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How to Handle Being Stuck at Home: 50+ Tips for Surviving Coronavirus Isolation

The world has been turned upside-down. How did we go from living our normal lives and moving about freely to being stuck at home and separated from our friends and family in just a matter of weeks? It’s like watching a disaster movie but we’re all players. 

The fact that the whole world is dealing with this nasty Coronavirus crisis is indeed scary, but there is some comfort to be found. We are all in this together and there are ways we can help, not only ourselves but also others.

For Nathan and I the transition has not been as severe as it has for many of you. Our work takes us away from home on a regular basis meaning that we miss out on many events and gatherings with our loved ones. We often spend weeks with just each other for companionship and can go days without leaving our temporary home while we work for hours on our laptops.  

Does it make this time of isolation easy? No, it still totally sucks! But, we do feel blessed to already have some tools that we can use to help get through this time with our mental and physical health intact. We also have an incredible network of friends and colleagues with a similar life and work style who have helped us tremendously by sharing their own tools and tips. 

Hopefully, this isolation will be short-lived and we can all return to our regular lives soon. However, it looks like that may take a little while and even then there’s likely to be some changes to what used to be our “norm”…at least temporarily. 

In some countries, kids may not return to school until the fall. Your employer may decide that they can function quite well with you working from home. Travel may be limited longer-term and large group events like sports and entertainment may take a while to get back on track meaning we have to get creative with our free time.

Change can be stressful and scary but human beings are resilient and adaptable and we WILL make it through this. Especially if we join together and do everything we can to try and help each other focus on keeping our minds and bodies healthy.

So, we’ve decided to help ourselves stay busy as well as offer some suggestions to all of you. The following are either our own personal tips or those of our fabulous network. Some are quick and simple, others go deeper. Either way, they are things that we have each tried personally and have found to be helpful. We all hope they will help you too.

Staying Physically Fit & Healthy when you’re stuck at home

Barbell with plate of vegetables for staying healthy when stuck at home

Maintaining physical health has always been important but now it’s more so than ever. We are not medical experts and cannot advise on the COVID-19 in any way but we do know that keeping your immune system up is vital to fighting any virus or illness. Also, if you feel good physically you will feel better mentally. The two really go hand in hand. There are many things that can help your physical well-being including exercise, rest, and healthy eating.

Virtual community fitness classes

Staying physically fit is an ongoing challenge for most people but when you’re stuck at home it’s even more difficult. As a personal trainer and someone who has exercised their whole life I know from experience that if you don’t have something to inspire or push you to workout you often won’t do it. 

People go to a gym partly because they don’t have proper exercise equipment at home, but that’s not the only reason. It’s also for the sense of community and camaraderie as well as the challenge it inspires seeing other people exercise. 

Many also hire a personal trainer even if they’re already fit and have years of experience in exercising themselves. The reason is that you will never push yourself as hard as someone else will and having a trainer gives you that kick in the butt you need to push out those extra reps.

So when this crisis hit and gyms were forced to close I started the Social Distancing Bootcamp Community. We host live 30 minute sessions several times a week that are open to all levels of fitness. It’s a way for people to stay fit and active but it’s also a community that is helping people feel less isolated.

~Nathan Sado from Fit Living Lifestyle 

Online Yoga

As a yoga teacher and practitioner, attending in-person classes is one of the things I’m really missing right now. But I’ve been delighted to see how many teachers and studios around the world are offering live online classes, which can be streamed from anywhere. Whether you’re an experienced yogi wanting to keep up your practice or a beginner hoping to stay fit at home, online yoga can be a great way to boost both mental and physical health during tough times.

I’ve come to prefer taking live virtual classes over following along with YouTube videos, since the teacher sees and interacts with you. You can also see the other students in class, and most teachers turn on everyone’s mics at the end to allow students to chat. Not only that, signing up for a live class at a specific time keeps me accountable in a way that YouTube videos just don’t.

Many of my favorite yoga studios in Boston – where I used to live and where I completed my first yoga teacher training – are streaming classes on a daily basis, most of them at a reduced rate or by donation. And don’t worry, you don’t need a fancy yoga room or a bunch of props, or even a mat – just an Internet connection.

~Jen Ambrose from Passions and Places

My Fitness Pal

I’ve been using the My Fitness Pal app on and off for years now but recently it’s become an even more important tool for me. The app let’s you easily track your nutrition and exercise which is vital for staying fit and healthy, especially when you’re stuck at home. The combination of boredom and stress is making me want to escape into Netflix and snack like crazy. Of course, this is pretty understandable considering the circumstances but when this crisis passes I don’t want to find myself 10 lbs heavier and out of shape. Plus, as we all know it’s vital to keep healthy in order to keep up our immune system.

One of the most important things when trying to stay healthy is being conscious of what we’re doing to our bodies. Right now it’s far too easy to go a whole day without physical activity and completely lose track of how many cookies we’ve absentmindedly popped in our mouth. By using My Fitness Pal to record everything we eat and how much exercise we’ve done it keeps us mindful of our health and makes us stop and think before finishing that bag of chips.

The app is loaded with all kinds of food from fresh to prepared and packaged and even many restaurant menus so it’s really easy to load in your meals. It will then breakdown the calories and nutritional values for you and will advise on what your intake should be based on your individual goals and situation. You can also track your exercise and it will tell you how many calories you’ve burned so that you can stay within your target.

I’ve always been happy with the free version but there’s also a paid version that has a lot more options if you want to get really serious.

~Sarah from Live Dream Discover

Home workouts with resistance bands

One of the best ways to stay physically fit when you don’t have access to a gym is by using resistance bands. We have been carrying resistance bands with us while traveling the world for the past 5 years, and they are on our short list of items we consider indispensable

You can use bands to perform a variety of exercises for all body parts, and the varying levels of tension help you adjust the workout to your level of strength. Bands typically come with a small brochure of suggested exercises, but if not, you can find hundreds of them on YouTube. 

Look for bands that come with handles and a door anchor (here is an example) so that you can use them inside. We’ve also hung ours from playground equipment and the railing of our balcony. With a little creativity, you can get a great workout without leaving home!

