Sometimes, it feels like we’re in a perpetual state of panic. Whether it’s work, health or relationships, the brain has a nasty habit of working itself up into a frenzy. With quarantine measures in place, and our daily routines disrupted, there’s an increased risk of becoming overstressed.

Fortunately, there is lots we can do to avoid falling into that mental rut. To help you remain calm and collected over the coming weeks, we at Passive Income Ideas have devised eight great ways of protecting your mental health in isolation.

Meditation

Meditation is all about transforming the mind. It’s about leaving that frantic state of consciousness, however briefly, and attaining a state of calm. We’re not asking you to go into a week-long shamanic trance. After all, the dog needs walking and somebody has to do the laundry. But by briefly meditating once a day, you could find yourself newly energized and ready to face the challenges that lie ahead.

One great way of entering that zen state is to listen to a meditation podcast. Here are some of the best:

– The One Mind Podcast: Morgan Dix explores different aspects of mindfulness and meditation.

– The Mindful Minute: A collection of guided meditations. Great for beginners.

– The Tara Brach Podcast: Tara blends Western and Eastern philosophies to produce a rich collection of talks and guided meditations.

– Deep Energy Podcast: A collection of ambient soundtracks to accompany meditation.

There are also some excellent mobile phone apps:

– Headspace: A holistic companion to meditation. Guided meditations, sleep sounds and mini-meditations all included. Available on iOS and Android.

– Calm: Meditation sessions to suit your mood. Whether you’re seeking gratitude, relaxation or confidence, Calm has you covered. Available on iOS and Android.

– Sattva: A journey back in time to the origins of Eastern spirituality. Features hundreds of meditations which draw on ancient Vedic principles. Chants, mantras and music by Sanskrit scholars are all included. Available on iOS and Android.

– Glo: An eclectic mix of guided yoga, Pilates and meditation sessions. Available on iOS.

Stay in Contact

Self-isolating is no reason not to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. At times like these, making the most of your support network is vital to your happiness.

Many of these messaging applications and websites, such as Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, need little introduction.

However, one application you might not be aware of is House Party. House Party enables group video chats. This means you can still get together with your friends and family. It’s available on iOS and Android.

Reading

When you’re stuck inside, all you really need is one thing – escapism. And, with the 24 hour coronavirus news cycle showing no sign of stopping, we need this now more than ever.

Many of us will turn to Netflix and YouTube for a break from the real world. For others, a more immersive experience is needed to truly enter a different headspace. Books could be just that.

Reading engages the mind differently from a television. This is because, when you read, you activate your imagination in a way that you wouldn’t normally. For that reason, reading can provide a level of immersion that television and film never could.

Also, there are tonnes of associated mental health benefits. Better sleep, elevated cognition, tension relief and improved focus are just a few.

Passive Income Ideas has found some of the best second-hand book sites. Who knew knowledge was so cheap?

– World of Books: https://www.worldofbooks.com/en-gb

– Abe Books: https://www.abebooks.co.uk/

– Just Books: https://www.justbooks.co.uk/

– eBay: https://www.ebay.co.uk/

If you prefer listening to reading, try out Audible. Click here for a free 30 day trial.

Do Charity Work

Helping others is a great way of helping yourself. With our social freedoms limited, people everywhere are facing a sense of powerlessness. By working to improve the welfare of others, you can regain some of that lost agency.

Huge swathes of people are suffering since the virus outbreak. Many could really do with your help. Here are some great volunteering opportunities:

– NHS Volunteer: The NHS are recruiting hundreds of thousands of volunteers to assist in the effort against coronavirus. You’re needed to deliver medicines and do check-ups on vulnerable people. https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS

– Granny Cloud: Granny Cloud is a website which allows you to teach English to deprived children from around the world. Recruitment is currently on hold but keep an eye out in case it reopens: http://thegrannycloud.org/

– Project Implicit: A team from Harvard University are investigating the nature of stereotypes and related social attitudes. In order to conduct this vitally important research, they need volunteers to take tests. Take the test here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

– Be My Eyes: An app for iPhone and Android which enables you to help blind people perform daily tasks. https://www.bemyeyes.com/

Clean the House

“A tidy room is a tidy mind”. Parents will say anything to get a kid to clean their room. Having said that, this one really does make sense.

The feeling of fresh sheets. The sight of a spotless kitchen. Physical and visual stimuli can have profound effects on our mental well-being. Now you’re stuck inside, why not dedicate a day to making your home the most comfortable it can be?

Some of us do this anyway. Others need a gentle nudge in the right direction. If you’re someone who tends to neglect domestic duties, try out the following apps:

– Tody: Creates a cleaning schedule to suit you. You can synchronise the app with your housemates to introduce a competitive element. Available on iOS and Android.

– House Cleaning: Simple interface helps you to fly through your daily tasks. The app can be a bit slow. Available on iOS.

