My Self-Isolation Game Plan

What a bizarre post to be writing. I'm not going to get heavy because we've all had more than enough of that lately, but suffice to say the last month has not been one any of us really expected. Will and I have already been completely self-isolating for nearly three weeks, and I'm sure a lot of you are in the same boat. Staying home is normal for me, but being home 24/7 with him also here is not, so it's been an adjustment. We're getting along better than ever (is that concerning? cabin fever? codependence? who knows) but like pretty much everyone else right now the situation globally as well as the direct effects on our personal lives have definitely been taking a mental toll, and I haven't been in the mood to get on with things as normal. Up until now I have basically been letting shit run wild, but that's not a sustainable plan for a life of joy and success, so I'm getting myself in line. These are the guidelines I'm putting in place, starting now.

NB: Everyone is coping in their own way, so this is just a list of things I'm personally doing and that I think may benefit some of you too, not a manifesto of how I think everyone should behave. Do what you need to do, live your life, cope however you want to as long as it's not putting anyone else at risk.

Keep Things Clean & Tidy 
Fresh bedding, dishes done, clothes away, floors clear, surfaces clean. This is a preferable way to live in general, but especially important if this is the environment I'm spending literally all of my time in. I did a deep clean at the start of all this so we had a blank slate to work with. It does get messy pretty quickly because we are both very lazy in terms of putting things away but Will and I have been largely staying on top of things by doing room-by-room cleans as we go and splitting tasks down the middle. I've also been trying to tackle areas that tend to consistently build up clutter by finding new places for things, organising places I've been meaning to get to and sorting through what we have stored and where. Today I cleaned the glass in all our living room shelves and it was v satisfying.

Cook, Meal Plan & Meal Prep 
We do this anyway, but I'm putting extra emphasis on keeping things nutritionally balanced and making sure there are actual meals accessible so I don't end up snacking all day long. I say this having just eaten instant noodles, but I'm about to make some paprika chicken once I've written this so we're gucci no judgement. Especially given the inconsistent nature of supermarket stocks at the moment it's a good plan to have a clear idea of what we have around and what we can make with it.

20 Mins+ Exercise A Day
Important for the obvious physical health reasons, but equally as vital to keep the ol' brain functioning as well as possible during what is a very tough time mentally for pretty much everyone. I need to get back on track with fitness in general, but my baseline goal is the 20 minutes generally recommended by doctors to maintain decent health. We have an exercise bike which is fab, and I'm also planning to break it up a few days a week with different things like long-ish (isolated) walks and very, very beginners-level yoga so I don't burn out. Sustainable is the name of the game.

Stick To Daily Non-Negotiables
Non-negotiables are what they sound like - things that get done every day (or week, or whatever frequency they require) no matter what. The four big ones here for me are meditation, journaling, physical activity and vocal exercises. The point of these isn't to add more onto my plate but to make sure that I'm taking care of the basic areas I need to keep on top of for my health & sanity. Obviously there are days when I miss one or two of these but the point is to aim to fit them in each day.

Move Around
By which I mean spend time in more than one spot within the apartment. I am very couch-based at the moment, and although we don't have the most space in the world I want to start mixing it up as much as I can, even if that just means sitting in the bedroom instead for an hour or two. Luckily I also have a desk I can work from, and I'm going to consciously designate that as a separate zone for working (as it should be already but I will not lie to you I am a couch worker) so that mentally I can separate the couch and bedroom as areas to switch off, rather than just sitting in one place for everything and struggling to break up the day. In any case I would like to switch spots at least a few times a day so that there is not a literal imprint of my outline on the couch cushions by May.

Prioritise Quantity & Quality of Sleep
I'm trying (as per literally always) to get my sleep schedule in order, but particularly right now my overriding policy is just allowing myself to sleep whenever I need to. This week that means going to bed early, waking up early and napping in the afternoon; last week it meant full blown nocturnal. As long as I'm getting enough sleep and getting things done when I can, I'm fine. Shit's stressful enough as it is without beating myself up for staying up late. Snooze well, snooze whenev.

Work On My Book
You may remember I wrote 50,000 words in November as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and in April I'm going to be attempting to replicate that in order to finish my book as part of Camp NaNoWriMo. It's basically the same premise as the November run, but for the camps you have the option to set whatever goal you want, rather than sticking to 50k. If you want to join in head to, and let me know if you do! Currently on 69,000 words overall with a solid 45% to go.

Don't Force It When My Mind Isn't There
We are living through something very bizarre and hard to process, so I'm not going to beat myself up if I'm not feeling productive on any given day. There are certain things I need to get done, but there are also a lot of optional tasks that won't really suffer if they're left for another day. As with everything else I've mentioned, the priority here is getting through as painlessly as possible. Some days that means satisfying productivity. Some days that means Frozen 2 and a big nap.

One Main Task/Focus Per Day
As I've said more than enough, it's a weird mental time. My usual productivity standards and scheduling techniques are not going to fly, so for now it's bye bye to the calendar blocking. I'm sticking to a short to do list that includes my basics like exercise, with one primary more demanding focus per day.

Stay Hygienic Thanks
Maybe the most basic facet of being an even vaguely adult human being, but nonetheless an easy one to let slip a bit when your normal routine is out the window, the days are all blending together and you have nowhere to go, no one to see. Take it from someone who works from home normally - you will feel SO much better if you just wash your hair and do a face mask and put on some different pyjamas than the ones you slept in.

Post Positive Things On Social Media
Sometimes I will go on a little rant about our Prime Minister's incompetence, yes. However, on the whole I'm making a conscious effort to post things that are either of a normal life vibe, or highlighting the lighter side of this shit situation. I'm not a news outlet, and there's no reason for me to be posting scary or upsetting or overly serious things if that's not the mood I'm in. Taking things seriously and maintaining a positive outlook aren't mutually exclusive.

