With its unfortunate arrival at the beginning of spring, COVID-19 has dashed our dreams of shaking off winter hibernation and venturing back into the world. As the introvertiest of introverts, spending time at home is something I relish, but if you’re the type who likes to be on the go, you probably feel like you’re grounded and it wasn’t even your fault! Lucky for you, being sent to my room was always my punishment of choice.
If you’re stuck at home, here is my guide on how to cope in confinement:
Step 1: Take a deep breath
The first thing to remember is that you’re at home, so relax! Easier said than done, I know. When you have places to go and people to see, you’re usually on a clearly–defined schedule. Since you’re staying home right now, take a deep breath and slow down: sleep in longer than usual, stay up late watching that critically–acclaimed movie, prepare that delicious but oh-so-time-consuming recipe. Whatever it is, take your time.
Which brings me to Step 2.
Step 2: Appreciate the little things
Reacquaint yourself with how your favourite chair is comfortable in just the right way and luxuriate in the smell of your coffee. Sometimes when we’re surrounded by the same things every day, we can’t help but take them for granted. Take a moment to reflect on life’s little joys and you’ll be happier for it.
Step 3: Create structure
To keep time from mushing together, it’s crucial to maintain at least some semblance of a routine. It’s easy to get caught up in the relaxing we talked about, so I recommend you still get out of bed before a certain time in the morning, change your clothes (you can still wear pyjamas, just different pyjamas!), and aim to eat your meals and wind down for the night around the same time each day.
Now for the hard one:
Step 4: Set goals
I often make lists of the things I’m looking to accomplish over the next X amount of time. My goals can be anything from “do the laundry” to “conquer the world” (though unless you plan on conquering the world from your living room, maybe save that one for later.)
Keeping a to-do list sounds tedious, but think of it as a really responsible advent calendar…where you don’t get any chocolate and the days don’t matter. On second thought, forget that—but the point is, it gives you something to work towards to keep you looking forward.
The best part is keeping your goals in mind as the days progress and crossing each item off your list as it’s completed (so satisfying). Pro tip: In addition to keeping track of your personal projects, add all the housework you were going to do anyways. The more things on your list, the more crossing off you get to do!
If you can’t think of anything to do, here are some ideas to get you started.
- Do your “I’d love to ____ if I had time” thing! If there is a project you’ve been wanting to get back to (or start!), this is an excellent opportunity. I’m always in the middle of a cross stitch, sewing project, or video game, and I can’t tell you how many times someone has recommended a good book or movie and I’ve replied with “I’ll put it on the list” (many!). If there was ever a time to make it through that backlog, this is it! I might even get through a Final Fantasy game…
Side note: Did you know that you can borrow e-books and audiobooks online if you have a library card? Audible also offers a selection of free audio books or a free trial of their service if you prefer someone read you a story.
- Try something new! I spend a lot of time in the kitchen trying out new recipes and adapting old staples. If culinary creations aren’t your thing, have you ever wanted to learn to speak another language, tie traditional sailing knots or beatbox? Salsa dance? Make homemade salsa? (And we’re back in the kitchen again!). Whatever your interests, online videos and blogs have made it easier than ever to learn about and get started into almost anything.
- Solidify your home gym routine! You always mean to dedicate time to working out each week, but who has the time? You do, right now. Building or breaking habits takes at least 21 days, so building a routine now that works for you and sticking it means you’re more likely to keep doing it. Online videos and blogs will direct you in anything from tai-chi to strength training to zumba to yoga. Bonus: Exercise also reduces stress, and we could all use a little of that these days!
- Be silly! Did someone say dance party?? I did. It was me. One of my all-time favourite activities is to throw on some tunes and multi-coloured lights and dance ‘til I can’t dance no more. This club has all the music I love, free drinks and no line up for the bathroom! If you’re feeling more chill, build a pillow fort to watch TV from and you’re instantly having more fun.
- Organize something! It’s time to take on that hall closet you’ve been shoving things into for years or finally alphabetize your socks by colour. It’s an arduous task, but once it’s done, the sense of accomplishment and relief you’ll feel every time you open that closet will be well worth it.
- Create something! This is cathartic and rewarding because you can see your progress as you go along and when you’re done, you have something to show for all the hard work you put in. You can paint a picture, write a letter, build a birdhouse, code an app or go back to basics and make some macaroni art.
- Connect with friends, distantly! Staying apart from people at a time where we want to be together to support each other is difficult, but physical distance doesn’t mean you need to be alone. There are lots of online options for group meet-ups that not only let you talk with each other but allow you to play games or stream content, so you can keep your bestie on FaceTime 24/7 or have a movie night with your squad without leaving home.
- Connect with distant friends! Reach out to people you’ve been missing. We need all the human connection we can get and they’ll be happy to know you thought of them.
- Foster an animal! If people aren’t your thing or you could just really use a puppy cuddle, there are many animal rescues that are always looking for people to provide temporary foster homes for animals. Reach out to the Winnipeg Humane Society, Craig Street Cats, Manitoba Mutts, or any of the other rescues to see how you can become a fuzzy foster family.
- Rest. Remember that it is OK to take a break; life can be stressful and exhausting. If your only goal for the day is to brush your teeth or pick up that one paperclip off the floor, that’s fine, you don’t need to do anything else. Do things that ease your stress like meditate, take a hot shower, or my personal pick: curl up in a nest of your coziest blankets and pillows equipped with your remote control, a book, snacks and tea, and settle in for the day.
Even if we need to keep our distance, we’re all in this together. In these times it’s important to support our loved ones from afar and remember that this, too, shall pass.
In the meantime, you can feel proud of your contribution to society as you hunker down on your couch with a pint of ice cream for the greater good.
Stay healthy and safe!