This is a living document, compiling all the recommendations you and the other Fumbally Exchange members shared over email. Have a browse, find something to do!
Last updated: 18/5/20
Alternatives to Zoom for video conferencing: Jitsi, Hop-in, Remo, Google Hangouts/Meet, and also the new Facebook messenger feature (no links for the last two, sorry — this is Eric resisting against Big Data).
Magda’s tips for video calls:
Ask yourself: does it need to be a video or phone call, or will email do?
Hide your own camera if you can;
If possible, ask everyone to change their background to be less distracting;
Have an agenda for the call;
If possible, arrange calls with a maximum of 10 people;
Do not do more than two calls per day;
Schedule a good break between calls;
Use the chat box for extended conversation and side topics.
Mental Health and Exercise
This website/newsletter (made by David Byrne of Talking Heads) deals only in good news: reasonstobecheerful.
worldAnd an anxiety therapist I know came up with this 5-point plan of things to do every day to be calmer and happier: There are five key categories of activities, which are important to try and complete in everyday life.
- For example: getting your homework done, daily activities around the house, etc
- It must be something that YOU consider an achievement and give you that feeling of “I did that!”
- Can be anything you find relaxing.
- Examples: socialising with a friend, making a phone call (don’t be reliant on social media – this doesn’t have the same effect), or chatting about your day with your spouse.
- This involves you doing something you find enjoyable.
- Exercise (3-5 times per week)
- This one is a little different. It is recommended that we exercise or move around for at least 20 minutes 3-5 per week!
- This can be anything from going for a walk, going to the gym, or doing housework that involves movement such as hovering or emptying the dishwasher.
- In these tough circumstances it’s really important that you get some fresh air everydayThe aim of this activity diary is to identify in what ways you have done an activity, which fits with these five key categories each day. However, the challenge here is that you must identify a unique activity for each category.Therefore, one day you may feel that watching TV was a relaxing activity but on another day was your leisure activity. The trick here is it cannot be both! Therefore, if on Monday you say watching TV is leisurely then you have to come up with another activity for relaxation.Activities can change category day to day, but the aim is for you to identify these five key categories each day.Try not to leave these until the end of the day and think about the activities you can do in the morning and in the evening.
There is a really simple, but scientifically proven, technique that helps us be happy at stressful times like this. It is writing down, at the end of the day, 3 good things that happened that day. That’s it.Here is a fuller explanation. You only need to do it for a couple of weeks to have a lasting effect on happiness levels. Honestly. It’s made even more powerful if a group of people do it (also good because they nudge each other to complete it every day). A family or house WhatsApp group is perfect for this – no need to gather and actually talk to each other (!), and then you have a record which you can look back over, which is really nice.The 4 of us in my family have been doing it now for two weeks. Yes,even the teenagers. It’s a really helpful way to remember that although the situation is bad, each day has some good in it. Even if it’s just a nice cup of coffee.
Kate added on a coffee chat that, even if you give up after two weeks, the habit of thinking positively about the past day sticks.
Also from Kate, via the Fexile group, this Chronicle article about salvaging an unproductive day. It’s by the same author as the one about letting go of productivity pressure, which I’ve found immensely beneficial to my mental health (thanks to whoever posted the link in the first place!).
Might not be very creative, one of my main survival tips is trying to check out of the news and social media updates as much as possible. Checking twice a day, trying to do other stuff, if possible, for the rest of the day. Having said that, I am finding it quite tough to stick to my own advice, but everytime I do, it makes a massive difference to my peace of mind.
On activities – https://www.infinitybailastudios.com/ do online salsa classes, some of them for free, also for beginners. The latin music in itself gives me a lift, but also the physical exercise is much needed. If you catch the bug, they also offer online classes for beginners, advanced beginners, improvers and intermediate for very reasonable rates.
AirBnB has introduced Online Experiences now. While most of them are not totally free, there are some really cool things for quite a bargain among them, such as a mexican cooking class or also a little virtual stroll through an animal farm with the kids (that one is actually for free).
And – of course – some reading. It is travelling and escaping to wherever you want from the couch, and I find it more soothing than watching netflix. Happy to give tips depending on your fancy.
Other than that a bit of ‘Yoga with Adriene’, like half the world (loads of free videos on Youtube). If you want to pay for Yoga, instructors from Little Bird (local to the office) are doing online sessions: Fabiana and Cathy.
I set up a plantation of beans and beetroots, canvas waiting in the garden for some painting, Yoga in the mornings and mindful mandala colouring.
And finally when trying to do some work on my computer I listen to Audible books to keep myself sane and inspired.
Yoga and meditation, using the Calm app, and gratitude practice.
Family Things To Do
Not sure how many have little ‘uns Nancy’s age, but apart from the usual colouring, baking, Lego etc, we have been getting lots of mileage out of Cosmic Yoga and kids’ Zumba videos on YouTube. Also ‘show all the toys you own’ Zoom sessions with friends’ kids. And worksheetfun.com for free printable (and vaguely educational) colouring pages.
