• tanellewestgard

ways to spend our time & keep busy

We are all adjusting to this time of social distancing and isolating in a lot of different ways. In "normal life", I tend to usually be one of those people who is more productive the busier they are.

The problem is... right now I am FAR from busy.

What I have realized through this past week is that I need to listen to my body, as it is telling me what it needs.

  • I am sleeping 2-3 more hours per night than usual

  • I am cooking and baking my little heart out and enjoying whatever food I make

  • I am crushing one Netflix show after another and loving it

  • I am still working out once per day and trying to mix in an extra yoga class when I feel like it

Now that I have had a solid week of rest and recovery I am ready to find other ways to fill my day. I am sure some of you have reached this point too. This post is dedicated to boxes we can check off to feel accomplished at the end of each day.

My first piece of advice: create lists

  • I start off each day with a list of what I need to accomplish. I then take it one step further and provide a time slot for each of those tasks. This may be a bit over the top but it keeps me accountable and was something I developed once I started medical school. I will even schedule in exercise, hangouts with friends (prior to this time), and other plans I had. It feels great to check things off the list and there is nothing wrong with writing deferred, or not accomplishing absolutely everything we set out to do. I challenge you to give it a try and let me know what you think.

The rest of this post is dedicated to things that you can put on your list and begin to check off :)


I will tell you that there are two main things on my list: my Tupperware drawer and my sock drawer… two organizational tasks that I would never make time for if I was as busy as I usually am. Someone who knows me please keep me accountable for these tasks!

Closet clean out:

Now is the time to organize your closets and do some spring cleaning. I, like most other people, watched Marie Kondo. I didn’t follow every piece of advise she gave but I was pretty close.

  • one tip I have for those of you that can’t make quick decisions about giving away clothes : I would put clothes I didn’t wear much into a bin or basket. If I had not gone back into this basket for the article of clothing in 1-2 months I would donate the entire bin. Overtime this got me to where I needed to be. Another tip for your closet: organize by colours – it makes life 100% better, I promise!

Computer organization:

  • how many of you, like me, have one million documents in so many folders you can’t keep track? This is our time to sort and organize

  • 453 unread emails? Here is a great opportunity to get caught up and click unsubscribe to all those emails that lead you to having 453 unread messages

Cooking & Baking

  • now is the time to try and cook or bake things you have always wanted to but never had the time

  • one thing I am finding is that I am limited in terms of ingredients due to trying to limit my trips to the grocery store. This is when we must get creative and start altering and adapting recipes.

  • another thing: share your recipes! Everyone is looking for new meal ideas or things to bake - share your resources, share your creativity.

Here are a few of my favourite websites for recipes:

  • Minimalist Baker: I can’t say enough good things about this AMAZING website. They use minimal ingredients to make healthy, delicious recipes. Check it out:

  • Cookie & Kate: Celebrating whole foods! The slogan says it all and it is another favourite website of mine. Check it out:

  • both Tasty and Delish are also fun apps to browse through and get ideas from


  • in case you haven’t seen it, go take a look at my last blog post on online resources for exercise (look for the same photo as this one)

  • for the first bit of social isolation it was gorgeous outside, which lead to many outdoor runs and exercise routines. Now that that weather isn't so great and the rules are a bit more strict, working out at home seems like the best option

  • one thing I have also started is doing mini exercise routines throughout the day. This may include a short yoga class in the morning, 20 minute nike training workout around lunch time and then a workout led by my gym after school/work is done for the day. This by no means happens every day but has been breaking up the days quite well when it does


Whether it is related to your field of work or school, there is always something to learn. Some of the most prestigious schools have started to offer online classes for FREE. This includes Harvard, Berkeley, Columbia, Stanford, Oxford and even our Countries own UBC, UofT and McGill.