 ~Stephanie Montague from Poppin’ Smoke

Get plenty of sleep 

If you’re busy working and running from one place to another all day, it’s easy to feel exhausted and fall asleep as soon as you lay your head on a pillow. When your routine changes, your body might feel restless and you can’t get a good night’s sleep. The sense of freshness, the pure energy that each morning should bring becomes a mirage.

There are a few tips you can apply to your daily routine to help you get better sleep. Ideally, you should start easing your mind and body into sleep a couple of hours before you get into bed. If you plan to sleep at 11, disconnect from all social networks and email at 9.

Perform only actions that bring you relaxation and make you feel cozy: read a paper book, watch a comedy laying down on your couch, prepare an infusion with soothing herbs like chamomile and valerian, or some milk with honey.  

A simple self-care routine can help you unwind: take a bath and after massage a lightly scented lotion on your body with slow, circular movements. Right before you get into bed, caress your temples and the soles of your feet with a few drops of essential oils that promote relaxation, like lavender and frankincense. 

Remember that doing physical exercise just before bed might stimulate your adrenal gland and spoil your plan to go to bed early… Schedule your work out for the morning or afternoon time.

Last but not least, explore the world of “white sounds”. There are quite a few free sleep apps available that work offline, a popular one is “SleepSounds”. Choose the sound that suits you better: rain, fire pit, ocean, train journey, and so on… You will fall asleep in a matter of minutes.

~Annalisa from Travel Connect Experience

Support your immune system

Your immune system is one of your great assets when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle and there are many small steps that you can take towards strengthening it. As a holistic health coach, these are some of the areas I recommend focusing on as part of a whole-life approach:

Keeping stress levels under control. Ensure you switch off from the media regularly, and include relaxation and fun into your day. Learn a technique such as belly breathing as a simple way to help manage the effects of stress on your body.

Exercise, but don’t overdo it. If you want to strengthen your immune system, it’s important to listen to your body. Focus on fun or relaxing forms of exercise and ensure that you are recovering well from sessions. If not, ease back a little on the intensity level or volume of exercise you are doing.

Get your daily dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an essential role in the health of your immune system. The sun is an important source. Get your daily dose of it, but don’t overdo it or get burnt. Foods such as salmon, egg yolks and mushrooms also contain good levels of vitamin D.

~Elly McGuinness

 

Freeletics fitness app

I have come to realize that being physically fit makes me feel better. Physical and mental health go hand in hand. Yet, I have often struggled to make time for sports. A few years ago I discovered the workout app Freeletics. This app provides short and intense High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts tailored to your needs and fitness level.

Via an algorithm, the ‘Coach’ gives you a training plan custom-designed just for you. I particularly love that I can do the workout with only my bodyweight and from home. This saves me so much time. In this way, Freeletics proved to be invaluable to me, as the short workout sessions enabled me to stay fit and active (you can really see the results if you stick to the program!) in a short period of time.

~Emer and Nils from Let’s Go Ireland 

Dancing

Quarantining with two teenage girls who are missing their dance classes has got me finding ways to keep them occupied and all of us staying fit. Dancing is a great way to exercise because it gets your heart rate up, keeps your lungs happy and your muscles working plus it’s fun so you don’t really even notice you’re exercising.

We’ve been using “Just Dance” on our Nintendo Wii but if you don’t have a gaming system with a dance program there are also lots of online classes you can stream or download. In fact, there’s an app version of Just Dance called Just Dance Now which is supposed to be pretty good.

~Joanna Unger from Joanna’s Sweet Treats


Staying Mentally Positive when you’re stuck at home

Rainbow over farmland

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and right now it’s definitely a challenge staying in a positive frame of mind. Again, nobody here is qualified to offer clinical advice on mental health and you should always consult a professional with concerns over serious issues like depression and extreme anxiety. 

Having said that, there are lots of things we can do to help us deal with the normal sense of anxiety and loss we’re all feeling from change and isolation.

Some people say meditation helps them, others like to keep their mind sharp and occupied by learning something new. Many may find it helpful to just keep busy doing tasks around the home that have been piling up.

Lowering levels of stress & anxiety

At times like this, stress levels and anxiety can be at an all-time high. We are after-all, faced with a challenge that none of us have experienced before. You may be feeling anxiety and stress at higher levels than usual. This is caused by the Flight or Fight response which is the effect of the nervous system and adrenal-cortical system kicking into gear. The result can be an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure creating a feeling of anxiety.

Something else that may be amplified during this period, is your IBSC, aka the “Itty Bitty Shitty Committee” you know, that little voice in your head (the one that chimes in with judgment and negative talk, even when not asked for)!! SO, with all of this happening in our body, how do we dial things back and slow everything down so that we refrain from feeling like a runaway train!? The first step is creating awareness and practice just “being.” Below are some suggestions of ways you can create more presence in your life and in turn gain back your power:

-Go for a walk, if you can, and just notice the sounds, smells and sights that surround you. If you notice your mind wandering just bring it back to the present moment. 

-Close your eyes and take some deep breaths in through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Slowing the breath down creates an amazing sense of peace and inner calm in your body.

-Perhaps try laying down on the floor and listen to some calming music, just be in the moment and if the “IBSC” chimes in, politely tell it it’s not needed and breathe deeply until it leaves.

-Take a nice warm bath with some Epsom salts and light a candle.

-Go into nature, whether it be walking into a forest or standing by the ocean. If you are unable to get to these places because of lock down, visualize them in your mind and perhaps play nature sounds or crashing waves on the shore. Never underestimate the power of imagination!

-Creating awareness and remembering that although there may be things you are unable to control at times like this, there are also things that you can control, and these are what you MUST focus on. encourage you to focus on positive things and give thanks for things you are grateful for in your life. 

-Write a gratitude journal! Mindset is everything….and although life is not always black and white…we ultimately have the choice in creating a day that is filled with presence, gratitude, love and peace.

