COVID-19, or the Coronavirus, has rapidly and aggressively impacted day-to-day life for everyone in this country, and many countries across the globe. COVID-19 poses a very serious threat to the health and well-being of our populations, and therefore precautions and restrictions have been put in place to slow the spread of the virus.
Businesses and schools are closing or reverting to work-from-home. Sporting events, concerts, conferences and weddings have been canceled. In several states, the gyms, bars, movie theatres, breweries, shops and restaurants have been forced to close their doors until future notice.
The government is now mandating restricted travel and social distancing— prohibiting crowds and recreational gatherings. Some states and cities have instituted curfews, and entire states (including the one I live in) have set “Stay at Home” policies meaning that people aren’t to leave their homes for any non-essential reasons. New Jersey is even threatening fines for violation…and jail time.
Basically, in order to protect one another and get the spread of this virus under control, (and also not go to jail) we need to stay in our homes for the near to distant future. With each passing day, that becomes less of a recommendation and more of a mandate for most states in this country, only further demonstrating the severity of the crisis the world is now encountering.
Firstly, I want to extend my deepest sympathies to everyone being impacted by this illness; to those who are sick and to those whose loved ones are sick. And express my deepest gratitude to those brave warriors in the healthcare field, fighting on the front-lines every day for our health and safety.
Secondly, I want to outstretch my virtual, (heavily-washed) hands into the universe and hug anyone who is hurting or painstakingly anxious from this situation. These are very triggering times for individuals with mental illness, and those who have experienced trauma and loss. Restrictions can feel suffocating and terrifying. Isolation can provoke hopelessness and despair. Health-threats and loss of human life can unearth the most painful of memories.
Please know that I see you. You aren’t alone. I feel you. I feel for you. And I’m here.
Below is my personal email address. I am able to respond to your messages faster than usual during this time, so please, if you need someone to talk to, send me a note. –> firstname.lastname@example.org
The best thing we can do in times of darkness is spread light through our compassion and respect for one another. We can still be there for each other, even if we can’t be there in person. We are strong. We are brave. We are resilient. This too shall pass.
While this time is obviously very disconcerting and disruptive, I believe in seeing the opportunity in everything that happens to us in this life–even what is scary and difficult.
And trust me, these next few months will be difficult in many ways.
For those of you who know me personally, you know that social isolation is pretty much my worst nightmare. I love human interaction. I hug the guys at my parking garage. I talk to strangers on the subway. I sing to the coffee cart man in front of my job. I beam with joy the second I walk into my office and see my colleagues’ faces pop up from their computers. I know bartenders, waiters, coffee shop baristas and cashiers by name everywhere I go.
Dancing and chatting away at a social event in red lipstick and a new dress is my absolute element. I’m constantly traveling and meeting new people for work and for pleasure. And I absolutely ADORE spending time with my friends and family; laughing, eating, playing games and enjoying each other’s company.
I’m a hugger. A lover. A traveler. A sharer. An unadulterated extrovert.
But, I am all of those things because of how much I cherish humans. So, if this time away from normal life means protecting those humans; everyone from those jovial parking garage guys to my decaf-chugging, history-channel-lovin’ Pap back home, then social isolation isn’t so bad. Even for me.
And this can be a productive experience.
Instead of spending this quarantine locked inside watching Netflix, eating canned beans and harboring intense feelings of fear clicking through news coverage; maybe we can instead choose to spend the time productively.
UNLESS you’re actually ill. If you’re sick, rest. Isolate. Seek proper medical care if needed. Get better.
But if you’re not sick, I’ve worked on a full list of ideas for spending this time safely and productively, based off of the goals I started making for myself when my company told us to get the heck outta dodge— dodge being New York City in all of its glorious contamination.
Before I do, I want to remind you of a few golden rules for handling this Coronavirus experience with grace and humanity.
1. Be kind to your fellow humans.
- Be considerate and mindful of social distancing, but if you do have to encounter others, be kind. Don’t treat your neighbors like Typhoid Mary for sneezing. Don’t profile people from the foreign nations most affected by the virus. Don’t demonstrate prejudice in any way.
- Try not to point fingers. Few of us could have anticipated the level of severity we have reached with this virus. Now is not the time for “I told you so.” It’s the time for, “I am here for you now.”
- Resist the urge to ostracize or call-out some of the first people you know who test positive for this virus at your work or in your personal life.
- Remember, this is not a witch hunt. We are all trying to stay safe for one another. It’s no one’s fault if they get sick. Don’t let fear make you behave in a way you aren’t proud of.
2. Be conscious of your fellow humans.
- Stay home. Follow the rules. Wash your hands. Avoid unnecessary physical contact. Be informed of the necessary updates.
- Though you may not be high-risk for serious complications due to COVID-19, other people you encounter directly or indirectly could be.
- Think of your Pap. Of your great Aunt Suzie. Of your grade school teacher, Mrs. Pines. Of everyone you know going through cancer treatment. Of your pregnant cousin or newborn niece. These people are the ones we are protecting.
- Be generous to those impacted economically by these restrictions. Local businesses and restaurants are really hurting. If you’re comfortable purchasing a gift card to use at a further date, please do so. If you feel safe ordering out, then open up the apps. Please don’t forget the livelihood of those in the service industry or anyone whose income has been compromised during this turn.
3. Stay calm and be brave, for your fellow humans.
- Fear is a natural emotion, but only to a certain extent. Panic makes everything worse, and it’s contagious.
- Be courageous for those around you. You never know who looks to you. Children, friends, colleagues, family; are all taking conscious and unconscious cues from your behavior.
- Let your words and actions lead us through a difficult time with grace.
