There are only so many times a girl can re-watch reality TV, and although it might be very funny, it’s not very practical or good for your mental health. In an effort to keep away from the news and Netflix I’ve taken up a hobby that’s more productive – I’m learning to sew.
Being a bit on the short side I’m constantly phoning my Nan asking her to take up a skirt, or trousers and I’m usually met with a reminder that she won’t be around for long, and I shouldprobably learn how to do this myself. So, I’m taking her advice (and thus, I’ve become her favourite grandchild). I’ve commandeered her sewing machine (a fossil from 1982), ordered some very cheap fabric online and got started. I spent 4 hours making a pair of spaghetti straps on my first attempt, and everything has come out too small. But I feel better nonetheless because at least I made something. At the end of 8 hours I’ve got a questionable mini skirt but it feels like I’ve accomplished something, and I haven’t wasted another day eating crisps and watching Catfish. It also provides me with a structure to follow that I lost when Uni stopped: everything is just following a set of instructions – cut, pin, sew, press, repeat.
It also gives me is short term and long-term goals – today I’ll get this piece done, and maybe in three months I’ll be making stuff I can wear. Ultimately, it feels like I’m doing something better for myself but also the planet. I’m too reliant on fast fashion brands, despite knowing the environmental impact and the horrendous labour conditions, on a student budget, temptation gets the better of me. Perhaps if I get better, I can look to these sites less and have a more sustainable wardrobe. It’s a small change but it provides distraction from difficult times, I’ve made something useful by the end of it, and I’m a small part of a more sustainable future. I also call my nan a lot more with questions now, and we should all call our nans more.
Maybe sewing’s not for you, but finding something productive and creative to do in isolation can help with boredom and mental health- whether it be learning to cook, play an instrument, or fixing something in the house, anything’s worth a try whilst you’ve got the time.
Excess time is something many of us have in lockdown, and although we may feel out-of-control and powerless with regards to the wider world, we can choose how we spend our time. After a week of moping in my pyjamas, I’ve started to find activities which keep me occupied and connected to the outer world. However, as much of a challenge it is to get out of bed, I always feel better if I manage to shower, get dressed and have breakfast.
Starting with these self-care basics is essential – we’re in the middle of a scary, overwhelming situation and may benefit from taking a step back and focusing on our physical and mental wellbeing. Productivity looks different under these circumstances; don’t pressure yourself to learn a new language, run a 10k, teach yourself the piano or start the perfect Insta blog. If there’s something you’ve wanted to do for a while, maybe this is a good time to start (learn Welsh on Duolingo anyone?), but it’s also okay to just stay occupied and not aim to “achieve” anything big. I’ve found jigsaw and sudoku puzzles great for a mental distraction, because activities like these require focus and attention.
A daily walk, jog or cycle can be surprisingly helpful to maintain stable mental health – physical activity and spending time in green spaces have both been shown to improve levels of depression and anxiety. If you have access to a park or garden, I find spending time outside very grounding. If not, tune into Joe Wickes’ daily workouts at 9am and start the day with an endorphin boost – it’s more fun than it sounds, I promise. Many of us quarantined at home will have been reunited with our pets; don’t forget how much a dog walk or cat cuddle can lift your mood and quieten anxiety! I think that recognising the importance of our wellbeing, and scheduling small tasks and activities to promote this, is one of the most important things we can do right now.
It’s okay to spend a day in bed watching Gilmore Girls and eating biscuits; this collective experience is traumatic, and we need to show compassion to ourselves. Just decide that tomorrow you will do something to improve your wellbeing – facetime a friend, walk round the block, write a letter to someone, bake a cake. Whatever you are capable of, that’s enough.
Netflix and a chill is what most of us dream for on a Friday evening or Monday morning, but unfortunately, we now have more than enough time on our hands for this because of the massive outbreak of COVID-19. Throughout the world, most parts are in lockdown where all people are asked to self-isolate.
I am the kind of person who likes to be outside most of the day, and I have always been like this. Staying in a lot has made me understand that there is so much we can do inside our houses to occupy time. There are so many options of things to choose from and so many hobbies we can take up to get back to our childhood interests. I have recently started learning Spanish with my friend who lives in New York over the Zoom app with the help of Coursera. You’ll find multiple sites that offer free courses – I don’t even realise where the time goes anymore. Gracias Coursera! I found myself feeling so baffled in the first days of lockdown that my mother asked me to make a rule to do one thing everyday. Since her advice, I have done exercise for an hour every evening either by playing sport, doing yoga or by doing a simple stretch. Remind yourself that you don’t have to feel up to something everyday – it is not important during this time. We are far away from our normal routines.
Also, there’s nothing wrong with a good old binge-watch. It is a guilt-free dream come true. I have recently started the show ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’ and yes, I know I am pretty late to the craze, but it is hilarious and so funny. It takes my mind off from all the tension and bad news that we are flooded with everyday. It even made me consider being a cop and meeting someone like Jake Peralta! Moreover, I recently started to learn how to paint from my mother and, with the time we spend together, I have learnt some very interesting facts about her. Even though I may not be the best at painting, I’m glad my mother never gives up on me. I have also started playing the keyboard again nd it makes me the happiest. I wake up every morning looking forward to play.
This lockdown has gifted us the ‘gift of time’ and we may have a long way to go before it is lifted. Make your heart happy, and find something to do that you love to make your heart flutter.