As we are all trying our best to avoid the spread of COVID-19 by staying indoors, we’re going to need things to keep us busy over the next few weeks. By choosing to do something, whatever that something is, we’ll keep our minds occupied and help stop those anxious thoughts taking hold and spiralling. We also need ways to feel connected and part of something. We might be physically isolated, but we don’t need to feel lonely, or disconnected.
Social distancing is essential, and it's an important effort that we all must make together. Here are some great ideas for staying sane, healthy and connected at home during this time:
Challenge your brain. A great way to put your brain to work is by doing a puzzle. Whether it’s a traditional jigsaw or a book of Sudoku, puzzles are extremely stimulating. There are lots of online puzzle games and apps, so you don't have to leave the house to have a go. If you’re experiencing chemo brain, puzzles, Sudokus, crosswords, or logic games can also help to keep your mind fresh. You could also join the word association game on our cancer forum.
Keep your body moving. If you’re having treatment or have recently finished, you can start to do a little exercise if you feel up to it. Generally, doctors advise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, of moderate paced activity. But everyone’s different and exercise needs to be tailored to you, taking into account your overall fitness, diagnosis, and other factors that could affect safety. Yoga is a great form of gentle exercise for people living with cancer as it helps improve flexibility and strength and can aid in relaxation. Yoga with Adriene is a popular, free YouTube channel that has a great beginners 30-day introduction
Get listening. Music has been scientifically proven to help boost mood and improve mental wellbeing. Why not create a playlist of your favourite songs and have a private concert in your living room. Many people also find solace in podcasts. Podcasts range from strictly educational to purely entertainment, and everything in between. With thousands of podcasts available for free, you’re bound to find something on nearly anything. Some places you can find and listen to thousands of podcast are ACAST, Spotify and TuneIn.
Have a clear out. Try sorting out your clothes and de-cluttering your home. It’s important that whilst you are stuck at home, you make it somewhere you can be comfortable and feel relaxed in. Also, the act of organising and tidying will help your mental health more generally. In the words of everyone's favourite Japanese organisation expert, Marie Kondo, if it doesn't 'spark joy' it's got to go.
Release your creative juices. Why not embark on a creative arts and crafts challenge to keep your brain and fingers busy. From poetry writing and mindful colouring to pottery and origami, this could be the perfect time to try a new craft project. If you're interested, we have a Creative Club on our cancer forum - feel free to join and share your artwork!
Get lost in a book. It's time to read that book that's been gathering dust on your shelf for the last few months. Get inspired by a best-selling memoir, learn about something new or escape to a different world for a few hours. Don't forget to share what you're reading with our Book Club!
Avoid constantly checking the news. Try to stay away from the news and panicked social media threads as much as possible as it can increase anxiety and worry.
Learn how to knit or crochet. Not only a useful skill, knitting is considered incredibly therapeutic and practical. You can watch some online tutorials to get you started.
Pick up the phone. Most people are self-isolating just like you and will appreciate a friendly chat or text message to let them know you're thinking of them. Also, make the most of video chat - sometimes you just need to see a friendly face. You could also try downloading an app which lets you video call multiple people at the same time for a group catch up, these include Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and House Party (which also has games you can play). Enjoy lengthier video calls in comfort by using a tablet stand or cushion like the iBeani.
Get mindful and give meditation a go. We know that having cancer and going through treatment is already an extremely emotional and stressful time. Mindfulness can help relieve stress, reduce anxiety and improve sleep. There are lots of guided meditations and apps to assist you out there, but even just taking deep breaths and slowing your breathing can help with your mental health. Just taking time out of the day to slow your thoughts and clear your mind can make a huge difference.
Take a (virtual) tour or catch a theatre show - Many museums and galleries are offering free tours of venues, so you can get a culture fix from your couch. Take a trip to The Lourve or browse The British Museum's collection. The National Theatre are streaming full-length productions every Thursday at 7 pm from 2nd April too, which will be free to view on YouTube.