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We're all home indefinitely and I'm personally trying to take one day at a time, though I've absolutely had some low points over the past few weeks. Whilst we wait to see how long this might go on for, I've put together a list of things to help keep you occupied - I hope it gives you some inspiration!
Feel-goodRestaurants on the Edge - Despite the title, this show is actually really uplifting! A team of interior design and food experts travel the world to help struggling restaurants recapture what's special about their culture and hopefully transform their menu, restaurant and business. It's like a feel-good Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares meets Street Food...
Queer Eye - Does it even need an introduction? The Fab Five travel across America meeting people from different walks of life who are in need of a confidence boost, to transform their wardrobes, teach them some cooking skills and, most importantly, show them how to love themselves a little more.
The Good Place - This is a sitcom with a moral philosophy twist, that's a lot smarter than most of the other shows in its genre, really making you reflect on life and death.
DocumentariesThe Great Hack - If you want a thought-provoking documentary that blows your mind and makes you question everything, then check out this one! It's focused on Cambridge Analytica - the data company that pretty much used those cute little personality tests on Facebook to spam undecided voters with content to make them vote for Trump and for Brexit. It has to be seen to be believed...
Cosmos - I actually watched quite a bit of this a couple of years back and, despite it being great, I didn't finish it for whatever reason, so I decided to rewatch it with my boyfriend recently. Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson takes us on a journey, explaining the laws of physics and travelling across through spacetime (all explained in layman's terms).
Knock Down the House - This documentary felt pretty empowering to me! It centres on a number of 'outsider' candidates from different walks of life trying to be voted into the US congress through grassroots movements.
Icarus - This is another jaw-dropper, this time centred around doping and the Russian Olympic team scandal, as well as the whistleblower behind it...
The Mind Explained - These entertaining, concise and easy-to-follow episodes each explore a different area of the brain and the phenomena our minds are responsible for. It's absolutely fascinating and very easy to digest.
Dynasties - If you didn't see this the first time round: watch it now! Each episode from the latest series by David Attenborough focuses on a different endangered species, which really allows you to invest in their stories. And it goes without saying that the footage captured is absolutely breathtaking.
Blackfish - This documentary tells the murky story of SeaWorld - a huge marine animal park in the US that, for many years, featured live performances with often-mistreated whales. It really pulls back the curtain on the entire sordid business.
Free Solo - Free Soloing is the act of rock climbing alone without safety equipment (even typing that sounds insane!) This documentary follows one man's journey to become the first person to scale El Capitan at Yosemite on his own, without a rope. As you can imagine; it takes a certain type of person to attempt such a feat and this film had me on the edge of my seat for its entire duration.
Addictive viewingTiger King - This story has to be seen to be believed! It's a documentary following big cat pet owners, who - as you can probably imagine - are totally nuts... Just when you think things can't get more insane, they step it up a notch.
The Devil Next Door - This is another compelling documentary, this time focused on a retired Ukranian-American factory worker accused (to the total shock and horror of his family) of having been a gas chamber operator in a Nazi death camp, who had evaded justice for years. But, is it a case of mistaken identity, or is he one of the most evil men in modern history?
You - This series is cheesy at times, but is actually pretty self-aware in some ways, and every episode has you wondering what could possibly happen next. It centres on Joe, a bookseller, who has a bit of an obsessive streak when it comes to pursuing the object of his affection, and will do almost anything to get her...
The Stranger - This thriller set in suburbia focuses on a man whose life is turned upside down when a stranger approaches him, reveals a secret catastrophic to his marriage, and disappears. Whilst the ending doesn't quite live up to the tension crafted throughout the story, it's still well worth a watch for the nail-biting ride.
ComedyRussian Doll - This quirky comedy follows a woman who dies on her birthday and is stuck reliving that day over and over again, until she can figure out how to break free from her cyclical purgatory.
After Life - I don't know why I didn't watch this Ricky Gervais sitcom sooner, and I can't wait for series 2, which is coming very soon. It follows the story of a suicidal man who recently lost his wife to cancer, but slowly has to learn how to enjoy life again.
