30 things to do in isolation in Kent
PUBLISHED: 11:21 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:21 20 May 2020
Li Zhongfei (Li Zhongfei (Photographer) - [None]
We’re all in it together, adjusting our lives, managing the kids, adopting ‘social distancing’ – here are a few ideas that might help. Feel free to send me your own creative ways to cope
With the coronavirus pandemic creating a fast-moving and uncertain situation affecting us all, personally and professionally, many people are finding themselves in unchartered territory. I also realise that I am one of the ‘lucky ones’ – not everyone will still be in work who is reading this but boy, does it fill up the day usefully – but for those who are, I thought I would share my experience of working from home over the past 12 years and how to actually get stuff done. Then a few ideas about how to keep busy, fit, motivated and stay connected, when we finally all get bored with vegging out on the sofa watching boxsets in our PJs.
1. If you’re devoted to your gym classes, like me, you’re going to miss working out in company and with the motivation of a teacher out front. Now you’re going to need to find and follow an online instructor to keep up with your favourite exercises, gym routines, dance or yoga. Why not get your mates to do the same and set a time aside each day when you’re all following a class together?
2. Use your one chance to exercise outdoors a day wisely – you can run, walk or cycle, on your own or with other members of the family you’re self isolating with. Or at least six feet away from a mate; two of my running friends are still going for a run together but on opposite sides of the pavement. Make sure you’ve got some great music or a podcast to listen to while you do it.
3. Planning regular, healthy meal breaks will stop the desire to raid the fridge and biscuit tin every five minutes. You don’t want to be rolling out of your house a plus-size when all this is over, and you can’t just nip out to the shops whenever you feel like it now, so your once-a-week food foray needs to have a bit more focus than usual. Write a list.
4. When the actual Green Goddess – the original keep-fit queen of the 80s – is back on our screens (BBC Breakfast), you know we’re living in very strange times. Diana Moran, 80, is doing exercises three times a week from self-isolation so viewers can follow along at home. If GG is not for you, there are lots of things you can do from your chair or sofa – squats, tricep dips, crunches, body work exercises and so on – and if you have kids at home, you can get them involved. Make activities fun, like running around or playing hide and seek. Just keep moving.
5. It’s important to plan fitness into your day, otherwise if you leave it all to the end you’ll just want to binge on the news and movies rather than working out. For example, use 7am to 8am to work out online. It will help you find focus if it’s planned in. And if you can get outside, try to get your 10,000 steps done.
1. Link up on Skype or facetime with friends and family you’ve lost touch with – or simply pick up the phone for a chat rather than sending a text. Write a letter. Reach out to your elderly neighbours to see if they are OK and if they need your help.
2. Dust off those old board games and playing cards and enjoy some family time in friendly competition. Jigsaws and crosswords are now cool.
3. Camp out in the garden as the weather improves – the ultimate staycation. The kids will love it.
4. If like me you’ve got dozens of photo albums stashed away, probably including some that belonged to older members of the family that you’ve inherited, now’s the time to get them out and take a trip down memory lane. You might consider putting aside your favourites and assembling a big photo montage to hang up and bring cheer.
5. Learn a new language, either on your own or as a couple/family – that way when we can all go abroad again you’ll be able to chat to the locals like a native.
In the kitchen
1. Finally sort through all those tatty recipes you’ve cut out of magazines and newspapers over the years and update (or create) your recipe books, recycling ancient ones you know you’ll never do again.
2. Get out of the takeaway habit and start cooking from scratch, using up leftovers, cooking with storecupboard ingredients, baking a cake for the family rather than buying one. MasterChef Julie Friend is doing a monthly recipe to get you started.
3. Sort out your kitchen cupboards, cleaning as you go, check all sell by dates – you’ll be amazed how elderly some of those tins and spice jars are. Make a list of what needs replacing. Chances are dried coriander and oregano aren’t on a typical panic buying list.
4. Clean the oven – properly. Take your time over this least-popular chore and feel proud. Same goes for the fridge and freezer; they are your lifelines now and it’s a chance to stock them up with the good stuff not just beer and ice cream. Don’t throw any bits of veg out if they can become a stock or tasty soup.
5. Check out how your local eateries are adapting to serve your community with home delivery and take-out services, now they can’t function as pubs, cafés and restaurants. The supermarkets are booming, but do try to support any independents who are still operating. They need you more.
