Like much of the rest of the world, the TFD staff is at home this week. With so much up in the air right now, we’ve been discussing some of the things we’re doing to stay optimistic and keep our anxiety at bay. In case you’re in the same boat, we thought we’d share some of these with our readers.
In no particular order, here are our recommendations for beating anxiety and staying as content as possible during this whole “self-distancing” period.
While we’re stuck at home, there are a few tasks I’ve been trying to do daily, or at least regularly:
Make something tasty. I grew up in Houston, where hurricane season meant we’d often be stuck inside our homes for days. My friends and I started a tradition of making Frito Pie while we were homebound and now feels like a good time to continue that tradition. Tonight I’ll be making a variation of this vegetarian Frito Pie recipe.
Do something productive. You know that terrible chore you’ve been putting off because it’s too awful to even imagine? Now is the time to get it done. For example, my husband and I moved our stove and cleaned all the food splatter gunk that had caked on the floor and wall. It was disgusting, but I’m glad we got it done. If nothing else, get your spring cleaning done while you’re stuck at home anyway. Here’s our giant room-by-room guide to cleaning everything in your home.
Connect with people. I’ll echo everyone else’s advice about hopping on FaceTime or Google Hangouts to chat with your friends and loved ones. It’s also a good time to reach out to any friends or family you haven’t talked to in a while.
Find ways to be helpful. When I’m feeling anxious and helpless, the thing that always makes me feel better immediately is to find a way to help someone else. It can be hard to figure out how to do that right now, but maybe it means offering to pick up groceries or prescriptions for an elderly neighbor or simply donating to people who need immediate relief.
Indulge yourself: What is one small thing you can do every day to feel a little bit better about all of this? It might be taking a long bath, chatting with an old friend, doing a puzzle with your spouse, rearranging your closet, rewatching the latest season of Queer Eye, or reading a book. I’ve been trying to find one small thing to get excited about each day.
If you’re a bit of a nerd and just love learning about random topics — everything from Free Will to The Gin Craze — then the Podcast In Our Time is for you. I put on an episode while I cook, out running errands, or going for a jog, and it’s the nicest distraction. Each episode features host Melvin Bragg, along with a panel of experts, and yes, some can get really in the weeds and a bit academically stuffy, but overall it’s sooooo good.
Also, Alison Roman Cooking Videos. she keeps me entertained with her sense of humor and unfussy approach to cooking. I love seeing someone I could know in my day-to-day life whipping up together meals that keep me inspired.
Another recommendation for the food and cooking space is the Bon Appetit videos. I especially love Gourmet Makes, where chef Claire Saffitz painstakingly recreates a “gourmet” version of various childhood classics and pre-packaged snacks.
Remember that you can still take walks! I was talking to a friend this morning and she said she’s been walking in the cemetery near her place because it’s empty (love how goth that is).
As far as homebound activities, I’m doing a lot of batch-and-freeze cooking right now, and I have on the lineup: chicken and andouille gumbo with lots of beans (I would add shrimp but am allergic!), cream of kale soup, sausage and peppers, crustless quiche, and fresh almond pesto. Also, pro-tip: Spoon a little pesto into your brothy soups like chicken noodle — it’s divine!
FaceTime: Since we’re all stuck inside, I am FaceTiming at least one friend a day. Almost all of my friends are able to work from home, or they are teachers so they are off for the time being, so there is a lot more time than usual to catch up and check in on each other. Even when we’ve run out of things to say, it’s nice to have the added sense of company.
True Crime Obsessed podcast: I have included this recommendation in our weekly newsletter before, and I have to include it here again because I am literally obsessed with it. I am spending a lot of time listening to podcasts to keep myself from getting sucked into the news, and this one, in particular, is a great distraction. I *love* true crime docs and this one matches my humor and banter perfectly. The two hosts are based in NYC and give their take on popular true crime docs. Super funny. Highly recommend.
Since I happen to be pregnant during all of this chaos, I am taking advantage of online birth and labor resources. All birthing classes in NYC have been canceled for obvious reasons, so I’m doing what I can to prepare myself for what is to come! There are a ton of labor and delivery nurses on YouTube who cover everything from actual labor techniques to what to pack in your hospital bag. I am also learning how to bathe and swaddle a newborn, among plenty of other things. Not ideal, but these videos are truly helping ease some anxiety and feel prepared for what’s to come.
Fitness Blender: I have to admit I am *not* currently on the exercise train because, pregnant, but if I wasn’t, I would definitely be taking advantage of the Fitness Blender YouTube channel. They have thousands of free at-home workouts for all fitness levels with little-to-no equipment needed. I recommend their channel to anyone who asks for workout recs because I am not someone who generally enjoys working out, but this happens to be the one channel that can get me going.
With all the anxiety and uncertainty in the air, I’m focusing on how undeniably lucky I am in this situation (and how I can use my privilege to better support my community and others who are actually suffering, like buying gift cards to small businesses and donating to my local food bank). I’m not experiencing income loss from the immediate shift in everyone’s way of life; I’m not ill, and if I were to become infected, I’d be worried about others around me, but not about myself; and my responsibilities are limited to just myself, my husband, and my cat.