~Hayley Winter, Certified Coach Practitioner, Certified Personal Trainer at Refuel Health and Wellness

Set up an in home yoga retreat

A holistic approach to your life can be a great way to stay healthy during a worldwide crisis. Basically, holistic health is a form of healing that considers the whole person (body, mind, spirit and emotions). It can transform your health and well-being, but also benefit your relationships and your life in general. 

If you want to engage in holistic activities, we suggest setting up a yoga retreat at home. You’ll get to do yoga, meditate, cook healthy meals and be more mindful. You could also take this as an opportunity to try journaling, nurture your body and get some rest. The best part in all that? by taking part in holistic practices, you are investing in yourself.

~Camille & Robin from Everything Yoga Retreat 

Meditation

Meditation is a habit that I’ve fallen in and out of over the years. After a break of a few months, the coronavirus pandemic led me to pick it up again. After just a few days of meditating in the morning, I already felt much more clear-headed and was finally able to concentrate on focus. It has also helped me to recognize and deal with my emotions, develop a more positive attitude, and to accept the many changes that the pandemic has brought about.

My favorite meditation app is called Headspace. Andy Puddicombe, the creator, has a voice that I find really soothing, and he takes the mystique out of meditation and makes it seem really approachable. Normally Headspace is a paid subscription service, but they have created a special free pack called “Weathering the Storm” to help people through the current crisis.

~Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan

Learning new skills 

I’d imagine most people have been sucked into the seemingly constant feed of news about the Coronavirus pandemic. The hunger for accurate and helpful information coupled with a side of ‘fear of the unknown’ can do that. I’m certainly one of those people. 

However, at one point I realized I had to take a break from all things Coronavirus. A mental quarantine if you will. Deciding to do that was a real game-changer. It cleared my mind and allowed me to think more clearly about how I wanted to spend the extra time I suddenly had.

I decided to make a list of things I’ve wanted to learn about but haven’t gotten around to doing so. Photography, videography, and bread baking. 

For the first two, I turned to Skillshare. Their offer for two months’ complimentary premium access was perfect. I’ve been able to complete classes on the art of self-photography, Instagram success, and videography. It’s been the exact boost I’ve needed.

For bread baking, I’ve discovered a number of excellent resources on Youtube. I have created a sourdough starter from scratch, baked my first two sourdough loaves as well as six stunning fermented baguettes.

Overall I feel more mentally clear, more productive, and less overwhelmed by what is going on in the world. Plus, my stomach is very happy!

You can read about Randi’s experience here: Prague in the Time of Coronavirus

~Randi from Just a Pack & Veggie Visa

Stick to a routine

I’ve found it’s very important to maintain a basic daily routine. When working from home, it’s very easy to let normal routines slide. By ensuring I get up at the same time I always do, going out for my daily run or walk, and maintaining consistent office hours, I’ve found it’s much easier to stay mentally and emotionally healthy in these challenging times. 

I’ve had to adjust my normal routine to accommodate my family’s needs, though. However, including them in activities such as my daily run has also helped them stay grounded and connected to each other and our community around us. Having a daily routine with some flexibility built in is reassuring, and a huge help.

~Lisa Scott — Run Eat Sleep Repeat

Mental wellness techniques

As a sufferer of severe work stress and work-related anxiety, I’ve had to learn to deal with these issues personally. It wasn’t easy but I now have several mental and emotional techniques that help to create change. Here are my top 2:

-Words, Images and Videos: It’s well known that if you put junk food in your body, you gain weight and open yourself to a multitude of health problems. It’s the same with your mind. If you ‘feed’ your mind with negative words, images and videos, you increase your risk of mental health issues. My tip is to replace images of violence, fear, anger etc with more positive TV programs, documentaries, movies and books. 

-Detox Emotionally: Many people are aware of detoxing the body, but what about detoxing the mind? Well, there’s something called the 22×11 technique which is just for that. You create a positive statement such as “I release anger now in safe and healthy ways”. You write this down 22 times. After each time you write the statement, you then write the first response that comes to mind. For example: “that’s a lie”. Don’t give the response ANY attention, just move on. Write and respond 22 times, and repeat for the next 11 days straight.  That’s it. You’ve now detoxed your mind of anger.

I’ve used these myself to overcome severe work stress and anxiety. Just like you gain physical fitness from repeating the same action, you gain mental fitness from repeating the same techniques.

~Matt Adams-Work Stress Consultant

Science of Well-Being course

Yale University is offering a free course online, The Science of Well-Being, which teaches you how to be happier. Professor Laurie Santos taught a class called “Psychology and the Good Life” first in spring 2018 in response to concerning levels of student depression, anxiety, and stress. It became the most popular class in Yale’s history and garnered national and international media attention. To share the class’ contents with a wider audience, Santos created a Coursera course. You can audit it entirely for free or opt for a $49 certificate of completion.

After taking this course, I have come to understand that I will not be happier if I get everything that I think will make me happy due to taking it for granted after a certain period of time. Hence, since I cannot do anything about the way things are, I have changed my outlook regarding the things I cannot change. Money doesn’t make us happy so I use it to purchase experiences to enjoy with family and friends instead.

Joanne recently published an article on the best virtual tours of National Parks with Google Earth which sounds like a great way to escape into nature right now.

~Joanne Louie of Lux Connections

Gardening

Starting your own vegetable and/or herb garden is a good idea just about anytime, but it’s especially important for helping us to stay physically and mentally healthy when we have lots of downtime. 

Between planting seeds, tilling soil or filling pots, fertilizing and watering, tending our garden keeps us active every day, not to mention the health benefits of having fresh, affordable, organically grown produce anytime you want. 

There’s a common misconception that you need a yard to grow food, but we started growing food in small spaces on our patio (lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs) about 7 years ago. We later moved up to permaculture gardening, which is easy, sustainable and makes the most of small raised beds. Now it’s become an essential part of our morning routine, helping us stay fit and sane in these insane times. 

Resource: Introduction to Permaculture Gardening

~Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel

Practicing gratitude 

When you’re at a low point shifting focus to what you have to be grateful for can be very therapeutic and completely change the way you feel. 

