Stay Busy While Social Distancing
In late December, we all watched as China entered mandatory isolation. On the heels of China came several European countries and, eventually, several states across the United States. Mandatory self-isolation or voluntary quarantine is so much more than merely making the conscious choice to stay at home over the weekend. For those who describe themselves as introverts, this is introversion taken to a much higher level. As the months have passed, many states have enacted “stay at home” orders. What does this mean? Well, for the most part, it means there is a general expectation that people are not out in the world shopping, traveling, socializing, or even working.
Additionally, the words “social distancing” are the new buzz words and are now used everywhere we look. Social distancing guidelines call for people to maintain a distance of at least six feet between themselves and any other person they come into contact with. So, to facilitate social distancing guidelines and to help keep the stay at home order in place, many states have called for people to self-isolate. This means businesses have closed, many government offices and agencies are not conducting face to face meetings, restaurants are offering to-go or delivery only, and virtually all in-person events have been canceled or postponed. This means we have all inevitably (and not all by choice) found ourselves at home a lot more- pretty much all day, every day-and at a loss for what to do.
The idea of staying home for extended periods of time (months in some states) is a lot for anyone to come to terms with. Being forced to stay at home and out of the public is not something most people are used to or even desire to have to learn how to do. These times are challenging to everyone, both mentally and physically. The resulting feelings of isolation and distance can lead to depression, anxiety, and a host of other emotional challenges. It can also lead to physical challenges as people often find themselves standing in front of the refrigerator when boredom strikes! As with many locations that allow for people to congregate gyms, yoga studios, spas, Zumba classes, and other group fitness options are also not available. This means the risk of weight gain during this time is a very real thing! So, what things can you do to occupy both your body and mind during your individual state’s stay at home order?
Inside your home
Despite the significant challenges and inconvenience that comes with someone telling you that you must stay home (or face punitive results in some cases), there can be benefits to it as well. This could be your chance to catch up on the list of projects or chores you have been putting off or simply never had time to accomplish due to your busy schedule. Here are some options related to your home.
Rearrange your bookshelves
If you are like most people who love books, you likely collect them but don’t always have the opportunity to read them or keep them from collecting dust in the corner of a room. Not only is this time at home a chance to take down a few favorites off the shelves and give them another read through, but it is also a great time to clean up and organize your collection. When the weekend arrives or if you have finished up your telework obligations for the day, take a moment to examine your collection. Pull all of your collected works off the bookcase and clean the shelves of any accumulated dust and dirt. After, use the opportunity to rearrange your collection according to alphabet, genre, or even author. While looking through your personal library, you may also come across a few items you do not plan to read again. You could always set these aside to donate after stay at home orders are lifted.
Clean out your closets
Ah, the closet. The place in the house where stuff gets placed and often forgotten about. Entryway closets become a storage location for outerwear for all weather possibilities and shoes of all shapes and sizes. Coats, hats, and gloves that fit children years ago are still hung in the far corner, taking up space but never to be worn again. Bedroom closets and linen closets are often treated in a similar fashion. This is the perfect time to address the items that do not fit, the things you never plan to wear, that sweatshirt that your great-grandmother gave you that has never seen the light of day and those bedsheets that you just never got around to throwing out even though you no longer own a twin size bed. Cleaning out closets is often very challenging to find the time to do under ordinary circumstances, so this unwilling at home time is the perfect chance to purge. Bag up anything worth donating or prepare smaller bags to be handed off to friends or family members who may be interested. You can also consider selling some of your unwanted items in the Facebook marketplace or E-Bay.
Tackle a deep clean
Many people reserve this process for annual spring cleaning. Well, it is indeed springtime, so now is as good a time as any to tackle the challenging stuff. For example, a full deep cleaning of the oven, baseboards throughout your home, the inside of the refrigerator, the fish tank. All of those things that get super grungy but that you usually just don’t have the time to give more than a spray and wipe cleaning to each week.
Learn to cook something new
When you went to the store a few weeks ago, your parents grabbed a few bags of dried beans because there wasn’t much else on the shelf anyway. Now is a great time to learn all of the wonderful things you can cook with them. It is also a great time to try learning some of those old recipes from mom or grandma’s kitchen: homemade fudge, bread, candy, or even cinnamon buns. You likely have an old recipe book that was handed down to you. Go ahead and give some of those family recipes a try.
Fix the things that need fixing
Remember the door in the basement that squeaks every time someone opens it? How about the missing buttons on your favorite dress shirt? You now have more spare time than usual to address the smaller tasks and chores you have been putting off for months.
