore it all. It’s even okay to not entirely believe this can be happening. I feel that way too, sometimes. (But I still wash my hands, keep my distance, and have not bought extra toilet paper). All these feelings are valid. They all make sense.
But living in that fear is unhelpful both for our own mental health and for the health of those around us. We may not be able to accept the uncertainty, the discomfort of it all, but maybe we can make it a little easier on ourselves. Maybe we can make this sense of a world spinning out of control a little easier to manage. A little easier to bear.
We’ll all have our own ways to cope at the moment, and no one thing will ever work for everyone. But here are my thoughts on what helps me, and maybe they’ll help you, as well. Because if little things are all we can do, then they are exactly what we shall do.
Step back from the news. There are only so many stories out there, but there seem to be a hundred and one reports on each. It’s too much. I’m trying to stick to no more than twice a day – in the evening to get the local updates, and the morning to get the updates from NZ and Australia.
If social media is stressing you more than it’s helping, take a break or manage what you’re seeing. On Twitter, mute hashtags relating to the virus. Be ruthless with what you allow into your feed. That’s your front yard. If too much bad news is stepping on the lawn, unleash the mute button.
However, social media can be wonderful and supportive, and with so many of us in social isolation (I’m really not a fan of that term. I prefer glorious solitude, and will refer to it as such from now on), it’s a wonderful way to stay connected to friends and family. I also highly recommend it for daily doses of cute animals.
Glorious solitude may or may not be your preference (all my fellow introverts, nod silently in agreement that this is what we’re made for), and even for the introverted among us, there can be too much of a good thing. Message your friends and family. Even – deep breath – call them. If not for you, for them. We need each other.
Look out for each other, for family and neighbours. Help out with shopping and collecting prescriptions and other necessary tasks if it’s safe for you to do so. We may have to keep our distance physically, but we can pull together in other ways.
And, above all, look after yourselves, however that looks to you. That may be group video chats every dinnertime. It may be lots of long baths. It might be copious quantities of tea and cake (this may be a time for Emergency Chocolate Cake. Ahem). Get outside if you can, if it’s allowed in your area and you can safely keep your distance from others. Move your body however it’s available to you. Read the fun books. Watch the so-bad-it’s-good movies. Make meals you love, and never mind if there’s some extra cheese on there (to be fair, this is my philosophy of life, but it’s even more important now). Try a new, creative hobby, if that’s something you can do safely from home. Do not be hard on yourself. Just as we need to care more for others right now, we need to care more for ourselves, too. And that may just mean cookies for breakfast.
Not that I’m talking from experience or anything.
Just don’t forget to wash your hands.
And stay home, lovely people. Or else there may be flamethrowers (bad language ahead, if that sort of thing worries you).
Fun Things to Make Self-Isolation (& Life) Easier:
Mill Hoy: I’ve been doing Mill Hoy workouts for about five years, and I have yet to get bored. In fact, I’ve barely repeated any of them, and those I have were by choice. He’s motivational without being shouty, inventive, and has both equipment-heavy workouts and plenty of bodyweight ones, including a very good collection of low impact vids for when you don’t want to wake the neighbours. He has a couple of month-long video series on YouTube, and for more choice you can do a one-month free trial over on the website.
Ali Kamenova: I’ve been doing Ali Kamenova’s workouts for even longer than Mill Hoy’s. She’s primarily a yoga teacher, but mashes it up with interval, cardio and strength training to create some seriously fun workouts. She’s entertaining, and although her newer vids are a bit more woo than I like, she has a vast collection of older ones that are just excellent (for those of us who like our yoga more physical than spiritual). She has an enormous library of classes on YouTube, although you have to put up with the ads. I subscribe to her website, where she does weekly programs of new and old classes (and no ads). She does have a beginners’ series that I’ve not tried, but I’d definitely start there if you’re new to yoga so that you can be sure you have the basics before she gets you jumping around.
Fitness Blender: Lots of full workouts on YouTube, some with equipment, some without. I enjoy their videos, but find them less engaging than Mill Hoy. However, they’re a fantastic choice for lots of different length workouts for free.
Yogini Melbourne: This is a new YouTube discovery for me, and I’ve only done the neck and shoulder videos. However, she’s lovely, and I thoroughly enjoy the sessions. Definitely worth doing for more traditional yoga. Edit – In the last month or so I’ve been doing more of her longer vids when I want something a little soothing and relaxing. I’ve not found one I haven’t loved yet 🙂
Me: Ahahaha. Some of you may know I have been a personal trainer and yoga teacher in previous lives. This YouTube channel has some quite old and some less old yoga and fitness videos, mostly geared to beginners. So now you can go laugh at me. 😉
Calm: An app offering guided meditations, short stories, and music to help you centre yourself, relieve stress, and sleep. There are paid levels, but there’s plenty you can use for free.
Insight Timer: Another app with paid and free levels, with a huge range of guided meditations.
Headspace: Headspace are offering free access to parts of their meditation course, Weathering the Storm.
PixelThoughts: A very simple, weirdly comforting website, where you type your worry into a star and sixty seconds later it just drifts away…
Explore Live NatureCams: Head to their website for a wonderful selection of livestreams featuring everything from Great Dane puppies to bee hives to rhinos. You can also check out their YouTube channel for both a fantastic collection of best moments and a good range of livestreams. I’ve currently been staring at a hummingbird nest for a good twenty minutes, hoping the parents to turn up.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Virtual tours allow you to check out permanent, temporary, and past exhibits, as well as behind the scenes at research centres and labs. There are a lot of whale bones. A lot.
NASA Sky Camera Network: Stargaze from home by jumping to a selection of live cameras at various observatories in the US, Canada, and one in the UK.
Google Arts & Culture: Okay, this is a cheat, but there’s so much on here! Nip to Venice and check out the art at the Doge. Watch the earth from the International Space Station (so much more peaceful!). Dinosaurs. Monet. Art galleries. Weird things in tanks, presented by the Senior Fish Curator at the Natural History Museum. Who pulls a deep sea anglerfish out of the tank with his bare hands and I can’t stop watching.
Music: Many artists are going online with free and paid concerts, often as fundraisers to help support those struggling through the pandemic. Billboard has a good breakdown of upcoming shows, as does Festicket and Gigsguide.
The Telegraph Bright Side: A weekly round-up of all the good news in the world, which we need more than ever. It’s sent out as a newsletter, and here’s this week’s (you can sign up at the bottom of the page).
BBC: A whole collection of happy news, both coming out of the pandemic and entirely unrelated to it.
Positive News: Happy and uplifting news from around the world, to remind us that not all is bad
Books! (Did you think I’d forget?)
Bookbub: Despite the unfortunate/clever timing of The Hot Zone, Bookbub is still the best place I’ve found to have daily ebook deals delivered to your inbox. Just sign up, pick your preferences, and wait for them to roll in…
Scribd: Get a one-month free trial to a huge library of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, sheet music, and documents such as academic papers. You can even get all my titles on there! It’s £9.99 (in the UK) per month after that, but you can always cancel before the trial runs out if you’re not using it enough.
Kindle Unlimited: KU is currently offering two months free trial for unlimited reading of ebooks, magazines and audiobooks. (I’m not in this one, though…). It’s £7.99 per month after the trial period, but again – that’s a lot of reading!
And of course there are so many others. So share away below, lovely people – what livestreams, videos, and websites are helping you in your glorious solitude? Share away below so we can all take a look!
And in the meantime I will leave you with a little silliness from my favourite comedian (there are rude bits and bad language). Because we need that, too.
Look after yourselves, lovely people. Stay safe. Care for one another.
And wash your hands.