Here Are 6 More Things You Can do to Make Your Life Better while Physically Isolated

7) Laugh

Distracting ourselves from our fears is a valid technique for feeling better!

Laughter releases helpful chemicals in our bloodstream – Endorphins (our natural “happy” drug) and Dopamine (part of our bodily “reward” system).

  • What are your favourite comedy shows?
  • Is there a comedian you like?
  • Netflix and similar have so many watching options, so find something that makes you laugh!
  • Box-Sets Galore
  • Documentraries abound
  • Sports programmes/highlights to feast on
  • Arts and crafts being streamed like never before

IMPORTANT: We should NOT use over-use laughter as a distraction technique. And it shouldn’t be used for ongoing and persistent fears in regular life. But for a situation like this, where this isn’t much that any of us can do other than sit and wait – distraction can be a great coping mechanism.

8) Start a Journal!

If you’ve always wanted to journal, now is a good time to start. More than just keeping a record of your day, a journal can help you explore and sift through your feelings and experiences and learn from them. It’s a great way to get to know you.

It’s great to choose a beautiful notebook, but the most important thing is to just get started. Here are some prompts to get started with:

  • Today I am feeling _________. I think this is because __________.
  • One big thing I have learned during this crisis is _________.
  • I remember the last time I was stuck in the house _________.
  • One thing that’s surprised me recently is _________.
  • What matters most to me in life is _________.
  • Describe your ideal day _________.

“A journal is expressive by nature and it contains feelings, emotions, problems, ponderings and it is more reflective on the meaning of life being lived.” Lynda Monk

By getting into the habit of consciously and attentively looking back over your journals, you’re able to track your personal patterns of behaviour that help you achieve goals and respond effectively to challenges. You’re also able to see the patterns that get in the way of personal and professional growth, and healthy relationships with self and others. By becoming mindful with what you are discovering, you can move yourself from knowing into a doing state.

Journaling is inexpensive, accessible and is easily self-managed. It carries very few side effects and can be applied almost anywhere. Hence my naming it the new paper therapy.

9) Be Kind!

Kindness and compassion are one of the most powerful tools any of us have in our toolbox right now. Many of us are largely housebound, never mind the fear that you or a loved on might actually catch the COVID virus! So, of course we’re going to feel unpleasant and weird.

  • Use kindness to comfort yourself when afraid or feeling anxious or fidgety. Be gentle. Imagine you’re soothing a friend, small child or animal who is afraid – what would you say to them? Then say that to yourself!
  • Use kindness to give yourself – and others – the benefit or the doubt. Instead of getting upset when you see other people behaving badly, remember that we all do silly things when we’re scared.
  • Imagine you have a kind, wise self. A part of you that is unflappable, intelligent and unconditionally loves ALL of you. Now, when you need it, imagine that kind, wise self is with you, supporting you, maybe giving you a hug – and saying exactly what you need to hear (not just the sugary stuff, but also the tough love and common sense).

10) Help Others

Helping others is empowering and makes us feel better. Here are a few ways you could help others.

  • Check in on a neighbour or friend and see if they need anything. You can do this by phone, or in person, remembering to maintain a 6 feet distance.
  • Offer to get someone groceries if you’re going.
  • Help someone less technically savvy learn how to use Zoom or WhatsApp or whatever they need to get online.
  • Host a virtual get-together with your regular friends.
  • Reconnect more deeply with friends or relatives who have moved away.

11) Live Your Values

When we know your values, we understand what motivates and drives us. When we build our lives around our values, we create a life that is meaningful. Finally, when we align our actions with our values – we’re being truly authentic. It’s a very satisfying and fulfilling way to live.

And living your values could be the single most important thing any of us can do right now.

Here’s an exercise you can do:

  • List your values on a piece of paper or in your journal.
  • Give each value a score ___ / 10 as to how well you are living that value in your life now (where 0 is not at all and 10 is full-out).
  • For the scores that are 8 or more – great!
  • For the scores that are 7 or less out of 10, ask yourself, “How could I express this value more in my life right now?” “What could I do differently or approach differently, so that I feel good about how I live this value in my life?”

For example: You have a value of creativity, but you’re only managing to ‘go through the motions’ right now and your score is 4/10. Ask yourself how you could be more creative during this time – whether it’s cooking, gardening, art or writing or helping your kids do something creative, or even watching a documentary about someone creative you admire…

12) De-Clutter

I bet you have some organizational things on your to-do list (like going through winter clothes, sorting out toys to donate or tidying the laundry closet, garage or shed) that have been on there for a while. Use this isolation period to get them done!

