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things to do to stay sane
Photograph: Time Out London

Time Out London staff share the one thing that’s helping them stay sane

Isabelle Aron

From running to scouring the digital archives to hanging out with our dogs, we share the things that are helping us keep calm as London goes on lockdown


‘I’ve planted seeds with the kids, cut back the bushes while the kids bounce on the trampoline and I’ve mowed the lawn. I’ve actually run out of space in the garden bins! Gardening is good for the mind, good for the body and good for the kids! Plus you get the pleasure of growing something that you’d never normally have time to do. And it helps me totally forget what’s going on, if only briefly…’ Ben Rowe, picture desk manager

Playing Scrabble

‘Call me a nerd – you won’t be the first – but playing online Scrabble with my friends has become the highlight of my day. Not Words with Friends, proper old-school Scrabble (albeit on our phones), in real time. The thrill of covering a triple-letter square with a Z or a Q can cheer me up for hours. But it’s not about winning, it’s about getting the nerds together and focusing our minds on something other than coronavirus (16 points).’ Sarah Cohen, deputy chief sub editor

Stand-up comedy 

‘I love that it's possible to stream Shakespeare plays, ballet and opera from home – but also, screw that – I need relatable lols right now. So, I’ve been getting into watching stand-up. For £4 a pop, you can watch fantastic shows on Soho Theatre on Demand (Josie Long’s ‘Cara Josephine’ is beautiful, wholesome and hilarious). The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has been cancelled but from April 10, Amazon Prime is going to stream some big-name comedians’ shows, too.’ Rose Johnstone, global branded content editor


‘I've found skipping is a very good bit of high-intensity exercise that gets me outside too. I also really like Libby Christensen’s fitness Instagram account. She does really simple routines and you don’t have to watch a workout video, they’re just Instagram posts.’ Kate Lloyd, features editor

Niche podcasts

‘The BBC Radio podcast, 13 Minutes from the Moon, is both distractingly geeky in an engineering way (I think I understand a gimbal lock?) but also all set in space and thus far, far removed from the current traumas on planet earth.’ Oliver Keens, music and nightlife editor

My Dog

Kronus is keeping me sane. Lockdown London is a bizarre, unfamiliar place but as far as my dog is concerned it’s business as usual. He still goes for a walk every morning, still eats his block of tripe at the same time and still barks really savagely at one particular neighbour for absolutely no reason every time he sees her. In an environment where we’re clinging to anything familiar and predictable, nothing is more pleasurable to cling to than Kronus’s big dumb face.’ Joe Mackertich, London editor

Fifa rage

‘The thought of clocking off at 6pm with a whole evening ahead of me to get stressed playing Fifa is what keeps me sane. Whether I’m struggling against the CPU or battling online against a 12-year-old professional gamer, I can rely on Fifa to release my pent-up aggression. Thank you, Fifa, for being as frustrating as you can possibly be.’ Phillip Lay, senior designer

Learning complicated songs on the guitar

‘Teaching myself things in the evening. I try to avoid TV and learn the most difficult song I can handle on the guitar, so I feel like I'm actually doing something with my time. Songsterr is a good resource for music to learn.’ Eddy Frankel, art and culture editor

Digging through the (virtual archives)

BFI Player. Not just for the films, but for the hours you can lose looking through the 120 years of footage in the BFI archive. Yesterday I watched a clip about Mary Connors, the human cannonball from Leicestershire. Would recommend.’ Katie McCabe, events editor


‘In normal life I don’t have much of a routine, but being stuck inside has forced me to create one. I’m trying to start each day with a yoga class, either a short “rise and shine” or strength flow using ClassPass Go, or a live class streamed from one of my fave studios like One Yoga London. Turns out those smug morning-exercise people were on to something.’ Ellie Walker-Arnott, digital travel editor, international


‘I'm working my way through as much from East by Meera Sodha as I can, given the supplies in my local shop whenever I venture out.’ James Manning, international editor

Listening to short stories

‘The Short Story podcast on BBC sounds is full of beautiful bite-sized stories, which you won't have heard before. All the tales are award-winning or have been commissioned from best-selling writers. I'm working my way through them one-by-one each day. I save them for after I've finished working from home and they're a little 20-minute window of calm. I've also discovered so many great writers through it.’ Alexandra Sims, deputy events editor 

Arts and crafts

‘I've been sending friends impromptu and badly drawn homemade cards done by yours truly. It keeps me busy and I really cling onto the thought that perhaps it might bring a smile to each friend’s face when they arrive too. Brush and Bubbles is doing online painting tutorials if you want some guidance.’ Rosie Aikenhead, brand marketing director

More yoga

‘Doing yoga in the mornings, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. It helps clear my head before I start the day. I love the free Down Dog app.’ Tania Ballantine, food editor

Making flatbread

‘More than ever, I feel like my life revolves around food now (what else is there to look forward to?) so I’m cooking a lot. These Jamie Oliver flatbreads are super-easy. All you need is baking powder, natural yoghurt and flour and there’s no kneading or proving involved. You’ll feel like you’ve made something really elaborate.’ Isabelle Aron, news and city life editor


‘I’ve been going running every other day along the beautiful Parkland Walk and that is helping with mental health and positivity, especially for the people who glide effortlessly past me (at a safe distance) on their own runs.’ Philip De Semlyen, global film editor

Find your own way to stay sane at home on our Time In hub.

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