Coronavirus: 10 ways to keep busy in quarantine
Global pandemics are nothing new. Humans have been hit by smallpox, the Spanish flu, measles, the black death, HIV/Aids, Cholera, Typhus and numerous plagues.
Unfortunately, our technological advances which make it far easier to study and control viruses and disease are also to blame for the expedited spread of diseases in modern days. We travel faster, further and with greater ease than we ever did before and so it’s no surprise that a virus like Covid-19 (and its latest mutations) could spread so far and wide in such a short period. If you want to have a look at live statistics which updates every few hours, bookmark this ArcGis Coronavirus link.
Unfortunately the coronavirus is seeing widespread quarantine imposed by health officials (for good reason), as well as some self-imposed isolation for those with compromised immune systems or others who are cautious. And yet, though it is the virus itself which should concern us, it seems panic and anxiety all on their own. An interview with an anonymous South African in a Chinese quarantine zone of a university earlier in March revealed how it seems the isolation is causing more angst than the virus itself.
With so many saffas caught up in the fray, Rand Rescue offers some pastimes to occupy anxious minds and bodies during these secluded times.
A healthy mind aids a healthy body
The link between mental health and immunity has puzzled scientists for ages, and it is only recently that the link has found scientific validity and allowed for further research.
Cells in the immune system and nervous system communicate via signal molecules called cytokines. Unfortunately, biologists had long thought these cytokines to communicate or ‘signal’ separately within these two systems. Unfortunately, it is the very distinction humans have made between the immune and nervous systems which has blinded them to the truth – the signal molecules transmit to both systems at once.
Essentially this means that inflammation in the body is more common in those who have mental health issues, and vice versa. In a very simplified nutshell, this implies that our angst over the coronavirus or isolation could make us more prone to infection.
The conclusion being that it’s important to take care of your mental health and not let the fear or isolation get to you!
The urban gardener
Whether you have a few acres or a small spot in your kitchen to spare, gardening and growing things is undoubtedly good for your physical and mental health. Gardening has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 30% (British Medical Journal), helps burn calories and releases endorphins which keep you happy and relaxed.
If you’re truly in quarantine you will have to make do with the resources available to you. This means you should consider growing plants from your kitchen scraps or take cuttings where available.
You can cultivate the following plants by using their ‘tops’ (the area between the plant/fruit and its stem) or roots (the area between the plant/fruit and its stem):
You can regrow the following by using their stems or cuttings:
- Jade Plant
Of course there are many other plants you can grow from seeds or stems. Some plants can be propagated by placing them in soil, while others need to be placed in water. Better Homes and Gardens has a handy guide for propagation.
If you don’t want to work that hard, you can always get yourself an indoor all-in-one gardening system such as Click & Grow, Smart Garden, Modern Sprout Growhouse or AeroGarden. These systems allow you to grow a variety of greens or veg in your home and some even include lighting and ventilation systems.
Want to take your mind off things and do something for your future? Well why not study online?
There are a myriad of courses, degrees, diplomas and upskilling platforms around, suited to your profession. Or perhaps you want to move outside your current sector? In fact, many saffas currently stuck in foreign countries are prohibited from working due to containment, but cannot earn an income unless they are putting in the hours. Those schooling in several Asian nations are stuck without much recourse. Or…perhaps there is a recourse?
Indeed, formal schooling can cost a lot of money. You’re looking at tens or hundreds of thousands for graduate and postgraduate degrees. But consider also that some of the most successful business-people today profess that skill trumps mere book knowledge. Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Mark Shuttleworth, Bill Gates – all these people have stated very clearly that their companies need people who can apply what they have learnt in practise and that degrees are a side-thought.
So, if you’re planning on upskilling, there are various places you could start. Harvard offers free online courses – mostly in the humanities. Udemy offers upskilling in various fields and their courses are highly competitive. Unisa offers formal courses online at a fraction of the cost of foreign universities. Codecademy offers free online coding skills, with options to upgrade. Or you could simply hang out on Stack Exchange for a free IT forum which teaches you a whole lot . Shaw Academy offers once-off courses or lifetime membership which is internationally accredited and quite affordable. And so we can go on. Coursera, TexEd, even Google offers free training and accreditation!
And then there are applications for learning languages and maths which you can find on your phone!
Don’t waste this time you have available. Learn and practice!
One of the things which may make us most anxious in such ‘globalised’ times is merely the fact that we’re used to daily contact and access to the world around us. Technology has enabled us to chat, work, remit, download, upload and access things previously inaccessible due to geographical constraints.
