The Isolation Series: six ways to make the most of slowing down

Changing the life pattern we’re used to might be hard, but staying home could bring its own hidden gems. I have always been a person who could not get how it’s possible to be bored at home: there are so many things you can do! So here are my top favorite home activities I have been engaging in during the lockdown. 

Board games with my fiance.

I haven’t been spending my lockdown time alone, but sharing a flat with my fiance. We have ordered and tried a couple of new board games that we hadn’t before, specifically Baker Street and Who Knows Where. Both turned out to be very fun and even intellectually stimulating – the former involves solving a crime using hints you collect over the board, and the latter includes traveling across the world map through answering general knowledge and geographical questions. 

Learning a musical instrument.

Despite the fact our rental flat has a piano in it, before the lockdown I was never in the mood to try it. With the help of the app SimplyPiano I learned to read basic notes. Now I am able to play and sing some of my favourite songs! Playing on an actual piano is of course more fun, but if the property you are in does not have it, SimplyPiano allows you to practice on your tablet screen. 

Doing yoga and meditation at home.

A slower pace of life allows you to pay more attention to your spiritual needs. Rearranged the furniture in the living room, we created a space for this practice. Luckily, with the availability of online materials on both meditations and the asanas, starting a home practice turned out to be an enjoyable and enriching experience. There are lots of applications and websites, but personally I would recommend The Remote Yogi portal and Yoga Studio app. 

Chinese Calligraphy with a brush.

This new hobby requires some acquisitions, but not too many: special rice paper, a couple of brushes, and ink. There are plenty of online lessons on YouTube. Learning the characters was part of my degree, but writing them with brush is a whole different experience. Besides, you can also use the materials for calligraphy for learning Sumi-e, a Japanese art of painting with ink. 

Preparing gifts for my family for when we can meet.

I already knew how to knit a scarf, and even made a couple for my family. This time I decided to learn something new and started to knit socks as a gift to my father. As he is abroad, I do not know when we will see each other next, but what better way to prepare for when we meet than with a homemade gift. Knitting socks is more difficult than knitting a scarf, and I had to restart it several times – but now I am already finishing one sock! As well as knitting I also know some sewing and embroidery and I believe that taking my hand to these practises allows us to appreciate how much effort goes into making a single item of clothing and by extension those in the textile and clothing industry: workers, entrepreneurs, and supply chain managers. It also inspires a spirit of slow fashion. And of course making something with your own hands while thinking of a loved one creates a very special gift. 

Trying and implementing new plastic-free solutions.

The excess of free time inspired me to try out some of the eco-friendly solutions for households I have read about in the past. Plastic pollution is the most concerning issue for me among the environmental problems. The new plastic-free things I have tried recently are soap nuts and castile soap. Soap nuts are, well, nuts which can create foam. Before doing laundry, you should soak a small cotton bag of five or six nuts in warm water for 5 minutes and then place the bag in the washing machine and set a usual cycle. It is also possible to add several drops of essential oil to the bag for the aroma. Castile soap is universal washing liquid for laundry or floor mopping.  

 

I have also found it beneficial for my mental health to do a news detox. I only read news occasionally now and try to restrict myself to only reading the most important information. 

In the end, quarantine has been a largely enjoyable experience for me. Switching to home mode and dedicating time to some “slow” activities certainly made me feel better. Creative hobbies such as music playing and knitting have long been recognised as beneficial for one’s spirits. And dedicating time to spiritual development is certainly an investment to long-term mental wellbeing.

Image: Allan Slank via Flickr

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