This year has been a really strange one for us all. In the first few weeks I thought I hit the jackpot working from home and being able to pump out a number of cute sewn outfits. Plus, my relationship is still within the first year, so staying in wasn’t a big deal for us. However, because I was home so often I started snacking, not even realising that I was starting to put on weight.
The third month in I completely stopped sewing, had to deal with my current rental selling (due to the owners unfortunately losing their jobs) and looking for a new place to live. This was a good kick up the butt for me because I’ve been wanting to purchase my own property for a few years now. I started to look around and within a month made an offer on a townhouse. Then like clockwork, my house mate moved out and my boyfriend moved in. He didn’t even bother unpacking though because I settle on the new place in another weeks’ time. However, the stress levels went from 0 – 10 really fast and I started to notice that I was becoming more irritable and upset at the smallest things. I really had to take a step back and find ways to readjust and focus. And I’m thankful I did because I’m much happier now!
The one thing I’ve realised is how important it is to have routine in our daily lives. My work is also saying that we could be working from home for the remainder of the year! So here are my tips to stay sane during covid and improve on your health and well-being while being stuck at home.
1. Make time for hobbies
This was an easy one. With the stress of having to move and organise mortgage documents etc, I forgot to set aside some time to myself to just relax and enjoy my hobbies. Sewing is one of those things that grounds me and keeps me sane while being able to spend time with my puggies. I also love painting, photography and cooking! So any hobby is worth investing in!
2. Make time for exercise
With my house mate moving out and us having completely opposite schedules (me being a morning person and him being a night person) it became so much easier for me to set my alarm and get up early to do my Les Mills step classes. I think the worst part about working from home is the fact that you can sleep in, roll out of bed and get to work in your PJs. This is the first habit that you need to break to ensure you have more time in your day and can start achieving more.
Previously, I got up at 6:30 and went for a walk with my sister. When I started to get up at 5am to do a high intensity workout I realised how unfit I was! I’m now 3 weeks in and have gone from a 30 minute workout to a 1 hour workout, where I’m not dying on the floor in the first 10 minutes. I’ve started to feel more toned and have even lost my first 1kg of covid weight… only 2kg to go!!
3. Make a weekly meal planner
They say you can’t outrun a bad diet. So to get fit again I’ve started to fill out a weekly meal planner, which also includes meals that Anthony can take to work for lunches. I have a lot of dietary issues (dairy intolerant, can’t eat breads, grains, cereals, nuts etc.) so this one is really important for me. Plus, it keeps us both organised and we know what groceries to buy so we’re not wasting food. Knowing what we’re cooking each night also makes it easier for us to take turns or even spend that time cooking together.
Check out the QLD Heath – Healthier, Happier, Health Fitness government website for recipes and the Meal Planner that I use.
4. Get out of the house and see your family and friends
During COVID I’ve still been able to go for walks with my sister which has really helped. However, getting out and seeing your friends and family when you can will drastically improve your health and well-being. Especially if you have a close-nit group of friends that you normally spend time with.
If you can’t see your friends then organise some day trips with your partner or if you’re single, jump on a dating app and set up some fun date activities. Anthony and I recently went to Mooloolaba for the day to eat fish and chips on the wharf, bike ride down the esplanade and get some lollies for the drive home (no, these weren’t factored into my meal plan but I made an exception hehe).
5. See a life coach or psychiatrist
If you find that you’re doing everything you can but you still suffer from stress or anxiety then go and see a health and well-being life coach. If it’s serious and you suffer from other mental health issues then book into your GP and ask to see a professional. You might not even realise the things you’re holding onto that’s stressing you out. Talking to someone professional will help you work things through and find ways to manage them long term. One way to realise that you’re stressed is if your body starts playing up. For example, I start to realise that I’m over stressed when I get pains in my face, possibly from grinding my teeth in my sleep. Thankfully this hardly ever happens anymore but when you notice these things, take control and book it in!
P.S If you work for a large organisation you might also find that they offer a number of these services for free. You just have to look for them on your intranet!
6. Read a book or listen to a podcast
I used to spend a lot of time commuting to and from work, which was the perfect time to read a book or listen to my favourite podcast. So losing this time actually meant losing an important time of my day being able to switch off and enjoy something that I really enjoyed.
