Self Isolating: How to Stay Occupied and Stave off Boredom

In these uncertain times it is difficult not to worry. The information on this pandemic changes on a daily basis but one thing that affects all our lives is imposed self isolation. We all cope with stress in different ways and not everyone is a homebird by nature. As this dramatic change to our lives is as new to me as it is to you, here are my initial thoughts on coping strategies when self isolating.

Only look or listen to the news once a day.

Boris’ daily update is enough to keep you up to date with developments and the very latest advice on safeguarding yourself, your family and vunerable neighbours. Absorbing the same (or slightly re-hashed) news throughout the day just raises our anxiety levels.

Concentrate on what you can do, not what you can’t.

If you are fit and well, you might be able to offer community support by dropping a note to neighbours or offering help via your local online bulletin board. For example, Nextdoor is a social networking service which is currently available in 11 countries. Download the app here. I use it and have found it a worthwhile source of local information.

Connect with people. Social interaction is a vital part of our daily lives. Self isolation is going to be, at best, boring – even if you enjoy your own company. Close physical contact is discouraged but luckily we have phones, email, Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp and several other digital ways to communicate. So get in touch with people… every day. A friendly chat is beneficial to you, and it’s beneficial to them.

Last night I sat and watched a drama and a comedy. I intentionally avoided anything to do with coronavirus and – guess what – I went to bed happy and relaxed (might have also been something to do with the two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and a large helping of Häagen-Dazs). Check out Annabel’s top picks here.

Museum virtual tours – did you know that you can enjoy virtual visits of top museums around the world? Experience the best museums from London to Seoul in the comfort of your own home. More info.

Listen to A&G’s You’re Never Too Old To… podcasts. Lighthearted and interesting recordings featuring some fascinating guests. Perfect to while away half an hour while you’re having a cup of tea with your feet up! Click here

Be creative – you can ‘lose’ hours when you are concentrating on a drawing or painting. There are so many ways to be creative. Now you have some free time, it’s a great time to enjoy using the left side of your brain.

Try new recipes. There are over 700 tried and tasted recipes on this website. Many of them using storecupboard ingredients. And, when you’re ready to serve, why not eat outside in the sunshine if it’s a mild day, looking at the blue sky and listening to the birds singing their hearts out.

Pamper yourself. Now’s the time to luxuriate in a hot bath filled to the brim with fragrant bubbles. Perhaps by candlelight, clutching a G&T! Or try that face mask that’s been in your bathroom cupboard for ages.

Keep your brain in gear – go online and learn another language or play brain games. Or buy yourself a crossword book.

I can’t help but liken this pandemic to a war. Frightening, stressful and full of uncertainty – but, as in the past, we will pull together and it will pass.

Take care everyone.

More ways to keep yourself occupied when self isolating coming soon… including our new yoga video for absolute beginners and much more.


  1. Dear Annabel & Grace

    Thank you for being so positive and upbeat during what, for many people, will be a stressful time.

    There are pros and cons to everything and I guess if we have to stay at home and can’t work there is no excuse for not contacting old friends, clearing out your knicker drawer or cleaning the blinds although I’m not sure if the latter is a pro or a con!

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Thank you so much for your sensible and creative ideas. Perhaps the BBC news could take a leaf out of your book instead of going on about it all the time.

  3. Great advice, ladies! This is not a situation that anyone wants to be in but we are and we all have to do our best to keep ourselves and others safe, and to try to stay positive. X

  4. We could get out knitting needles and knit squares for blankets for refugees. Do an online painting course or play bridge online. Practice those old piano pieces… read all those books that were gathering dust. Trouble is sometimes you don’t feel like doing those things!

    • Hi Elaine – great ideas! Agree – we don’t always feel in the mood. If I have a bad day, I tend to hunker down and eat too much, but hey ho! Best wishes, Grace

  5. Thanks very much for this – some really good ideas, some of which I had no idea even existed eg. virtual museum tours!! What do you know!

    We do all need to try as much as we can to stay positive and support each other through this. Hope everyone stays well …….

  6. As others have said, thank you! It is such a relief and so calming to read your softer and gentler thoughts. You are helping people through this situation.

    • Hello Jenny. Thank you so much for your very kind comments. Annabel and I are very conscious of the seriousness of this situation we all find ourselves in, but trying to find some hope and light to share with our readers (and to cheer ourselves up too!). Best wishes, Grace

  7. I am 89 and there are loads of things I have always wanted to do, so now is the time….I do not have the usual excuse “No time ” ! So here goes, take up piano playing again, read some books I have never had the time to read.
    get in touch with friends again. Play mahjong, Solitaire, crosswords,watch the birds,write my life story for my great grandchildren…….shop on the internet. My goodness , so many things to do, where will I find the time ???? Probably six months might be enough. Good luck everyone in solitary confinement, keep safe !!

    • Hi Ginette – thank you for all your wonderful ideas. My mother wrote her life story (up until her marriage to my father) and printed it off for my sister and I. It was FASCINATING! Keep safe and it was really good to hear from you. Best wishes, Grace

  8. I live in New Zealand and enjoy your posts so much. The virus is just making its presence felt here now so we are all taking care of ourselves sooner rather than later.
    Keep up the interesting and informative posts.
    Kia Kaha

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