As I sit typing this post, South Africa is feverishly preparing for a 21-day lockdown to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Social isolation has many challenges, but perhaps the biggest of these is our mental health. As social creatures, I’d imagine that even the most introverted (I count myself among this group) will find the immediate future difficult. It is imperative that during this period, we keep our minds stimulated to ensure a positive outlook.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.“– Viktor Frankl
While the next 3 weeks promises to be a challenging time for many, we can choose to view it as an opportunity gifted to us by a tired and stressed Ecosystem telling us to slow down and make some changes.
Below I have jotted down some thoughts, suggestions and resources to use the next few weeks productively. I have grouped them under “Lifestyle” and “Learning” for easier reference.
Note: While I have used many of these products in a personal capacity, I am receiving no remuneration for listing them.
Locked up at home for 21 days will surely give us some insight into our own behaviour, highlighting things that we now have time to work on and change.
Whether you are going to be working from home, or have been put on administrative leave for this period, one of the fastest ways you’ll fall into a depression is by laying in bed for 3 weeks and never getting out of your pyjamas.
Get up at a reasonable hour, get dressed, eat a decent breakfast and have some sort of activity planned for the day; a workout, reading, building a puzzle, indulging a hobby, gardening, doing those pesky odd-jobs around the house, learning something online – the list is endless.
Fill your days with something worthwhile and meaningful.
Exercise is an important part of remaining healthy. It reduces stress and helps keep your mind in a positive space. The physical benefits don’t hurt either.
You don’t need a gym membership to exercise – simply your own body weight and a little creativity. Check out MadBarz if you need some help getting started.
There has never been a better time to work on making ourselves a little better.
Getting to know your own mind is often the first step to living a calmer life. Meditation is proven to reduce depression and anxiety, increase compassion and improve concentration. Check out Headspace, Calm or Aware.
If you’re concerned that meditation is not for you, I highly recommend checking out The Daily Stoic too.
Our world seems to run on the mindset that we’ll never be happy without “more”. Sitting in isolation, we can cannot rely on this consumerist approach.
Minimalism is a tool to help rid yourself of life’s excesses, freeing you up to concentrate on that which is truly important. There are myriad resources on the subject. I recommend starting with The Minimalists.
You have been given 3 full weeks to do something that you may not otherwise have had time for. Why not use them by expanding your knowledge, learning a new skill or challenging some of your ingrained assumptions?
Blinkist condenses nonfiction books into quick, 15-minute reads, allowing the reader to gain valuable insights in bite-sized chunks.
The paid version gives you access to over 3000 titles from today’s thought-leaders on a range of topics. There is a free version which allows you to enjoy 1 “daily inspiration” which is automatically generated by the app.
Ted Talks is a treasure trove of video presentations on a range of topical issues.
Filmed live at events worldwide, each speaker has a unique and intriguing view on their area of expertise. From lessons on humanity and acceptance from cult-survivors to the latest developments in tech straight from Silicone Valley, you’d be hard-pressed not to find something worthwhile and interesting on the site!
edX provides free access to over 2000 courses from recognised institutions such as Harvard, the University of Queensland and CalTech.
Essentially if it’s something you can study at a university, it’ll be something you can find on edX. You’ll receive a certificate of completion (free) or can apply for a verified certificate (fees apply).
A competitor to edX, Coursera is also a “mass online learning course provider”,
It is linked to leading universities such as Yale and Stanford as well as companies like Google and IBM. There is a range of free and paid options skills-based and academic certificates, diplomas and degrees.
Udemy is a paid service which provides user-generated skills courses on a wide range of topics.
Video-based lessons guide you through everything from computer-programming to entrepreneurship and even knitting! You can pick up courses from as little as R180. Although not accredited, it is a great place to pick up valuable, useful or even “just-for-fun” skills.
Last but not least is Google Digital Garage.
This free online platform from Google offers a selection of video-based lessons on most things digital. There is even a “Fundamentals of Digital Marketing” course which provides an accreditation at the end.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.-Theodore Roosevelt
While this is not exactly an exhaustive list, it’s a starting point for anyone wanting to use the next 3 weeks productively. Here’s to coming out of the COVID-19 situation a little calmer, a little wiser and a little more in touch with everything around us!
PS. Watch out for my upcoming podcast titled “Finding Calm in the Chaos”. I’m live streaming the recording of the interview, so join me on Instagram (@megamalist) at 10am GMT+2, 1 April 2020. The edited version of the conversation being available via my blog & Spotify.