Blog Mental

Motivation In A Time Of Isolation

Credit – PA

What else is there to write about now?

Not a lot else. Brexit that dominated the news for two or more years has been forgotten as only food stores and chemists are open in the UK. We’ve been told to stay at home due to coronavirus for at minimum 3 weeks.

This has been coming for a few weeks. Bit by bit, the restrictions have got stricter and stricter. Currently, you can still go running or cycling but on your own and only once a day.

Things are bleak in many ways for lots of people. I’ve not got my head around it all yet. My feeling brain’s evolutionary protection has kicked in to tell me that its all okay, and I’ll wake up in a few days and it will all be over. That we’ll all be able to go outside again and see our friends.

This is not true though, and although it’s my brains coping mechanism is beneficial in the short term, this is not likely to be over in 3 weeks and life afterwards could have a very different look. It could be a year, which scares the shit out of me, and hence why the government is drip-feeding restrictions and bad news. Those things you took for granted as always being there, are no longer there.

The saying “Hope for the best, plan for the worst” is what is needed right now. I could probably survive two weeks stuck at home faffing around here and there as I do most of the time. But if it’s months, I need some plans and projects, as well as some things to keep me sane.

There have probably been plenty of things on your mind that at some point you are going to get around to doing. Now you can. Make a plan. Do a project. Start a new thing.

Masterclass – Video Courses


With some time on your hands, you may want to take a class. Have you seen Masterclass? It’s people at the top of their profession, giving 20-30 lessons that last around 12 minutes each. I’ve not signed up to this so can’t give a full review or recommendation, but by Jove, it looks interesting. Here are some examples –

  • Aaron Sorkin teaches Screenwriting
  • Martin Scorsese teaches Filmmaking
  • Spike Lee teaches Filmmaking
  • Steve Martin teaches Comedy
  • Carlo Santana teaches Guitar
  • Penn and Teller teach the Art of Magic
  • Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Malcolm Gladwell and many others teach writing
  • Serena William teaches Tennis (maybe one for another time)
  • Garry Kasparov teaches Chess
  • Jimmy Chin teaches Adventure photography
  • Annie Leibovitz teaches photography

The one that interests me is Paul Krugman (Nobel Prize winner) teaches Economics and Society. It seems quite poignant for the times we live in currently.

The price is an all-access one-off annual payment of £170 ($180 in the USA) with is the equivalent of £14.17/month or it’s £85 ($90 in the USA) for a single class. Yes, it’s pricey and I’m sure there is some great content there. All courses have a trailer you can watch.

Learn a Language

This is probably on most people’s lists of things they would like to do. Now is the time, when you (maybe) have some time. I’ve been learning Polish for 4 years. Our weekly lessons came to a halt last year, so I’ve sitting for the past 6 months thinking that I’ll have to get off my backside and get working on it. I didn’t but now is my time. If you’re thinking the same thing, there are books, podcasts, lessons online and YouTube has a wealth of language learning content. There are the apps Duolingo, which is free and Babbel which is subscription-based. There’s also plenty of online teaching available via Skype.

Start or work on your Fitness

Credit – Reuters

The gym is shut. Parkrun is cancelled. Running Club is off. Group fitness is off-limits. Races are rescheduled.

You can still go outside to exercise once a day, so go and do whatever that is.

Whilst home workouts are not ideal (otherwise gyms would not have been invented) this is what we have currently. Free exercise workouts are currently booming online via Facebook, Instagram or YouTube as everyone does their bit to keep the world sane and in shape. Joe Wicks is getting a million joining in. Les Mills has made some of their content free.

YouTube has gazillion videos shown bodyweight workouts, yoga, kettlebell workouts and everything in between.

You can get some home equipment (I have dusted off the dumbbells) or make do with some homemade weights with household items or make them yourself. Again, YouTube can help.

The bike shop was busy on Saturday before the “lockdown”. Bike shops are seen, as essential services so are open. Why not get one? Check if your company is registered with the Bike to Work scheme. You could save up to 40% of the cost. Sales of bike turbo trainers are also booming.

If you don’t exercise, now is the time to start. Use your trip outside once a day to start an exercise habit, maybe Couch to 5km, so you can smash Parkrun once it’s back on. My wife has been running twice this week as the prospect of being inside all day have bitten.

Do that thing you’ve been thinking about doing. A yoga practice, some flexibility work, even just walking! I’ve been thinking of skipping for some time to help my running and strengthen my feet and ankles. I’ve taken the plunge and got a rope and found some old doormats to use. I’ve not idea how I’m going to go about it. 5 minutes? 20 minutes? Fast? Slow? I’ll let you know how it goes.

Music – Catch up on some tunes or podcasts


I’ve finally taken up the Spotify Premium trial (I’ve had the free one for years). As I’ve been working from home for two weeks now, I’ve burnt through a lot of their content with no adverts. It’s been great, and one of those “why did I not do sooner” moments. I’ve created playlists from favourite tunes stored on various iPods and phones. Any song I like gets added to a “listen to later” list so I don’t forget about it. The wife even has her own playlist, on which any track she even suggests the slightest liking gets added. She commonly says things like “what’s that song we heard the other day? You know, by that guy”.

I’ve rediscovered plenty of old favourites and plenty of new music I have missed. Helps you get through the day.

Start/reignite any other hobby


Sewing, knitting, patchwork quilts, cross-stitch, painting, drawing, furniture renovation, chess, guitar, pottery, juggling, family genealogy, baking, writing, candle making, cheese making, journaling, stand up comedy. Homebrewing and studying drinks mixology seem like good ideas. People’s gardens have never looked better.

Think about it. What jumps out as something you want to do or work on. Make a simple plan and go do it.

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