Staying sane during the Coronavirus lock-down

By Dan | Apr 5th, 2020 - 8:07pm

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We live in interesting times, and as we move our way forwards through what will one day be in a child's history book, it is important to try to keep ourselves calm, productive and positive. Know that it is important to take the current situation very seriously, but at the same time, you must not allow it to weigh on you. Love Our Adventures was started as a place of positivity, somewhere where we could reflect back on our favourite adventures and hopefully encourage others to find some too; adventures are more of a distant memory and a future plan now, these are trying times we must all attempt to get through together.

Firstly, and most importantly, I would recommend following the advice of experts even if your government hasn't put the rules into place yet:

  • Wash your hands, and wash them properly - the rule seems to be 20 seconds, with soap and give them a proper scrub
  • Quarantine if you are ill, go into lock-down if the government has requested it
  • Practice social distancing, and avoid social spaces where possible
  • Check-in on loved ones and help those on quarantine to get supplies
  • For the love of all that is holy, stop hoarding things you do not need to hoard

There are many excellent resources all over the web regarding how this all works and what you should expect, but for a concise and high-quality piece I recommend Kurzgesagt's video here:


So now we are all in agreement with what needs to be done, how can we get through it while maintaining our sanity? A lot of people will be unfamiliar with having such a high amount of free-time, and may just choose to extend their typical post-work activities to fill a full day. Unfortunately, you will soon discover there are only so many films and TV shows and only so many video-games that insane levels of boredom will quickly follow. But you've been handed a gift! Not many people will get to experience such a period of freedom as we currently have, make it productive. This goes especially for those of you on lock-down who are not working from home, you've gone from a largely productive and probably active lifestyle to a completely unstructured one - it is time to bring a little structure back...

A few important points

If you have lost your job, prioritise that first. It can be very easy to just fall into a slump or feel like this is a bit of a holiday, but any relief systems that have been put will not be available forever and your first priority should be a new job - get your income back up and running. If you're in a tight spot, know that pretty much every Supermarket and Food Logistics company are desperate for staff right now so you can always grab one of these jobs as a stop-gap.

Secondly, I implore everyone out there, for the sake of their mental health, to try to limit how much time they spend reading and obsessing about COVID-19 and Coronavirus. I find people generally fall into one of three camps:

  • People who couldn't care less (and likely ignore advice)
  • People who are fascinated by it all
  • People who are terrified of it all

Obviously, the second group can watch to their heart's content, and while the first group should be they often aren't watching anything at all. My concern lies with the third group, if you find yourself becoming stressed around modern events, please, limit the amount of exposure you are getting to news coverage. I would honestly only watch the addresses your government gives and just skip out on the news - if you must watch it limit it to a single sitting of no more than 30 minutes. Know there is nothing you can do and obsessing about it is only making your life worse, do what is asked of you and then continue trying to get on with life as normal as possible.



Thirdly, maintaining some form of schedule and structure to your general day-to-day can help keep the blues away as well as keep you in a productive mindset. Get dressed every morning, open the curtains/blinds and let some fresh air in. Take regular breaks, and socialise regularly in whatever ways are available to you. Check-in on those around you too, make sure your neighbours are doing okay (from a safe distance).

Finally, if you don't already, now is a good time to take up calorie counting. This goes especially to those of you who had active jobs that have suddenly stopped; everyone is now suddenly very sedentary and the pounds will pile on if you aren't careful. If you can work in exercise too, then excellent! But I'll get into that a little later...

Hobbies and Enrichment

You may already have a lot of hobbies, but you may have noticed a few of them have become practically impossible and others may lack a certain level of excitement when stuck in the same building for weeks on end - but hopefully, we can work together to help you breathe some life back into, well, life. As you may well know, one of my favourite hobbies is hiking, something that has completely come to stop. Other hobbies, such as photography, may take an adjustment to get some enjoyment out of, but it is entirely possible to still enjoy being a shutter-bug while stuck in your home. It is important to try to find something to fill those gaps that have been created and maybe reinvent some of our older hobbies to work in a locked-down world. On top of that, it is important to not burn out on old hobbies either.