- WATCH: FILM -Despite my penchant for depressing and / or dark films, I've tried to keep it light for this post, as we probably all need a bit of escapism!
Okja - This offbeat, quirky and often quite funny film centres around a young girl's relationship with a genetically-modified super-pig raised on her family's farm. However its creators eventually want to take Okja away to be turned into meat. It's a heart-warming story with a lot of intelligent points to make about capitalism and the meat industry.
Inside Out - Even if you aren't big into animated films; this Pixar story is touching, original and just overall brilliant! It takes place inside the mind of a little girl, where each of her emotions is personified and they're all vying to be in the driver's seat as much as possible, however they eventually have learn that she needs to experience them all.
Before Sunrise - This is probably one of my favourite films and it's so incredibly simplistic but at the same time charming and wonderful! American boy meets French girl whilst interrailing through Europe. They spend one evening together in Vienna, talking and connecting on a level neither of them have ever felt before.
Crazy Rich Asians - If you just want a romcom that's genuinely very funny and at times quite poignant; look no further. It's a genre that's had a bit of a bad rap in recent years, however this film delivers on everything you want from a romcom without the cheesy jokes and trite cliches. It tells the story of a Chinese-American lecturer who travels to Singapore to meet the parents of her long-term boyfriend for the first time. It turns out they're insanely rich and inhabit a social class totally alien to her.
- READ -
FictionThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - This classic dystopian novel is getting a bit of a second wave of popularity, following its timely TV adaptation. It takes place in a world where fertility rates have dropped and, as a result, American society has regressed into a fundamentalist Christian state.
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky - If you're a fan of science fiction that spans across time and space; this is such a well-crafted and unique story. I honestly couldn't put it down.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - This beautifully-written coming-of-age novel follows two Nigerian teenagers who always thought they'd end up together, but get taken on very different paths by life. I found this to be a compelling, immersive and emotional story of love, loss and the immigrant experience.
Non-fictionSapiens by Yuval Noah Harari - This is a book I've recommended to so many people because it pretty much condenses the entire history of the human species into a concise, fascinating narrative. It takes you from the origin of homo sapiens and why it rose above the other species of humans that once existed, through the agricultural revolution and concepts of religion, right up to the modern day. I think it's a must-read for everyone!
Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas - This is pretty much the essential text for any true crime fan. This fascinating book focuses on the origins of the FBI's Behavioural Science Unit as John Douglas becomes the first person to interview serial killers and attempt to use evidence from crime scenes to narrow down suspects and catch murderers before they can strike again.
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race Reni Eddo-Lodge - This deliberately-provocatively-titled book delves into the history of racism in Britain and how it has impacted our society today. Whilst it's not easy reading, it is essential reading. And going forwards every time someone says something problematic to you, you can throw this at them so you don't have to calmly explain what's wrong with their comment!
Coffee tablePretty Honest and Pretty Iconic by Sali Hughes - I just couldn't pick! Both of these books are essential reading for any beauty enthusiast. I love Sali's way of speaking and it's so easy to pick these books up, read a nice little section and return to it later. Pretty Honest revolves around beauty topics, whereas Pretty Iconic is more product-focussed and talks about Sali's personal experiences with the most famous beauty products on the market.
The Philosophy Book - If you've ever wanted to know more about a topic but haven't known when to start: try the Big Ideas Simply Explained series. I recommend the Philosophy Book in particular; it explains the major ideas that shaped our world in chronological order, with each concept summarised and put into context in just a page or two.
- DO -Spring clean - it's probably time to do that declutter you've been putting off for months... I'm actually pretty lucky in that I moved house earlier this year so got rid of a lot of stuff then, however my friends won't shut up about how Marie Kondo's folding techniques have changed their lives, so I'm going to give it a try!
Video call - I've done everything from yoga, 'pub' quizzes, skincare routines, family catch-ups to drinking sessions by video call at this point! I try to do one every day with the various people in my life, and would encourage you to reach out. Everyone's in the same boat, so I think people are truly grateful to hear from you.
