Social distance is currently our best ways to limit the spread of COVID-19. For those of us who aren't excited to #StayTheF––Home, read on about how to see isolation as an opportunity. Apparently, Newton developed his theories of optics and gravity while stuck at home during the Plague. Shakespeare wrote King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony & Cleopatra in a single year.
So, here's another way to look at being stuck home: loads of time, free from social obligations, to do what you love. Whether it's catching up with long-lost friends, Hygge-ing your home, writing the next masterpiece, founding a startup, learning a new skill, or directly giving back to your community, now's your chance.
It's worth remembering that not everyone is lucky enough to be able to stay home in the middle of a pandemic. There are plenty of ways to pay it forward!
Soap + Water is better than hand sanitizer for a few reasons, one being it washes germs off of your skin instead of killing them and leaving them stuck to you. Sing a song to yourself, count backwards from 30, practice your multiplication tables. Whatever you need to do to scrub for at least 30 seconds.
Cooking comes down to two things: good ingredients and paying attention. While some of us might have a tough time finding good ingredients for a while, even canned food can taste better with a bit of tweaking. There's loads of recipes and cooking how-to videos online, and you don't need the latest gadgets. A knife, a pot, and a pan and you can make almost anything.
Check your temperature. Notice your breathing. Acknowledge your status quo, and note if it changes. Write things down. Pay attention to what makes you feel better. Do more of that.
Read – don't scroll – before bed. Leave your phone outside your bedroom. Stop looking at screens at least an hour before you think you'll get sleepy (e-ink screens are the exception). If you feel anxious, call someone and chat before you go to bed. If you can't sleep, journal about what's keeping you awake. Remind any anxiety you feel that right now you want to sleep. It can just as well be anxious tomorrow.
YouTube is full of free tutorials for Bodyweight Fitness, Yoga, Dance, etc.
A bunch of exercise machines come with connected classes so you can get the social boost from the safety of your home. My friend Ryan swears by his connected rowing machine.
If you're an instructor, consider offering drop-in classes on Instagram Live. Let me know if you do, and maybe we can get a schedule up on here.
Try Google Hangouts, Zoom Video, Skype, FaceTime. There's so many options, whatever works for you. Start with small-talk, ease into the intimate stuff. Get to know each other all over again.
We all get lonely, and seeing friendly faces helps with that. Get used to changing expectations – every call doesn't have to be hours long. 2 minutes is better than 0 minutes.
Ease into it. Take your time replying. Slower communication can be more thoughtful communication. Delve deep, find the foundational things you connect about. Build a best friend for life.
This life can feel overwhelming sometimes, but talking it out with someone can help put things in perspective and develop healthy ways to cope. There are a number of online resources where you can talk to a professional. They'll help guide you towards a healthy mental and emotional place where you can thrive.
Hygge is a term from Denmark that means being as cozy as possible. Maybe that's why they were the second country to self-quarantine: staying home is what they wanted to do anyway. Here's a book I like about Hygge.
Things get cluttered when they don't have a home. Take the time to prioritize your stuff. The things you need least, put somewhere harder to get to. The things you reach for all the time, place them conveniently. Create nests for your stuff, so it doesn't spread out across tables and counters.
The cost of LED lights has reached the level of flourescent lights. Take the time to learn about the temperatures of light, and find what works for you. That warm cozy vibe in restaurants and cafes is usually 2700K white. If you're doing detailed work, you might want something clearer: daylight is between 5000 and 6500K white. Hygge has a lot to say about light and how it affects us.
Once a skeptic myself, modern bidets install right onto your toilet and get you extra clean. You can get the basic version from Hello Tushy, or a lux one with heated water and a heated seat, or for full-on luxury, this one with dual nozzles, a dryer, and a remote control!
Get outside, strengthen your immune system, get some exercise, and get fresh food in a few weeks. For local information check out the agricultural extension at your regional university, or find a volunteer Master Gardener near you. YouTube is full of great videos to help you plan and get planting.
Fresh food is the best, but if this pandemic drags on, keeping yourself fed through winter is going to help. You have some time to learn before your garden starts producing, but when it does have some jars on hand. There are mail-order seed companies that can help you pick the right plants for your region.
Got a small back or sideyard, a patio or a balcony? Size really doesn't matter. Pretty much any space can produce food and beauty. There's even a style called a window farm. Creating a garden from scratch is a bit of legwork but it'll pay off by giving your a green place to spend time, cleaner air, and fresh food.
There are a number of ways you can contribute online:
If you like hiking, seek out a trail crew. You'll be able to keep your distance from others AND you'll do good while getting some exercise. Stroll your neighborhood and pick up the litter you find (a legit use for one of these claw things). When you go to the beach, take a reusable bag with you and pick up all the plastic you find. If you have advanced skills (SCUBA diving, animal husbandry, etc), you can find groups all over the world who are doing good work to protect our ecosystem.
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.
The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great because they'd paint a lot
If you know what you're doing, this is the most nights free you're ever going to have. If you don't, Bob Ross is your friend: all Bob Ross's videos are available on YouTube for free. If watercolors are your thing, here's a series on how to watercolor like Miyazaki! If you need some inspiration, check out these art museums with virtual tours (thanks Mom!).
My friend Naomi teaches water colors. She gave these recommendations for getting set up: expand
Paints: I use this Kuretake set that I love. Winsor and Newton sets are also solid. I have a small traveling set. The student-grade sets are a great way to start to dabble, and then you can start to invest in more expensive paints as you get more into it and learn what you like.
“Pan” vs “Tube” - Pans are chunks of solid paint that you wet with a brush to lift up the color, and tubes are the liquid form of paints. Both have pros and cons, but I tend to prefer pans for their portability.
Paper: "140 lb” paper - you will need paper that is thick enough to handle the water.
“Hot press” paper is smooth, versus "Cold press paper" which has a textured surface. Either is fine, so it's just a person preference.
Reading is an act of empathy: it's how we walk in each others' shoes. Write what you know, so readers can empathize with your experience. If you water things down to capture a huge audience, no one will read it. Tell a true story in sharp focus for the handful of people who will get it – if it makes one person feel less alone, that's enough.
For the musicians out there, keep doing your thing. If you're not a star yet, here's your undistracted chance to level up. If you're sure you'll never play a chord yourself, I get it: I once thought I was about as musical as a can opener. Now I can play almost an entire song on the ukelele! Don't worry, I'm never going to make you listen to me play, but it does feel good to put a few chords together and have it sound like a song. If this is your dream, grab one of these, and check out one of these tutorials for beginners. Cynthia Lin is popular and gives all the details on technique.
Here's an idea for building community around song: host a Corona Choir! My old roommate Casper (who wrote a super-relevant book about ritual) led a singing circle on Zoom, teaching simple songs and rounds. For some, singers sang together. For some, we muted all mics but Casper's so we could sing along without worrying who could hear. (PS: do you have rituals you practice to cope with crisis? I want to hear about them.)
Nothing on this site should be construed to be professional medical or legal advice. These are my opinions, nothing more. This site tries to help pepole cope with social isolation during quarantine. It does not offer advice on how to treat or avoid coronavirus. If you want that sort of advice, talk to your doctor or your friend who's a doctor.
None of the stuff mentioned on this site has been proferred in exchange for promotion. Some of the product-oriented links on this site are affiliate links (eg, Amazon Associate links), which means if you purchase the product, I might get a small commission. For me it's a way to defray costs. I'm in this to help out, not to get rich.