We might be feeling a bit panicky at the moment as our way of life moves away from us at frightening speed. Everything feels out of control and we need to find ways to bring a sense of normality and calm into our lives. I realise that we all have very different situations, and things I suggest won’t work for everyone. My hope is that you’ll find something here that helps you.
- Take an Inventory. The supermarkets are in a bit of a state at the moment, and essential goods are hard to get hold of. While most of us have a good idea of what we need to buy every week, there might be items lurking in the back of the cupboard or fridge that we forgot were there. It’s important to keep an inventory of the things you do have to hand. I’ve been doing this since the threat of no-deal Brexit was a possibility, and it’s helped me pay close attention to expiry dates and make better use of what I have. Sites like SuperCook are a great way to find recipes based on what you have. Enter the ingredients you have to hand and the site will generate a recipe for you.
- Grow Some Food. I realise many of us don’t have huge gardens or the expertise to grow enough food to keep ourselves fully fed, but most everyone will have a windowsill or a little space in a dark cupboard. If you have a sunny spot, having fresh herbs to hand can make a big difference to meals when you’re low on items. They add freshness, and most of them are nutrient dense. If you have some dark cupboard space, sprouting seeds is a quick and easy way to add a bit of freshness to your diet. Everything needed for both of these suggested activities can be found online, so you don’t need to go out of the house to get started.
- Establish a Routine. If you’re not getting up, doing the school run, or going to work, time can quickly get away from you. Hours pass, days begin to run into each other, and soon you have no idea of the time or the date. It happens to me every year between Christmas a New Year, and while it’s nice to have that little break from routine, it can begin to feel overwhelming and unhealthy if it goes on for too long. So try to get up at a regular time every day and get to bed at the same time at night. If you’re working from home, schedule blocks of time where you’re doing only that. Also block off time during the day for laundry, house cleaning, and other household chores. If you’re able, make some time to exercise, too. I’ll admit I’m terrible about this myself, but it is so important. It relieves stress.
- Get some Air. This is tricky at the moment, but at the time of writing this, the advice is that it’s still ok to get out for a walk or a run as long as you’re not in self-isolation and you maintain distance from other people. I’m lucky enough to have a garden and going outside when the sun is out gives me an instant mood boost.
- Learn Something New. Now is a great time to teach yourself something new. Years ago, I learned to bake bread when I was deeply stressed about my mom being ill. Not only did it make me feel better, it gave me a skill I can use when the shops run low. Cooking is another great thing to learn if it isn’t something you already do. There are literally thousands of YouTube videos that’ll teach you how to make any dish. I’ve recently begun cooking vegan meals and those video resources have proved invaluable.
- Help Where You Can. At the beginning of this crisis, my temptation was to spend a lot of time on Twitter bitching about how poorly the government has responded, and I’ve shamefully indulged a little. But I made a vow with myself not to become negative – and to help where I can. We’ve all seen suggestions about helping vulnerable or elderly neighbours with day-to-day tasks. My family has adopted two neighbours to help see through these hard times. If that isn’t something you can do, is there anything else that you could contribute? For instance, could you share a recipe made from basic ingredients? Remotely teach people how to do a bit of indoor gardening? Record a little video showing how to correctly sew on a button or change the fuse in a plug? Write something that people will simply enjoy reading? Gestures don’t need to be grand. Even the smallest will be gratefully received at times like this.
No one really knows where this is going or how long it will last. Please remember to look after yourself and those around you if you’re able.