As Covid-19 continues to affect everyone around the world, we here in England are heading towards our 5th week in lockdown. It’s important to stay upbeat and busy so here are my top 10 tips for coping with the isolation of staying at home.
1) Mental health is key.
You must look after yourself emotionally. One of the best things that help me keep it together is to do some exercise. If you can get outside, even if it is just in your garden, do some exercise that will increase your heart rate. I personally enjoy jogging but you could just do a workout in your living room, there are plenty of free follow-along workouts on YouTube.
2) Make a plan.
Personally, I’m a scatterbrain and sometimes things can become very overwhelming. But actually, when I write things down, I see that it’s not so bad. Try and write done 5 things you would like to accomplish each day. They don't have to be big things but just by writing them down and then ticking them off, you will feel a sense of achievement. You might find something in my next 8 tips that can go on your list.
3) Practice Your Photography.
Why not spend just half an hour practising some form of photography that you already enjoy. I appreciate we can't go out and find wildlife at the moment but there will be plenty to photograph in and around your home. If you have a garden why not experiment with some flowers, bushes or trees. If you have a pet, how about some pet photography. Try different angles and lighting. If you have a bird feeder or you can order one, practice photographing the birds that visit. If you don’t have a garden how about some indoor plants or food photography. If you have children or a partner how about some portraits by a window. You can literally photograph anything. Pick something and try and make it look as interesting as possible.
4) Learn a New Photographic Technique.
Even if you are still working, you probably have a bit more time on your hands now you are not out socialising so why not use a bit of that time to learn a new photographic skill. For instance, if you do have a bird feeder, how about mastering birds in flight. If you don’t have a bird feeder, how about insects in flight like bumblebees or dragonflies. If you can’t go outside, how about trying something like macro photography or using lamps around your house to set up a mini studio and photographing some products.
5) Learn A New Editing Technique.
You don’t have to spend money on editing software, there are plenty of free ones online but if you do have Photoshop or Lightroom then there are literally hours and hours of free tutorials to help you master your photography editing skills. A few ideas you could look into are: black and white editing, sharpening, selective colour toning, enhancing eyes, dodge and burn, the list really is endless and there is always something new to learn. I usually start on YouTube and then do a google search if I can’t find something specific on there. If you do have Lightroom then now is an ideal time to get organised. Learn how to catalogue your images and tag them so they are easier to find in the future.
6) Learn About A New Species. We all have our favourite animals but why not learn about something else, maybe a species you haven’t heard of before. Last week I watched a documentary about the Elephant Bird and a giant egg David Attenborough discovered in Madagascar. This week I watched a short documentary on the woolly mammoth and discoveries they’ve found in Russia. There are so many species of animals, why not pick one and try and find out as much as you can about it.
7) Watch A Documentary I love watching documentaries, even though they can sometimes be very sad, I believe knowledge is power and we need issues to be bought to the forefront so situations can be improved. There are the classics like Blackfish which talks about Orcas kept in captivity for human entertainment, but then there are lots of less well-known documentaries that are just as interesting. The Ivory Game and Virunga on Netflix are two very well-made films. In fact, there are so many, maybe I'll write a separate blog about my favourites.
8) Read A book Personally I am not into reading fiction, I much prefer to watch a movie. However, a fictional book may provide the escapism you need right now. After many years of trying different genres of books from natural history books to poems on human rights, I have finally found a type of book I love and really enjoy. I love reading about Elephant conservationists and their stories. I started with Daphne Sheldrick’s “An African Love Story” then moved on to Lawrence Anthony’s “The Elephant Whisperer” I have since read a number of books and am currently working my way through a book about Painted Wolves.
It may take you a while to figure out what you really enjoy reading and your taste may change over time. But there is a wealth of knowledge out there that can only be gained by reading a book.
9) Try A New Podcast We’ve talked about watching and reading, now what about listening? Music is an obvious choice but in times of isolation, it’s nice to hear people talking, so why not try listening to a podcast? There are podcasts on every subject you can imagine, from gardening to space stations. My favourite ones are about wildlife (obviously) and this week I discovered a new podcast through someone I follow on Instagram. So far I’ve only listened to one episode but I liked it so I’ll add it to my favourites and listen to another episode.
10) Cook or Bake Something New There were many fabulous posts on social media about earth day this year. I made the comment on my Instagram feed that I hope when this awful pandemic is over we could think about treating mother earth a bit more thoughtfully. But actually why not start now by experimenting with some new cooking methods. Whether you agree with the Vegan lifestyle or not, there is no downside to eating more fruit and veg, so why not try cooking a meal or baking some goodies that do not contain any animal products or unsustainable products like most palm oil. You might have to think about it a bit more in advance, but you might just be surprised, vegan food can be VERY tasty!
I hope these suggestions have been useful and you give at least one of them a try. It might not be possible to get back to life as we knew it for some time, so remember to stay busy, stay positive and stay happy!