If you are suffering from boredom or other psychological ailments related to self-isolation, this article is for you. Aristotle said “humans are social animals”, meaning we require social contact and stimulation to maintain our physical and mental health, and to stay happy. So how can we stay productive at home and avoid boredom during this Coronavirus lock-down? How do we make the most of the extra time we have on our hands and find the silver lining in these seemingly dark clouds? These are questions that we are asking ourselves, especially as the Easter vacation period has started.
We would do good to have a motto like the 23rd US president, Theodore Roosevelt. He said to “do what we can, with what we have, where we are.” Staying in can be just as productive as going out. Equipped with the right mindset, the right resources and motivation, we can keep the boredom at bay.
First, the most important thing to do is to step away from the nebulous Coronavirus updates and negative reports in the media. Psychologists suggest this will help reduce stress and anxiety, making room in our brains for positive thoughts, innovative ideas and creativity1. It is understandable that we need to keep abreast of new developments, but we should limit our exposure to news to three times a day and not dwell on suppositions.
Once we cast out the negative and anxious thoughts, we can focus on setting goals for ourselves to accomplish. Productivity is the result of a commitment to intelligent planning and focused effort. Hence, it helps to use to-do lists or journals to write down bulleted ideas of tasks we hope to complete or things to learn for the coming week or month.
Believe it or not, there’s never been a better time to self-isolate. Nowadays, the majority of people have access to resources such as the internet and a vast body of knowledge all at their fingertips. Here are just a few ideas on what you could be doing to use these resources creatively and productively to pass the time.
Books play a distinct and obvious role in times of chaos. We can always turn to them for inspiration, knowledge or simply just a reprieve from our world. Now, whilst we are all in self-isolation, we can finally read the books that we’ve always wanted to read. Reading can be a solitary activity, unappealing for some; fortunately, there is an innovative digital solution for this in virtual book groups. Why not organize a virtual book club with your friends or family, reading and discussing books together? This will stimulate intellectual sharing of ideas and maintain social connections.
Self-isolation has presented us with a valuable opportunity to learn new skills and broaden our horizons. Acquiring new skills can make us more versatile, disciplined, and help keep us up to date with the ever-evolving landscape in technology. With so many learning opportunities all around us, the challenge is in selecting those that appeal to us the most.
For instance, you can dedicate newfound time to learning to speak a new language. Scientists have shown that learning a new language will improve cognitive skills and even shield against dementia in old age. An activity which will impress your relatives, speaking Spanish or Mandarin, among others, can help you prepare for your next trip abroad, and even protect your memory. With apps like Duolingo2 and other free language learning websites, this has never been easier.
Similarly, there are many online courses that can be taken from the comfort of your home. Online course providers such as Coursera3 are offering a myriad of courses from top universities and organizations including Yale, Stanford, and Google. Certificates are also provided after completion to showcase on your LinkedIn profile.
Is there a favorite dish that you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time to cook? People all over the world are turning to the internet to find exciting and exotic recipes to try together. With celebrity chefs filming cooking shows like “Kitchen Quarantine” on Instagram, and virtual cooking sessions, you can conjure a MasterChef masterpiece of your own. Why not have a virtual cooking session with your mother or grandma–let her teach you her secret mouth-watering stuffed grape leaves recipe.
Cooking isn’t the only thing that we can now do virtually. Whilst our exciting travel plans might have been cancelled, we can still visit online exhibits and virtual tours which are just as impressive. Thanks to Google Arts & Culture you have virtual access to over 2,000 museums, galleries and national parks around the world, including the British Museum and the White House4.
Productivity isn’t all about output; we are not expected to discover theories in quarantine like Isaac Newton. But simply caring for our soul and humanity is also great! It’s okay to take this time to indulge in self-care routines, meditation and mindfulness. In these adverse times, meditation and mindfulness can help us deal with negative thoughts, increase awareness of our surroundings, and establish stability. Pious religious figures such as Al-Hasan al Basri and Rabia al-Adawiyya sought meditation as a way to enlighten their spirit and find peace. The NHS provides some important tips and advice for mindfulness and meditation techniques including yoga and breathing exercises5. We might find ourselves engrossed with external events; now is time to connect with our inner self.
Ultimately, whether we choose to learn new things or practice mindfulness, both can help us become more confident individuals who can cope with this crisis. Please share with us stories of what you have been doing to stay productive at home.
1. 8 Things to Do at Home While Social Distancing to Keep Your Sanity | Health.com. Available at: https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/should-you-wear-gloves-to-the-grocery-store.
2. Duolingo: Learn Languages Free – Apps on Google Play. Available at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.duolingo&hl=en_US.
3. Coursera | Build Skills with Online Courses from Top Institutions. Available at: https://www.coursera.org/.
4. Google Arts & Culture. Available at: https://artsandculture.google.com/.
5. Mindfulness – NHS. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/.