How do you ease your mind while self-isolating? Life in quarantine.

If somebody had told me one month ago I would be writing a blog post with this title, I would probably have advised this person to go to a psychiatric hospital. Yet, however surreal it sounds, we’ve all been told to quarantine to prevent the spread of the killer disease COVID-19. We’re staying in our four walls, watching distressing news, feeling anxious about our health, and uncertain about the future. That’s why it’s important to ease our minds by doing simple and enjoyable activities and making use of the one walk or exercise a day as advised by the government. In this blog post, I’ll describe the quarantine routines that bring me a feeling of normality and happiness, and I hope someone will benefit from it.

Spring flowers in Bournemouth
A photo of roses and their petals taken while walking around my neighbourhood.

First of all, join support groups in your area on social media

Think about how you can help others and ask for it when in need. I wanted to register as an NHS volunteer, but their website says they’ve had enough applications (750,000!) and are not recruiting new volunteers. I still keep checking, though. Instead, you can join the Covid-19 Community Support Facebook group in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. It will make you feel part of the wider community, where you can ask for recommendations and help, and assist others.

Prepare delicious breakfasts

Waking up with the thought of eating a heavenly breakfast while drinking your favourite coffee is one of those little things that will make you look forward to mornings. It will prevent you from sleeping too long and you’ll be more likely to stick to your morning routine. I’ve almost never skipped breakfast and consider it the most important meal to fuel me with energy for the rest of the day. Now, with some more time on my hands in the mornings, I try to make our breakfast look like a work of art – apart from being nutritious, it should look good. Believe me, beautifully presented food will make you and your family smile and you don’t need a special occasion to do that.

Porridge bowl with coconut milk
Porridge bowl. I’ve recently been obsessed with making oats using different kinds of plant milk and ingredients. Head to my Instagram account to see the recipe for the porridge above.

Take photos of blooming trees and flowers and have some fresh flowers at home in a vase

Whenever you go out for a walk to your local parks or gardens, take some photos or videos of the spring which is currently emerging everywhere. Daffodils, magnolias, tulips, and cherry blossoms are around your corner. That way you’ll at least be able to look at photos of nature when you need it. I’ve also been making sure that we always have some fresh flowers at home. You can obviously buy flowers in the supermarket, but cutting them freshly from the wilderness is just slightly more magical.

Magnolia
Magnolia looks stunning in spring.
daffodils
Cherry blossoms
Cherry blossoms look amazing in a vase but unfortunately only for two days. They lose their petals very quickly.

Explore your neighbourhood, local gardens and parks

We’re advised to avoid using cars to drive to the areas we loved visiting before the coronavirus outbreak. Unfortunately, in my case it means I need to forget about my favourite New Forest and the Jurassic Coast for the foreseeable future, and can only remind myself of these stunning sights by visiting my old blog posts (here and here). There is a positive to this restriction though! It means we’re creating less fumes, making the air clean, and we’re encouraged to explore the local area, which I personally never did before. After a short stroll around my neighborhood, I realised I live in a beautiful area with interestingly designed houses. Do you know your neighbourhood well?

Queens Park in Bournemouth
Our local park – Queen’s Park

At the moment we live close to Queen’s Park, which is very spacious and you can easily keep the required two-metre distance from others. Remember that going for a walk is also enjoyable at night and it’s less likely you’ll meet other people. As horrible as it sounds, we should be avoiding walking next to people who are not from our household…

As always, I encourage everyone to walk through the Central and Upper Gardens in Bournemouth, where I used to live (blog posts about the Gardens here and here), but I probably should not go right now as it’s too far.

Other obvious pastimes

Exercise and yoga – exercise will keep you fit and give you a dopamine boost, and yoga will calm your stressed mind! Instagram accounts that will motivate you include @kayla_itsines, a fitness guru from Australia who uploads short free videos to work on your abs, upper and lower body, which you can do without any equipment. You can also download her app, which is free for one month. There’s also @selfit1 – a local personal trainer (my trainer before the quarantine), who gives some free training on Zoom. Another local beauty is @jenniferkesik – a very positive, Bournemouth-based yoga teacher who gives free online lessons on Zoom!

