Good advice at this time

The SNP has tweeted four GIFS with advice for us all in this worrying time. The first, Keep active and stay positive, will become increasingly important the longer we have to remain at home with limited opportunities to get out. Those with gardens can presumably continue to work in their gardens, and, when the better weather comes, sit and enjoy the traffic-free peace and the blooms of plants and shrubs. Sowing seeds and watching plants, vegetables or herbs grow will provide something positive to do, with any food grown eeking out what we might be able to buy.

Many online offer advice to those working from home or self-isolating, pointing out the need to work out a routine, write it down, and stick to it. No lolling around in pyjamas allowed. And definitely no slouching on the sofa binge watching box sets. Instead wash and dress as if going to the office or going out to meet friends. This starts your day on a positive basis. Have breakfast then do what you have on your schedule for perhaps two hours before getting up and having a break. Wander around for a few minutes, make a cup of coffee, go to the door or open a window and have a look around. Wave to anyone you see.

Although an indyref is off the table for this year, you might want to brush up on your knowledge and persuasion skills, ready for when campaigning starts again. Business for Scotland’s Ambassador scheme provides an online course to do at your own pace plus an online area where you can raise questions and share ideas with others. In addition Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp has held face-to-face courses around the county to supplement the online information. There will no doubt restart once life returns to something more like normal and people can congregate again. More on the Ambassador scheme can be found here.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp of Business for Scotland.

Advice from others advocates eating well to remain healthy. So make lunch and take time to eat it and relax for a while. Although food choices may be limited, spending time cooking interesting food helps maintain positivity levels. If you didn’t have time previously to cook, or bake, now is the time to learn, or to experiment with more adventurous recipes. You may well have to substitute ingredients depending what you have available, but this all adds to the challenge and fun of seeing how the dish turns out.

Instead of sitting slumped in front of the TV or computer all day, others suggest learning to play an instrument, or learning a language. Many people have recently taken up Gaelic, but when it comes to languages you are spoiled for choice. The Open University offers free courses on a range of subjects.

There’s a vast array of websites to help with whatever you want to do. This might be the time to do research into a topic that has long intrigued you, or to research your family tree. This can be fascinating as well as traumatic when discoverting how many of our ancestors lived and struggled to survive. Other family members might be able to share information, anecdotes, documents and photographs. You might even decide to make it a collaborative venture, bringing family members together via email or Skype. Scotland’s People website is a good place to start, and you can buy copies of birth, marriage and death certificates on the National Records of Scotland website.

Finding an old photograph of a family member can be the start of a search that unearths much surprising information.

Many bookshops have websites, so as well as buying novels you can purchase textbooks or self help books to enable you to take up something you’ve often thought of doing but never got round to. Writing might appeal to you, whether articles for websites or newspapers and magazines, short stories, poems, perhaps even that novel you’ve often hankered to write but never managed to. Well, no better time than the present. If some of your friends and family are also interested then you can share ideas, read one another’s work, make suggestions for improvement. Another person may not want to write but will provide illustrations. Who knows where such a venture might lead. Writers Online provides tips and advice for writers, details of competitions, and a host of useful information. There’s even a free songwriting handbook to download. So what’s stopping you!

This could be a good time to take up drawing or painting. Lots of inspiration to be found in the spring, especially if you have a garden, as well as opportunities for still lifes worked on indoors. Or you could paint Yes stones to distribute once this pandemic is over.

Planting up terrariums. Photo by Neslihan Gunaydin on Unsplash

Greenery always brings a feeling of life to a home, so if you don’t have a garden then you might consider creating an indoor one. Bottle gardens and terrariums used to be very popular at one time and are apparently making a comeback. Or perhaps you could try planting a miniature Japanese garden created in a suitable container. Plants and other items for these can be easily found online, and the finished garden will create a new focal point and something to tell others about on the phone or by email or Skype.

Keeping busy at something that engages attention will make the time pass more quickly as well as giving a sense of achievement and satisfaction with the results. If you don’t fancy working on paper then you might try photography. Being limited to subjects around the home provides a challenge. You could focus on close-ups or unusual angles, or use some of the many tools now available on cameras, phones and tablets. Keep those you like and use them in some other way, for example to make birthday cards for friends and family.

Wean yourself off too much social media. Twitter can be addictive but also very negative (and often quite nasty). A bad news overload (sadly almost unavoidable at present) can leave you depressed. So try to concentrate on a few news items then leave. Dwelling on bad news or becoming involved in disputes with others can sap energy and positivity. Yes, the news is dire and will become worse, but brooding on it will not help us or those around us, or in contact with us, to get through this period.

Regular contact with family and friends at a time like this is essential for our mental health. Isolation will be especially difficult for those on their own so an occasional email, phonecall, Skype call, or even a chatty letter could make a difference to how they feel. We all need that contact as it takes us away from dwelling on our own worries and feelings and helps widen our horizons. We need to support one another through this, taking each day as it comes and enjoying many of the little things that can give us pleasure.

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