So, everyone’s sharing their tips for how to maintain a sliver of sanity during quarantine, so I thought I’d jump into the mix and share what’s (barely) working for me. This historical moment will probably traumatize us for the rest of our lives, but instead of living in a state of constant fear and anxiety, I’m trying to be grateful for this rare chance to rest. Negativity and stress actually tear down your immune system; we need to take care of ourselves and our physical and mental health during times of crisis and grief. If we’re lucky enough to be safe and healthy at home, we need to show solidarity to our communities by being the best versions of ourselves and helping wherever we can. So, rather than list a bunch of charities you can donate to (that will come, trust me), here are ten little (mostly) free ways to honor yourself and your space right now.
- Create a morning coffee (or tea!) routine. We can’t go out for coffee right now (I mourn it constantly), but now is the time to up your homebrew game! My go-to is the Chemex. It’s a little bit more labor-intensive than a French press, but the returns are far from diminishing. It’s by far the smoothest at-home coffee experience you can have. If you have an income right now, splurging on a Chemex and a gooseneck kettle will pay for itself within the month. I’ve come to cherish my quiet coffee time in the morning.
- *very Eminem voice* Clean out your closet! I find The Curated Closet to be a great resource for determining your personal style. What better time could there be to do the workbook than when you’re stuck inside with no work dress code? This is a. super fun, b. a great way to get rid of clutter, and c. a way to make a small income during a time when finances might be hard (through resale sites like Poshmark).
- Lean into work! If you’re lucky enough to be employed and able to work from home right now, lean into it. I’m super fortunate to actually enjoy my job, but even if you don’t particularly like your line of work, now’s a good time to embrace what you’ve got for the moment. If you’re working, that’s 8 whole hours of your day that you’re no longer obligated to fill!
- That being said, establish work-life boundaries. Working from home was going to go one of two ways: either I was going to goof off all day and get nothing done, or turn into a workaholic zombie who refused to take breaks. It’s the latter. Set an alarm at the same time every day and eat lunch, or take a walk, or in my case, take a shower. Get away from your computer screen if you can. You deserve it! Breaks are a legally-mandated part of your workday!
- Pick up a book. This has been the hardest part of quarantine for me. Even though I’m faced with endless time on my hands, I, like a lot of women, feel guilty whenever I have free time. I feel like I should be cooking, or cleaning, or working, or writing, or learning French, or literally doing anything besides relaxing. We need to stop punishing ourselves. Pick up the book, watch the tv show, do the puzzle. Do what you like.
- Meditate. Full disclosure, I have not actually started meditating BUT I know that I need to because I have anxiety that tends to keep me up at night. There’s, quite literally, no time like the present to start this healthy habit. Mindfulness is a big buzzword right now, but meditation can be free, very beneficial, and a far cry from Goop wellness culture.
- Make a mood board. The first thing I did when quarantine started was clean, organize, and redecorate my house like a madwoman. What I wish I had done was create a mood board to figure out the direction I wanted my décor to take. Do I want to make big changes or work with what I have? Do I need a new pink shag rug so that my bedroom will be “perfect?” Making a décor mood board (or, for that matter, a fashion one) is like a return to the magic of childhood imagination.
- Do something you’ve never done before. My example of this is that (I’m aware of how privileged this sounds) I had never actually painted the walls of my house before. My father-in-law does all the major updates here, so I was afraid to give it a try for fear of “messing up” all of his hard work. But on Saturday night I got so bored that I said, “Fuck it.” I went to the basement, looked through all the paint colors, found a cool grey, and painted a door and some faux “gables” on top. They came out really awesome and, as it turns out, I had no reason to be afraid! I’m a good painter. There’s no better time than now to take a creative risk, and there are so many things you can do that don’t cost a cent.
- Whatever you do, don’t punish yourself for eating. Not that you should ever have misgivings about eating, but we’re trapped inside all day! If you want a snack, have a snack! And if you’re like me, and you have the opposite problem (completely forgetting to eat all day without structured mealtimes), set an alarm and force yourself to establish healthy habits. You deserve to nourish your body.
- Dance like nobody’s watching. It’s a cliché for a reason, people! I have been putting on late ’90s pop, or Broadway musicals, and putting on full performances in my kitchen. I even cut my toe dancing, I was going so hard. It’s not only a great form of exercise for those of us who are indoor cats, but the movement and the music gives you a mega-blast of endorphins.
Well, I’m not used to being so cheery and positive, but I think that a lifetime of catastrophizing and anxiety have really prepared me for actual chaos. I’ve always put the needs of others before my own, but we’re really in a “put your oxygen mask on before helping others” situation, so I’m slowing down and honoring that.