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©2018 by Merle van den Akker

What To Do From Home


I normally write articles on behavioural science, personal finance and how to manage your PhD and just survive in academia, so writing about how you should design your home life is a bit out there for me. But I do try to provide articles that help deal with life, and no article feels more necessary than an article on how to not go completely insane now that we have to stay at home. Indoors. All the time. First of all, it's time to stop whining and think about all the beautiful things you could be doing outside right now. Let's be honest here, you were a recluse to begin with and now you suddenly want to be a party animal in the outside world?


For those experiencing thoughts very similar to "You can't tell me what to do!" and feeling the urge to rebel. First of all, it's very natural to have these thoughts. Second of all, you're no longer 12, so I suggest you get over yourself and get with the program. We are not going out. Period. In this article I'll quickly outline things you can do to not lose your mind whilst at home.



Get Social Most people are currently working from home and then when work ends they like to blow of some steam and socialise. And this is probably the area where things get most complicated. But the means to socialise might be very much the same as the means to continue working: Skype calls. Skype is your friend. Make sure you stay in touch with people. Isolation is a killer when it comes to supporting your mental health, whether it was good to begin with or not. If just having a chat isn't your thing, but you do want to be social, go online with friends! On Sunday evening I skyped several friends of mine and we played an online multi-player game (jackbox.tv if you were wondering). You talk via skype, you play via your phone. We played for two hours until I left, and I'm sure they continued.


And of course there's plenty of people who are avid online gamers and are glued to their headsets as we speak. It's your time to shine now! If you've never been a gamer maybe it's time to pick up a new hobby? You can do this with your friends too. If they weren't gamers either you can all suck together.




Get Creative

Creative hobbies are one of those things that you never seem to have time for. Doesn't matter whether it's about writing, making music, painting, claying, baking etc. It requires time that you never seem to have. Well, you've got time now! Pick one of the above, get the right tools for it (great if you already have (some of) them) and get cracking! Painting is supposed to be very relaxing, so is claying. If painting a canvas isn't doing it for you, start painting walls (granted you can air out the room and don't constantly need it). Maybe even do some home-deco and DIY. Your home is your oyster. Baking is a great hobby too, although you might have to get even more creative now that stores are running out of supplies. But part of this craft is making it work under all circumstances, so set yourself a nice challenge! A different dish every day, a different cake for every week. The Instagram envy will be legendary.


Don't neglect the Physical Some people go really stircrazy when locked inside their house. One of the things you'll be running into is that you won't get the same amount of physical exercise in that you normally do by just moving from A to B and moving about. And this is likely to affect your sleeping pattern as well. So make sure to keep on top of this! To deal with this you can pick yourself a nice challenge. Like a 30 day ab challenge, or a 30 day arm challenge or something similar. Make sure you get something in every day. Other things you could do is subscribe to a YouTube fitness channel. I really like Fitness Blender. Pick a video of theirs to do every day, and you are golden. You'll be feeling better (and warmer) in no time! If you want something less sweaty, yoga is also a great form of exercise. Good for both the body and the mind. Again, YouTube has plenty of yoga tutorials and sessions that you can join in on. If you want to make it more social you can switch on skype again and do it with friends, but I'm not sure that's how yoga really works... Might work for fitness and dancing routines though!





Time to Learn Something New On top of doing things you already know and know you like, how about picking up some new skills? Sure you can't go out to learn them, but there's plenty of YouTube tutorials out there explaining how to do pretty much anything. I've been watching wig making tutorials lately. They just fascinate me. And I've always watched make-up tutorials when doing my own make up. That's my meditation right there. If you want to learn how to bake or cook something, YouTube. If you want to learn how to sow, stitch or knit, YouTube. If you want to learn how to play a certain game, YouTube. You can even learn to code and program via YouTube (I swear this is not an ad). Go online, do your research, seek out the right information and let's get going!




Go outside, with limits!

For a lot of people going outside won't be an option. Either you are ill or your country forbids it already. But if you are allowed to go out, and you really want to go out, make sure you do so within limits! Now going out to normally crowded places is still a dumb idea, and you shouldn't congregate, but as long as your government allows for it, a literal walk in the park can do wonders for you. Just make sure to keep your distance from other people! Also, if you have a garden your are blessed. You can at least be outside for a bit, even if you are not allowed to leave the house. Don't underestimate the power of fresh air! You might also want to get into gardening as a hobby. I think it's a great idea to grow your own fruit and vegetables!




Work

You'll have to anyway, so there's no reason for me to ignore this one. The struggle with working from home isn't that we don't know when to do it, it's the fact that we're not used to doing it at home, our place of peace and relaxation. This is clearly causing some issues for people.


My solution? Have one area, and one area only, designated for working. This is mainly for if you are struggling with work. This one area can just be a part of a table or a chair. If you're sitting on this chair, work is all that's happening. Even if you have kids (granted that they are old enough to grasp this concept) you might be able to convince them of this trick. This is not the working chair, if mommy/daddy is sitting on it, you're going to have to let them work for a bit. I'm not going to dive into coping with work and kids in one space here, because quite frankly I know nothing about the complexities of parenting and I don't want to insult us both by trying to pretend that I do.


So one area in the house for work. Maybe even multiple areas in the house (if you've got the space) for different work tasks. One area (the nice one) for Skype calls and online meetings, and one area where you're just buckling down for e-mails, writing, coding, etc. You might also find that you still had some work that required sitting down for longer periods of time without distraction. These can be tasks such as writing long pieces of texts (papers, books etc.) or really arduous tasks such as doing PhD or other job applications. If boredom is getting to you, you might want to dive into those. You'll feel pretty good once you've finished them, I promise. Make it work!


Now there is more to life than work and I do strongly recommend you stick to relatively normal work hours. It doesn't have to be 9-5, but don't suddenly work 14 hours in a day to just combat the boredom. This will backfire.


A Moment Alone For those who don't struggle with isolation, but happen to have many housemates (families) who are suddenly constantly around, make sure to take a moment to yourself every so often, to reduce your stress levels and replenish your ability to "deal." Some people simply aren't extraverted and being around people constantly depletes them more than anything else. A moment to yourself can just be a long bath, being able to read a book or watch a movie, undisturbed. I think setting up a list of books, series and movies you still wanted to read/watch is a good idea anyway, because this is the moment to binge! If it's reading you want, make sure to also dive into all the online materials. I'll make sure to keep posting three times a week! Also, I'm an avid reader of medium articles, you might find some joy there too :)



I have to admit that these tips are hardly super original, nor life saving, but I hope that they help you manage these times just a bit better. I will continue to put out articles three times a week and provide a distraction from the mess out there. Thanks for the support, and stay safe and sane!