Here are some of the neat ones I came across:

  • Mindfulness and Resilience to Stress at Work

  • The Foundations of Happiness at Work

  • Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work

  • The Science of Happiness

  • Nutrition and Health

  • Nutrition, Exercise and Sports

  • Introduction to Lifestyle Medicine

  • World of Wine: from grape to glass

  • find them online here:

There are also many other sources of education out there such as documentaries, youtube videos, webinars, books. All it takes is finding something you are interested in and the rest is history.

Online Hangouts with Family & Friends

Stay in contact with your family and friends! I personally find we are texting, calling and video chatting a lot more often than usual with the extra time we have on our hands. Set a date and time to have an online chat, do a workout together, drink a glass of wine together, or cook together!

  • Houseparty: this app lets you video chat with many many people at once, for as long as you would like, for free! I used this app just a few days ago to watch American Idol with friends – it was perfect! Check it out:

Personal Projects

What were those projects you had written down for yourself that you never got to? Was it learning how to sew? to knit your own scarf? learning to play the guitar? creating your own side business? Now is the time!

Here are a few ideas of personal projects to try:

  • home decorating

  • drawing and painting

  • sewing

  • knitting

  • musical instruments

  • gardening

  • candle making

  • making your own aromatherapy

The list could go on and on


  • This is something we could all do a little bit of each day.

  • Whether it’s wiping off counters, vacuuming the floors, deep cleaning the bathrooms – it seems endless during our normal routine. Now is the time to give our homes a deep clean so when we go back to our usual routine we feel more at ease.

  • We can even take it one step further and empty and wipe down cabinets, closets, and storage compartments. But I will leave that up to you to decide :)

  • When I clean I usually make sure there is music playing, a diffuser going and some type of reward waiting for me when I am done.. usually in the form of food!

Card & Board Games

  • a few of my favourites are crib and scrabble

  • others I see on social media often are: monopoly, catan, risk, battleship, risk, clue and codenames

  • go take a look on amazon as they still have a selection to order from

  • don’t have these? The scrabble app or words with friends app are great alternatives

why not challenge your partner to a 5 or 10 round series!? We certainly have time!


Mindfulness: The ability to be present, acknowledge your mental & emotional state as well as physical sensations. This can come in many different forms:


  • As some of you may have seen I use The Five Minute Journal. I was never open to journaling but my good friend gave it to my as a gift and I absolutely love it. It prompts me with questions of what to write and is the perfect amount to keep me engaged. Some of you you may have different forms of this or enjoy journaling on an empty page, it’s all great mindfulness practice

Breathing exercises also help with mindfulness

  • There are two that I commonly use: the box method and alternate nostril breathing.

  • Before I start either of these I get comfy, sitting cross legged with my legs crossed and eyes closed.

  • The box method is simply breathing in through your nose for 4 seconds, holding at the top for 4 seconds, exhaling for 4 seconds, holding at the bottom for 4 seconds and repeat.

  • The alternate nostril breathing technique is a bit more challenging. First take a deep breath in and out through your nose. Then cover your left nostril with your index finger and breath in, switch sides and cover your right nostril for the exhale. Keep your right nostril covered and breathe in, switch sides and cover your left for the exhale. This completes one round, try to aim for 6-8 rounds.

Feeling bored? just google mindfulness activities or practices and you will find unlimited options and suggestions.

Skin and Beauty

I don't know about you but I have thoroughly enjoyed not wearing makeup for the last couple of weeks. We all know that giving our skin a break is important, and here is our chance. Beyond not wearing makeup, why not try various face-masks, or better, make your own! I will try to come up with a recipe and you should do the same and please share :)

Why not also take this time to:

  • do our own manicures and pedicures

  • take bubble baths

  • use at home hair masks

  • try a full body exfoliant

now is the time for some at home self care

My final piece of advice: Check in with yourself

This is a challenging time for many of us. We are all adjusting and adapting and trying to navigate through this. Check in on how you are feeling mentally, emotionally and physically. Try and listen to your mind & body and be kind to yourself. Furthermore, be kind to one another and lean on one another. We will get through this!

Tanelle xo

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