THINGS have gotten strange quick, and they’re only going to get stranger. One moment you’ve got a serious thought in your head, like, why is John Swinney, the education secretary, posting on Facebook that he’s shutting his own constituency office because of coronavirus, while the schools are still open? What’s that all about?

Then you’re walking through a supermarket – its empty shelves like missing teeth in a mouth – and eyeing an old lady piling toilet paper, oil, beans, soap, flour and rice into her trolley. And you’re wondering if, a few months from now, you’ll be fighting her to the death in the Mad Max Thunderdome to entertain survivors. Your prize for victory: one roll of Andrex.

Later, you see someone walking up the street in a face mask – an actual face mask – and it just tips you over the edge. You get visions of the last scene from Threads – of you and your family being hunted by feral children through the smoking ruins of Scotland.

And now you’ve got lockdown to contend with. What’s that going to be like? You’re worried that you’ll turn into Jack Nicholson from The Shining, or have to start drinking from the toilet when the water supply cuts off. Will there be enough wine to get you through this?

I may not be able to help you with schools and John Swinney, or rampaging old ladies, or people walking around in actual face masks terrorising the hell out of everyone, but I can help you with the lockdown. If it’s scaring you, find a freelance writer like me and just ask them what they do with their lives. You’ll be reassured.

Freelance writers are the Mozarts of self-isolation and social distancing. We spend most of our existence in one room – which we’ve the audacity to refer to as an office, when in fact it’s just a filthy cell with a desk. We usually see no-one from dawn until dusk. We’re basically vampires who like books.

Surprisingly, although it may sound like a vacation in hell, this life is reasonably good fun. However, to be fair, my experience of home-working hasn’t included a global pandemic until now. Still, I think you’ll find being holed up in your own house not half as bad as you imagine.

So here’s a few tips of mine on learning to love the lockdown.

1 It’s all about food.

Breakfast light as lunch will become one of the main events of your day. Lunch will take on a religious dimension – as it’s an excuse to get away from your desk. Be playful – there’s nothing wrong with a baked bean toasted sandwich, with a fried egg on top.

You can now enjoy cooking for others too. You don’t spend all day gossiping pointlessly in the office any more with people you pretend to like, so you’ve got acres of time to make a decent dinner for your family, once your work is done.

Ingredients may be hard to source during a pandemic, but there’s plenty of wartime recipes online. Spam hash or potato rarebit anyone? Mmm, yes please.

2 Dress.

Only a fool spends their life in their pants. So even though you aren’t going anywhere, get up early, shower, make your bed and put on some clothes, please. It’s too easy to turn into a delinquent tramp when you’re behind your own front door. You judge a person by how they dress, my grandmother always said. And she’s right, particularly during a pandemic. She should know, she lived through Spanish Flu in 1918.

3 Boredom is good.

Admit it – you fill your life with crap. Commutes you don’t want to take, meetings you don’t want to have. Learn to enjoy silence and doing nothing, even if just for a little while. It’s good for your brain – you’ll find yourself becoming more creative, and therefore maybe even more interesting, which will be a real bonus for the other people trapped in the house with you.

4 Beware the internet.

Once I’ve read the papers in the morning, I do the rounds of various websites that interest me – foreign media, podcasts, that kind of thing. But step carefully around wikipedia – one wrong click on one link that’s just too interesting and you will be down a wiki-hole for hours and there may be no-one around to get you out. You’ll eventually emerge knowing a lot more than you did about Panzer tanks, but that doesn’t pay the bills.

Also, and this is just for us adults, I have it on good authority that there are certain sites that one can stumble upon online which are even more engaging that the wiki Panzer page. I speak here, obviously, of the saucier side of all things cyber. Avoid. You’ll only end up a weak, desiccated, self-shaming husk at the end of a fruitless day. Result? Bills unpaid yet again. Men, women – you have been warned.

5 Expand your horizons.

It may sound counter-intuitive but when you live most of your life at home you really can skill up. Learn the guitar? Done it. A foreign language? Si.

6 Be nice.

When I spent my life in the rat race, I hardly had a moment for friends and family and especially neighbours. Well, you’ll have time now. Life as someone who works at home gave me so much more space to cement the relationships that really matter to me.

There’s bound to be some old folk, or a single parent, or someone disabled in your street. Lockdown or no lockdown, let them know you’re there if they need you. Skype your pals. I’m having cocktails with an old mate this weekend via FaceTime as we can’t go to the pub.

7 Don’t watch telly.

Reading and good conversation are becoming lost arts. Now that you’re home all day, don’t just sit in front of Netflix eating Wotsits. Read books that’ll take ages – David Copperfield, all the Game of Thrones novels. Have real conversations, not those empty conversations when you come home from work and just bitch about colleagues. Play games – dust off the old Risk.

8 Enjoy the little things.

You’ll see your family more than you ever did before. Relish it. In truth, they’re all you’ve really got.

Neil Mackay is Scotland’s Columnist of the Year