Peace of Mind
When we are operating on our “normal” day to day schedules, self-care often falls by the wayside. However, taking the time to do the little things for your self is immensely important for your state of happiness and contentment, especially during times such as these when isolation can so easily lead to teen depression and anxiety. While you have a little extra time in your day as you are without a morning commute, prioritize some of the time for yourself. Take a long bath, try an “at home” facial or pedicure, check out a guided meditation (there are many available online), or even crack open that bottle of wine you bought on vacation last summer. Whatever your choice, be sure the time you take is dedicated to you and you alone.
Rewatch your favorite old television shows
Rewatching a few of your old favorites can be comforting, especially in a world where there is currently not a lot to be comfortable with. Seeing the actors who have brought you happiness over the years can feel something like a security blanket for your soul. Sure, it is a good idea to try and learn a new skill, but its also absolutely ok to watch season 1 (or more) of Charmed for the tenth time as well.
Try a new hobby
Have you always wanted to know how to knit or crochet? How about canning or pickling? Maybe baking or painting? The options are endless when you have a bit more time on your hands than usual. The best part of learning a hobby now that you can use to ward off the isolation doldrums is that your new craft is something you will be able to continue to do even after isolation has ended.
Learn something new
If you have always wanted to try an online course or learn a skill that is intriguing to you, now is the perfect time! There are many online sources for classes in everything, from baking to jewelry making. Many of them are reasonably priced under normal circumstances, but the prices have been further reduced during the pandemic to make them even more accessible to anyone interested. For the most part, most of the courses do not require any unique materials or investment other than your time and interest. If you are looking to learn a new skill or trade, there are also classes for medical coding or computer coding and more that you can try.
Check-in with loved ones and friends
Isolation is challenging for everyone for different reasons. As noted above, if you are generally not an introverted person, being forced to isolate and spend time alone can be very stressful and damaging to your mental health. If you already struggle with mental health issues, these times of isolation can also be particularly challenging, and you may need to reach out for extra support. Although isolation and social distancing mean you cannot physically be with your friends, extended family or social support circles, there are still many different ways to “get together.”
We live in a time where technology has made communication more accessible than it has ever been. With apps and programs such as Facetime, Zoom, Skype, and others, virtual chats can still offer that face to face feeling without putting the health of you and your loved ones at risk. You can also schedule things like Netflix watch parties so you and your friends can “hang out” together without physically being together. This can help you all participate in activities together, even when staying apart. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone during this time. If you do not have access to virtual communication options, reach out via phone. Sometimes hearing a familiar or friendly voice can be the most beneficial part of someone’s day.
For your body
Isolation, quarantine, stay at home orders-however you wish to refer to this time, we are all staying closer to home more now than ever before. The unfortunate part of this is there is a significant reduction in physical activity associated with staying home. People who generally go to the gym aren’t doing so because they are closed. People who go to Yoga or Zumba classes are unable to because they are on hold until social distancing guidelines are relaxed. So, unless you are exercising at home, your physical activity, and thus your physical health, are likely to suffer during this time. Another challenge is refrigerator boredom. People eat when they are bored, and consequently, boredom leads to weight gain. It is vital to stay physically active during these coming weeks, even if it means exercising for only 30 minutes a day.
Get out in nature
Social distancing does not prohibit taking a walk in your neighborhood or a hike (as of yet). If you live in an area where you can get out for a walk and maintain a safe social distance from others, go ahead and get out there. The fresh air and exercise can only benefit you in the long run.
Stretch, Yoga, or Pilates
Although gyms are closed along with yoga or Pilates studios, there are many options available for home exercise routines. Many companies are making their workout programs free during quarantine to help people stay fit and healthy. Other programs are available online via YouTube free of charge. Use the extra time you may have in your morning (or evening) to roll out your yoga mat and stretch your muscles and joints. It is likely if you are working from home, you are sitting in a position that is not necessarily designed to be a desk you sit at for eight hours. This can wreak havoc on your neck, back, and shoulders leading to headaches and other aches and pains. You don’t want your first stop after the stay at home order is lifted to be the chiropractor!
Spending time in isolation can be difficult for almost everyone. Whether you are usually a highly social person or usually happy being at home, there is something different about choosing to stay home versus being told you must stay home. Unfortunately, stay at home orders are not likely to be lifted in most areas any time soon, so finding ways to keep busy and occupy your mind will be very important to maintaining mental health and stability. The above are only a few things you could consider trying to pass the time. Above all, remember that you are not alone in isolation. If you begin to feel depressed or anxious, reach out to friends and family and talk about your concerns. Often just hearing the voice of or seeing the face of (via Facetime of course) that special someone can put your mind at ease.
Struggling with mental health stresses during these trying times? Have your parents contact Hillcrest for a phone consultation and to see how we can help you while you’re practicing social distancing!