How to survive social distancing

Covid-19 has now officially infected close to 3000 people in the UK, the economic forecast is as bleak as it’s ever been, and this is only the beginning. Needless to say, times are hard and are going to get harder.

As we approach the fast-growth stage of Covid-19, the Prime Minister has asked that we “stop any unnecessary contact with others and stop all unnecessary travel”. We should work from home where we possibly can and avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and so on. The message is clear: we should stay indoors to stop the spread of the virus.

Whilst many of us strongly agree with this message, the prospect of staying at home for extended periods of time can be quite daunting, especially when it’s likely that more draconian measures to keep us inside are on the way. With that in mind, here are five tips to follow so you survive social distancing.

Keep a routine

To prevent the days at home from drifting into one endless, dreary household detention, make sure to keep a regular schedule and pack it with plenty of productive and fun activities (more on that later).

If you’re working from home this will help but try to stop yourself from simply rolling out of bed the minute before you start work and turning on your laptop. That’s not to say you shouldn’t cherish a slightly less savage wake-up time, but leave yourself enough time to shower, have breakfast and get dressed – you know, all the things you normally do before going to work. When the working day is over, you’ll (hopefully) have time to relax and unwind.

If you’re not working, or if it’s the weekend, you are of course allowed to take a break but bare in mind how easy it is to spend hours and hours aimlessly sat around the house. For times like these you could adopt a slightly laxer routine to stop yourself witling away the days e.g. dedicate Saturday mornings to laundry and chores, leaving the rest of the day to fill as you please.

A final point: as more time passes, the benefits of the routine will become more and more apparent, even if at the first the importance of structure isn’t so obvious. Though at first being able to spend inordinate amounts of time cooped up in bed might seem fantastic, you’ll hardly feel the same a few days later.

Exercise

Yes, that’s right – even in a global health pandemic when you’re confined to your house, that’s no excuse to skip workouts. Not only does regular exercise boost your immune system, it also releases those feel good endorphins, keeping you positive in the most negative of times.

Without a gym and all its equipment, you’ll probably have to rethink your approach to fitness a little, but rest assured push-ups, sit-ups, skipping and a plethora of bodyweight exercises will be plenty to keep (or get) you trim and toned. If you want to ramp up the challenge get creative with the basics e.g. if you find push-ups a bit too easy try clapping plyo push-ups, or if bodyweight squats don’t tire you out, add a burpee between each rep, and so on.

If you’re lacking in space, then you might have to keep things really simple, and that’s fine so long as you crank up the intensity. Sprinting on the spot with high knees for 25 seconds and then jogging for 35 seconds for 12 rounds is a particularly brutal workout that requires minimal space.

And if you’re still not sure how to go about keeping fit without hitting the gym, there are literally thousands of home workout vids to be found online, many of them completely free of charge. So, get inspired and get moving (in your house).

Socialise

 If you think this means heading down the pub or inviting all your pals to your place, you’ll be sorely disappointed. That said, social distancing doesn’t entail complete isolation. The obvious point to make is that if it’s safe to spend time with your housemates, partner, family etc., then do so. And if you like them, well, that’s an added bonus.

Beyond your household, the snazzy device in your pocket means all the people you want to talk to are quite literally a button’s (or screen’s) press away. As much as we’re told to spend less time on our phones, now is probably a good time to reach out to those you care about and keep in touch. FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and so the like have all drastically improved how we communicate, and whilst they’ll never trump real-life interactions, virtual face-to-face encounters can make all the difference in testing times.

It’s not advisable to spend time with your neighbours but posting a letter through their door and checking if they’re doing alright or in need of supplies can go a long way, especially if you can come to their aid. The virus might keep us from mingling, but that doesn’t mean we can’t lend a hand from time to time, proverbial of course.

Keep Busy

 Being confined to your bedroom won’t feel so bad when you finally get around to reading that book, writing that script, planning that trip – err, maybe scrap the last one for now. The point remains however: filling the extra time you have at home with meaningful activities will keep you occupied and prevent boredom from creeping in.

And boredom is really something you want to avoid when confined to a single building, perhaps even room for lengthy periods. Once in a state of boredom, particularly one that has been gradually developing, it can be difficult to see a why out; all of a sudden everything can seem dull, making it hard to even start an activity that might rescue your enthusiasms.

Meditate

If there was ever a time to keep a cool head and resist the temptation to panic, it’s now. The spread of Covid-19 is frightening; it has led to the lockdown of entire countries, shook the stock markets and is stretching our health system. But panicking won’t help.

Apps like Headspace and Calm offer guided meditation sessions that will allow to keep your zen as things inevitably escalate. Most sessions only take about 10 minutes, so you won’t have to worry about finding time to cram the practice in.It goes without saying, but one session isn’t going to magic away all of your niggling worries. This is a long-term approach, which is quite fitting given the dreaded peak of the virus is still about 10-14 weeks away.

Moreover, your new calming presence will have a soothing effect on those immediately around you, and who knows, might even ease the household tensions that comes with being stuck indoors with the same people for days on end. Bit of a long shot perhaps.