Cook up a storm - It's probably no secret to those who follow me on Instagram that I'm a bit of a foodie! If you're able to get your food shop sorted (and you're child-free!) now is the perfect time to cook or bake whatever you've wanted to try for ages but never had the time to dedicate to giving a go. Also, if you're like me and you usually eat out a lot; it's nice to cook something special and get that same feeling at home.
Take your exercise (sensibly and near home) - Home workouts are great and there's so much content online, no matter what you're into or your fitness level, however sometimes you just can't beat getting out of the house, so take the brief exercise you're allowed to, if it's safe to do so. Your mental health is incredibly important at this time too! Outside of my brief trips out, I've been getting more into home fitness and wellbeing. I'm doing yoga with the instructor we used to go out to do classes with via livestream once a week. Also, I was recently gifted a couple of weeks to try out Virtually Made* by Moddershall Oaks Spa (which I've visited many times) - this gives you access to a variety of fitness and wellbeing live classes whilst you're at home, if you're struggling to self-motivate or just want a bit of variety. It's also good for tracking overall fitness goals and progress. You can get 10% off this service with code JAS10 (not affiliate, I was just kindly provided with a discount for followers).
Learn a new skill or start a new project - Been wanting to learn to play chess? Been meaning to paint your hallway for the last year? Now could be the time! Whilst it's never a good idea to try and undertake 10 new ventures all at once; pick one thing you've just felt totally unable to get done in your hectic everyday life up until now, and focus on it.
Write a diary - This is actually something my boyfriend is doing, and I think it's a really good idea. Along with everything else, we're living in a truly strange time, so why not record what you did, thought and felt during a global pandemic? It could be fascinating to look back at in years to come! If nothing else, it could act as a cathartic way to work through your feelings each day.
Set yourself challenge - This could be anything from running 5k in under 30 minutes to watching every film on the IMDB top 250 list! However, the important thing is feeling like you've achieved something you wanted to do - it's small victories like this that can make your day!
Meditate - It's a great time to slow things down and focus on your mental wellbeing, and meditation is a fantastic tool for it. It can seem a bit of an intimidating thing to get into, so if you're not sure where to start, you can check out apps like Calm and Headspace for some guided meditations.
- LISTEN TO: MUSIC -I'm not really going to make specific musical suggestions, because it's such a personal taste / subjective thing, but I do have some ideas for inspiration...
Go old-school - In times of difficulty, nostalgia is often one of our best friends, so why not take it back to whatever decade makes you feel warm and cosy inside and listen to top 10 songs from back then?
Your partner or friend's playlist - Even if you have totally different music taste to some of your loved ones; why not give their playlist a go? You could discover something new that you really connect with and it's a nice way to share something that's important to the important people in your life; you can learn so much more about someone by listening to the music that holds meaning to them.
Let the algorithm decide - Pick a song you love on YouTube or Spotify and just see where the algorithm of auto-playing suggestions takes you! I've discovered some great music in this way; it clearly knows me too well...
- LISTEN TO: PODCASTS -The Dropout - This podcast was like a car crash I couldn't look away from! If you've not heard of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos; this is the story of how a college dropout duped investors, retailers and employees into making her the youngest self-made female billionaire. Based on a technology that never worked...
The End of the World with Josh Clark - If you're fascinated by the universe and theorising about apocalyptic scenarios; look no further! This podcast covers off everything from pandemics and biowarfare (topical) to artificial intelligence and natural disaster, to speculate on how the end of the world as we know it could come about.
Stuff They Don't Want You To Know - The hosts of this podcast call themselves 'conspiracy realists' and explore the hidden side of a new topic every week, in a way that seems healthily sceptical both ways but raises lots of interesting questions.
The Bechdel Cast - This podcast is a humorous look at your favourite films through a feminist lens. They have a huge back catalogue of episodes to binge on!
I hope everyone reading this is making it through this difficult time. Do you have any other recommendations to add to my list?