Exercising at home
I try to exercise every other day (I’m not always motivated though!). Here I am doing a plank for one minute which is always a struggle! It’s perfect for strengthening your body core. He’s got his heavy bar bells; I have my light dumbbell. I also drink a berry smoothie with protein powder after exercising – cheers!

Watch Netflix (hello Captain Obvious!) – I recommend two crime series, called The Stranger and Safe, which are based on Harlan Coben’s books.

Learn something new! To learn a new language, download Duolingo, and for other courses check udemy.com, Google Digital Garage or HubSpot Academy. I am studying Content Marketing at the moment with HubSpot Academy, which is helping me to develop my blogging skills.

Learning is always more enjoyable with some mouthwatering dessert and coffee.

CALL/VIDEO CALL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS to let them know you are okay and to ask about their health – I’ve capitalised this sentence because it’s one of the most important things these days, especially if you are far away from your loved ones.

The most important thing while being self isolated or quarantined is to change our negative thoughts into the positive ones. You’re not ‘trapped’ in your house, but ‘safe and protected’. It’s a war against an invisible enemy, but not a real war and no bombs bombard your roof. God bless the Internet and being able to connect with the world, friends and family. When there was the Spanish Flu pandemic in the 1920s, people did not have this privilege. So focus on the little enjoyable activities and try to look at the bright side of all the aspects of how our lives look now.

What are your ways of coping with the current situation? Stay safe x

Most Instagrammable Places in Bournemouth, part 1: Upper Gardens

I have decided to prepare a series of blog posts presenting different places in Bournemouth where you can take some artistic, colourful, original and memorable photos, whether you’re a tourist, international student or local. In other words, the most Instagrammable places in Bournemouth! This first one contains some shots from the Upper Gardens. Walking from the Square in the town centre until the end of the Upper Garden takes about 30 minutes (check the map here).

If you haven’t heard the word ‘Instagrammable’, then you should know it’s used to describe places, food, and things which seem attractive enough to be captured on camera and shared on social media. The Upper Gardens is definitely one of those places, especially with the abundance of flowers.

The best season to photograph flowers in the Upper Gardens is spring or early summer when the flowers start to bloom and their colours are most intense. The photos in this post were taken in mid-August and some of the petals are a bit washed out, but still beautiful!

Upper Gardens in Bournemouth, the red bridge in the Asian sector
One of the red bridges in the Asian sector of the gardens.

The Gardens used to be private and belonged to one family(!) – the Durrants – until they were leased to Bournemouth Council and are now open to the public. They are divided into three themes: European, Asian and North American, all based on the species planted in different sectors. The Asian part is very interesting due to its adorable red bridges, which are a great backdrop for photos. In my opinion, even a wedding photo session would look great there!

Upper Gardens in Bournemouth, the red bridge in the Asian sector

Other Instagrammable photos can be taken among bamboo sticks, and you can find plenty of them in the Upper Gardens…if you hide among them, you can pretend you’re on holiday in a tropical jungle…

Bamboo trees in the Upper Gardens, Bournemouth.
Upper Gardens in Bournemouth, Wellingtonia Sequoiadendron giganteum from Sierra Nevada.

The massive trees from America in the American sector are really impressive and will make you feel tiny…the photos below present the Wellingtonia Sequoiadendron giganteum (I’ve always disliked those long Latin names!) from Sierra Nevada, and it’s the biggest species of tree in the world. It can reach a height of 300ft (92m)!

Upper Gardens in Bournemouth, Wellingtonia Sequoiadendron giganteum from Sierra Nevada.
Upper Gardens in Bournemouth, Wellingtonia Sequoiadendron giganteum from Sierra Nevada.
Look at how tiny I look standing next to the trunk of this tree…

The gardens are about 3 kilometers long, but who would mind walking 3 kilometers of pure beauty…? Our walk ended on the Coy Pond (which is already in Poole) where you can see some red fish.

Coy pond, Poole
Coy pond can be found at the end of Upper Gardens

Have you ever walked through the Upper Gardens and taken any photos with its beautiful flora? I think the Gardens are simply underrated because the main tourist focus is the beach. But give it a try, you’ll enjoy them at any time of the year!

Upper Gardens, Bournemouth.
Have I encouraged you to go there?