Managing your downtime and staying connected in social isolation

In ‘normal’ times, a working day can ebb and flow between home and work and back again – and our expections with it. At the moment, however, our commutes have shrunk to the length of a landing and it can be harder to make the most of an ‘end of the day’ feeling.

One unintended – and not unpleasant – consequence of the current disruption is the outpouring of creativity flowing from the internet. And this, of course, is great when it comes to managing downtime.

The rise of audio

Can you think back to a time before we had even heard of COVID-19? Even during those dim and distant days, audio was having a bit of a moment. People have been listening to audio books and podcasts in increasing numbers, and there really is something for everyone out there. BBC Sounds is a good place to start, and provides access to programmes from all the public radio channels, and a wide variety of podcasts too. Some kind people at The New York Times have helpfully curated a crowdsourced selection of podcast episodes which will distract, entertain and maybe even educate listeners during these unusual weeks. Enthusiasts can also sign up to the Podcast Club on Facebook, which is made up of more than 33,000 super-listeners, ready and willing to share feedback and recommendations and lead you to your next step on your podcast journey.

Staying in to workout

No matter what your usual level of activity, you are unlikely to have missed another product of confinement – the indoor workout. Thousands of children are joining Joe Wicks’ 9.00 am P.E. lessons on YouTube or have taken advantage of Davina McCall’s offer to join her ‘Own Your Goals’ community (all fees waived for a 30 day period).

The power of music

If P.E. is not your thing, take a look at the various musicals on offer as a direct result of the coronavirus restrictions. Gareth Malone and Manchester-based Dan McDwyer have both launched online virtual choirs to harness the positivity of being connected and collective singing as a way to safeguard mental health during the COVID-19 crisis.

Musicians have also been quick to respond. Some have invited online audiences into their homes – Chris Martin, John Legend and Andrew Lloyd Webber to name a few – to play requests, answer questions and connect with an online community.

The message that comes through all this activity - and the dismay caused by social isolation - underlines something we have surely known literally forever, but are certainly guilty of taking for granted: we are deeply social beings, and our sense of self is massively dependent on our interpersonal relationships.