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12 Things to do in isolation (to keep you sane!)

12 Things to do in isolation (to keep you sane!) pinterest image featuring a tv and remote, a women meditating and a woman cooking

Ah – the dreaded ‘ping’. For anyone not from the UK and unfamiliar with getting ‘pinged’, this is a term used when the NHS Track and Trace app notifies you that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. Essentially, you need to isolate for however long the app says!

The rules have since changed as those who are fully vaccinated no longer need to isolate. But whether you’re ‘pinged’ by the app or required to quarantine as a result of travelling abroad – we all need things to do in isolation to keep us occupied and stop us going doolally!

With a mix of good food, entertainment, self-care, home workouts and planning – my list will ensure your isolation will pass in no time!

Here are my 12 things to do in isolation (to keep you sane!).

1) Have an at home spa day

This was hands down one of my favourite things to do in isolation! When I first found out I had to self-isolate I was stressed-the-f*ck OUT. I had to cancel a weekend away and skip a week’s worth of training for my half marathon. I was also anxious about being stuck at home all week on my own.

Whatever your circumstances this is completely normal! We all know committing to our isolation time is necessary to keep others safe but it doesn’t mean you can’t be down right peed off about the disruption it can cause.

I suggest the first thing you do when told to isolate is: D-E-S-T-R-E-S-S and treat yourself to a little spa night. Run a bubble bath, light some candles, turn the lights off, put some spa music on and give yourself a facial. Been saving all your expensive products for a special occasion? Well, now it’s time to crack those babies open!

A little time to take a breath and relax will make all the difference to your isolation. Also – since lockdown ended and normal life resumed, when was the last time you treated myself to a bit of R n’ R? If you can’t remember, this ‘time out’ is probably just what you need!

Close up of a bath running with flowers, lit candle, hot tea and stacked books

2) Have a clear out

You know the saying: “Clear environment, clear mind”. Well, I’m a big advocate for keeping your living space as clean and clutter free as possible, especially if you work from home.

One study found that women who described their living spaces as “cluttered or full of unfinished projects” were more likely to be fatigued and depressed than women who described their homes as “restful and restorative”.

Clutter and mess can create more stress and anxiety – and when you’re isolating that’s the last thing you need. By cleaning, organising, and reducing the clutter, you are able to create a more relaxing environment that will help you focus on what’s important.

I suggest picking one de-clutter project for each day:

E.g. Day 1 – clothes and shoes, Day 2 – kitchen cupboards, Day 3 – desk drawers and so on…

Whatever draw, cupboard, box or room you’ve been avoiding – now’s the time to sort through and get rid!

Trust me, it’s a pain in the arse – but you’ll feel so much better for it!

Person's hands holding a stack of neutral coloured woolly jumpers

3) Catch up with your friends and family

Possibly one of the only positives that came out of the pandemic was how much we reconnected with friends and family. Whilst being stuck at home, we had to forge a new way to stay up-to-date with people.

Since the end of lockdown I have felt myself moving back into old patterns. Taking time to return messages and phone calls and losing touch with people I had reconnected with during lockdown – simply because I’m back being busy again.

Well friends, enter isolation! Use this time to catch up with friends and family you’ve not caught up with in a while. If you live on your own, this is also a great way of checking in with loved ones. It’ll also make sure you’re don’t go too crazy from lack of human contact!

Woman in white laying on a bed zoom chatting with her friends on her laptop

4) Do some travel planning

I know this seems like a big ask after the number of trips you’ve no doubt had to cancel in the last 18 months. But friends – this awkward post-Covid non-travelling phase won’t be forever. There will come a time when restrictions are lifted and we can travel freely again.  

So why not use some of your time in isolation to do some travel planning? Dare I say, luxuriate by allowing yourself to think further than next week! Put a non-committal plan together of where you’d like to go and things you want to do next.  