Getting organized and de-cluttering allows us to exert some control over our lives – and therefore feel less helpless! Plus it’ll feel amazing just to have it done.

Organize your closets, your garage, your books, your photos, office, kitchen equipment. Whatever needs organizing. Or perhaps you need to go through your receipts or file your taxes!

  • If you need some inspiration (and great clothes-folding tips) you could watch the Marie Kondo series on Netflix!

A simple 3 Step Method to go through your stuff:

  1. If you’re keeping it, be sure to DECIDE where it will “live” from now on.
  2. If you’re not keeping it, create two piles:
    • Things to DUMP
    • Things to DONATE (and if relevant to pass on to specific people).
  3. When you’re done, put each pile into bags or boxes, and then once this crisis is over you can get rid of what you no longer need.
  • TIP: You don’t need to do any of this ‘in one sitting’, do an hour a day – you’ll be surprised how much you get done if you keep it up for a week!

What next

So, which of the above ideas resonated with you? The areas I am focusing on are:

  • Being in the moment
  • Decluttering
  • Helping others

This current and strange COVID-19 situation will end. And when it does, you’ll be proud you made the effort to learn something – whether it’s about yourself, fresh knowledge, a new skill – and who knows what else! Believe you have the skills and power to tackle this situation and you will! Choose to make the best of a difficult situation and no matter what – you’ll find a way.

Here Are 6 Things You Can do to Make Your Life Better while Physically Isolated

This COVID-19 crisis has radically changed our lives. Just a few months ago, we had no idea our ‘world’ would be confined to our homes!  This crisis is a powerful reminder of how important freedom is – and how much we need human connection!  Remember you are not alone. Because what is different here is that everyone is impacted! Your neighbour, family, boss and friends as well as your counterparts around the world; they are all going through something similar.

This is the challenge each of us must rise to! If we’re going to be stuck at home, we may as well make the most of it.

1) Create a Healthy, Supportive Routine

When we feel powerless or helpless (as so many of us do at the moment), one extremely easy thing to do is to create a routine or schedule.

While we’re all stuck in anxiously waiting at home, it’s easy to lose our sense of time. Days can begin to blend into each other. A routine can give us an anchor and greater sense of control over our lives. And if you have children, creating a routine is especially important to give them a sense of normality.

This routine or schedule can be as simple as:

  • 7am – Wake-up/mediation/exercise/prep
  • 8am – Breakfast
  • 9am Home learning/schooling/working
  • 10am – Exercise/break (indoor/outdoor)
  • 11am – Home learning/schooling/working
  • 12.00pm – Lunch
  • 1-3pm – Home learning/schooling/working
  • 4pm – Exercise/break (indoor/outdoor)
  • 5pm – Make & Eat Dinner
  • 7pm – Family downtime
  • 8pm – Reading, Journaling
  • 9pm – prepare for bedtime
  • 10pm – Bedtime

Be sure to include food preparation, social time, exercise and outdoor time and some learning or creativity so you get some benefit from this challenging time.

It’s also important to recognise weekends because it’s too easy for weeks to blur together. So, make a looser schedule for your weekends. For example, you could include:

  • Sleeping in/later bedtime
  • Brunch
  • Exercise (indoor/outdoor)
  • “Treats”
  • Family time, e.g, boardgame, quiz, movie night with popcorn
  • A virtual happy hour with friends or colleagues
  • A larger project, perhaps some art, craft, gardening or home redecoration

So, create a routine for a sense of control and mastery over your environment and life circumstances. Reclaim what power you can over your own life, because with all this uncertainty it’s important for you – and especially important for children – to have predictability.

2) Build Your Physical Strength, Fitness Levels or Flexibility!

Building your physical strength is powerful and health-boosting! Not only is physical strength and flexibility life-affirming and good for our health, but feeling more physically powerful actually helps us feel more empowered and less helpless in life too!

So, add some physical activity into your schedule – as little as 15-30 minutes daily. Maybe by the end of this you’ll be fitter or even be able to do 10 (or 100!) press-ups!

There are many options to boost your physical strength and health. Here are some ideas:

  • Take up a yoga practice – excellent for strength-building, flexibility – and calm! There are lots of online options. Here is one with everything from 10 minutes for beginners to an advanced practice.
  • Learn do a press-up or push-up. Then see if you can get to 10 (or more – depending on where you start)!
  • There are so many online fitness classes on Youtube – for beginners, experts – with equipment and also with no equipment whatsoever.

REMEMBER: Being stronger = Feeling stronger and more in control! And building your physical strength or fitness = Reduced feelings of helplessness!