I’d also predictably recommend nightly board games (great Irish site taking delivery orders here https://www.boardgamer.ie). Teaching cats complex boardgames also a good challenge.
Like some of the others I don’t have particularly novel suggestions, it’s been mostly returning to some things I should be doing all of the time that’s keeping me sane. A lot of these things have been sacrificed over the last year or two due to work commitments, so I’m welcoming this quarantime in some ways as a chance to revive some good habits.
I’ve started some classes on Skillshare, and am (this message mainly aimed at Claire ) getting back to practicing my French language skills.
If all of this fails, a few beers with friends on Zoom is a lot easier to arrange now than it would have been pre-Corona!
Some online stuff we’ve been doing with the children:
I’m exercising, cooking and reading more than I usually would. Playing some games in the house like Dobble (highly recommend!) and chess (second Olivia on this, really good way to focus your mind away from news), and playing some poker online with different groups. Also found a short-distance tennis rally a great way to get some exercise in a confined space. Might be a good way to keep kids entertained, and less chance of them smashing your window than with a football/sliotar?
If anyone has an unsolved Rubik’s Cube at home this is the time to learn how to do it. It’s just formulas, takes a few hours to learn and then you can spend the next few weeks improving your time. Dust off that unresolved cube!
We also have been playing quite a bit of chess which is a brilliant game and something a lot of people might already have at home somewhere. There are also online versions where you can play other humans outside of your covid tribe.
I can’t believe we have only one of these!
Just cooking, and baking, a LOT. So much so I’m starting to wonder if my whole life hasn’t been a lie, and rather than messing around with cameras maybe I should have been a chef…
Online Board Games
You don’t need to share a table to play board games. In 2020, there are a lot of options to play entertaining, challenging games with and against your friends. (Also get in touch if you want to join our poker and D&D games!)
I am inviting everyone who likes Scrabble to join Graham and I on Words with Friends 2 and also to join Ciaran and Chandrika and I on Scrabble Go. (I’ve removed Kate’s user names for privacy purposes — get in touch with her directly!)
I’d never played the multiple award winning card game Dominion before last night, when I took not one, not two, but three beatings from old friends I hadn’t talked to in years. (Catching up was great and the game is a lot of fun, so I didn’t mind in the least). The official website is dominion.games, and it will let yo play for free with a different expansion every day, so it’s a new challenge every time.
We’ve also been playing Sechs Nimmt (a simple card game of numbers… and chance) on board game arena (website recommended by John O’Kane I believe).
Art, Music, and Culture
Another initiative worth spreading comes from the international Goethe Institute, called Kulturama: “Kulturama brings international culture into your living room. Enter your events, find dates and support artists. Together and in solidarity through this time.” Currently, there are 190 various cultural events listed from all over the world, many of them also in English. Concerts, theatre productions, digital classrooms by New York’s Lincoln center and many more. Artists can be supported by donations.
It’s probably an easy recommendation, but the treasure trove that is openculture.com deserves to be plugged over and over, if only to fight against YouTube’s tendency to sieve through mankind’s most imposing collection of culture, only extracting the most ad-profitable (and uninteresting) fraction of it.
A weekly webinar that I’ve been tuning into about reimagining our cities in a post-COVID world. It’s free but you have to register and you should be able to listen back to the previous editions on Public Space and Public Transport. Some great speakers and fascinating insights.
And maybe some of you have seen this already but the National in London have been streaming plays every Thursday, each one available for a week. Next week is going to be a good one if you’re a fan of either of these Sherlocks. They swapped roles between Frankenstein and his monster each night, so you can choose which version to watch. It was directed by Danny Boyle too.
Brilliant website: radio.garden. Log on and you find a picture of the globe with lots of green dots – each a radio station streaming – click one and eavesdrop on what music people are listening to around the world – Japanese pop, Ontario’s Country Jamboree, Libya playing Arab rap, Iceland playing heavy death metal (Falkland Islands were listening the Chris de Burgh, God help them) – every country seems to be playing Lizzo.
I watched the first lot of mini-plays live from The Abbey last night – a great sense of community, 4,000 people watching and many commenting at the same time. The pieces were very varied but of great quality – and the one with Amanda Coogan was an absolute standout. It comes about 1 hour 3 minutes in.
This video not available at the moment, but here is the playlist on The Abbey’s YouTube channel.
I’m currently checking out some new music with a sense of humour via The Atlantic – Dave Grohl’s Pandemic Playlist. They also do crosswords and a pandemic podcast (if you can’t get enough Covid-related discussion).
If you’re in a mood for discovering music, Kate says that the Atlantic staff’s music picks are worth a listen – scroll down the page linked above.
Direct from his London studio, Grayson Perry and his special guests offer tips, insights and live-action art for anyone who wants to have their work considered via Skype, Zoom et al. The first of this six-part series focuses on portraiture.