It doesn’t even have to be a big trip that you plan. It could be shortlisting some potential weekend staycations to book later this year when more restrictions are lifted. Some of my favourite staycations have been low-key off-grid getaways in the countryside like in this awesome cabin and treehouse in Wales.  

Hand picking out the Ultimate Travelist Book from a row of travel books on a shelf

5) Sort out your life admin

In a similar vein to “clear environment, clear mind” – why not sort out some life admin? You know – the kind of stuff we always put off because it’s boring as f*ck and usually a pain to sort out. Stuff like, book a dentist’s appointment, change utility companies, call maintenance about that broken radiator or sorting out your pensions.

Pushing this necessary life admin into another day usually causes more stress in the long run anyway. Especially when you’re trying to sort it all around long days at work and family commitments.

Now you have some spare time to get on top of it – make a start! Pick one annoying task to do a day and by the end of the week you’ll be on top of ev-ery-thing!

White wall and desk with a gold lamp, stack of books, flowers, iphone, glasses and a laptop on it

6) Enjoy some guilt-free TV time

One of the greatest joys of isolating at home is that you don’t have to be in constant productivity mode. With a limitation of things you can do, you have a built-in excuse to spend some time putting your feet up and binging your favourite shows.

I always feel unproductive when I’m watching TV but then get annoyed for not letting myself enjoy a little down time! But in isolation – you have been given the gift of time my friend.

Whilst you’re enjoying a little guilt-free TV time, why not indulge in watching movies set in some of your favourite places? Or, compile a list of travel movies you haven’t got round to watching yet and get inspired!  

So many of my best trips were booked off the back of seeing amazing places in movies. I went to Iceland after seeing, ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ and Las Vegas for my 30th after watching epic party scenes in movies like, ‘The Hangover’ and ‘What Happens in Vegas’.  

If you’re not sure where to started, check out: ‘Forrest Gump’, ‘Into the Wild’ and ‘In Bruges’. They’re some my favourites!

If you’d like more tips on travelling from home without leaving your house, check out this post.

Netflix logo on a tv screen with a hand and remote pointing at the tv in the foreground

7) Test out some new recipes

Now you’ve got some time to chill, why not get creative in the kitchen and try some new recipes?

The first thing I did in isolation was get a big food shop in so I had lots of fresh ingredients to work with. With some free time and only myself to cook for, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to experiment in the kitchen without feeling guilty.

Trying out recipes from some of your favourite countries from around the world is also great way to travel from the comfort of your own home.

All of us have memories of food that take us back to a certain time and place. For me, whenever I eat crispy spring rolls and Thai red curry, I’m transported back to my time in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I had a cooking lesson there with a local chef and loved it. I even went food shopping with her to a local market to get fresh ingredients so this is a very sensory memory!  

No matter the importance of the memory though, any memory involving food is vivid and sometimes feels more evocative than other types of memories because they’re linked to our senses.

When I think of that time in Thailand, it conjures up feelings I had at the time too. The feeling of freedom as I was part-way through backpacking South East Asia on my own for the first time. Enjoying travelling to places I had never been before and meeting people I never would have met otherwise.  

So try to resist hitting ‘Order’ on Uber Eats during isolation. Spend some time preparing and cooking a national dish from one of your favourite countries and let those sweet travel feelings wash over you.  

And let’s face it, we’re all over baking banana bread after Lockdown 1! 

Blonde woman cracking pepper into a pot on a cooker

8) Catch up on your reading list uninterrupted 

I don’t know about you, but the only time I get chance to read an entire book is on holiday. It’s also the only time I fully switch off long enough to get through a book!

If you’re the same, why not treat your isolation as a mini getaway? Take the time to catch up on your reading list without the distractions that come with being constantly on the move.

Reading is also great for any negative mental health effects that isolation may cause such as stress and anxiety. According to a study conducted by the University of Sussex, reading can reduce stress levels by as much as 68%! Even more than listening to music or going for a walk.