But in such trying times, technology will also suffer. Not only can people in isolation not address and resolve complaints with authorities in person, but the state of the global economy may necessitate a curtailing in connectivity provision by various network providers depending on the region you find yourself in.
As South Africans have discovered – one is often cut off from electricity and networks, and the connected activities we access with these resources. Which means that we won’t always be able to rely on technology to be there when the chips are down.
Sure, you can play games on your offline devices, but why not go old school and try board games or even card games? Not only will these games keep you occupied, but games like chess have been shown to:
- stimulate the production of endorphins which makes us feel good
- keeps the brain healthy and prevents dementia by stimulating growth of dendrites – the protoplasmic nerve cell extensions that propagate electromagnetic stimulation
- reduces blood pressure
- increases IQ
- improves creative thinking
- boosts fine-motor movement, dexterity and cognitive development in children
You can rely on tried and trusted games like chess, canasta, black jack, Settlers of Catan and sudoku, but there are also a myriad of new games to choose from!
If you need some inspiration, go check out bicyclecards.com for a range of info on card games and their rules. And while the internet is working fine, you can play online on cardgames.io or find a range of things to do online via:
- Reddit via r/LongDistance: a range of things to do together online over vast distances
- Cnet: The best games to play with friends on iOS and Android
- Dailydot: Five ways to play boardgames online with friends
- LDR Magazine: 130+ Things to do together online
We’ve heard this for ages: exercise improves mental and physical health. It has been proven time and again to reduce anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, boost the immune system, manage ADHD, improves quality of sleep and, of course, reduces body weight and builds strength. But it’s problematic when you can’t go to the gym or take to the streets for your cardio.
With information so readily available nowadays, we really have no excuse for not developing a home gym routine. Don’t know where to start? Well it all depends on the type of exercise you want to do, the equipment you need or have available, and how much effort you want to put in.
There are a range of fitness apps to help you get started if you’re looking for a solution you can access from the palm of your hand. The most popularAndroid and iOS apps which offer training which can be done at home (at least in part):
- CrossFit btwb
- Tone it Up
- Skimble Workout Trainer
- Nike Training Club
- Daily Yoga
- Daily Burn
- PIIT Pocket (see Blogilates)
If you want your training to feel more interactive, you can look to YouTube for awesome fitness resources. Some of the top fitness channels you can follow are:
- Yoga with Adriene
- Bradley Martyn
- Kali Muscle
- TheFitness Marshall
Make your own gear!
If you’re looking for more of a challenge which will spark your creativity while you lose weight, there are also great resources for making your own exercise equipment and tools at home.
Watch how to make exercise equipment with primitive skills and resources posted by Tube Unique Wilderness.
Cataloguing & Cleaning
Remember how long you’ve been putting off cleaning out your hard drive, cataloguing your music and labelling those documents you’ve never gotten round to?
Well you clearly have no more excuses!
Thing is, even if we do have time at home, we’re generally compelled to spend that time on essential things like our kids’ homework, doing laundry, fixing the most critical things, OR we are so tired, we require every free moment to relax and unwind a bit until we have to go back to work. Then there are the requisite social gatherings we must attend. We never really get to those nagging non-essential tasks and eventually put them off for weeks, months or even years.
Hopefully the Covid-19 virus will not isolate us in our homes for months and years, but a few weeks will certainly give us the time to clean out and organise our documents, files and other collections – whether digital or actual items.
Let the music guide you!
Let’s be honest, there are very few people who don’t like music at all. Indeed, we can’t always find people with the same taste in music as us – but when you’re in isolation this becomes a bit of a non-issue.
Through applications like YouTube, Spotify, LastFm, Apple Music, Pandora, Deezer, Soundcloud and iHeartRadio the world of music has indeed become our oyster no matter where we might be – as long as we have some type of connectivity.
If you suspect that you may be disconnected in a while, it’s worthwhile to watch some episodes of the Alone series (History channel) which shows people living in complete isolation making instruments from wood. Or you can find online forums which can teach you the same skills. Don’t want to build one? Then just buy yourself an instrument and learn the ropes online as well.
Either way, music has been proven to affect your body through what scientists call psychoneuroimmunological effects. In the book Musicophilia by neurologist Oliver Sacks, he explores and explains the intricate relationship between music and our brain, health, and survival. For one – music involves both the left and right hemisphere of the brain and is therefore a whole-brain activity.
Though scientific findings are inconclusive due to lack of peer review, many studies have linked music to cell growth, pain relief, mental wellbeing, concentration and physical stamina.
Read – but choose your material!
One of the greatest hazards to modern society is undoubtedly our exposure to too much trivial and unfounded ‘facts’ and material. Social media and email inboxes are saturated with nonsensical information. Even our news providers are not to be trusted nowadays.
