If you said back in January that we'd all soon be dab hands at getting through a lockdown, people would have looked at you funny over their creamy pints in a packed pub.
Ah, pints. Ahem, anyway, as Ireland enters its another national lockdown, you'll be reading a lot of tips and tricks about getting through it. The thing is, we've all experienced a lockdown as recently as the spring so everyone is well-versed in passing the time at home at this stage.
For many people, the last lockdown seemed to be all about self-improvement, keeping active and joining the banana bread masses. This time, with the evenings drawing in, there's no harm in just kicking back and doing whatever it is you enjoy doing.
Here's what the Lovin team have been up to with all the added spare time throughout 2020...
My slow cooker has been my best friend throughout the pandemic. No matter how out of control my day gets - meetings running over, dodgy internet connections, grim news updates - knowing that there's a healthy dinner simmering away in the kitchen keeps me tethered. My absolute favourite recipe is a Vietnamese curry that scents the entire house. Or a really lazy one - I grab a couple beef cheeks and literally throw them in with nothing else for a whole 24 hours... they caramelise and taste so gorgeous and sweet in a mexi-bowl.
When it comes to TV I am all about pure comfort TV during the week - the equivalent of fast food for my eyes. I've started watching reruns of 60 Minute Makeover, The Royle Family and Doctor Foster. The more mindless the better. In the first lockdown, I inhaled self-help/career/business books. This time I've stocked up on fiction! This lockdown I'm all about going easier on myself, every minute of every day does not have to be filled with self-improvement. In summary, I'm just backing off a little and decompressing.
Normally when I play video games, it is for that sense of isolation. I play a lot of one-player-games for the specific reason of being alone for a bit, losing myself in this world that the game's makers have created for me.
With the lockdown and restrictions going on longer and longer, I'm finding myself warming more to the idea of multiplayer games, which is where Fall Guys comes in. Do you remember that Japanese game show Takeshi's Castle? It is basically a video game version of that, which has you controlling your Minion-looking character through a series of increasingly convoluted platforming levels.
Up to 60 people can play each level at once, and while the interactions between players can be minimal, it can also be enough to know that you're enjoying this particular level, at this particular time, with these particular 59 other people around the planet.
The trailer is below if you fancy having a look...
Getting through the first lockdown was tough going - I spent it isolating in the back arse of nowhere with only my family, my dog and the neighbour's lovely horse to keep me company.
Getting through lockdown 2.0 will probably be just as tough, but binge-watching old Channel 4 series has proven to be a very helpful distraction so far. Top picks include Celebs Go Dating - the first and third seasons in particular - and Stath Lets Flats. Comedy GOLD.
If all else fails - bite the bullet and download TikTok. You'll lose hours of your life to the platform but you'll feel all the better for it. "Just five more minutes" - famous last words by yours truly.
I've picked up some pretty weird habits since the first lockdown. I find that the best way to exercise my brain is to test my knowledge on something completely random, and I've found myself doing an endless amount of geography quizzes online. Want me to name all the countries of Africa? Not a bother, mate. Want me to name the US states in alphabetical order? Pfft, I can do that in my sleep.
Other than that, I've found some random things quite soothing, namely watching Dolly Parton interviews over and over again. Listening to that woman talk is like getting a hug!
As a massive Marvel and Star Wars nerd, I'm finding that kind of Sci-Fi and fantasy to be the ultimate distraction. Yeah, I might be navigating my way through a pandemic with far too much time on my hands. But at least I'm not on the run from Darth Vader or travelling across the galaxy to fight Thanos.
The biggest saving grace for me during the last lockdown was poker on Wednesday nights. A few of the lads and I downloaded a poker app on our phones, set up a hangout/zoom, and indulged in a few cans. With a few of my mates living abroad, it was a great way to spend some time with people I didn't get to see much of. Some getting up in Oz at 8am, some playing on their lunch in the States. Wednesdays became my new Saturday night that I couldn't wait to come around and it never left the bad taste that quizzes left.
On the other, way more slumming it, side of things, I had never seen the Star Wars series and got massively into that along with The Walking Dead and Schitts Creek. All of which are must-sees. This lockdown falls perfectly in the 'Harry Potter season' and I will be watching them from start to finish really soon and I urge you to join me. On top of that, I am absolutely sick of cooking for myself. Three meals a day, every day just stopped working and I got very bored of my own food. I have started to treat myself to a takeaway on odd nights like Monday when cooking just isn't happening.
My poor skin doesn't know what's going on at the moment - with the change in the seasons, central heating, random haphazard use of skincare here and there and of course now maskne. So I can't WAIT to spend the next six weeks consistently make-up free. I'm going to try to take this time to create and actually implement a decent skincare routine once and for all! Retinols, vitamin C, serums - there's a lot going on and a lot to figure out. But I hope to come out of this lockdown having reverse-aged like Benjamin Button.
During the first lockdown I was heavily involved in the Zoom quiz scene, come on who wasn't right? My evening calendar was more hectic than it was pre-lockdown. Like everyone else, it kinda wavered and we all went back to the more natural ways of communication - Whatsapp voice notes and memes. In saying that, with everyone dotted around the world from Hawaii and Australia to London and Dublin - it was a great way to properly catch up with everyone. So who knows, they might make a comeback..
I've also spent an obscene amount of time over the last seven months 'online' - it's difficult to find that balance when work and your social life/social scrolling is via a screen these days. Between work, Instagram, Tiktok and re-starting Gossip Girl, we are sitting at a hefty 11 hours and 3 minutes a day.. Please tell me I'm not the only one? So I'm actively aiming to reduce my online hours over the next 6 weeks. This offline aim deliiiightfully coincides with my new found hobby - running. I'm not great at it, and I don't necessarily enjoy it (yet) - but I've found it great for my head. I've challenged myself to run 150km over the next six weeks. It means that I have at least 20 minutes outside everyday! Eek - wish me luck!
I've been loving going back and watching some of my favourite comedies. Earlier in the year, Sky Comedy starting showing old episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm and I made sure to series link them all. As well as that, Netflix has the old reliables like Peep Show, I'm Alan Partridge and The Office (the UK one, obviously). When you're feeling low, there's something quite reassuring about watching other people make gobshites of themselves and these four shows have such scenarios in spades.
During the first lockdown, we didn't have much sport to keep us going but I now find myself having some match or other on in the background, whatever I'm doing. When there's no live sport on, The Last Dance on Netflix is a must-watch if you haven't gotten round to it yet and I've also just started the All Or Nothing Tottenham Hotspur documentary on Amazon. As for books, I finished The Quality of Madness: The Life of Marcelo Bielsa, which was pretty enjoyable and I've just started the much-publicised Champagne Football by Mark Tighe and Paul Rowan.
I fell slightly into self-improvement mode in the last lockdown by taking a online creative writing class with Big Smoke. Whatever it is, joining a class is a great way to get a bit of structure into your week. Finally, board games and jigsaws are a great way to pass the time and Art & Hobby has a decent selection of both that can be delivered to your door.
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