Not allowed out of the house? Here’s 10 things you can do to make days better
A week ago, life was normal — commuting, work, shopping, travel. My husband and I were planning a move and had a weekend trip booked for his upcoming birthday. I was looking forward an Easter break trip to visit friends. Coronavirus was just a word my ESL students used to tease each other every time someone coughed or sneezed (March in Galicia is freezing and wet = lots of coughing and sneezing). Then, overnight, the world began a slow-motion twirl of its axis. Forty-eight hours later the whole country was locked down — 47 million Spanish citizens forbidden to leave their houses except for to go to work, buy food or medicine, or care for a vulnerable family member.
In a matter of days, the infection count has rocketed from a couple of thousand across the country to over 17,000 sick and more than 750 dead (source: Johns Hopkins coronavirus map). Who knows how many new cases and deaths will have been recorded by the time you read this.
Lurking like miasma around the immediate concerns for the physical well-being of friends and loved ones is anxiety about the future. My husband’s work has ceased completely; my income strands are fraying faster than cheap dental floss. We’re fine, for now. But looking too far ahead is enough to paralyze me with panic.
Though it is tempting to crawl under the duvet with a bottle of red and weep it seems important to not admit defeat. For the first time in my lifetime, the world is united (however undesirable the unifying factor) and there is the possibility of fundamental changes to how we interact and behave on a global scale. That’s not nothing.
Meantime, there are plenty of things we can do to make these days worthwhile.
Whether you’ve always meant to tackle War and Peace or would really dig another spin The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, now’s your chance. Reading is not only a delightful (enriching, rewarding, inspiring, educational) distraction from doom and gloom, it is also a chance to put the whole current catastrophe in perspective. Humans have been enduring appalling things and living to tale the tell for as long as our species has existed. Stories are part of our survival kit.
Remember when people used to write things down on pieces of paper and mail them to each other? Letter-writing used to be an essential form of communication and the deliberate, enduring medium generated — in addition to much personal joy — a rich literary genre.
A letter, in contrast to an email or text, requires deliberation and physical engagement. It makes us consider our words more deeply. And a letter is a wonderful thing to receive: tangible proof of someone’s love and care.
Even if you can’t post them right now, write to your loved ones, then send it when you can.
Reclaim your musical agenda from the algorithms and make your own playlists. Revisiting beloved artists and songs, and meandering down sonic paths to discover new ones, is a pleasurable time-filler. More importantly, it is a potent reminder of what humans, at their best, are capable of. Turn it up.
Sort your wardrobe
Always wanted a capsule wardrobe? This is the moment to dig through those chests of drawers, wardrobes, cupboards and shoe boxes and sort the wheat from the chaff. If this current crisis demonstrates anything it’s that certainties aren’t. Stop holding on to that sale-rack outfit you bought for the occasion that never happened, or the stuff that doesn’t quite fit anymore. Streamline. Simplify. Then relax.
Feng shui / house projects
Keeping good energy flowing through your house is never a bad idea. Whether that means going full feng shui or getting around to repainting the back bedroom, seize the opportunity to do it now. Rearrange the furniture, get a head start on spring cleaning, clean the gutters, declutter your kitchen or office. I guarantee, no one ever felt worse for living in a clean, tidy inviting space.
Stuck at home 24/7? Then there is no excuse not to sex it up — whether you’re coupled or solo. Take advantage of the time to explore your sensual side with (self-)massage, hot baths, or simply napping on crisp clean sheets. For the sake of not breaking the internet, explore erotica — it takes up less bandwidth than porn and gets your imagination cooking. If you already have a sex toy stash this is the time to play. If you don’t, I bet the internet has plenty of tips on cheeky uses for common household items. However you get your kicks, though, be safe and sensible. Sexual and reproductive healthcare are not readily available right now so take care of yourself first.
Often the excuse for not cooking is, I don’t have time. Well, now you do. As long as we have the fortune to have well-stocked grocery stores there is no excuse to live on ready meals. Also, eating processed crap kicks your immune system in the teeth. Seriously, give it a break. Buy real food. Cook it. Enjoy. Repeat. Searching for recipes, prepping and cooking is a great way to pass the hours and your body will thank you.
Keep moving, even if you’re on lockdown. You know in films and TV, people in prison are always pumping iron and running around the yard? That’s because when you’re confined, it is even more important to stay fit and strong. I’m not suggesting you need to start busting out pull-ups or shadowboxing, but do something. For me, 45–60 minutes per day of yoga is a mental and physical balm. Yoga is easy to do at home and there is a bottomless well of resources online (my buddy Paul’s blog, for one: YogaWithPaul). Whatever you’re into — Pilates, calisthenics, skipping rope, dance — keep it up. If you don’t already have an exercise routine, gentle yoga is a good place to start.
Get creative & crafty
Do something with your fingers that isn’t typing. Do you draw? Paint? Sculpt? Throw pottery? Play an instrument? Knit? Quilt? Scrapbook? If you do — awesome. Now you have time to throw yourself into it. Get into the flow and lose a few hours, see what you can create. If you’re a keen gardener, like my sister, this is a great opportunity to weed, re-pot, cultivate, or plan a new vegetable patch or flower border. Creating something tangible is a powerful antidote to the feelings of powerlessness and insecurity this situation may generate.
If you’re already studying, take advantage of this opportunity to spend more time on it, practice, go deeper. I’m taking extra classes on BaseLang, which is a chance to improve my Spanish plus get daily reports from my teachers in Venezuela and Colombia, who are getting reports from other students around the world. This keeps me connected.
What does your world look like right now? Share your stories in the comments.
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