When I originally wrote this blog midweek, I was feeling a little more chipper than I am this morning. But day by day, the C-Word is becoming more destructive. More people are falling sick, more businesses are being forced to close, more people are becoming isolated, more plans are ruined, more people are worrying about their financial future. But you already know this, and since I’m rather too prone to dwell on negative thoughts, I’m going to do my best to stay positive for as long as possible. And the once-chipper blog must go ahead as-is. If you’re not in complete lock-down, you probably soon will be (not so much me, as I’m still a nurse [not front-line like some poor souls]), but I’m going to need to plan out my days. Since I stopped writing books, I have been guilty of frittering away my free time, but that’s just not acceptable anymore – not if we’re in this for the long haul. So, I thought I’d post a list of my rough itinerary when complete isolation falls. And you’re more than welcome to join me (not in my house, or anything, it would be better to keep our distance in this current climate).
1: Get Up Early
I’m not talking ‘crack-of-dawn’ early, but at a decent time – certainly before 9am (for me, I’m thinking between 7 and 8 – my cats need to be fed). I’ve always said lie-ins are a waste of a day, and you just end up waking up sluggish and feeling fit for nothing. I mean, it’s entirely up to you, but I’d give myself half-an-hour/an hour tops more than I’d usually sleep on a weekday. Then I’m going to get up, make my bed, and start the day. There’s no point in having in itinerary if you’re going to sleep away most of it.
This is the best way to start a day. I normally exercise first thing in the morning (fasted), but it really can be anytime that suits you. It’s just that a morning work-out sets me up for the day ahead. I cannot emphasise the importance of this enough; we all need to keep mobile – particularly if we’re rarely allowed out. If you’re normally swamped with work, use this enforced break to work on your fitness, boost your immune system, release good endorphins, and improve your chances of staying well. I’m the queen of working-out at home so this is no biggie for me, and I’m sure you’ve got a few workout DVDs knocking about that you haven’t played since 2003. The internet and YouTube are saturated with workouts too. I work-out five times a week with sessions lasting between 30-45 minutes, consisting of cardio and strength – but try to do at least three, aiming for 150 minutes a week. But it doesn’t all have to be rigorous. Throw in a couple of Yoga sessions or Pilates each week for strength and flexibility – not to mention inner tranquillity. We all need some of that right now.
3: Get Creative
This isn’t always easy, particularly if you don’t consider yourself to be a creative person, but I truly believe we all have a (perhaps hidden) creative talent. If I find myself in quarantine, I have plans to start writing another book. That’s easier said than done as I have no ideas WHATSOEVER (and I don’t much fancy writing about a dystopian future where a virus wreaks havoc on the world, for some reason), but I’m hoping the enforced solitude will encourage me to be inspired. I remember when I used to write books – there was nothing so absorbing. The problem was stopping writing; making time for other people and real life. But that was then, and this is now. Still, I plan to be writing in some way or another – even if it’s merely blogging. If writing isn’t your thing, then you could paint or draw or craft or make interesting cakes. We’re all a dab-hand at something – I promise you.
4: Fresh Air
I have no idea how much longer we are going to be allowed to go outside and get some fresh air. Things are escalating at an alarming rate. Some of us need to be in complete lock-down by now. But if we are able to get out in the open, even if it’s just to the garden, or a quick dog-walk, or out for basic food supplies (keeping a safe distance apart, of course) then we must take the opportunity whilst we still can.
5: Learn Something New
Certainly, our kids need to be cracking-on with academia whilst the schools are shut. But us adults could do with learning something new. I’m planning to pick up where I left off learning German on Duolingo. I know that pesky bloody owl, Duo, is going to be pestering me for the rest of my life once I do, but I always felt pleased with myself if I’d done a few lessons a day. I mean, I know I won’t be travelling abroad for a while, but when I do, I will be sh*t-hot, at German. Also, I read every day, but I know an awful lot of people tell me they don’t like reading. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I really think those people are missing a trick. Give it a try; pick up a book – be it fiction or non-fiction. Once you’ve got past the first few difficult paragraphs or chapters, you’ll find yourself immersed in another world. And another world might be better than this one right now.
6: Cooking and Eating (but not too much)
This might be a good time to improve on your culinary skills (if you can get the ingredients, that is, but even if you can’t, we will have to be more creative!). I virtually never make cakes; I’ve been avoiding unnecessary sugar for the last couple of years. But there’s nothing to stop you or your kids baking. Actually, I’ve never been a huge fan of cooking at all, really, but I do like eating, and I do like being in charge of what we eat. So, this is a good opportunity to get my kids to do their share – one day they’ll leave home (that isn’t looking certain yet, but they might). It’s important in these times when we are not as mobile as we were before the C-Word, that we’re a little bit more aware of portion control. It’s so easy when you’re bored to guzzle everything in the house but a) we mustn’t consume all our food whilst everyone is out panic buying everything off the shelves, and b) we’ll soon gain extra weight which we’ll find hard to shift in the current climate. We need to eat well – boost our immune systems. Eating crap isn’t going to help. I’m going to stick to three good meals and a couple of healthy snacks a day.
7: TV and Electronics
I think TV sometimes gets a bit of a bad rap. There are some great shows and great movies that truly deserve to be seen. You can learn a lot from TV – it would be great to get your kids watching some nature show narrated by David Attenborough whilst they’re off school. Personally, I tend only to watch TV at night – usually a Netflix series or two we are viewing together as a family. But you can over-binge on Netflix. I must admit I did in my ‘I don’t want to think about real life’ phase that I went through recently (and wrote a blog about). But I think that phase has passed – well, it had. TV has its place. And I’d die without my Kindle (I wouldn’t, but I’d have to dig out a real book from somewhere). And my laptop has saved me from myself more times than I can count (mainly because I write on it). And the other night I used it to attend my first virtual choir rehearsal (a bit of delay when trying to sing in unison/harmony but better than nothing), and the following evening my daughters and I attended a virtual ‘Friends’ pub quiz (7th out of 15 – I don’t understand how that happened). But maybe it’s best to use social media sparingly. Yes, we can get a lot of our news that way – but remember, not everything you read is true, and sometimes you’re better off not having total abject misery rubbed in your face.
Sorry, this sort of just turned out to be a post where I dictated what everybody else should do. And maybe there are more weighty issues surrounding the C-Word I could be writing about, but I of all people need to keep positive for as long as I can. This too – even this – shall pass. One day we look back and say, ‘do you remember 2020 when we had to-?‘. So, these are just some ideas – way in which I’m planning to fill my days. My good intentions may go completely awry. But I’m honestly intending to schedule out my hours in this way – possibly in military fashion – because I cannot be trusted where frittering away my time is concerned. I’m just too damned good at it. Anyway, I spent a pleasant (ish) hour-and-a-half or so on this blog. Time well spent? Well, possibly not since you’re the poor buggers who are going to have to read it, but it filled a gap. Stay well, people.
NB: Please spare a thought for all the healthcare/social care workers who don’t get to ‘stay home & stay safe’. They don’t have the luxury of planning out the long days. They’re in the thick of it. 😔