If you’ve not practiced gratitude before here are some general rules of thumb: Be specific. Don’t worry about what you ‘should’ be grateful for, just think about what makes you feel better. Make each day’s gratitudes new and consider the 5 senses if you get stuck.

Examples of effective gratitudes:

– I couldn’t go out today but I have a cozy room. The duvet was so warm and I felt protected and comforted as I snuggled into my pillow. 

– At the moment I felt my worst, a friend happened to send me a link to an article I could read and it took my mind off things for a while. It reminded me of the connection I have with my friend because she knew I’d find it interesting. 

I feel nourished after eating a delicious and healthy meal today.

~Cassie Bailey of Cassie the Hag

Wishful traveling

Here we all are, locked-down in our own homes and neighborhoods, not going far at all! It’s just impossible though, to stop addicted travelers from constantly talking, thinking, and dreaming about travel.  Here’s an 8 step exercise to keep that travel enthusiasm on high called “WISHFUL TRAVELING” and it’s a bit like “wishful thinking.” 

 It’s putting some future travel dreams in place.  It’s doing some Wishful Travel planning so that we are prepared and ready to go when the new travel world reopens. It’s keeping the mind open to endless opportunities. It’s using the power of visualization.  At the end of this 8 step exercise, you will have a journal or scrapbook with all the information and details required, ready to set off on your dream journey when the travel world is open for business again.  

~Maureen Spencer of So Many Places! So Little Time!

Strategic computer games

Playing computer games might not seem that beneficial at first sight, but it can help us to cope with being stuck at home quite well. This is especially true of strategy games.

These types of games not only give us enjoyment but they also require mathematics, planning and forethought which helps to exercise our minds. They often involve communication with other players, which is a good way to deal with social distancing. Plus it’s an escape to a different world where the global pandemic doesn’t exist. 

Personally, I didn’t play any kind of computer game for more than 15 years but as all my hobbies and events were canceled, I felt frustrated. The strategy games have helped me to feel better again. It distracts me from the news and social media, gives me a much needed break from the crisis and gives me something to look forward to every day.

~Adriana from Czech the World

Nature Walks

Using the natural environment around your location significantly helps with both the mental aspects of isolation, along with assisting with social connections. We are using our isolation in a small cottage on an arable farm in England by taking our daily (government approved) walks on deserted public footpaths. 

Even in the garden here there’s a lot of birdlife and wildlife. When we spot a new bird, an animal or a plant we take a quick photo, and then research when we return home. Local institutions, like the RSPB, or Wildlife Trusts have a huge amount of information available, including approachable experts manning their Facebook and Twitter feeds – and of course, it’s also easy to take advantage of Amazon Prime and get a book to take into the garden or on walks too!

~Sarah Carter of A Social Nomad


Getting Creative & Fighting Boredom when you’re stuck at home

Person drawing while stuck at home

Boredom is a big one for me personally. I’ve always been someone who needs to stay occupied and being stuck at home can make that really difficult. Luckily I’m also pretty creative and I love trying new things and this is a perfect time for some creative distraction. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to draw or knit. Or maybe you have a giant jigsaw puzzle you’ve always wanted to tackle. Here are some great creative ideas for beating boredom.

Being creatively productive

Being in responsible isolation during these difficult times does not mean you can’t curb those travel blues. There are plenty of travel-related tasks you can do at home that will allow you to be both travel happy and productive. 

How many of you have a stack of travel photos and videos that you have to sort through? Between your smartphones, cameras and go pros, you no doubt have an incredible number of images that need to be sorted, edited, stored and backed up. You might like to even go through your old images and delete those that you don’t actually need to free up some space. Digital photo organizers are easily available and a great way to create digital photo albums that you can also share with your family and friends.

This quiet time at home is also the perfect opportunity to sit in quiet contemplation and reflect on the travel you have done. If you’ve always wanted to document your experiences, no better time to create a travel memoir. This could be in the form of a traditional travel diary, in a bullet journal, a social media account where you document your images with heartfelt stories or even a travel blog.

No matter the medium you choose to remember, it’s an exercise well worth embarking on so that you can remember not only the significant things but all the small experiences that make up the sum of the entire journey. This is the best time to take that trip down memory lane. Make good use of it!

Here’s an article of Amy’s: on 10 Ways to Get Over Travel Blues During Coronavirus

~Amy Chung of Family Globetrotters

Camp indoors

I was a week into the UK lockdown and started to get itchy feet. Outside, the sun tried to entice me – or maybe she was just rubbing it in – and my flat felt smaller and smaller. Then I had an idea: to pitch my tent in the living room. If I couldn’t go outdoors to camp on the trails of Scotland, I would have to bring the campsite into my four walls.

At first, it felt kind of counter-intuitive. I share a generous 2-bed apartment with my partner and our cat. Wouldn’t a tent feel even smaller than that? But space is not really the issue here – we are used to working from home and spending a lot of time together, so what I really needed was a mental break.

And so, I cleared some space in the living room, pitched my beloved backpacking tent and filled it with pillows, blankets and my fluffy duvet. I spent hours there, listening to podcasts, watching films, joining video calls for work and with friends – and I felt great.

I do this every weekend now. Rather than enjoying the freedom and vast space of the outdoors, I seek the safety and cosiness of my little mobile home. It puts me at ease and I feel adventurous and safe at the same time. I know many others do the same – a great place to connect with other outdoor enthusiasts in this challenging time is the Adventure Queens Facebook community for women. 

Here’s an article by Kathi: Outdoorsy things to do at home.

~Kathi from Watch Me See

Travel through cooking

I like to travel, and I like to cook.  I can’t travel right now due to the coronavirus, but I can still cook up a storm and travel through international dishes. If you like cooking you can entertain yourself, fine-tune your cooking skills and have a lot of fun traveling vicariously through your cooking.

I’ve been using the stuck-at-home time developing interesting recipes from around the world. So far I’ve experimented with garlic pork and broccoli from China, fish tacos from Mexico (made with fresh tortillas), a fascinating and delicious eggs and tomato dish called Shakshuka from Israel and a classic roast suckling pig with rice and black beans from Cuba. I got that last recipe from the cookbook, A Cuban Table. 

