1. Give your house a makeover
Tired of seeing the same old seating/dining arrangements, day in, day out? With a lockdown in full progress, this may be a good time to rejig the decor and give your home a fresh new look. Change the curtains, move your tables, chairs and sofas around the house to try out new combinations. Besides burning good calories, who knows, this activity could help you hit the reset button and let you escape the drudgery of same-old.
2. Be a social butterfly—on the phone
There are at least half a dozen people, at any given point of time that you need to call back. An elderly aunt, that slightly touchy friend, or your former colleague—you really meant to call them back, but … you know how it is. This is a good time to find out how your friends and family are doing; if the seniors among them are coping well. Spread the warmth and stay bonded.
3. Find the bookworm in you
This is a no-brainer to be honest. Besides being a great entertainer, this can be a great use of your me-time, simply because you will enhance your knowledge of people, society, history and culture. Also, research suggests that reading books keeps you smarter and more empathetic. Perhaps, the secret to getting through these times all in one piece is hidden in one of those books lying on your bookshelf unread for the longest time?
4. Show yourself some love
Your pet gripe has been that you never get any time for yourself? Over the next three weeks, indulge in some self-care. Ask your partner to give you a hair massage. Or, make a face pack using ingredients at home.
Here’s a simple hack: mix three tablespoons of lemon juice with a tablespoon of turmeric powder, apply it on your face, leave it for 15-20 minutes and then wash if off. This will leave your face moistened and glowing.
5. Try digital housekeeping
Your home may be spick and span, but your digital life is a mess: photos all scattered, the music is from god-knows-when, old text files that need to be cleaned up. Not to mention a systems backup and an updation of your operating system. Most important, you need to change your passwords and keep them safe.
6. Build a new body
You need to do an activity for 3 weeks for it to become a habit, they earlier said. Even though that has been disproved, fitness experts will vouch for the fact that you can see the effects of exercise in this time. If you have been thinking of getting fitter, take up yoga or Pilates, or join a functional workout class from home. Many yoga and fitness trainers are offering classes online at this time—follow them on their social media pages to find the best option. What’s more, the fitness and aerobics videos on YouTube can be real fun!
7. Simplify your life
With the supply of commodities shrinking up, this is a good time to re-evaluate what you should consider ‘essentials’. Most of us have acquired too many belongings that complicate our life. Trying to maintain them and keep track of them, we feel stressed and irritated. It sounds like extreme privilege, but it’s true. Try and figure out what you really need and what you don’t. This is a good time to do some trimming and lighten up.Rest assured, the experience will help you gain a completely different perspective on your life. You will realize the number of things you take for granted in your day-to-day life, and the few that you really need.
8. Connect with memories
Going through old photo albums—and arranging them in the process—can bring us unbidden joy. A study carried out by Peter Naish, Doctor of Psychology at The Open Psychology, found that flipping through photo albums makes you significantly happier than chocolate, music, watching TV or your favourite cocktail. The tests, carried out on three groups, compared their moods using the aforementioned mood improvers, with those looking at their favourite photographs being the happiest. Sit with your old pictures one of these days to travel back in time and connect with happier, simpler days.
9. Let the creativity flow
Is that guitar that you bought a few years ago gathering dust in your closet? Dust it off. Make it a habit to sit in front of your notes and practice. There are literally dozens of YouTube tutorials that you can access. Learn to dance or take to karaoke. Bring-out your inner Elvis.
Not musically inclined? You could learn a new language too. There are very decent language tutorials available online. You need to be disciplined if you are serious about this and carry on even after the lockdown.
10. Do an online course; skill up/re-skill
Several reputed universities are offering free online courses. They range from public speaking to blockchain technology and almost everything in between. Standford University’s online.stanford.edu and MIT’s openlearning.mit.edu are among the most popular.
TED-Ed (ed.ted.com) is another platform that has high-quality videos on various topics. There are many other online learning websites that charge you for the courses, but it may be worth the time and money. Check out sites like Udemy, Skillshare, Coursera, and others.Some human resource departments of companies are asking their employees to skill-up during the lockdown. Try to go back to your office with skill-sets that may serve you in the future.
11. Prepare better for the next crisis
You don’t have to be like Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory while preparing for the next emergency, but hey we need to stay alert. Consult your financial advisor on how can you respond to a crisis of this scale the next time. You need to understand how much money to put away as an emergency fund, should you have a relook at your medical insurance? Also, what about your bleeding equity portfolio, because of the stock market crash?
How well prepared are you at home? Look at your daily essentials, medicines, etc. You will avoid ‘panic-buying’ situations if you are generally well-stocked. We are not recommending hoarding, but having a stocked-up home pantry is always useful. Be prepared for the next emergency, while hoping that it never comes.