So, one of the best ways to pass the time while you’re on the low-down is by reading, but reading material which is either completely fictional or factual material which has been vetted thoroughly. Be assured that most publishing houses still maintain a level of professional acuity and ethical clearance which has somehow bypassed modern media. If you find a book labelled ‘non-fiction’ printed by a prominent publishing house, chances are the wool won’t be pulled over your eyes.
If you want to continue reading online, be sure to vet sites or articles through MediaBiasFactCheck.com or Snopes.com before trusting everything you read. If you purchase self-published eBooks, be sure to read the reviews and try to verify facts for non-fiction publications as these books usually don’t go through editorial review.
Whether you choose fiction or nonfiction, however, be sure that reading has several benefits irrespective of the material. Reading has been shown to improve memory, alleviating depression, delaying the onset of dementia and Alzheimers and also boosting empathy. That’s true! Though reading is a solitary pursuit, it helps us connect with our fellow humans and non-humans better. Linguists believe this is due to an increased vocabulary expanding our understanding and acceptance of the world while psychologists believe reading to imprint social constructs and moral obligations on us. A third class – neurologists – believe the mere stimulation of areas of the brain involved with reading to be crucial for maintaining healthy cognition and rational thought and action.
If you’re short on cash, try Project Gutenberg which has over 60 000 free classic books and non-copyrighted titles available for download.
Learn a craft
Crafting, as with the other tasks on this list, is an incredible way to boost your mental and physical wellbeing.
You can start with obvious crafts such as painting, sketching, cooking, needlework, origami, pottery, jewellery-making or beadwork, paper crafts, macrame and leather crafting, but there are several other crafts you may not have considered.
While the worldwide angst certainly seems to resemble a pre-apocalyptic world, why not play along for the heck of it and take a look at some of the homesteading, prepping and outdoor DIY crafts and skills you can gain while you’re stuck at home.
For instance, why not learn how to make a fire without matches? For this ‘craft’ or skill it goes without saying that you should only attempt this in a safe environment with the correct safety equipment, away from other flammable materials or electric wires, outside natural areas which could catch fire and certainly not in the presence of small children or animals. So heed our warning!
If you’ve followed all the correct prompts and have precautions in place, you can indulge your inner caveman or cavewoman and take a look at the Outdoor Boys’ ‘13 Ways to start a fire’ clip below.
Not in the mood for firemaking? Well here are a few other things you can try:
- Weave a rug from plastic grocery bags
- Make cosmetics with common household products
- Use natural products to dye clothing and fabrics (such as onions, eucalyptus, coffee, avocado, turmeric, orange peels, spinach and so forth)
- Making your own survival tools from scratch
- Building DIY bird feeders
- Keep your kids busy with these crafting ideas
Writing Or Journaling
As with the organising and cataloguing, we often neglect time for reflection and introspection in the hubbub of daily life.
As we get older we often perceive the act of writing down our thoughts, feelings and experiences to be juvenile. We believe ourselves capable of carrying on with essential tasks and overcome hardships and trauma without much effort. And this may be true, but when we do have the time available, it makes sense to journal.
In fact, some prominent leaders in world history believed (or still believe) journaling to be essential for mental acuity and emotional fortitude. This includes the likes of Albert Einstein, Jennifer Aniston, John D. Rockefeller, Andy Warhol, Winston Churchill, Oprah Winfrey, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin, Richard Branson. Journaling is even required for certain postgraduate courses at Harvard University such as MBAs.
Not only will the habit of writing down your experiences in such a strange time in human history be entertaining, but journaling has been shown to support healthy lifestyles as people can look back on their past activities and reflect on their responses and actions in these times. And who knows, you may have an award-winning story in you!
For those of us who have pets at home, staying put will undoubtedly be rewarding for ourselves and our fluffy besties to cuddle, fluff and play some games.
It simply makes sense to use the free time on your hands to build that human-animal connection and train your pets. Try some of these helpful resources in dog training, rabbit training and cat training.
But why stop there?
Wishing all our readers the best of luck!
It’s certainly unnerving to witness this global dilemma. The news is conflicting – is the danger as grave as some profess or should we remain calm and see this as a ‘heavy flu’? We’re erring on the side of caution right now and watching the World Health Organisation for guidelines and updates on the pandemic.
If it’s prudent to stay home, then that is certainly what you should do!
And remember, if you need assistance with transacting online or converting and transferring your funds abroad, just call on Rand Rescue and we’ll assist! Simply leave your details below to discuss your concerns and needs.