3) Learn with Non-Fiction Books:

Use this time at home to educate yourself with non-fiction books. There is so much to be gained – like self-confidence, negotiation skills, health (sleep, nutrition), how to have difficult conversations and much more.

What keeps you up at night? There’s probably a book about that! What do you wish you were better at? There’s probably a book about that too!

Here are some book ideas to get you thinking:

  • Be more productive or creative with “The Now Habit” by Neil Fiore or “A Whack on the Side of the Head (How You Can Be More Creative)” by Roger Von Oech and “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink.
  • Think (or rethink?) how you live with books like “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan (also available in a young reader’s version), “Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures” by Carlo Petrini, “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” by Barbara Ehrenreich, “Doughnut Economics” by Kate Raworth.
  • Get personally inspired with “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts” and “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, or “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl.
  • Up-skill yourself with “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen.
  • Learn about the human mind with “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell or “The Whole Brain Child” by Daniel J. Siegel MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD.
  • Get healthier with “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” by Matthew Walker PhD.
  • Be more confident and discover your strengths with “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman” or “Now, Discover Your Strengths (How to Develop Your Talents and Those of the People You Manage)” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.
  • Finally, read memoir! Choose someone you admire, get inspired and learn how other people think – and live their lives.

Reading one book will expand your mind, reading several of these books is going to make you more interesting, help you learn new skills – and maybe even make you more employable too!

 

 

4) Gain a New Skill with Online Learning:

There are so many opportunities online to gain a new skill and they’re growing by the day!

Grow your personal or creative skills or choose a new skill to learn and take back to work with online training providers like Coursera or Udemy.

There are many other providers.

If there’s a skill you always wanted to learn, search for it. But be sure to read the course descriptions thoroughly, check reviews if there are any – and check money-back guarantees as you need to!

And with so many learning options ranging from free to tens of dollars to the low hundreds of dollars, there will be something out there just perfect for you.

5) Explore your Life Vision:

Rather than watching endless news streams, you can choose to focus on a bigger picture – your future. What do you want from the rest of your life? What would you be disappointed you did not do? Where do you envision yourself in 10 years?

Having a clear vision of how you want your life to be is a powerful motivator. A vision helps us work towards our goals, take action and make change. Soon, we’ll all be super-busy again – and a vision might be just what you need stay focused!

Here are 5 questions to ponder or journal around to go deeper:

  • What do you desire or yearn for in business or professional life?
  • How do you want to feel?
  • What do you really want to be different in your business or professional life?
  • What would have happened in 3 years time such that your business or professional life is spectacular and you feel magnificent about yourself?
  • Imagine 5-years on from now and looking back over what did you do that made you, your business and/or career come through this period?

TIP: Remember to think possibility not probability! Don’t limit yourself and your ideas because you don’t believe something is likely. Instead believe it’s possible – and even if you don’t get all the way there, you may get close – or even find something better along the way!

6) Be in the moment:

In this moment you are OK. You are safe. Take one day at a time. One hour or even one breath at a time if you need to.

This tip is about being super-present, not thinking ahead or remembering the past, but practicing BEING.

This is a practice – meaning you will have to do it over and over again – bringing yourself back to the now. Over time it gets easier, and it’s a great skill to have to take back to “normal” life.

So, when you notice you’re worrying, feeling twitchy and want to pick up your device and find out what the “latest” is about the COVID situation, say to yourself, “It’s OK. In this moment, I am safe. In this moment I am OK.”  You can also add or say, “In this moment, my children/husband/family are safe.”

EXTRA TIP: Reduce or minimise how often you watch and read the news!

Where do you want to be…look at the diagram below, what Zone are you in?  What Zone do you want to be in?

Home learning, schooling and working 3/3

Our days used to start with Joe Wicks (Mon-Fri)…30min work out. A bit of fun we all tried doing together.https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/lifestyle/a31804366/the-body-coach-joe-wicks-live-pe-lessons/. Followed by work set by the school using ‘Purple Mash’ and ‘Mathletics”.

Purple Mash is a creative online space from 2Simple. It hosts an exciting mash-up of curriculum focused activities, creative tools, programs and games to support and inspire creative learning every day. … As Purple Mash is online, children can continue their learning anywhere and anytime. A great resource that replicates the boys daily learning at school.

Mathletics is designed to support teachers and parents to deliver lessons easy to follow Maths lessons in our own time and way. There are series of exercises and challenges which will allow our boys to get in with learning and completing a variety of exercises. These are varied and challenging too. Very handy when home learning. Mathletics provides in-depth reporting that helps us see the progress of lessons, subjects and our individual sons, helping us to assess and to plan future programmes of learning. Students find engagement through purpose and reward.