I’m a massive sucker for romance novels. One year I joined the Goodreads reading challenge and read 108 books! If you don’t know where to start then make yourself a Goodreads account and see what they recommend based on what books you like. If you enjoy podcasts then download Spotify and have a look at the top recommended podcasts for the genre you’re interested in.
7. Start a blog!
Sometimes it helps to write things down and put your ideas on paper. Which is exactly what a blog is! You might want to document a hobby or passion, showcase your projects like sewing, photography or cooking or maybe just want to get your ideas out there. Most of the time I have no idea who even reads my blog but I love looking back and seeing what I’ve achieved in the past few years. I feel that it’s helped me grow as a person and also really helps with your mental health and well-being!
8. Get dressed, do your hair and put some makeup on
Obviously the makeup doesn’t apply to everyone but I feel once I’ve done my exercise I still get dressed, put a light amount of makeup on and do my hair. This means I’m ready for the day and if I want to pop down to the shops, visit my family or have lunch with my friends I can! If you stay in your PJs all day you’re going to get into the habit of never getting out of the house. Even just go for a small walk around the block during your lunch break! It all helps!
9. Sort your finances
I’m not saying I’m amazing at this but I’ve learnt over the years to be really careful with my money. I spent a good portion of my life in a toxic relationship being with someone who had an insane spending habit that couldn’t be controlled by myself or his parents (despite them bailing him out numerous times). We got in huge amounts of debt, made bad decisions with investments and in the end we both had to go on a set budget just to dig ourselves out of debt and get some savings behind us. When I left that relationship I found out that he had a hidden bank account and was still racking up huge spending debt behind my back. So you can imagine how amazing it was to take full control over my own money and start saving without the fear of it disappearing. For the first time in ten years I went from thinking that I would never get ahead (not being on the biggest salary) to being able to purchase my own clothes, holidays, pay for the pugs and save for a house deposit.
As my salary improved over the years I stuck to the methods used in the The Barefoot Investor book. He gives you some really great tips to reduce your spending and help you live as debt free as you can. After reading this book I learnt that my living expenses being on my own was costing me too much. So I ended up getting a housemate to share that expense so I could continue saving. Plus my housemate was really chill and it was nice to have someone to talk to each day. I also stopped getting worried about strange noises at night having a male living in the house with me.
Being home with COVID it’s also super easy to get into the bad habit of online shopping. I’ve already done this myself because of all the sale emails but the reality is we are home more and we don’t need a lot of excess items. I’m also finding I’m wearing all my comfy clothes and don’t really need anything new in the way or clothing, jewellery, shoes etc. So instead of putting that money into online shopping I’ve instead setup a weekly direct debit into my NAB share trading account. Every time I reach $500 I invest in some new shares. Especially because some shares are at a ten year low! Talk about saving goals!
The other things you could do is have a clean out, sell some items on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace and start making some cash back!
This may not apply to everyone but the final thing I think is super important and a lesson I learnt the hard way, is always make sure you have your own personal bank account. If you don’t have access to your own money (only have a shared bank account with your partner) you could find yourself in a domestic violent relationship and it could be hard to access your own money to leave.
My current partner and I have a great understanding on what we contribute to the relationship. We both work, so we both manage our own money but still have a common savings goal that will set us up as a couple long term. If you don’t have this yourself it might be a good idea to reach out and get some help and an understanding on how you can access your own money (Beyond Blue, government websites etc). If you’re at home with children and don’t work but have a hobby like sewing then why not setup your own Etsy shop! I’ve made over $500 just this year in sales without even really trying (working full time as well).
10. Don’t overwork
If you’re like me and now work from home on a daily basis it’s easy to get into the habit of sitting at your desk all day long. Due to my work having some staff overseas it can get confusing what the time zones are. One awesome thing I’ve done is set a regular ‘lunch’ meeting from 12pm – 1pm to ensure that no one books meetings over my lunch break. Also make sure you get up and make yourself a tea, go for a walk or get out for your lunch break. Then set a time each day you want to work to and don’t overwork. It will add to your stress not being able to get anything else done in the day that will go towards your health and well-being.
Also get in the habit of putting the radio on while you’re working. Better than sitting in silence all day and then you can keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the world.
I hope my tips have been helpful for anyone else adjusting to this new ‘at home’ lifestyle.