But I’m also lucky that doing the right thing — staying home and avoiding crowds — actually gives me more time to do things I really love. Most notably:
- Reading: I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a huge fan of romance novels, and honestly, they are a great source of comfort during uncertain times. You’re guaranteed a happily ever after or, at the very least, a “happy for now.” Here are some of my favorites:
–The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. An unbelievably charming read that was both super poignant and much sexier than I anticipated.
–The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. I think this was the book that made me fall in love with romance as a genre! I love all of this author’s books.
–Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. A far-fetched story, but very soothing, romantic, and full of banter. Another one with a cutesy cover hiding some very wow-I’m-blushing-in-public moments.
–One Day In December by Josie Silver. This writer also has a new book out that I’m super excited to read! I was rooting for these characters from the very beginning.
–The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. A very popular enemies-to-lovers romance that seems to already be a classic despite being only four years old.
–The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley. I’m not the biggest historical romance reader, but this is an ultimate comfort read! I sobbed at several different points. There’s a twist in this book that absolutely melted my heart.
–The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. I love all of these co-authors’ books, but this one is probably my favorite!
–One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins-Reid. Not all of TJR’s books qualify as romance, but this one definitely does in my opinion. This is heart-wrenching, but it ultimately has a lovely message and a wonderful love story. (Also, it’s not technically a romance, but I cannot recommend her book The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo nearly enough.)
–The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams. Ugh, this book. I’m always looking for romances about people falling back in love and this one was just wonderful, and also filled with men unlearning toxic masculinity. I adored it!
- Baking: Peter and I are using this time to try out some new, challenging recipes. If you’re looking to be challenged and also end up with something really tasty, these Italian rainbow cookie sandwiches are beyond delicious (even if mine ended up looking way messier than the recipe version).
- Crafting: I have a lot of half-finished projects that I now have no excuse not to do. I finally finished a scarf this weekend that I started…two years ago? I worked on it while watching Altered Carbon (Peter got to choose the show, it was just fine IMO, i.e. a perfect selection to half-watch while crafting). This is a great YouTube channel for knitters!
- Exercising: One thing I do really miss getting out of the house for is pilates classes, so I signed up for a free trial with Pilatesology, a subscription-based home workout platform. They have a few 30-day programs to choose from, and I’m so far really liking it!
I also really feel for people who thrive in social situations, because it’s got to be so much tougher to self-isolate. I definitely recommend hopping on the phone/FaceTime/Google Hangouts to catch up with friends. We typically have my best friend over every week to watch Schitt’s Creek and make dinner, so while this is happening, we’re going to at least watch and text at the same time.
My recommendations are:
- Make a vision board of what inspires you, and what you would like for the remainder of the year.
- Take a long bubble bath with a glass of wine ~ relax and enjoy the moment.
- Meditate in silence ~ maybe add in some scented candles.
- Go for a bike ride ~ go out and be physically active.
Group video chats: I just did a few different group FaceTimes, which felt so silly, but I can’t recommend it enough. It was so comforting to hash this all out with people I’m close to (but don’t live near) in a casual, low-pressure way. I did one call with three different members of my family at a time, and one with three different friends (with their significant others popping in and out), and it had a totally different, festive feel than talking to any of them one-on-one would have. With an iPhone, it’s a little hard to see how you can add people in — you have to swipe up from the bottom of your phone where the “effects” option is. If some in your circle don’t have iPhones, you can do Google Hangout, Skype, or various other apps! I feel like this would also work really well for a book club, though I haven’t tried that yet.
Write down your plans: I’m a big fan of writing things down (be it plans, tasks, thoughts, feelings, what have you), so this morning, I wrote down a super nerdy “bulletin/newspaper” for our household as though we were a conference or health retreat or something. It included some To Dos but also a lot of fun things to just provide some semblance of structure to our lives: a menu of meals we have to choose from, movies/TV shows on the docket, exercise plans, and a rough hourly schedule so we can try to synch lunch and other breaks while we both work from home.
Give your hair/skin/nails a break: If you regularly wear makeup and wash your hair or use dry shampoo or hairspray, now’s the perfect time to give everything a break and see what it does for your complexion and so forth. Constantly putting chemicals on ourselves and then washing them off is a lot of wear and tear — a few weeks off might do wonders!
Sleep more! The main side benefit of not having a commute is getting a little more shut-eye, in my opinion. But for me it’s easy to just factor that into my bedtime calculation and give myself one more episode or thirty more minutes of aimless social media browsing before turning in, thus defeating the benefit. My goal is to try to get to bed when I would otherwise and just enjoy a much longer and easier morning sans commute.
Consume more media, but with some kind of intention: I like the idea of having a “goal” of sorts, like getting through an entire series you’ve wanted to watch or read for a long time or watching only things in a certain genre/theme. It seems a little more purposeful than just aimless TV browsing. Another idea one of my friends shared is that she wants to pick one actor and watch all of his or her movies.
Get outside: Walking around in a park, beach, or fairly open area is one of the safer ways to socialize I think because you can keep some distance from others. But it feels really refreshing and healthy to just get out of your house. Also, if you have a call that’s not a video call, take it standing up or walk around your home while chatting to get some steps in. You could even do a wall-sit if you’re feeling super antsy.
We don’t know what the next few weeks or months will look like, but amid all of this uncertainty, the one thing that’s certain is that we’re all in this together. Hang in there, and if it all gets to be too much, it’s okay to phone a friend.