I suspect there are a variety of similar platforms out there. Luckily, we have all been familiar with the boys use of both platforms as they feature highly within the school and as part of our son’s homework.

The day is broken up with breaks, playtime and dinnertime. My partner and I build these into our days as best we can. Again, preparation is key. It doesn’t always work, but we have found preparing snacks, sandwiches and lunch a day or even a couple of days before is handy…keeping it simple is key too.

Four weeks in and Easter coming and going, has meant that we have picked up a whole array of tools and techniques, ideas and programmes. The internet is awash with them as are your local

networks, be they schools, neighbours, friends, WhatsApp groups and the like. Below is a list of some of our favourites. Here’s what various celebrities are offering you and your kids for free, daily to help with their education while schools are closed:

Maths with Carol Vorderman www.themathsfactor.com

English with David Walliams https://www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/elevenses/

Cooking with Jamie Oliver https://www.jamieoliver.com/features/category/get-kids-cooking/

Music with Myleene Klass https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQh2wgJ5tOrixYBn6jFXsXQ

Dance with Darcey Bussel https://twitter.com/diversedancemix/status/1241098264373592065

History with Dan Snow (free for 30-days) https://tv.historyhit.com/signup/package

Home Economics with Theo Michaels (Mon/Wed/Fri) https://www.instagram.com/theocooks

Science with Professor Brian Cox, Robin Ince & Guests https://cosmicshambles.com/stayathome/upcoming-schedule

https://www.timeout.com/london/news/national-theatre-live-is-streaming-free-plays-every-thursday-on-youtube-041620

For your older kids, here are 50 free revision resources for 11+, GCSEs and A-Levels:
http://www.eparenting.co.uk/education/50_free_revision_resources_for_gcse_a_level_11_plus_and_sats.

Hopefully, you found this interesting, this is what, my family, K and I have experienced, and what other parents might be experiencing too.  Parents remain the most influential people in a young person’s life and despite some finding it really difficult on occasions they continue to provide huge amounts of support both physically and emotionally. If you have any ideas or thoughts, feel free to contact me.  I’d more than happy to hear your points of view and see what we can share and bring to the attention of the many currently home learning, schooling and working.

It’s good to talk.

Home learning, schooling and working – Part 2/3

Colorful boardgame

Anyone who follows me or reads my blogs, will know I like a plan…”prior planning prevents p*** poor performance”. I’m one for a routine, not rigid but there to establish boundaries, needs, wants and goals. My achievements as a househusband have their foundations in my planning…room for improvement I’m sure. Home schooling has taught me lot and I thought I’d share with you some insights.

Routines
It is important to keep to the children’s routines at home as much as possible. As a family we often feel much calmer and more in control when our brains connect with familiar patterns. With routine should be inbuilt downtime too. Only last weekend – we shared the meaning of the word ‘pragmatic’. There is only so much structured play you can have in your home with limited access to outside. I have had to relent on ‘gaming’ and allow greater time to computerised games (think how out of sync the kids usually are in the school hols). Luckily, we are a household of board games too…so for every ‘Roblox’, ‘Fifa’, ‘Minecraft’ and ‘Pokemon’, I get to play a game of draughts, chess or snakes & ladders’.


Establish Boundaries
We try to start the day at the usual time. Our boys are early risers. It’s been hard but before we go to bed remote controls are hidden. The idea being the boys are more inclined to get their heads around  ‘school work’ out or just play together before breakfast. We then set about having breakfast with home learning starting at 9am.

It does mean that my partner and I rise a tad earlier to get a couple of interruption-free hours of work in before the family starts their day. Being more pragmatic has meant that usual boundaries are relaxed and we are more flexible (e.g. gaming and more screen time). My partner and I have alternate responsibilities during school term (see below). This means we are both able to get some uninterrupted work time and the boys get some quality-focused time from us too…that’s the theory. In practice, it is hard work and needs the buy-in of us all.

Reward systems and consistency are important too.

Catch ups and game plans
We use our ‘together time’s, e.g. lunch and dinner and down time to have a little catch-up on the day, days and weeks ahead. It helps to break down the monotony and look at what was good or not so good previously. It helps us to address our expectations, the use of laptops, computers, mobiles, a case in point and when we are working or schooling.

Before my partner became ‘furloughed’, we had to be honest we were not capable of completing 7-straight hours of work with all of us being home. Our current circumstances brought on by Covid19 is discussed, and used to help the boys to understand that there will be times when we cannot be disturbed.

My sons are used to me being at home more often than not, as I often work from home and as a househusband, they understand my need to be in “do not disturb mode”. When working with clients from home, my office space (corner of our bedroom) is totally out of bounds. A sign and mini clock on the door makes the point.