I’ve found that creating these dishes challenges me to try something new and I also get to share and enjoy these meals with my family. 

~Talek Nantes from Travels with Talek    

Stage your home  

Give the house a declutter and makeover using whatever you’ve already got on hand. You’ll be amazed at how fresh and clear your mind, body and soul will feel afterwards!  

Here are my tips for revamping your home during the self-isolation period:

– Clean out all the drawers, cupboards, shelves etc.

– Use boxes and containers to organise all of your spaces (rather than having things jumbled and ‘shoved’ in)

-Declutter clothing closets and drawers (if you haven’t worn it in the past year, you probably never will!)

-Rearrange the furniture (a change is as good as a holiday)

– Mix up the cushions, rugs, throws, table cloths, ornaments etc. for a fresh new look

– Bag/ box everything up that you’re getting rid of to donate to a local charity after the isolation passes

– Don’t forget to get the kids involved – it’ll keep them busy and creative

For more information on decluttering & home organisation, check out these two websites for hints and tips:

  1. KonMari’s Tidy Tips – https://konmari.com/category/tidy-tips/
  2. Karen Kingston’s Clutter Clearing – https://www.karenkingston.com/blog/

~Allan and Emma from MY RIG Adventures

Igniting creativity

I am using the precious time available during this lockdown to better myself learning and igniting my creativity. First of all I’m keeping a creative journal each morning as soon as I wake up. I find that my mind is super fresh because it is still unconditioned by external inputs and makes it so much easier to pour down ideas onto paper.

It only takes a few minutes and doesn’t need to pay too much attention to the form or grammar. In the afternoon, I come back to the draft and use it to create content for my blog or social media posts without struggling to find a topic, which is often a challenge for many bloggers.

This is just one of the useful tips I have learned in the Revitalize Your Travel Blog course I am following that is really helping me to ignite my creativity and keep me busy these days.

Here’s an article from Simona on 10 Tips for life under lockdown

~Simona Polli from Travel Off

Painting 

As humans, we always look to arts – be it music, painting, sketching or reading to calm us in times of crisis.  I try to do some painting to stay mentally healthy. Not that I’m good at it but it brings a sense of calm. It is almost meditative and helps me focus, focus on the colors, brush strokes and think of nothing else. 

When traveling I love visiting art museums and take photos of paintings and artworks that catch my eye and love to use them as inspiration.  You can see some of those here. Claude Monet is one of my favorite artists and I love seeing his paintings whether it be waterlilies, roses or yellow iris.  It always inspires and motivates me. I have not had any success painting a version of water lilies that I’m happy with yet but I’m working on it. 

Here’s an article by Priya on painting techniques

~Priya from Outside Suburbia 

Building a capsule wardrobe

A great way to get creative and fight boredom at home is to build a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a selection of a few adaptable pieces of clothing to ensure you look put together. Having a capsule wardrobe has helped me to save time packing for holidays and getting ready in the morning. It also saves limited suitcase and wardrobe space.

I have saved money by not buying excess clothes too. With the right adaptable pieces, I have been able to create hundreds of different outfit combinations. Join the Petite Capsule Free 7 Day Capsule Wardrobe Challenge for easy step-by-step guidance to build a capsule wardrobe.

~Clara from Petite Capsule 


Staying Socially Connected when you’re stuck at home

Woman chatting on a tablet

For some homebodies, this may not be a huge issue but for many people feeling socially disconnected is the worst part. Fortunately, we are blessed to live in a time where technology makes it easier than ever to stay connected, at least virtually. There are so many ways to chat, play games, or even host a party with people online. Here are a few favorites.

Houseparty

Staying socially connected has perhaps never been more important than during these times when more and more people see themselves on lockdown and confinement.

There is a great app for families and friends who want to stay connected and spend time together, it’s called Houseparty and allows you to connect and have video chats in a group. Furthermore, you can play interactive games together directly within the app. While most smartphones support regular phone calls and video chat between two people, you’ll need a special app like Houseparty to connect to a video group chat.

This has helped me stay in touch with my family and friends, to have a glass of wine together and play silly games to get some quality time. It’s available to download to IOS and Android devices.

~Alex from Swedish Nomad 

Zoom Cloud Meetings

This video conferencing app was making headlines recently due to privacy issues when the U.K. government used it for cabinet meetings during Coronavirus isolation. But it’s still the best video conferencing app out there, and it was quickly adopted into daily life by my family with weekly pub quizzes, regular chit chats, and daily aerobics (09:00 AM) led by my stranded wife in Bangkok while we are holed up in Northern Ireland. You don’t need to create an account or download the usual phone app, as it easily works on desktop computers and it is made idiot-proof by just clicking on a link or two

~Allan Wilson of Bangorni

Whatsapp

Italy has been in lockdown for almost 5 weeks now and we Italians all had to quickly adapt to this new lifestyle, where we get to enjoy the most mundane tasks such as cleaning the house, fending to the garden and using social media or chats to talk to friends. 

Whatsapp is proving a tremendous resource to stay connected to friends all over the world. I regularly chat to my friends all over the world, to check on them and see how they are. I have used it to video-call with friends in Paris and Tel Aviv, with friends here in Italy (we do group chats with them!) and to have online drinks with friends in South Africa. I have been using it to check on friends who live in other parts of the country and unfortunately caught the virus – thanks to Whatsapp I know they are fine, being taken care of and recovering. 

We have to be truly thankful for this technology that allows us to remain in touch even with people who live far away from us, at a time when traveling is impossible. We have to be thankful that we can communicate and express ourselves even through this hardship, and that we can support and encourage one another. 

~Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across The World 

Virtual meetups

Staying socially connected looks a lot different than it used to in the before times. As a board game designer, meeting face-to-face is usually kind of important to actually play games. Thankfully, technology has saved the day — you can play games in a computer program called Tabletop Simulator or attend a virtual Meetup to chat, play, and otherwise be sociable.

Whatever your hobbies or passions are, now’s a perfect time to reconnect with them — and the people that enjoy them.