12. Learn to cook up a storm
Can’t tell the difference between a spatula and spaghetti? Got the neighbourhood dhaba on speed dial? Fret not, cooking isn’t rocket science and there’s no dearth to the online videos, recipes, and kitchen hacks that can help you navigate this unfamiliar terrain. Reach out to friends and family for cooking tips. You can also begin a book of family recipes.
Cooking need not be a solo endeavour—involve the kids, partner or roommate by splitting tasks or call a bunch of friends on a group video call. Even if you’re by yourself, put on some music, pour some wine and you’ve got a party!
13. Start a book club—online
This is a good time as any other to start an online club. Decide on a book or a theme your circle wants to explore and get cracking. In fact, a book club can be a great way to get to know more like-minded people and expand your circle. Set a couple of ground rules, such as ‘agree to disagree’, ‘let’s hear from everyone’, to help the book club be a space for a lively, enjoyable discussion and not descend into argumentative chaos.
Pick a date and time, get together on remote conferencing platforms such as zoom or Google Hangouts, crack open a bottle of wine (if you were lucky to go into the lockdown with liquor handy) and have yourselves an online book club party.
14. Join the conversation
This quarantine, make the most of your social media platforms. Don’t stick to keeping tabs on your extended network, or stalking an ex but truly engage with the medium. Participate in social media challenges and the tag-along games that are doing the rounds. Use your Instagram stories or your tweets to crowdsource movie recommendations, new music suggestions or start a discussion. This can help you reconnect with old friends, be part of larger ongoing conversations and could help alleviate the cabin fever you will soon be experiencing.
15. Quit a bad habit
If you’ve been dragging your feet, setting intentions but finding yourself lacking in will, this government-mandated lockdown can be the period you go cold turkey on that niggling bad habit you have always wanted to get rid of: smoking, sugar or caffeine dependence. The science behind breaking a bad habit: know your triggers, capitalize on life-altering changes (hello, quarantine) or replace your bad habit with a good one. Plus, the lockdown introduces a new barrier—the lack of access to your vice—which can finally be the push you needed all along.
16. Get organized
We’ve all got that one drawer (or more) chock-full of paperwork that we’ve never had time to sift through and organize. Whether its bills, receipts, doctor’s prescriptions, insurance or financial papers, use your lockdown time to turn that mountain into a molehill by sorting through.
Apart from freeing up space and de-cluttering your storage, you’ll get the added benefit of having all critical documents filed in one place so you’re not turning the house upside down when you really need them. Got an important document that you don’t need a physical copy of? Digitize them! Take a picture or scan them using free apps like Adobe Scan to convert them into PDFs. Store these on cloud-based storage platforms, so you have 24/7 access.
17. Bring home the outside
With all the time spent at home, it’s a good idea to bring the outside into your living spaces, and the easiest way to do that is by growing a home garden. Not only do plants make your home more aesthetic, they purify the air, give you a fun way to stay fit and add to your meals as well.
Vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, pumpkins, chillis, bell peppers, onions, gourd and okra are all fairly easy to grow at home as are herbs such as mint, lemongrass, basil, mustard, coriander, garlic, ginger, or even greens, such as spinach and lettuce. You’ll need a place that gets at least 4 to 6 hours of sunlight, a water source close by and any container that is around 12 inches in diameter and height. You can be less stringent with house plants such as ficus, arrowheads, or money plants. Repurpose old bottles, cans, utensils or crockery and use them as planters instead.
18. Plan your next vacay
What better time than a lockdown to think of all the places you always wanted to travel! Make a bucket list (if you don’t have one), and start working on your next trip. If you have zeroed in on a country/city, research on the must-see and the hidden gems, places where you want to eat, where you want to shop. Get that itinerary ready. The pleasure of arm-chair travel is unique!
19. Relive your childhood
As children, most of us loved playing board games, be it Ludo, snakes-and-ladder or Scrabble. Some of these games must still be lying in some corner of the house, gathering dust. It’s time to brush the dust off and get playing with the family. Once you are done with your work-from-home, you can sit with the family every evening for a round or two. Relive your childhood as you play with your children.
20. It’s time for spring cleaning
You have a closet that is bursting at the seams. You know that you won’t wear half of the clothes ever and yet you continue to hoard. Put away the summer clothes, clean your closet and make a pile of clothes that you can give away. In fact, you can do this for the entire house.
21. Make your wish list for life post-lockdown
Three weeks is a long time, but know that this too shall pass. Make a list of all the things you want to do once the lockdown is lifted—selling your old car, visiting the dentist, meeting your best friend over coffee and giving her a hug, playing soccer, taking your elderly aunt out for dinner, or just going back to walking in the park!