Have fun
We can choose to learn, grow, connect and evolve and come out of this difficult time by doing all the above. However, it will be made much harder if we cannot have some fun. So, although a stickler of discipline, plans, routines and strictures, I have become more pragmatic. It will be different for us all. Relationships are fraught with the unknown. Pressures and expectations during these difficult times will be acute. Building in some fun, flexibility and time to reflect has proved to create greater connectivity within our family home. Without doubt, the boys’ relationships are stronger and more connected – still fighting daily like cats and dogs, there is an element of fun and adventure. After all, family life and the time we spend together is what holds us all together. 

My partner and I are knackered. There have been more cross words used in and around a full house. It has been hard, it has proved difficult, but there have been so many positives too. We know more about each other’s work, pressures and expectations – that means we have been able to share ideas and concerns and coming up with solutions (that didn’t last long, she is now on furlough…but you get my point).

Similarly, downtime means that we can share thoughts and plans for the days ahead. Just hoping it’s not monotonous.

We have a timetable. It reflects the timetable the boys use at school which they dictated to us. It shows the timing of lessons, breaks, lunchtime, lessons, PE and the like. Before the Easter break, my partner and I shared our own work timetable which incorporates the boys home learning. This allows us to be sure and aware of commitments in terms of calls to be made, conference-calling, reports, projects, networking etc al and downtime.  

Close-up of a stopwatch



The timetable has in-built break-out sessions for both of us. Key to the above was working a 3-day on then a 2-day off rota. You work three days as lead ‘home learner’ while your partner is responsible for breaks and dinnertime; and, if you are on a day off, it means you were on cover. You were not the one leading the lessons but you would be on stand-by. We have continued this post-Easter and bveing on furlough.  It seems to work, adding variety, space and time to our days.

Business man walking a red tight rope

Hopefully, you found this interesting, this is what, my family and I have experienced, and what other parents might be experiencing too.  Parents remain the most influential people in a young person’s life and despite some finding it really difficult on occasions they continue to provide huge amounts of support both physically and emotionally. If you have any ideas or thoughts, feel free to contact me.  I’d more than happy to hear your points of view and see what we can share and bring to the attention of helping others during this period in terms of further positive change.

It’s good to talk.

Home learning, schooling and working Part 1/3

Part 1

Back to school…well not really.  Easter has come and gone…much needed and we are back to home schooling, learning and working from home.

The Covid19 pandemic is proving to be an unprecedented event in our lives. It continues to cause disruption across the world. Business, communities, homes and everyday lives have been affected. The impact of which is being felt by all.

A lot has been happening across the board. We have been asked to live ‘new’ and ‘different’ lives. Social-distancing, isolation and other restrictions have led to a number of people being asked/ told to work from home and with schools close – parents are being asked to undertake ‘home learning’.

For some this is all very new.

There have been many articles, news, information and signposting on support for individuals and businesses. There have been some great contributions across a variety of platforms, in this piece I want to share with you how my partner and I along with our three boys, aged 8, 6 and 6 are coping with working from home and home learning.


Working from home and providing home learning (not to be confused with ‘home schooling’) all day has not been easy. Even as a fully pledged ‘househusband’, my house husbandry’ skills have been pushed to the limits. I’m used to being with the boys for long periods, the school-run, prep of tea, homework, play and then dinner. Having to multitask and split my focus has improved with time. This time is different. This time is proving to be more intense.

Home learning is can include almost anything, life experience- e.g. cooking- boiling water, ice freezing, melting, dissolving etc, chalk drawings on the patio, cycling/running/fitness etc, looking at nature- mini- beasts, flowers etc, night sky, shadows from the sun, forces- pushes and pulls. Loads of stuff really.

A picture containing young, holding, sitting, computer

Description automatically generated

Whereas some would say home schooling is trying to do as much of the curriculum as you can- maths, literacy, reading etc homework or all the Purple Mash stuff from school. Mixing it up with Lego and board games, lots of art painting and stuff, sculptures, outdoor stuff where possible, e.g. the garden or on the pavement with twigs and leaves and stuff. There’s plenty more as well.

Hopefully, you found this interesting, this is what, my family and I have experienced, and what other parents might be experiencing too.  Parents remain the most influential people in a young person’s life and despite some finding it really difficult on occasions they continue to provide huge amounts of support both physically and emotionally. If you have any ideas or thoughts, feel free to contact me.  I’d more than happy to hear your points of view and see what we can share and bring to the attention of others as we all deal with trying circumstances and work towards coming out on the other side with positive change.

It’s good to talk.