Let us try to break down some hobbies and activities that you can use to fill your day, and maybe even set some challenges along the way, to help give some inspiration...

Photography

Most of us have some form of camera, be it an expensive kit of lenses and bodies or attached to the back of a mobile device, and they can all be used for some creative expression. While the landscapes of Snowdonia may be a no-go for me for a while, there are still some things we can do with our cameras to keep us challenged and entertained.

If you are lucky enough to have a garden, then you have one excellent resource for all things creepy-crawly which when paired with a macro lens (or macro mode for mobiles) can make for some amazing photos. As we enter into Spring, the bees, spiders and bugs have begun to appear again - all of which make for excellent photography models, even if they struggle to take direction well. Flowers are even beginning to bloom, especially daffodils in the UK, so your gardens are hopefully starting to get a burst of colour. If nothing else, your garden and your home is a beautiful mish-mash of textures and colours, well framed and cropped can make for some visually amazing photos.

If you're a little limited on what you can snap up, it is time to get really creative. Play with some of the items you have around the house, play with water and play with light, and attempt to create some unique scenes and dramatic photos. When all else fails, a pet or family member may be willing to pose - or even capture the perfect self-portrait!

Photography Challenges

Outdoors
  • Try to get a snap of a bee or wasp covered in pollen
  • Capture ants hard at work
  • Find a colourful plant that stands out, then use selective colour (either in post-processing or some mobile phones have this built-in) to make it really pop

A beautiful sunflower with extra pop

Indoors
  • Make a splash! Create an interesting photo using water droplets
  • Create a scene using just light and objects to project shapes onto a wall
  • Gather objects to create distinct scenes, such as an image perfectly divided by colour
  • Try capturing something different, the inners of something technical or the mechanics of a home appliance in motion

The camera sensor of a broken phone

Education

With tons of time on your hands, maybe take the time to better yourself? There is a world of free education out there, with even some of the best names in the business like Pluralsight, Udemy etc offering free trials which are perfect for learning a whole host of different skills. On top of that, YouTube and other resources are also full of training and instructional videos where you can teach yourself all kinds of useful skills. Developing a skill will at least mean you can come out of quarantine with a measurable achievement to show for it, and possibly even a future career path to work towards...

Education challenges

I've focused on things you can achieve with minimal extra tools and machinery (learning woodwork is a little difficult without tools and wood), but ideally, a computer would be preferred for a lot of these:

  • Learn a programming language to automate something you do often
  • Take a photo manipulation course and learn to improve your photos
  • Learn Graphic Design/Illustration and digitally recreate your favourite place from memory/photos
  • Learn the basics of a new language, at least enough to get you by when you next get to visit

Video Games

I may not be able to go hiking, but there are some vast worlds I am still allowed to explore! Even if Video games are not your cup of tea, in your current world that probably doesn't expand much beyond these four-walls, it may be worth considering a bit of escapism. Games are structured in ways so they lay out their challenges for you, so rather than make up some challenges, I am just going to list some of my favourite video game worlds to be in and explore of recent years - these games will be familiar to the gamers reading this, but this list is for a non-gamer: these are some titles that you should absolutely give a try:



Red Dead Redemption 2
Grand Theft Auto V
Horizon Zero Dawn
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Assassin's Creed Odyssey (and Black Flag for a more seafaring experience)
Subnautica
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Minecraft
Terraria

The games listed above have some of the most beautiful worlds, full of hidden features, to go virtual hiking in, and a lot of them feature a photo mode to really get expressive with. If you do decide to give their main campaigns a try then there are quite literally hundreds of hours to keep you busy! You could even try to combine your new-found gaming love with Twitch or YouTube, start recording and who knows? You may even become the next big thing...

