These are strange times we’re living in! I know the word ‘unprecedented’ is getting thrown around a lot, but this really is a once-in-a-lifetime situation. The COVID-19 pandemic is probably something that future generations will learn about at school!
I know a lot of people all over the world are being heavily impacted by the circumstances. Here in the UK we’re under lockdown, asked only to leave home for urgent needs like shopping for essentials, caring for others or if we’re a key worker. Honestly, my lifestyle is pretty well-suited to this, so it’s not too much of a struggle. I do miss going to the cinema, though!
I wanted to share a few thoughts on the key things that are helping me through this period of change and uncertainty – why not try one and see if it helps you too?
One important thing I want to say before I start – what works for me and what works for other people won’t necessarily work for you, and that’s OK. Don’t feel pressurised to join in with activities or initiatives that don’t suit you – there’s no one right way to get through this. These are just some ideas, and I’d love to hear other suggestions on social media or in the comments!
Take advantage of streaming services
I remember growing up if we were stuck inside and wanted to watch something on TV, viewing options were limited to whatever was live or what we had on VHS / DVD. And usually if you owned something on tape or disc, it was something you’d already seen, maybe more than once. Choice increased with digital TV channels, and now with online streaming the possibilities are almost endless.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes this wide range of choice can be a negative – choice paralysis is a very real and demotivating force, and in many circumstances being overwhelmed with content can be disorienting and disheartening. With so much content being pumped into existence, how can we hope to ever watch it all?
But forgetting about that slight existential black hole for the time being, while we’re under lockdown streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ are a blessing. There’s a lot of great content out there that isn’t just mindless ‘twaddle’ (as my mother used to call everything that I watched on the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon).
Here are a few of the best things I’ve watched recently on streaming platforms.
Play video games
In my opinion, video games are the perfect activity for when you’re stuck indoors and want to do something a little more active than just watching a show, but don’t quite have the specific focus needed to delve into a book. And if you’ve never played a video game before, or it’s been years, don’t let that stop you!
I think sometimes people have a very specific idea of what a ‘gamer’ is, but there are so many different games and styles of gameplay out there. My partner and I are both big gamers, and although there are some games we both love, there are also plenty that I love and he hates, and vice versa!
Think about what you might enjoy in a game – beautiful visuals, an engaging story, challenging gameplay, something cute and wholesome or something gory and horrific? There’s something out there in all of those categories and more! And you don’t need a console to play – if you have a laptop, tablet or smartphone, there are hundreds of reasonably priced games available through things like Steam or the App Store.
Here are my suggestions for some great games to pass the time during lockdown.
You may have realised by now that most of my hobbies are pretty well-suited to staying indoors and not socialising with anyone except my partner and my cat… this one is no exception! Read a book. Seriously, any book.
There are literally no downsides to reading and now with Kindle and other e-books it’s easier than ever before to get hold of new material or old favourites. Many libraries are starting to offer e-book rentals, and Amazon UK have daily Kindle deals with a number of Kindle books available for just 99p each.
I enjoy a lot of different genres, though my main reading habits tend to revolve around fantasy, historical fiction, young adult fiction, and now increasingly non-fiction in the spaces of feminism, body positivity and mental health. I also really enjoy graphic novels and comics.
I could do a whole post dedicated to book recommendations (follow me on goodreads for more ideas!), but here are just a few to start off with.
Connect with others (at an appropriate distance!)
Strangely, I’ve felt more connected to my friends and family in many ways since the advent of COVID-19. It’s as if not being able to see people face-to-face has made us appreciate them all the more. My mum and I have been talking on the phone every couple of days, and I find I’m instant messaging lots of my friends on a more regular basis, just to check in and see how they’re doing.
Have you spotted any rainbows in windows? Children (and adults!) all across the UK have been creating rainbow drawings, paintings, and more and putting them up in windows to spread hope and positivity. My partner and I have seen lots on our daily government-permitted walks around the neighbourhood!
An unexpected silver lining of the lockdown is that my favourite Zumba and Strong Nation instructor (who I left behind when I moved to Scotland) has started doing virtual classes! So I’ve also been able to connect with her and the many people I used to go to class with, to dance and sweat and generally forget about the outside world for a while.
Be kind to yourself
I saved this for last but really it is the most important point I want to make – stop being so hard on yourself!
Everything is really, really weird at the moment, and you can’t expect things to go on exactly as normal. A lot of people are using extra time at home to develop themselves, to work on hobbies or new skills, and that’s fantastic! But different strokes for different folks – not everyone is in a position where that will work for them right now.
I appreciate that some people have it a lot more challenging than others at the moment. I applaud NHS staff and key workers who are in some cases literally risking their lives to protect people. I’m not a parent – I don’t have to worry about a child’s education or how they spend their days now that schools are closed.
But just because we may not have it ‘as bad’ as someone else – it’s still OK to be struggling right now. It’s OK to feel lethargic, anxious or depressed. It’s OK to share those feelings and ask for support. And it’s OK if, by the time this is all over, the only thing you can say you’ve ‘achieved’ is surviving – because that’s enough.
On that note, I’d like to end by sharing a post from Matt Haig (whose books How to Stay Alive and Notes on a Nervous Planet are also ones I’d heartily recommend, by the way).
Until next time – so much to say, so much to do, somuchkat.