1. Try a bit of positive thinking; there are some silver linings to be found. The natural world will benefit, air quality is improving dramtically in towns and cities across the world, marine life is flourishing in clear, calmer water in Venice’s canals due to the absence of tourists and motorboats.
2. Life planning – things like new hobbies and ideas you’ve never had time to really contemplate or organise before because you’re ‘too busy.’ Goals for the future. Now you have time. Use it well.
3. Reading – Kent authors, poetry, the latest Hilary Mantel, the Bible or whatever brings you spiritual comfort.
4. Local radio – BBC Radio Kent is a wonderful source of up-to-date news on your doorstep. Its ‘Make a difference’ campaign sees Kent’s local radio station sharing details of where you can find help and support from organisations and individuals in your area who are working hard to make things easier for you. If you are in a position to help and have something that you’d like Radio Kent to share, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org (put ‘Make a Difference’ into the subject title) or call 0800 756 1111.
5. Join an online choir – vocal leader James Sills has set up The Sofa Singers as a response to global self-isolation. It brings together hundreds of people in real time for 45-minute choir rehearsals, learning a classic song with some optional harmonies/backing parts. Registration is via a free ticket, one per login. The access code is sent out half an hour before the event starts, so check your emails before the session begins, eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-sofa-singers-free-tickets.
1. Marie Kondo (konmari.com) has single handedly made spring cleaning trendy, so now’s the time to follow her example. Do that deep cleaning you always promised you’d do when you had time: pull out furniture and dust and vacuum behind, look up and you’ll find the odd cobweb if you’re anything like me, get those windows sparkling, wash down your skirting boards, scrub that shower. Honestly, it’ll be fun when you start – just get a good soundtrack going in the background to help you along.
2. Sort out your wardrobes and drawers. This one is very therapeutic – chuck it all in a big heap on the floor and then sort into piles: keep, sell, donate (when you can safely do that). Then hang back up the pieces you definitely will wear and put them into blocks of colours. This way you don’t endlessly buy the same navy and white striped T-shirt (or is that just me ...).
3. Same goes for your garden shed (and garage if, again like me, you don’t keep your car in it, just stuff). Pick a fine day, take everything out and blitz the cobwebs and spiders, clean down the shelves, pots, tools, garden furniture and whatever else you keep in there. Only put back what you will actually use again/need. Recycle, or upcycle, whatever you can, when you can.
4. Your emptynesters may well have flown back to the coop for now, just when you thought you’d waved them off for good, but if not, use the time to decorate their bedroom or that spare room you’ve been meaning to tackle for ages.
5. Take up or renew an interest in crafts, from quilting to upcycling that ugly chest of drawers with a spot of chalk paint after you’ve rubbed surfaces down lightly with sandpaper. Transforms pine a treat.
1. Decide which area of your home is going to be your workspace and spend some thought in setting it up. If you’re lucky enough to have a spare room (I’ve converted my small spare bedroom into my office), try to make it as pleasant, welcoming and uncluttered as you can. Hang family photos on the wall, add plants. Clear your desk/table at the end of the day and make a proper distinction between working and home life.
2. Stick to a routine. Get up at the same time, make the bed, take a shower, get dressed (believe me, those PJs can only come out at night now), have breakfast then switch on your computer. It’s very easy to get into the habit of switching on and starting before you’re barely awake then hunching over your cornflakes at your desk while answering emails. Don’t eat at your desk, tempting as it is.
3. Talking of hunching, posture is important and if you’re using a laptop – great for portability, terrible ergonomics – consider varying your working position and height during the day, from sitting at a desk or table to standing at a kitchen work surface. Using a monitor will make your life a whole lot easier – it should be at eye level and both feet should be flat on the floor. If you’re any higher or lower, change your seat height. If you’re short and your chair won’t adjust to the right height, use a footstool.
4. Take screen breaks, 45 minutes is ideal, set a timer and you’ll be amazed how quickly it comes round. Leap up, do five minutes of exercise, from running up and down stairs (if you have them) to star jumps or push ups. Get a blast of fresh air. Drink plenty, at least eight 8oz glasses of water a day, not just endless coffees.
5. Worried about money? Law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore is offering all Kent businesses half an hour of free legal advice. Expert lawyers from across its corporate and commercial, banking and finance, property, employment and dispute resolution teams will help you navigate this unprecedented event, ts-p.co.uk. Call 01892 701144 to book your free session.