~Chris Backe from Worthy Go 

Schedule socializing

Although it’s crucial to stay socially connected during this time, it’s also important to not lose hours or days into a hole of social media scrolling and Whatsapping. Therefore, in order to stay in touch, but not feel a need to be able and ready to respond to any messages around the clock, I’ve chosen to designate an hour or so a day to replying and connecting to friends on messaging apps. 

I actually prefer to open the Whatsapp app on my desktop and write my responses out using my keyboard’s laptop. I either do one hour in the evening, or two half hour sessions twice a day, and make a point of writing back to everyone, or reaching out to people to see how they’re doing. 

I’m finding it much healthier to keep in touch this way, rather than picking my phone up all day long. It also helps me to focus on other tasks more fully than allowing myself to be distracted! 

~Claire Stokes from Stoked to Travel

Happy Hour 

A daily happy hour has been a game changer for my lockdown ‘bubble’. I’m a full-time traveller, I had to come home a month ago to move back into my childhood room at my parents’ house ten years after moving out (and three years after leaving the country). To help make lockdown fun and keep our spirits up, my parents and I hold a daily happy hour at 5pm to sit in the sun with a cold beverage, listen to good tunes, and talk about anything and everything.

You could extend happy hour to friends and family outside your household with a Zoom video call, you could make it fancy with cocktails, or make it more formal with a dress code. Bonus points if no one mentions COVID-19!

Here’s an article from Alexx on staying sane during self-isolation 

~Alexx from Finding Alexx


Working From Home & Staying Productive

Woman in a home office

With all the tools and technology available more and more people are working remotely these days. The worldwide Coronavirus pandemic has forced thousands more to join this trend and it’s very likely this will become a permanent thing for many. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. It requires discipline and organization and of course a good place to work from. Because of our business, we know lots of people who work from home and have asked them to offer up some tips to help you get started.

Transition to working from home

Making the transition to work from home can be mentally taxing. Distraction much? Personally, I made a full-time transition 2 years ago. Balancing a work environment and a life environment under the same roof is important to maintain your productivity and your sanity! 

My two favorite tips on working from home? First, create a dedicated workspace so you truly feel that when you’re working, you’re in work mode, yet, when you’re living, you have the freedom to live your life with the hassles of work. Second, work your normal hours! Just because your computer is there doesn’t mean that you have to be chained to it at all hours of the day. You still need boundaries and balance. Give yourself a little time to settle into the new routine and embrace the freedom to do a little laundry midday when needed!

~Katie from Daily Momentum

Home Office Set-Up (That Travels Well too)

When I first started working online in 2012, I was getting hand, wrist and arm tension to the point where I thought I would need surgery for carpal tunnel! Turns out, I didn’t need surgery, I just needed a few home office accessories to support my long hours behind the computer. Take a major hint – if you work online and you’re using your laptop’s tracking pad—You’re doing it wrong!

Adding a mouse, at the least, will change the way you work for the better—your body will thank you! After using a mouse, my pains melted away and after using a few more tools I found, my arm tension and my posture has greatly improved.

Bonus—These items travel very easily and they are good for those who have a very small office space too!

Free Online Tools to Make Work Life More Manageable

If you are in need of making your life just a tad easier when it comes to working online but don’t have the extra cash to shell out for fancy tools, you’re in luck. There are actually quite a few fun and free tools that can make working online MUCH easier. Whether you are in need of transferring files with ease, seeing where you’re spending too much of your time, in need of a design that only looks like you hired a designer, or are simply in need of a way to organize everything with your 101 projects—these free online tools will help do the trick!

~Nina from Where in the World is Nina

Productivity tips for working from home

-Create a focused and positive mindset: Treat working at home like a day at your office and appreciate the positives rather than the negatives. Remind yourself that you still have a job and are lucky to be earning money, and while you might be good at bill tracking, you need to keep the revenue flowing to pay said bills. On the brightside, you also get to do it without the stress of a commute.   

-Dedicate a working space at home: It’s important to assign a dedicated working space for you. It could be a simple table and chair in your bedroom or a space at your dining table, as long as this is the only place that you will work at home. Try to make it as comfortable as possible using what you have.

-Set your working hours: Try to set your working hours at home the same as your working hours in the office. During this time, focus to accomplish all the tasks assigned to you within the day and avoid doing any chores at home. Remember, you may be inside your home but you are at work.

-Follow the same meal and break schedule: Just like on a regular workday, set a time when you will eat breakfast or lunch and when you will have snacks or coffee.

~Mike and Katie from The Hollapinos

Online work tools

Working online remotely is a luxury thanks to our digital age. But to make the most of it, you need the right tools so that you can work as efficiently or perhaps more efficiently than you would at a traditional office.

As an SEO consultant to small and medium businesses, I need communication tools, file sharing and file storage tools for the most part. Here’s a few of my favourites:

-Trello: a project management tool that allows me to manage projects in separate ‘boards’ where I can create to-do-lists, allocate work to outsourcers and communicate with clients directly within the dashboard. 

-Skype / Zoom: video chat that allows me to meet with potential new clients ‘face to face’ from anywhere in the world. Some clients work with skype, others are using Zoom, so it’s essential to have both. It’s as close as it gets to an in-person meeting.

-Dropbox: a cloud storage tool that allows me to store client files encrypted, that I can access anywhere from any device. 

~Matt from Paradigm ProjeX

TaskWorld

I have recently started to use TaskWorld to organise my work and that of my team. Working from home or online is not new to me, even at my previous job at Google I already had a global role and was part of a spread team managing large projects in dozens of countries and time zones, so this is something that I have been doing for over 6 years. 

However, as I diversify my business and start a breakfast bowl food blog and spend more time focusing on a Solo Female Travelers group, the challenges of multi-tasking and staying up to date on 3 businesses with different teams and partners have multiplied so I decided to start using a project management and collaboration tool. 

Think of TaskWorld as a combination of the messaging features of Slack, a powered up version of Asana and a fantastic task management system like Trello. Since using it, I feel more productive but also I sleep more soundly at night. Before going to bed, I review the plan for the next day and the overall progress against targets and, in the morning, I plan my day based on the tasks, this makes me feel much more in control and ensures that I move towards the end goal instead of procrastinating or getting distracted with Netflix and social media. 

