Recently, I discussed the importance of disengaging from the mentality that we have to turn into the most productive versions of ourselves during this time. However, the reality is that many of us have a lot more time on our hands. For some of us, the days feel long and repetitive and under-stimulating yet exhausting, as though we’re living through Groundhog Day in real life.
So, I’ve provided a list of ways to fill up your time in today’s post—and it's more than the usual 'meditate and go for a walk' stuff on every other site (though those are fine ideas). While the message here is not that you “should be” doing all of these things or that you “should be” using this time to get things done, I feel compelled to lend a helping hand to those of you who have been staring at the clock for the past few days, desperately wanting someone to just tell you what to do. Please add any ideas of your own in the comments below as well so we can support each other!
First Thing’s First: A Template for Time
The ‘Wellness Wheel’ is a tool used in Positive Psychology that divides life into eight different areas that have been deemed “happiness factors.” The exercise involves assigning a score out of 10 to each realm to signify your degree of contentment, with 10 being ‘very content.’ It not only gives us a sense of our values, but also to how balanced our life might be. For example, you might find that a lot of your time and energy have been put towards improving the Business/Career section, only to notice that you’ve been completely neglecting the ‘Fun & Recreation’ realm as a result.
While this tool is useful in and of itself, it can also be a helpful guide when it comes to structuring your time during COVID-19. I’ve been inviting some of my patients to set aside time to write down activities that correspond to each area of life so that they may pick and choose different ones each day that stimulate different thoughts, ideas, and creative juices. Be creative when you’re coming up with ideas! For example, there are different volunteer opportunities available right now for those of you who are hoping to increase your participation in the “Contribution to Society” piece or you can connect with so many professionals online now if you’re looking for career advice.
The point is, it’s easy to become bored when you do activities from the same area of life day in, day out. Use the Wheel of Life to come up with various activities so that you have more options.
And now for my list of activities! I’ve been relying on many of them myself so that the days can go by quicker.
Increase the amount of time you dedicate to activities you already do.
Given how busy our schedules usually are, many of us have our morning and evening routines down to a science: wake up, brush teeth, grab a breakfast wrap, and head to work, lickety-split.
I’ve been using the extra time to really slow down my morning and evening routines—and I mean really slow them down. I’ll spend five extra minutes thoroughly flossing my teeth, brushing them, and maybe using a Crest Whitstrip (because what the heck else am I going to do with the time?). I’ve even been adding a 10-minute facial massage into my morning routine, which I’ve been greatly enjoying (as has my skin!), and you could consider adding a face mask, hand massage, and more into your routine.
This applies to so many other things as well. Rather than whipping up your morning cup of Joe with your usual instant coffee mix, spend some extra time making yourself something special like a matcha latte. If you like flavouring your drinks, look up homemade syrup recipes online and make them from scratch. Get creative, try new things, and just slow down.
2. Get creative in the kitchen.
I’ve always liked cooking, but only when it doesn’t feel like a chore. I’ve been using this time to just enjoy the process in and of itself. Plus, I’ve been making meals that I can portion out and freeze for later, so I have a freezer full of healthy home cooked meals at the moment!
Whether you decide to start cooking again or baking more—or learn how to make kombucha from my video—I hope that we can use this time to truly connect with food again. So many of us have gotten into the habit of eating on the go or turning to restaurants rather than our kitchens during busy times, so let’s appreciate the goodness of real, whole foods again. The good news is that if a recipe doesn’t work out, no one’s even going to know!
3. Take advantage of online offerings.
A lot of companies, organizations, and tourist destinations have found creative ways to make their services accessible to the public during this time. For example:
The Louvre, Van Gogh Museum, and more are offering free museum tours right now
Cirque du Soleil shared a 60-minute special on YouTube
Toronto intends to share the cherry blossom trees from High Park online when they’re in full bloom
A ton of musicians are scheduling online live streams for viewers
Online events for kids, teens, and adults are also listed here
Honestly, if you’ve ever been interested in going somewhere or doing something—anything—Google that thing + ‘COVID19 online’ right now and you might be surprised at what you find!
4. Learn something new through an online course.
Yale, Berkeley, and other institution are offering courses for free during this time. Udemy is another option that is super affordable, while Masterclass is a great choice if your budget can accommodate the price. Alternatively, The Great Courses and a lotto other learning portals have sales right now, so the opportunities for learning are endless!
5. Marie Kondo your house.
This is a great opportunity to thoroughly clean and/or organize your house. Just the other day, I went through my entire closet, pulled out all of the furniture from every room, and did the most psychotically intense clean I’ve ever done in my life. (I even purchased a microfibre brush and squeegee tool to specifically clean my windows from the outside…this was no. joke.)
Not only did the time pass quickly, but I got a great workout and a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when I looked at my sparkling clean apartment.
If there’s a room that you’ve always wanted to paint, a desk chair you’ve wanted to reupholster, or any other house-related project you’d wanted to do, use this time now to g et it done. This can also be a great thing to do with your partner if you’re looking for some kind of project to do together!
6. Try a new workout regimen.
While you might be used to lifting weights, running on a treadmill, or group hot yoga classes, try experimenting with something new from the comfort of your own home. For example, I’ve always wanted to try Zumba but have been too embarrassed to try it in a group setting, so you bet your bottom dollar I’ll be trying one during this time!
So many trainers and studios are also creating at-home workouts or offering online workout classes to support people during this time. Some options include:
• Pilates Buddies is offering online pilates classes