If you don’t fancy reading a book, why not read some travel blogs? There’s nothing I love more than catching up on all my favourite travel blogs and getting inspired for new adventures. Even if we’re still experiencing the negative impacts of the pandemic, it’s still a great way to travel from home without leaving the house.

Pssssst! If you’re looking for more vegan travel blogs to follow, check out these 10 awesome vegan travel bloggers.  

Woman wearing a stripped woolly jumper, sat in her bed with a grey book held up over her face

9) Do some home workouts

Exercising is something that I didn’t do through lockdown and now heavily regret it. Not only did I end up putting on a stone in the first three months of lockdown alone through lack of movement but it would have helped with my mental health too.

One of the things I was most bummed out about when I ‘pinged’ was giving up running for the week.

But despite not being able to train outside, I was fortunate to have access to thousands of free exercise classes online to keep my fitness levels up! YouTube has a plethora of free exercise videos you can do at home, including: aerobics, dance, yoga, spin and HIIT. There is so much to choose from and no equipment needed. All available – when you want, where you want.

The health benefits of exercising regularly are undeniable (especially in isolation!). Research shows that physical activity can boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy. As well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, heart disease, cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

It’s an absolute win-win: keeping you occupied during isolation whilst staying active.

Woman wearing black stretching whilst following a workout video on her laptop

10) Try a new skill

During Lockdown 1 I tried my hand at gaming, baking and scrapbooking – all with varying degrees of success!

But it doesn’t matter.

Use this time in isolation to try something new, whilst keeping your mind occupied. It could be anything – building a big lego set, learning a new language, doing some cross stitching, anything!

If you want to try your hand at something creative, I highly recommend ‘Sculpd’. It’s an air-drying pottery set that allows you to make your own pottery at home without a kiln. The kit gets delivered to your home with all the clay, tools, paint and instructions you need to make awesome personalised pottery.

Sculpd pottery box with clay and paint

11) Take some time to reflect

We’re so often chasing our next break and now you have the opportunity to take one, do it! Being in isolation is the perfect excuse to cancel plans and have a little ‘you time’.

Taking time to reflect is so important as it allows us to reconnect with how we’re really doing. Reflecting could take the form of journaling, meditation, yoga, or a writing exercise. Whatever you feel most comfortable with is fine – just take that time to properly disconnect.

If you have a garden to disconnect in, even better!

Blonde woman in a seated meditation position with her hands in a prayer position and her eyes closed

12) Create a vision board

We hear a lot on social media about ‘manifesting’ our best life. Well, I don’t know about you – but I’m too busy living my life to manifest anything! Unless it’s “manifesting” what I want for dinner or what to do at the weekend – I need a little help.

Enter, the vision board.

If you haven’t come across vision boards yet, they’re essentially a collage of words and pictures that represent your goals and dreams. It’s an easy way of ‘visualising’ or ‘manifesting’ what you want for the future.

I did my first vision board during Lockdown 1 and it was so therapeutic. Like many people, having my life put on hold unexpectedly made me start reevaluating it. Things like: what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be in a year’s time. Beforehand, these thoughts were a collection of random ideas floating around in my busy brain with no correlation.

By creating a vision board, you’re able to put these ideas and goals in one place as a visual reminder of what you’re working towards. And there is no better time to think about this than during isolation! It’s also a great way of getting creative and feeling like you’re coming out the other side of isolation with a plan.

If you’d like more help creating a vision board, Iet me know in the comments below. I can go into more detail in a separate post.

Arts and crafts supplies on a desk

Have you had the dreaded ‘ping’ yet? How would you spend your time in isolation? Let me know in the comments below! :)

About the author

Hi, I’m Mel! The adventure-seeking vegan travel blogger behind Footsteps on the Globe. On this blog you'll find my latest adventures, travel inspiration as well as tips and tricks on how to be vegan around the world. You don’t have to give up being vegan to follow your travel dreams and I’m here to show you how!