Feeling stressed and not sure why? Resist pressure to maximise productivity and create a calmer environment at home 

Our lives couldn’t get any simpler really, when most of our time is being spent at home. But that may not be the case, if you feel guilty about how you are using your time. 

Maybe, rather than feeling under pressure to keep up with what you are seeing on Instagram, this could be the time to pare back your days and establish the calmer pace to your day that you have always craved. 

Save your energy and attention for the things that matter, by cutting out unnecessary tasks, distractions and decisions in your day.

Here are 7 ways to cut out the noise:

Establish a (simple) routine

Not knowing what to do next is when boredom can set in. You may find that with too much time on your hands you feel more uneasy. Having a routine will also ensure you don’t waste hours on social media, which won’t help your mind or mood. 

Don’t go overboard, or feel like you have to pack a lot in. Simply put some structure into your day, so you know what is happening next and how you spend your time feels intentional. Your mind and body will appreciate the rhythm of  your days, rather than letting boredom take over. 

Ensure that your day includes some exercise, some calm moments, cleaning and other chores that will make you feel like you have accomplished something, and quality time with your loved ones. That’s all you need to do. 

Use what you have

It can be tempting to get caught up in finding ways to improve this time during lockdown, and consumer culture has a lot to do with it. Don’t feel compelled to stock up on jigsaws or new books just because that’s what other people seem to be doing online. Keep it simple and make use of what you have in your home. 

Now is the time to look at your possessions, use what you’ve been meaning to and identify items you no longer need. You probably have bath salts and beauty gift sets stashed away somewhere, and now is the perfect time to use them. 

Think about the subscriptions you have too. Make use of all the features of your Headspace app, make Spotify playlists, and actually read all the newsletters in your email inbox. It’s tempting to research recipes online for example, but it’s too easy to get distracted. Dig out cookery books you have in the house, or old magazines that might have recipes, and use them instead. 

Use the ingredients you have, instead of creating a reason to shop. Wear the clothes you have rather than ordering online just because. Cut out extraneous effort and question your normal habits, to determine whether you’re overcomplicating your day to day activities.

Put your phone away

When you don’t need your phone for work reasons, there is no harm in popping it in a drawer the rest of the day. You don’t need to scroll through Twitter while watching a film, or endlessly send Whatsapp messages into groups when you have people in your home to chat to. You may realise how fidgety you feel without it at first, and that is definitely a sign that you need less phone time. 

Yes, it is important to stay connected at this time, but don’t feel obliged to keep a constant chat going, or constantly refresh Instagram. The reality of lockdown is that we are all living quieter, less ‘interesting’ lives, and now more than ever, you’re probably not going to miss any urgent updates. 

Let loved ones know that you’ll call or text them at certain times of the day, to avoid any confusion, and other than that, relax. You and your phone could do with some social distancing. This is the time to embrace games nights at home, gather round the table for a cup of tea and a treat, and just be.

Limit your news to once-a-day

Choose your favourite way to consume the news, whether that’s TV, radio or newspaper, and stick to that. Checking all day or watching multiple news updates isn’t necessary for the vast majority of us. It’s an unsettling time, and you don’t need to be reminded of that more than once a day. 

Commit to something

Set a really simple goal and let that become your fallback habit. For example, choose a book and dedicate your spare time to finishing it. Keep it close to hand at all times and delve into it when you have spare moments. Finish it, then pick up the next one. Your days will fly by, and you will have achieved something. 

We’ve all been feeling distracted lately, and perhaps your usual habits and hobbies have fallen to the wayside. But now is a great time to just throw yourself into something again. 

It doesn’t just apply to your to-be-read pile. It could be crosswords, colouring or soduko (which you will find in the new issue of Irish Country Magazine). Perhaps you have unfinished knitting projects in a drawer somewhere, maybe you want to write something or perhaps you want to try painting. Maybe try running or try to nail push ups, finally. Just choose something that you genuinely want to do and commit to it. That doesn’t mean you have to perfect it, or share your progress online. Just do something, every day.

No-faff, healthy meals

We’re all preparing more of our meals at home than ever before and it can be tiresome. To make your day simpler, let go of the pressure to create interesting or complicated meals. By all means, make a Sunday dinner feel special if that makes you happy. But for the most part, turning to simple, uncomplicated meals is comforting and time-saving at this time. 

Time-saving? Yes, you read that right. Just because you have the time and freedom to cook something elaborate, doesn’t mean you have to. Let that idea go and just embrace simple sandwiches, salads and stir fries, if less time in the kitchen will make you happier. 

Old-school contact

Yes, we can Zoom, Facetime, Whatsapp and more. But dodgy internet connections and freezing screens can get tiresome. Embrace the simple straightforward phone call and just appreciate that you can hear someone else’s voice on the other end of the line. 

We’ve all been distracted by our own appearance on a video call, or by the background glimpse at someone else’s home on a call. Just let a phone call be a conversation and focus on what the other person is saying instead.