It has also made it much easier to split tasks with various teams and ensure that I can have an overall view on the main projects I am working on and can prioritise time and resources among them accordingly.

TaskWorld currently has a 30 day free trial and is then $10 per user a month after that. 

~Mar Pages from Once in a Lifetime Media

Dual monitors

In the course of my work I will have multiple files, worksheets, documents or windows open at once working between them. One of the most useful tools my work ever installed was a second monitor side by side.

When the opportunity presented itself for me to work from home more often, a second monitor was the first thing I added to my set-up. Most monitors will connect to a laptop or PC via a HDMI, and a simple tweak of the settings creates a second display meaning I can work from one document on my laptop, while having others on the display beside me instead of having to navigate between files on the one screen. If you are unable to get a monitor, a TV with the right connections will also do the trick.

~Holly from Globe Blogging

Roam Research

Roam Research is a super powerful tool, and the more time you spend learning about the various features the more you’ll find yourself using Roam to manage everything. But to start out, you can use the Daily Note as a way to keep track of what you’ve been doing each day, and creating to-do lists.

It’s free to create an account, and each day you go to your profile you’ll land on the ‘Daily Note’. For each new day, a new Daily Note page is created (you can scroll down to see your previous Daily Notes). This is a great place to store notes about what you’ve done throughout the day, and making your to do lists. The default setting uses bullet points which is ideal, as you can write down any random thought you have, there’s no need to ‘filter your thoughts’.

It’s a low friction tool as you always land on the Daily Note which acts as a hub to all your other pages. And if you didn’t get all your to-do items completed from the previous day, you can cut and paste them from the previous day’s Daily Note. If you’re starting to enjoy the clean interface, you can search for YouTube videos to learn about other ways to integrate goal setting, research, book notes and more into your Roam Research account.

~Jub from Chur New Zealand

Working from home with kids

Working from home sounds amazing, doesn’t it? No more commute, being your own boss, … But what if you have to work from home with kids around you 24/7? A lot of you have been forced in this position due to the worldwide pandemic. 

Because I’ve chosen this way of life a few years ago, I’m quite experienced by now to be productive with my kids nearby. However, as some of you probably experienced already, without certain strategies, this situation might drive you insane! 

Therefore, I’ve written this article with all my best tips and tricks to make working from home with kids a success! You’ll probably like it so much you might want to consider changing your lifestyle, as I did. You get to see your kids so much more, spend quality time with them and be there on those moments they need you. All while you are still making money and having a career.

~Heleen from The Global Wizards

Get ready for work as usual

It’s hard to get into a productive mindset when lying around the house, still wearing your pajamas. That’s why it’s extremely important to get ready for work as if you were going to the office. Get dressed, put on jewelry, some perfume, and even a little bit of makeup. It’s a small action that makes it a lot easier to get into ‘work mode’ and creates a clearer separation between ‘work time’ and ‘free time.’

~Or from My Path in the World


Educating Your Kids & Keeping Them Entertained while they’re stuck at home

Girl doing homework

We don’t have kids personally but we have nieces and nephews and a ton of friends with children. Some of them were already home-schooling but now find themselves having to also find ways to entertain their kids outside of school hours when they’d normally be playing with friends. 

Others are now stuck at home with their kids and trying to keep them focused on their schoolwork which they’ve always relied on the teachers to do. Either way, there are some great tips here to help keep you and the kids sane.

Family adventures & schooling

It can be a struggle to be stuck at home when you’re used to being on the go. One of the things we’ve found helpful is to shift our mindset when it comes to family adventures. We’ve found that it’s important to remember that adventures don’t always have to be treacherous feats or extreme experiences. Sometimes they can simply a new and exciting experience for you! 

This massive list of family adventures is full of great ideas that you can do without leaving your neighborhood. Some of our favorite ideas are going on a scavenger hunt, making our own sourdough starter and bread, having a LEGO contest, reading living books full of adventure, and planning the details of our future travels. Changing our mindset and getting creative with our ideas has made a huge difference in the way we are all feeling during this stressful time.

We have been homeschooling for over six years and have learned a lot over the years about what works and what doesn’t. But, even for us, we’ve realized that there needs to be some changes when it comes to teaching your kids at home in the midst of social isolation.

First, and foremost, give your kids (and yourself) grace. Lots of it. We are all in uncharted waters and homeschooling can be challenging in the best of circumstances. Not to mention when you’re stressed and trying to work from home yourself. Put everyone’s mental health first and let everything else come second. Next, take a true look at whether or not you really need a homeschool schedule and how to implement it. And, lastly, when you’re ready, try to mix it up with fun and interesting activities like the ones found on this massive list of free homeschool resources

~Tiffany Burghart of The Stoke Fam, LLC

Activities and Outdoor Time

Kids have a lot of energy, as such they need to keep up their physical activity. During these uncertain times, it makes it especially difficult for a lot of families for various reasons. If the restrictions in your area still allow for outdoor activities then going for walks and bike rides are a perfect way to keep your children active, especially as spring arrives.

However, on gloomy days or when going outside is restricted, inside activities must be found. YouTube is a surprisingly great way to get kids moving. The Body Coach by Joe has daily PE  classes at 9am UK time and Cosmic Kids Yoga, is a yoga channel which mirrors movies and characters to create 20-30 minute long easy yoga sessions for kids.

~Diana from Travels in Poland

Maintaining a “normal” schedule

Many parents and kids are thrown into this homeschooling thing and are feeling plenty overwhelmed. We’re in the luxurious position that both my partner and I were already working from home before all of this started. On top of that, our 4-year old daughter only went half days to school as she needs the downtime in the afternoon to cope with the busy school life. However, we are used to her playing on her own during that time and well, as independent as she is, it’s too much to expect her to entertain herself the entire day.

