Hello from my quarantine shelter and corner of the internet! Like many of you, I am doing my part to help slow down the spread of this Coronavirus, keeping a healthy social distance from most human bodies (6 feet), and singing the chorus to I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor while I wash my hands vigorously. As experts recommend, I am staying home as much as possible in order to protect myself and, more importantly, those who have heightened vulnerability. Finally, I am trying my best to stay calm and make the most of these unprecedented circumstances.
As I’m adapting to all-day, all-night quarantine life (my NYC friends are rolling their eyes because I never left the house anyway, especially during winter), I thought I’d share a few ways I’m easing myself into a home-confined lifestyle. It’s more important than ever to keep ourselves healthy, calm and supported, both mentally and physically, when possible. That means I can’t just binge-repeat-watch The Mandalorian and refresh the news constantly, as I have been.
Creating a Schedule
I’m one of the fortunate who are able to do the vast majority of work from home, on my laptop and phone. I actually enjoy going into an office to work versus my house, but for the foreseeable future, I’ll be WFH as my new normal. It affects my concept of time, because the usual practices I associate with the workday are gone. I no longer spritz on my perfume, leave the house, walk to the train and through Grand Central Station, beep my card for entry into my work building, settle into my roomy desk with some tea, and greet my colleagues in the morning. I’m not tracking to the same schedule anymore, ensuring I get from place to place on time; now, I only need to get from my room to the kitchen to the bathroom and back. My internal clock comes from the structure and regular occurrences around me, but being at home has melted everything together.
It’s been about a week of working from home, and I’ve been sleeping and eating at odd times. While I still manage to get in some yoga, I’ve been splitting up my practice, rather than doing it in the morning after I wake.
Since I tend to require order to function optimally (I’ve been informed that I am, in fact, a virgo), I will likely need to follow a schedule to create some cadence around daily activities. Some people thrive off of having less structure, but in times like these, when things already feel unpredictable, at least I can control when I go to bed and eat lunch.
Reading Library Books
I was going to write an entire blog post about this; that’s how excited I am about the library. A friend and colleague of mine recently shared the wonders of this public resource for anyone with a library card and a Kindle or smartphone. She encouraged me to finally get my NYC library card so that I could access the many books available to rent through Kindle – it’s just as easy as purchasing books on Amazon! Each rental is 2 weeks, and you can renew if needed. I’ve been on fire and already read 4.5 books since getting my card in February.
Unfortunately, it is too late if you don’t already have a library card, but those who do should tap into this resource! And it costs exactly ZERO dollars to rent; you just need internet and battery life, which many of us are using to refresh the news or stream shitty tv shows!
I also have some books in my home that I’ve never finished, so I intend to dig into those, too. I know many of my friends have that pile in their rooms somewhere. Now is the time to read!
At Home Exercise
Since the beginning of this year, I have done sun salutations (yoga) for 15 to 20 minutes every day that I’ve felt physically well. It’s not a lot per day, but it is consistent, and the minutes add up. I doubt I’ll ever fold like a pretzel, but I believe the daily practice has helped me become a little stronger and stretchier, plus mentally calmer and more alert. Everyone knows exercise helps literally everything, but the motivation is hard to find. My approach is to roll out of bed and into the yoga mat, so there is nothing stopping me – no money spent, no commute, no shitty weather conditions, no shoes to lace up… no excuses. All of these things still apply to my life in corona quarantine, so I’m doing sun salutations, stretches, and even knee-push ups when I’m feeling up to it. The movement helps to get the blood flow going, helps with mental blocks, and *in my yoga voice* unlocks energy flow that I desperately need now that I’m barely moving.
I have also been taking daily walks in the park now that the weather allows and, for the most part, I can stay 6 feet away from people. I’ve been seeing more and more runners, and I suspect that we’re all feeling the same: cooped up at home with extra energy and a need for sunlight. I will continue doing this unless the experts advise otherwise, and maybe experiment with different times to see if there’s any change in number of people.
Literally Any Hobby
It’s been a while, but my hobbies used to include writing, practicing guitar / singing, cooking new recipes, experimenting with different make up and hair styles, painting every so often, and decorating my house. At this point, we need to stay our asses at home to keep ourselves and others safe, so why not jump back into a hobby I haven’t touched for some time! My hobbies tend to be more solitary, which is good for social isolation, but even for those who don’t have solo hobbies yet, why not start now? My roommate wants to take up knitting, and I think I’ll focus on reading, writing and guitar.
Learning New Things
My friends and I have been interested in expanding our financial literacy recently. Before the coronavirus became recognized as a legitimate threat, I was obsessed with creating a budget based on last year’s average spending (which I figured out how to export into an excel), and rejiggering the numbers so that I was automatically saving into investment accounts. I loved the empowering feeling of getting an accurate read of how much money I actually spent, and creating parameters to ensure I was spending it wisely. From that point, I wanted to understand more about how investing in the stock market works, a potential path to home ownership, and generally, how to create and sustain wealth. You know, that boring shit that suddenly isn’t boring anymore.
Obviously, the economy has been fundamentally impacted by the corona pandemic and there’s no point in focusing on growing wealth right now, when everyone is on survival mode. But, with all this free time on our hands, I’d like to read and watch some “for dummies” videos to understand some basic concepts about how money works, in the hope that one day, when we turn around from all of this, I might be armed with everything I need to wipe up messes with an Hermes scarf, or maybe own a house.
Doesn’t have to be financial literacy though. Maybe it’s time to pick up a new language, or learn about a specific topic you’ve been curious about for some time. Do you get those Master Class targeted ads on instagram like I do? They look fascinating! There’s so much information available on the internet – the library databases, youtube, google. Just look for it!
I chuckle as I write that, because I am not a chill person. I freak out about everything, and I can be neurotic and controlling. When I feel out of control, the last emotion I feel is calm.
But emotions and mental health are a priority at this time. I am grateful that my therapist appointments can be available through facetime, and that I have some practices I’ve gathered from my life experiences. I know that meditation and focus on breath can be a survival tool in times of anxiety and distress, and there are youtube videos and guided meditations to help, too.
No one has a crystal ball to tell us it will be okay, and I’m very uncomfortable about it. That is a totally appropriate response. For the time being, I will try to alleviate the discomfort by making the most of this situation, and practicing the above. I hope you also find ways to soothe yourselves and stay as strong and healthy as possible.