It’s a strange time to be a person in the world. That feels like the kind of sentiment that can almost always apply, of course. But with social distancing, government-mandated or otherwise, our shared reality is suddenly vastly different from what it was even a month ago.
Social distancing definitely feels easier to cope with when most of us have to put it in practice, and we here at TFD can’t emphasize enough how important it is to stay home and help flatten the curve (and keep essential workers, in our healthcare centers and at our grocery stores). But while it’s a shared reality, we can and should (figuratively) lean on each other when we need to. Spending so much time away from our usual routines and loved ones can make even a textbook introvert feel anxious and uneasy.
Last week, the TFD team shared our own recommendations for spending a prolonged period of time at home — the books we’re reading, recipes we’re making, activities we’re enjoying. We decided to reach out to the greater TFD community to hear how you all are coping with social distancing. Here are your awesome tips for staying positive during a period of uncertainty, balancing being productive with mitigating anxiety, and feeling less alone while being isolated.
1. “My partner and I went to the dog shelter last Sunday and adopted a white Siberian Husky mix who we named Lobo. He has already given us so much love and joy as our new home companion (and work-from-home colleague). Plus, having to take him on half-hour walks twice a day has been helpful for keeping anxiety levels low, between the fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and bonding time with Lobo.” – Trevor
2. “My boyfriend and I are both working from home indefinitely in a 750 square foot apartment. Every day at 5 PM (or as soon as we can log off work), we take plastic cups and fill them with wine for a daily happy hour walk. We live in Chicago, where it’s cold right now, but we bundle up and go for a long walk around the neighborhood every evening anyway. It provides us a little exercise, a mental health break, and a way to break up the long day of being inside. I highly recommend it!” – Joan
3. “My company has sent everyone home to work (with very few exceptions) for at least a couple of weeks, and I’m such a homebody that it’s still all sinking in for me, so I’ve had to put in some thought, haha.
- Tracking my time. I keep a bullet journal anyway, and I’ve just added a tracker to fill in how I’m spending each part of my workday. Being home makes it easy to both lose track of myself in work and also get distracted by everything else, so I’m trying to keep myself as honest and consistent as I can (since nothing about my job itself has changed). I’m also setting myself timers during the day so I remember to get up and walk around my apartment, since I usually get so many more steps in the office just going about my day.
- My office has a ‘Third Thursday’ party every month after work, and since we can’t all be together for it this month, my friends and I are throwing a virtual party for ourselves via web conference. A lot of us have a regular group chat during the day anyway, but we’re treating this as an actual event to prepare for, and I’m excited.
- I’m also a really avid reader, and I have a pretty extensive collection of both physical and digital books, so I’ve been taking this time to properly categorize them and reorganize my bookshelves. It helps that this year I started tracking books I’ve bought and books I’ve borrowed from the library (mostly because I want to track how much money I spend/save), but I’ve been putting this off for a while and I think it’s time to get my book piles under control, haha.
All that said, my workdays are actually pretty easy to manage, but it’s my weekends that I’m trying to keep myself positive about (since every gathering, party, and event has been canceled for the foreseeable future), and I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else is doing.” – Katie
4. “I work for a small business that is completely shut down right now with no WFH opportunity, which has been terrifying and hard to deal with. Because I have no work obligations at the moment, I have done a few things to ensure I’m still using my time wisely. Feeling productive is important for my mental health, so I performed deep spring cleaning, decluttered (which means having items to donate and to sell), and re-organized my entire space.
Because my gym is shut down and I’m an avid weight-lifter with no equipment at home, I’ve committed to doing some bodyweight exercises daily and to also take a few minutes a day to stretch and do beginner yoga to work on my flexibility, which is something I’ve been seriously neglecting and my muscles are always insanely tight. Aside from making my body feel great and less stiff, I’ve also found that incorporating yoga into my wellness routine has given me a lot of peace of mind and makes me feel refreshed and more positive every time. It’s a major mood-booster for me.
I’m dedicated to learning new skills (with the help of audiobooks, YouTube videos, and free online courses) during this time, which I plan to incorporate into side-hustles and sharpening existing skills. For me, cooking is a passion that I don’t dedicate enough time to, so I’ve prioritized it and already mastered three new recipes with ingredients I had on hand. It’s been exciting and relaxing to spend time in the kitchen learning new things when I usually resort to eating the same tried-and-true quick meals during the week!
Lastly, I’m limiting my time on social media and actively searching for a piece of good news every time I read a piece of news that seems scary or bad. Searching for positivity has helped show me that there are still good things happening in the world, which has done wonders for keeping me feeling positive and hopeful during this time.” – Taylor
5. “The 3 M’s: meditate, marinate (journal), and move daily.” – Brianna
6. “I’ve had daily virtual “social distancing happy hours” with various groups of friends! So far I’ve used Zoom & Skype successfully. We all grab a drink and enjoy the chance to get to be ‘together’ even from afar. For my groups of friends that are spread out, we can’t believe it took us a pandemic to think to do it! It’s been something lovely to look forward to during long days working from home.” – Vianna
7. “I live in Columbus, OH where all bars/restaurants are only allowed to offer carryout right now. A lot of them are within 1-2 miles of my apartment, so I’ve been placing carryout orders (usually take 20-40 minutes to prepare) near my apartment before I go for a short run and then I’ll pick up the food during my cool down on the way home. I normally don’t eat out but with no work right now, it’s a nice break from being inside and a little treat for myself that supports local businesses.” – Lyss
8. “Learning a TikTok dance a day!! Helps keep me humble & fit.” – Mackenzie
9. “Taking (responsible) walking meetings while working remote. Longer dog walks and not touching anything! I also started an online option for my Mandarin language club, once a week. I guess there’s never been a better time to learn a new language.” – Tis
10. “Getting outside every day and giving myself some little cleaning goals every day. Also teetering on the precipice of getting REALLY into makeup tutorials on YouTube. I have no idea how to do makeup so maybe now’s the time?” – Maggie
11. “Taking a 45-minute walk around my neighborhood, while making sure to keep 6 feet away from the few other people walking. About 10k steps and fresh air! Also finishing my taxes.” – Cherylhe
12. “Taking the stairs at my apartment building morning, noon, and night to get some movement! It’s been cold and rainy here in Chicago but hoping for more time outside next week when the weather turns!” – Jess
13. “I’ve been trying to reach out as many people as I can in my network — not just my current close friends, but also people I used to be close to and have since drifted away from, acquaintances I wish I knew better, more distant relatives, etc. Connecting or reconnecting with people from all parts of my life has reminded me of how we’re all in this together, and I’ve found most people are so grateful for even a short message expressing kindness and comfort. Reaching out is easy to do with the extra free time and makes me feel better about the good in this world, while also cheering up other people I care about (some of whom are in far worse situations at the moment). It’s hard to know who needs some extra encouragement or someone to talk to — cast a wide net of compassion!” – Cecilia
14. “For sports fans who are missing that aspect of life, I suggest watching some game videos of your favorite teams… But only the ones that they won. It’ll definitely lift your spirits. :)” – Jim
15. “I’ve been making sure to get out for a long (safely spaced!) walk every day after work, and doing a video workout most mornings. At work, whenever meetings end early, my team has been using that time to catch up instead of just hanging up when we’ve gotten through the agenda. I’ve been Facetiming my friends more and taking advantage of the Met’s free opera streams. Everything is still the worst, obviously, but it’s nice to have a few bright spots in the day to look forward to.” – Molly
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