Home is traditionally where the heart is, but it is easy to fall out of love when faced with the same four walls 24 hours a day.
Suffering bouts of loneliness, boredom and fatigue is inevitable during lockdown, but there are ways to make our abodes feel more accommodating and inviting during these tricky times.
Whether you are craving company or seeking distraction, here are some tips for making homes a place of heaven rather than hell.
1. Surround yourself with familiar faces
Loneliness is one of the biggest potential dangers of lockdown, especially for those isolating alone.
It would be impossible to spend all day on Zoom or Houseparty, but pin up pictures of friends and family around the home as a reminder that you are never alone.
2. Make some noise
Silence is golden but it can also create a black hole; for anyone who thrives on constant chatter, it is maddening. Leave a TV, radio or podcast running for the soothing hum of conversation.
If words are too distracting, tune into sounds of the bush with a safari webcam. Explore.org has a series of cameras set up across Africa.
3. Join a silent Zoom group
Invented as a way to avoid procrastination, these virtual gatherings are ideal for people who want to work, write or read a book in the company of others – without saying a word.
Focusmate.com can link you up with like-minded silent socialisers. Think of it like being in a library, but online.
4. Let there be (natural) light
Clear away clutter to create space below windows, where you can throw a cushion or position a chair. If you do not own an outdoor space, it is especially important to top up on Vitamin D.
Remember to open the latch and let in air – with less traffic on the roads, it is surprisingly fresh.
5. Set a daily routine
Hours and days can easily slip into one another when there is no need to leave the house.
Create a clear distinction between work and play by timetabling the day (particularly at weekends): do household chores in the morning, learn a new skill in the afternoon and save boxset bingeing, chocolate scoffing and any other ‘treats’ for after 6pm.
6. Separate work and play
If you are working from home, it is important to clearly demarcate a desk space. Ideally a spare room or a screened-off corner of the living room should be used as a study.
Bedrooms, however, are completely off-limits; these should be kept as stress-free sanctuaries. Balancing a laptop on pillows is bad for your back, while slumping over a screen will inevitably disrupt sleep.
7. Go on a virtual adventure
Travel is all about enjoying new experiences, and waylaid operators have responded to the holiday hiatus by launching a series of vicarious getaways.
Go on a South African safari game drive with &Beyond; explore the Faroe Islands in real time with a local at remote-tourism.com; or join G Adventures on one of its new virtual walking tours (visit www.gadventures.co.uk/blog for updates.)
8. Create a book trail
Leave favourite novels, magazines or photo books strategically placed in different corners of the house as little lifts for those moments when you are feeling really down.
More than ever, this is a time when distractions can be indulged, providing a way to momentarily disconnect from the ‘real’ world.
9. Scatter bird seed on sills
Human visitors may be banned in lockdown, but that does not mean feathered friends cannot fly by.
Entice birds to the windowsill with the lure of food. Boxwild (boxwild.com) is currently offering a Thinking Of You Box with a feeder and two seed blends appropriate for the spring season for £20 including free delivery.
10. Invest in a birdcam
Better than Big Brother, with dramas set to dwarf Love Island, nesting cameras are the new real-life dramas everyone is tuning in to.
Connected to the TV either by old-fashioned cables or WiFi, it is like having Springwatch streamed 24/7, and a reminder that irrespective of hiccups in the human world, wildlife still chirps happily on.