Her kindergarten school life is centered around an activity every day of the week. Painting on Mondays, PE at Tuesdays, baking bread at Wednesdays, crafts at Thursdays and drawing on Fridays. So we continue that. Every day we organise the same activity as she would have at

school, which helps her to stay connected to her teacher and friends (we share the things we make on a class facebook group). She knows what to expect of every day and spends the rest of the time playing on her own, which gives us the time to work (more or less) peacefully on our projects.

A good resource is Suddenly We’re Homeschoolers!. This article focuses on parents that are thrown into homeschooling during this crisis and how using a schedule can help everybody stay sane. I’m a big fan of responsive parenting, so I’ve been following Laura Markham for a while. She has plenty of great tips that can be used now, but when regular life returns as well.

~Barbara from Mums on Flip Flops

Combine learning with fun

To keep my preschooler busy while his school is closed and we’re under a shelter-in-place order, we’ve been playing in the yard as much as possible. When we do, I try to incorporate learning challenges into his free play. For example, I drop things into his water table and have him guess whether they’ll sink or float. (No water table? A Tupperware storage bin works great!). 

When he’s scribbling with sidewalk chalk, I also have him practice drawing letters, numbers, and shapes. We do scavenger hunts, too – nothing extravagant, just things I know we’re likely to come across. I ask him to find dandelions, clovers, rocks, etc., and then we learn about our finds. I didn’t have a lot of time to plan for homeschooling, but it’s surprisingly easy to keep your kid learning with things already on-hand. Good luck!

~Mary Beth from a Reluctant Mom

Cooking with your kids

One of the most important life skills that we can teach our children is cooking. Not only does it mean that they will be able to be more self-sufficient adults, but it also helps to build confidence, develop a healthy relationship with food, and eventually make it possible for you to do less of the cooking yourself! This post called “Recipes Kids Can Make”  shares tips on how to make cooking together a positive experience for everyone as well as recipes that will help your kids to improve their skills, and even prepare full meals on their own!

 This is another article called “How to Keep Busy During School Closures” contains some fun cooking-related activities organized by age and how much parental involvement is needed for the activity (there are also some bonus non-cooking related activities listed as well).

~Jessica from The Scramble

Helping children feeling anxiety 

 Helping children with anxiety during uncertain times can be a bit of a minefield. It’s tempting to think we can control children’s feelings by shielding them from the truth, brushing off their worries or keeping them busy. However, this doesn’t always work, and can teach them bad habits when dealing with their own mental health. 

As a primary school teacher for over 12 years I have found that even with young children, honesty is the best policy. Talk to them about what is happening and why (you can simplify the facts, but try not to avoid them altogether!) and make sure they know you’re available and willing to answer their questions.  

~Emily from Two Get Lost

Fun without screen time

When you’ve got the kids at home and going out isn’t an option it’s useful to have plenty of ideas up your sleeve. There will be times when they’ll play happily or get stuck into their own activities. And there will be times when watching something on Netflix might be a good option.
However, when you feel like it’s time to switch off from screens and they need some inspiration for activities to do, try these ideas. These are a few things that can be enjoyed by kids of different ages:

-Arts and crafts activities. Get creative with everyday items such as cardboard boxes and empty packets from the kitchen, or with leaves and sticks from outside. Lay out some useful items like these, along with any art supplies you have (even simple things like scissors and tape), and you might be surprised at what your kids come up with.
-Games. Fun games are always a favorite with kids. Dust off your old board games, pull out a pack of cards, or play classics like Simon Says, charades and hide and seek.
-Science experiments. Try mixing baking soda with vinegar and observe what happens. Another idea is to get a bucket of water and some everyday items. Get the kids to hypothesize whether the items will float or sink, and then see if they are correct! Try these 63 easy science
experiments using household items for more great ideas.

~Colin Clapp from Parenting Passports and Profits

Schedule breaks and exercise

With the kids doing homeschooling there are far fewer hours left in the day for work so we have to be as efficient as we can and for us, a routine has been critical to achieving this. I know some people have a more rigid routine than we do and that works well for them but with different pressures and deadlines on a given day, for us, the routine has had to be flexible. Even so, it still really helps to give structure to the day and keeps us moving forward. 

The main things for us have been scheduling daily exercise, taking regular breaks and knowing what we need to do when we sit down to work. We also try to start and finish at the same time each day. 

~Emma from Wanderlust and Wet Wipes

TEDed Homeschooling

We have been homeschooling and worldschooling for the last four years, so using the internet for teaching is not new for us (though we are always discovering new things – our latest favourite are the short movies on TEDed). But my main advice is: Don’t push your children. Let them be and use the lockdown time to play together, and be together. As at the end of the coronavirus era, kids won’t remember what they learned but how they felt. Was the lockdown all stress or great family time? The decision is yours – get out the Lego, books and board games.  By using those things, kids learn while they play.

~Ania from The Travelling Twins


More Online Resources for staying sane when you’re stuck at home

There’s a whole world of online resources to help people get through times of being stuck at home. We haven’t tried them all personally but they look like they’d be useful right now. If you have anything you’d like to add let us know!

https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/meditation-at-the-hammer: Free UCLA mindful awareness podcasts

https://www.reflexmath.com/: Kids learning tools for math

https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne: Virtual tours of exhibits at the Louvre in Paris

https://www.coursera.org/: Online courses from world-class universities

https://www.ted.com/talks: Videos of inspirational and informative TEDx talks

https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours: List of virtual museum tours

https://explore.org/livecams/: Live webcams of animals and nature all around the world

https://www.open.edu/openlearn/: More than 1,000 free courses on multiple topics

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/home: Live streaming concerts

https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/9335531/coronavirus-quarantine-music-events-online-streams

https://www.duolingo.com/: Learn a language for free

https://stories.audible.com/start-listen: Free kids stories during school closures

https://try.fender.com/play/playthrough/: Three months of free guitar lessons

https://www.mybluprint.com/: Learn a craft

https://tunein.com/podcasts/: Thousands of podcasts on every topic imaginable

https://www.jamieoliver.com/: Lots of recipes and tutorials on cooking and nutrition

https://en.boardgamearena.com/: Online board games


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