Maintain Perspective
I'm doing the best thing I can - staying home. Beyond that, checking in on my friends and encouraging other to do the same, there's not much I can control. It's important to be informed, but it's also important to let go of the things I can't change and prioritise my mental health and general wellbeing. A big part of this is actively making note of the things I'm grateful for and the positives in my life multiple times a day, even if it's small things like having food in the kitchen and an apartment to hang out in. It also helps to ground myself with the reality of the facts and the statistics in a positive sense when I do find myself feeling overwhelmed. Lots of people are recovering, lots of people are asymptomatic, lots of people have not caught and will not catch it at all. There are plenty of negatives, and we've all been impacted in different ways already, but there are also more comforting angles for me to remember too.

Monitor & Reduce My Screen Time
This is going to be a work in progress and also nowhere near what my target would be normally, but I need to have like......some waking hours when I'm not looking at any screens. Just a couple. Sometimes I am literally on 3 screens at once (yes I do have ADHD thank u for asking) and I think that is probs not ideal for my brain or eyes. My plan for right now is to focus on creating/adding deliberate pockets of time where I'm away from screens, rather than just cutting myself off at a certain time, because that just makes me mad. Earlier in the day - preferably first thing in the morning - has worked best so far, and I definitely feel better when I take that time off.

Monitor My Info Intake
I'm pretty well informed on everything that's unfolding, and I know that I'm personally doing everything that I can be, so it's time to take a step back. I'll still be seeing things and looking at updates now and then, but I definitely have noticed certain tweets and news stories affecting my mood and sometimes my overall mental health so I'm going to be a bit more careful about what I'm exposing myself to. Being informed is one thing, but being overly immersed is another.

Spend Active Time With Will
We're spending a lot of time around each other, and we both like to do our own thing, but I also want to make sure we're doing things like watching shows or playing board games together every so often as well. We are both VERY good at Scrabble, and sometimes I manage to make him play the absolute catastrophe that is Two Person Monopoly with me. No, it does not work. Yes, I still want to play.

Get Outside, Responsibly
Obviously check with the guidelines where you live, but most places it's acceptable to get outside for a walk or some exercise once a day as long as you aren't coming into contact with other people. I'm terrible at leaving the house when I don't need to, but even getting out to walk the dog is something I should be prioritising highly.

Create A Nice Ambiance
Separate to having a basically clean and tidy space, turning that space into one that's actively enjoyable to be in is key. Switching off when things are stressful is obviously harder than usual, so environmental factors are important to consider. Lighting candles, diffusing some non-MLM essential oils, having plenty of throw blankets and cushions on hand, keeping lighting on the calmer side - all great for creating a vibe conducive to down time.

Keep My Brain Operating
Although I won't be pushing myself, I know that staying challenged and making progress are essential for my mental wellbeing. Outside of active pursuits like working and writing there are a few things I can do that take a bit less active participation but still keep the ball rolling. I have a Masterclass subscription, and there are a couple of courses I have access to that I've been meaning to get to for a while. Learning new things in general is great for brain health and mood, so even something like looking up new watercolour techniques on youtube and trying them out or watching a good documentary would work. Might power up the ol' Duolingo and see how far my Italian skills have fallen since last I dabbled. Sky's the limit. I'm also keeping sight of my goals and trying to keep my longterm vision in mind.

Create Content I'd Want To See
This means I may do posts like this one, but I'll also be working on things that instil more of a sense of normalcy. I'm sure we're all spending plenty of time thinking about the state of the world already, so a post or two about more lighthearted topics won't hurt. I'm planning to post a bit of belated travel content soon, because that's something I'm really enjoying seeing other people post at the moment, so keep an eye out for that. We all know Italy has a special place in my heart, so it may be about time for me to finally post my Rome photos and give you some ideas of places to visit once this is all over and they're in need of some economy-boosting tourism.

Vary My Activities
- Things that creatively fulfil me (writing, blogging, working on music)
- Things that make me feel I'm making career progress and/or learning (work, planning, courses, research)
- Activities purely for enjoyment (painting, scrapbooking, organising photos to print/creating photo books, reading)
- Things that help me vent (journaling, working on music, checking in with friends)
- Active relaxation and down time

Books I Want To Read
I read 50+ books in 2019, and so far this year I've read maybe a maximum of 2. Fab times. These are the books I'm either working on now or planning to read next, but there are plenty of others on my Goodreads if you're looking for suggestions.
- The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
- Good Omens by Neil Gaiman
- The Binding by Bridget Collins
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Ikigai by Liebermann & Garcia (I read half of this last year but probs will start again)
- The History of Bees by Maja Lunde
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Shows I Have Smashed Through:
Don't have the mental capacity to come up with actual recommendations so here's what I have watched recently. I am on a real crime drama kick.
- Shetland
- The Valhalla Murders
- Paranoid
- Hinterland
- Unforgotten
- The Bletchley Circle
- The Staircase
- The Trial of Gabriel Fernandez
- Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
- Messiah
- Dracula
- The Tiger King (holy shit)
- Brooklyn 99 (rewatching)
- Boss Baby: Back In Business.

That's all I've got for ya today but I hope you're staying chill, staying safe, not putting chopped up slices or chunks of banana on top of your banana bread batter. Disgusting. Anyway. I've got a book to write and some exercise to do so I'm out, but I'll be back in a few days. If there's anything specific you want to read on here tweet me or message me on instagram. Otherwise I will keep going with whatever pops into my head, and I'll c u soon. x0x0

PS. Also message me if you've got a blog I can read bc I'm all about that human connection without the burden of actual interaction rn/always xxxx