Memes about staying home are abounding, from those reminding us past generations actually had to go out and do something (Your grandparents were called to war. You’re being asked to sit on the couch. You can do this) to the new hashtag of choice for those who don’t want to feel like they’re taking this too seriously (that’d be #quarantineandchill). It’s becoming clear: In theory, it might sound like a dream to be told to stay home and do nothing for awhile. We often say, “If only I had more time, I would...” In reality, we don’t know what to do with all this time, especially when it feels like the world around us is crumbling. It’s also a lot worse for those who still have to get out there and go to work — and to you we say a huge, wholehearted thank you. With that, some suggestions for keeping your sanity without losing your dignity:
With your normal schedule likely evaporated, it’s easy to get thrown off. Working from bed for the first hour or two of the morning can easily devolve into working in pajamas for the entire day, and while this might seem luxurious for a bit, it’s ultimately demoralizing. It’s one thing to consciously delay washing your hair for an extra day or two and let the natural oils do their moisturizing thing; it’s another to say “screw it” and forgo a semblance of self-respect — not that you would! Upholding and appreciating the steps of your daily routine will help keep you from going crazy.
For example, the writer Haruki Murakami said in a 2004 interview: “When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10 kilometers or swim for 1,500 meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.” Doesn’t that sound nice, in a tranquil, self-disciplined sort of way? Of course, you don’t have to take it that far, but there’s something to be said for reliability. It can even start with something like making your bed every morning, an act that seems inconsequential but makes an impact. Plus, setting some structure throughout each day will prevent you from snacking mindlessly, and potentially endlessly, and maintain a sense of normalcy.
Find your ritual.
When it comes to unwinding for the evening, starting the day or taking a pause in the afternoon, develop a ritual that’s yours and only yours. Whether it’s meditating (if we’re not going to embrace meditation and discover the benefits now, then when?), simple deep breathing (like meditation for the impatient), writing or journaling (never underestimate the cathartic power of getting thoughts out of your head and down on paper), elongating your skincare routine (masks! Face rollers! Steams!), taking to the yoga mat (even if just for a brief stretching period) or especially elaborate showers (you’re going to come out of this with the smoothest skin of your life), punctuating the time with a small ritual will also signal to both your body and mind.
Cultivate healthy escapes.
People are reaching out through Instagram like never before. Podcasts have never sounded more appealing. Phone calls have returned, Zoom is how we’re meeting with coworkers, FaceTime is beyond standard, and Group FaceTime, which lets you chat with up to 32 people at once, is becoming the norm. We yearn for human connection, and this is an opportunity to reach out to old friends who you’ve fallen out of touch with or mend broken relationships because it all seems petty now. Carve out moments to connect, with both the people in your life and what’s going on out there. When it comes to the news, it’s important to stay informed, and equally vital to not obsess. There’s a fine line between making sure you’re in the know and making yourself increasingly worried.
Finally, here’s a super-original idea: Cook! Even more vital than ever, the best things you can eat are lots of fresh vegetables and leafy greens. While your kitchen might be stocked up with packaged foods, try to hold off on them as much as you can. Your body is craving dense nutrients, antioxidants and hydration, not refined sugar. Speaking of hydration, or lack thereof, as tempting as it is to break out a cocktail for some at-home happy hour, and as the demand for alcohol deliveries skyrockets, try to refrain when you can, or at least alternate your glass of wine with a glass of water. Alcohol suppresses your immune system, which can make you more vulnerable to getting sick, and that’s just counterintuitive.
Keep it moving.
Choose your fighter, fitness app edition: Alo Moves from Alo Yoga is self-described as the ultimate yoga app, and for good reason. obé fitness is an immersive online experience with both live and on-demand classes, now offering a free 30-day trial. Peleton offers a mix of yoga, running, strength-training and cycling, now free for 90 days, and you don’t need one of their bikes to partake. SculptSociety is packed with dance-cardio and sculpting routines for a two-week free trial. With a focus on HIIT and circuit training, no equipment required, Sweat440 will appeal to hardcore gym rats. And Barre3 is solid if you want to get centered, find some strength and improve your posture, now free for the first 15 days. A lot of fitness giants, like Equinox, are doing free Instagram live yoga sessions throughout the day, too.
On the flipside, running outdoors, one of the most solitary calorie-burning activities, if not the most singular, is now seeing a renaissance. As meditative as it is mood-boosting, it’s also a great way to get comfortable alone with your thoughts. With nothing to focus on but one foot in front of the other, after about 20 minutes or so, your thoughts simultaneously become supremely focused and free-flowing. If you’re not a runner yet, and you’re up for high-impact movement — and you’re not under full house arrest, it might be the time to lace up those Nikes and go.
No, not like that. (That’s a post for another day.) One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is that of loving your own solo company. Not just loving it, but getting to know yourself, enjoying yourself and relishing yourself. Have you ever laughed at one of your own jokes, with no one else around? Highly recommended. While extreme isolation isn’t healthy, being comfortable all by your lonesome certainly is. To quote the inimitable RuPaul, “If you don’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Once enforced social distancing is a thing of the past (and let’s hope that’s sooner rather than later), you’ll be so ready to give and receive even more love because you’ll be brimming with it already.