Self-expression and creativity

I would rather be outdoors

Being restricted in one place for such a long time can feel very stifling, so having an outlet to express yourself can be very cathartic. At the very least, having a project to invest yourself in can give you a goal you can focus on and kill some of the long hours in quarantine. What you can do may very well be limited to what you currently have in your house/what you can get on your next shopping trip, but there is still plenty of room for self-expression. In fact, if you combine it with some of the online learning resources I mentioned above you could very much come away from this situation with a new skill or two...

Challenges

  • Break out the pencils and try sketching the animals and architecture around you
  • Start a website and write about a hobby or passion - Love Our Adventures is a prime example of something born out of passion, combined with some training that taught me a new set of skills, that allows me a means to be creative
  • Get cooking! Try cuisine from a country you've never tried before, especially if you're currently struggling with shortages, perhaps try a speciality store like Polish or Indian to get something a little different...
  • Most people have some form of a story they want to tell - put pen to paper and get it written. Self-publishing is easier than it has ever been, so get your story on paper and get it out there!

Exercise

Perhaps the most important thing to invest your time in when travelling is difficult, there is actually a wealth of things you can do without any equipment. Obviously, having free-weights and a treadmill or stationary bike will make things easier, but with a handful of body-weight exercises and a good mentality, you can totally drop some pounds without ever leaving the house. All it takes is a little discipline and some time, and we know you've got plenty of the latter - just remember to always stretch.

Rather than challenges, here are a handful of bodyweight exercises that should require nothing more than a little space and maybe a table or counter:

  • Burpees
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups/crunches
  • Planks
  • Star jumps
  • Russian twists
  • Squats
  • High knees
  • Tricep dips

Of course, if you have something with a bit of weight you can hold while doing some of these exercises then add it in for an extra challenge. Otherwise, try either maxing yourself out or bursting each exercise in interval-style training; whatever you do just get the heart-rate high and the sweat pouring. This is another thing the internet has a seemingly never-ending pool of resources to read into, and plenty of forums to browse and learn.

DIY & maintenance

Get your tools ready

Most of the people in my local area have already figured this out, and as most hardware stores remain open in the United Kingdom as they are considered essential, now is a perfect time to take on some of those jobs you've been putting off for a while. Considering you may be staring at these 4 walls for a little while, you might as well get those niggles that have been nagging for a while finally sorted out. Just because we're all on lockdown doesn't mean you can't extend your DIY efforts to the garden, your vehicles and anything that doesn't require social interaction beyond your household.



Whilst only you know what you need to do in your home, here are a few challenges that can likely apply to anyone:

  • Whether it be the loft, shed or just the kitchen cupboards, it is time to tidy out and sort your clutter as efficiently as possible
  • Is your outside space as welcoming as it could be? Perhaps a better seating area, a flower bed or maybe even a firepit, could make it a more comfortable and enjoyable place to be
  • Give your car that deep clean you've been putting off for a while, inside and out - maybe even give it a service too if you've got the bits to hand...

Join an online social space

You may already be on a handful of social media sites, but quite often these places can start to feel surprisingly isolating and overwhelming considering they are absolutely chock full of Coronavirus news and general nonsense. Whilst there are no real "challenges" to be found here, I think having a place you can control and create a space of positivity, tailored to you, can be a valuable thing.

Reddit is a pretty perfect example of this, while you can scroll through the default feed, which is a hodgepodge of the more popular posts of that day, signing up for an account and tailoring that feed to your needs is the best way to enjoy Reddit. All you need do is use the search bar to find something you enjoy, and you're incredibly likely to find others who are already sharing content related to that. Didn't find what you're looking for? Think of a catchy name and set up a subreddit yourself!

Even in 2020, traditional forums are still a great source of discussion and information - the car community especially is still built upon owners clubs that are a wealth of knowledge. Find the one that's right for you and your passions, and you will suddenly find yourself surrounded by some of the best experts of the subject.