– Clean My House: Creates a cleaning schedule which fits around your daily routine. Available on Android.

Get Cooking

Diet is so important in times like these. If you’re not eating the right stuff, you’re far more likely to feel moody, fatigued and generally down in the dumps.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t been made easy. A quick trip down to the local supermarket will tell you that people are still panic-buying. With essential ingredients flying off the shelves, it’s been difficult to cook even basic meals.

But hold off on that takeaway pizza. There’s another way. There are some great apps which help you make tasty, nutritional meals, even when your cupboard is down to the dregs.

How do they work? Simply tell the app what ingredients you have. Then, it will give you a list of recipes that you can make.

Here are some of the best apps:

– SuperCook: Huge collection of recipes and easy to navigate. Some ingredients aren’t on the system but they’re always updating. Available on iOS and Android.

– All Recipes Dinner Spinner: Operates very similarly to SuperCook but has a few different recipes available. App often suffers from technical problems. Available on Android.

– Cookpad: Great app which includes a daily meal planner and a sharing feature which allows you to cook in real-time with other app users. Available on iOS and Android.

– Tasty: Renowned for their aesthetic overhead cooking tutorials. The ingredients input system is slick and satisfying. Available on iOS and Android.

Immersive Virtual Experience

With covid-19 closing international borders, holidays have been put on hold. But thanks to the miracle that is the internet, you can see the world from your sofa.

Fancy a ride on a rollercoaster? A trip to Rome? Or maybe even a cruise on the surface of Mars? It’s all here for you to see:

– Google Arts and Culture Museum Partnerships: Google have partnered up with some of Europe’s best museums to offer virtual tours. Check it out here: https://artsandculture.google.com/project/streetviews 

– Worldwide Webcams: Visit the world’s most famous landmarks with EarthCam. Right now, many of the locations look like ghost towns which makes for an interesting perspective. https://www.earthcam.com/

– Access Mars: NASA have begun virtually mapping Mars’ terrain. Why not go for a quick drive on the Red Planet? https://accessmars.withgoogle.com/

– Visit a theme park: YouTube is full of 360-degree virtual roller-coaster rides. Here’s one of many: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLtcPTm5dTg

– Oculus Games Console: Oculus specialise in immersive experiences. Offering gaming, cinema and much more, they’re guaranteed to blow you away. The latest model, the Oculus Quest, starts at £400. Click here to find out more: https://www.oculus.com/quest/?locale=en_GB

Establish Routines

Humans are creatures of habit. With working schedules heavily disrupted, many of us have lost our daily routines.

It’s been shown, time and time again, that daily habits reduce stress, improve focus and increase sleep quality. Therefore, it’s important to maintain a daily schedule.

Here are some great apps for getting into good habits:

– Taskade: If you work from home, you may already be using this app. Taskade seeks to create a virtual workspace which you share with your colleagues. So, even if you’re no longer sharing a physical office, you’ll still be able to work collaboratively. Available on iOS and Android.

 – Alarmy: Do you find yourself punching the snooze button more than you should? Alarmy sets you alarms that force you to get up in the morning. Available on iOS and Android.

– Todoist: A personal secretary which organizes your daily tasks. Great for maximizing productivity. Available on iOS and Android.

– Loop Habit Tracker: The key to self-improvement is establishing great habits. Whether it’s learning guitar or mastering a language, this app will help you stick to your goals. Available on Android.

Start a Diary

Another way of protecting your mental health in isolation. Nowadays, people rarely keep journals. But there’s no reason why this should be the case.

Putting your thoughts down on paper can be a very therapeutic experience. This is because the act of writing forces your mind to rationalize and compartmentalize your ideas and experiences in a way that it normally wouldn’t.

If you feel anxious or unhappy while under quarantine, try writing about how you feel. It might just alleviate some of the pressure you’re facing.

Sleep

Alternatively, you could ignore all the above and get some well-deserved shut-eye. A lack of quality sleep is one of the biggest causes of poor mental health. If you feel you haven’t been getting the rest your body craves, take this opportunity.

When things get dark and scary, hibernating mammals will sleep for months on end, barely moving a muscle. Maybe we should take a leaf out of their book?

Here are some mobile apps to help you nod off:

– Noisli: A collection of natural soundtracks such as rainstorms and gales. If you enjoy hearing rain on your window, this is the one for you. Available on iOS and Android.

– Pzizz: Creates a dreamscape which is tailored to your personality and goals. Available on iOS and Android.

– Slumber: A mixture of soothing sounds and stories. Available on iOS and Android.

– Sleep Cycle: A scientific approach to sleep. Sleep Cycle tracks your sleep patterns the app will wake you when you’re in your lightest sleep phase to avoid that groggy morning feeling. Available on iOS and Android.

We hope you enjoyed our post on protecting your mental health in isolation. Are you looking for something else to read? Check out our post on Staying Strong In Isolation.