If you are sticking with what I would think of as the traditional social media, then please remember something: you are not under any obligation to befriend/follow anyone. It doesn't matter if they're a close friend or even family, if you find them to be a constant source of negativity then just get them out of your life and out of your feed. At the very least, most of these websites now have a mute option so even though they are there you will no longer have to see any of that negativity.

Try to expand your horizons in things you already love

If you've taken on some of the advice from this article or invented some of your own creative ways to feel productive, then all I need to say is remember to step back and relax from time to time as well. While I am advocating for using your time to its fullest, it is still important to get some downtime in too! However, it is very easy, especially with all your new-found freedom, to run your existing entertainment into the ground until you cannot stand the sight of it anymore. While I cannot help you expand in all areas I will pick a few common passions and try to give you a method for discovering new and exciting ways to enjoy your you-time.

If you're a music lover there are a ton of ways to expand your collection with bands and artists you may have never discovered otherwise. There is a great variety of services that can help, of course, this is all dependent on what genres you like so some research may be required - for me I use 3 main discovery methods. For my first option, I browse my favourite genres on Bandcamp, as this is often the best way to discover new and upcoming musicians from pretty much any style. My second go-to is Soundcloud's station feature, find a track you love then open its station to browse a bunch of related songs. My third and final resource comes from an unexpected place, but I have found a bunch of great new artists this way: YouTube. If you listen to a few tracks on YouTube eventually a 'My Mix' playlist will appear (unfortunately there is no easy way to link to this playlist, as it is personalised), while the start of the list will be almost exclusively songs you've heard before, leave it playing a while and it will begin pulling up new tracks from related artists. These three techniques have been more than enough for me to reach my "I'm spending too much money on music" threshold and have to take a break from discovery for a while!



Film and TV can be a tricky one for discovering the next best thing to watch, and annoyingly most of the streaming services seem to be happy to leave you on a page full of overwhelming cover-art and not much else to help you out. Sure, they may suggest shows based on what you've watched before but their interfaces are so cluttered that nothing ever jumps to the forefront and don't get me started on auto-playing trailers! Their original intent was to force users to make a decision, but the only thing it tends to do for me is it makes me close the app and find something else to do. There are websites out there, such as TasteDive, that can help bring up related shows and my advice is to pick one of the shows or films from the top 5 and sit down to watch the pilot - no hemming-and-hawing and skip the trailers as most tend to be a poor representation of the final product anyway. You could even make a game of it, pick your favourite show and then force yourself to watch the pilot of the first 5 shows you've never seen before.

Finally, let's try to look at ways you can increase your options that will work for almost any pastime. I mentioned joining the social spaces above, and if you pick the ones that are dedicated to your personal hobbies then you're very likely to find a group of people very knowledgable and happy to help you out. There are also plenty of people who are dedicating themselves to running website and blogs and there will almost certainly be some for any hobby - my advice here is to try to check out some of the smaller ones where you may find a unique viewpoint; larger publications have a tendency to share a lot of the same views and write about the same thing, where the smaller places often have much more freedom in what they write and may cover the more niche areas of that hobby.

In the end...

Here's a sleeping puppy

There is a not-insignificant chance we're going to be in this lock-down for a little while, so hopefully, you now find yourself with a few extra hobbies to keep you occupied, a new skill you're fast becoming a master of and maybe just in a better head-space with better control over how much negativity you're allowing into your social circles. At the very least, try to put a positive spin on a difficult time, and remind yourself that not only is this temporary but in doing this you're helping yourself and others around you stay healthy. At the end of it all, we all just need to keep on keeping on.

Hopefully, we will be looking back on all of this soon enough as a distant nightmare, but in the meantime Love Our Adventures aims to keep providing inspiration for all your future adventures, recounting some of our favourite adventure stories or, if all else fails, we'll just keeping sharing pet photos to keep morale up...

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