Now, the ultimate list of recommendations and ideas for making the most of your time spent in social isolation.
The Ultimate Quarantine Bucket List:
1. Catch up on your mystery novels.
I have even made you a list of delicious, page-turning thrillers that will captivate the hell of you.
- The Woman in the Window
- The Silent Patient
- Then She Was Gone
- All the Missing Girls
- The Dancing Girls
- The Night Olivia Fell
I have been parading around my house like a librarian picking out books from my collection for my roommates, and (I think) they’re loving it.
A lesson I learned as a young girl: When times are tough, turn to the books. Always turn to the books.
For a full list of some of my favorite books, you can check out our Book Recommendations board on Pinterest below.
2. Go for a walk or hike. (If you can)
Gyms and fitness classes aren’t the only way you can get your blood flowing. Exercise is all around us. Go outside. Take a nice long walk over your work-from-home lunch break. Check out the local hiking trails. Even if your state is under the “Stay at Home” policy, this is still permitted.
If you’re like me and live in a somewhat rural area, this a perfect activity for getting your daily exercise while still keeping your social distance.
My roommate and I are working on a list of trails in the nearby area to go check out during this time. It helps to pass the time, stay healthy and give you things to look forward to.
You can use this link to locate hiking trails near you: https://www.traillink.com/activity/hiking-trails/
3. Facetime sessions and Houseparty (the app) dates with your friends and family.
My friends, family and I just downloaded Houseparty and I 100% recommend it during this quarantine. It’s available on iOS but also Android devices and within desktop browsers, so everyone in your life can be included in the fun. It also allows up to eight people to join at any time.
Read more about Houseparty here: https://houseparty.com/
AND you can play games with each other in real-time while you videochat. I just spent the entire evening playing Heads Up, Pictionary, Apples to Apples and Trivia with my sister, mom and two of my best friends. How cool is that?!
This is how I have had all my happy hours, catch-up sessions and conversations with the vast majority of my family and friends for weeks now, virtually.
They live in another state, and I live here. I miss them, but this is the situation we are in. I am sure you have loved ones you miss too, call them. Facetime them. Text them.
Trust me, they will answer. (They can’t go anywhere either)
Keep these people close to your heart. This time can get really isolating and lonely, but we are BEYOND blessed by the fortunate access to technology. The little rectangle in your palm can bridge divides of distance that our parents and grandparents would have only dreamed of if they were experiencing this crisis in the past.
4. Have a classic movie marathon.
^^MY GOD, GRACE KELLY WHAT A FREAKING VISION. ^^
A little known fact about me personally, but I’ve actually seen a super dorky number of classic movies. I love them. An Alfred Hitchcock film studies course got me hooked, and there was no turning back. My parents are addicted now too, and they even do Classic Movie Night every Sunday evening together. How cute is that?
This is a great time to sit down and bear witness to the magic of classic cinema. I have a list of my favorites below, and you can find pretty much all of them on Amazon Prime video.
Here is also a full list: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/top/bestofrt/top_100_classics_movies/
5. Spend time reconnecting with your partner and/or direct family unit.
Life is hectic. We are ALL flying around a million miles a minute, from one engagement to the next. Work to parties to errands. Kid’s soccer games, your friend’s birthday party, your work trip to Boston. It never ends.
Well right now, for better or for worse, some of those things have been taken out of the equation. You actually DO have the time and space to sit down and share quality moments with the loved ones in your home. So remember to take advantage of that, and cherish it.
Have a game night. Build a pillow fort. Play in the front yard. Do arts and crafts. Try a new recipe. Read together. Spend a little *extra special* time with your partner while your worlds are standing still for a moment.
If there’s anything we can learn from times like these, it’s how limited and fragile our time really is with the people we love; how quickly it can be taken away from us at a moment’s notice. Remember that, and use this time to live that gratitude out loud within your household.
6. Practice / learn an instrument.
Learning to play an instrument is such a humbling, challenging experience. It trains and sharpens your brain in a way few other activities can. It gives you a forever form of expression. And it takes a lot of freaking time, something we all have plenty of, couped up in our houses.
I actually got a ukelele at the start of the quarantine. Ordered it right off Amazon and have been strumming away learning the chords. I’ve been a guitar player for years and always wanted to take some time to learn the ole uke as well. Social isolation sounded like the perfect opportunity to do so.
Check out instruments on Amazon here:
7. Have your own ‘spa days’ at home.
Now is the best time to focus on self-care and relaxation amidst a lot of fear and uncertainty. Since we can’t go to spas or salons during this time, you will have to get creative and create the spat at home. Do a face mask. Paint your nails. Take a nice bath. Take care of yourself.
I recommend a facial steamer like the one below. My friends and I all got on board with these a few weeks ago and we love them. It’s great for skin care, but also if you are feeling under the weather.
Amazon Link: Facial Steamer and Extraction Tools
Here are also a few of my favorite facemasks to order and try out on your spa days:
8. If you’re a faith-driven individual, hold tight to the beliefs and practices that ground you. Tune into church online.
The cancellation of church services and all religious activities can be very disheartening if this practice is a big part of your daily life. I know personally, I find so much comfort, solace and community in going to church on Sundays.
That said, churches and religious groups all over the country are finding creative ways to stick together during this time. My church has been holding several live services online, Facebook prayer sessions and more to keep people connected while we can’t physically be in the same building. These options may be available for you too at your church!
Of course, it isn’t the same as being there, but now is the time to be flexible. It’s also an opportunity to focus on your personal practice. Cling to hope. Study your scriptures. Pray to the God you pray to. Believe in the promises of the future, and in our power to overcome these times with grace and love.
9. Try at-home workouts
The gyms are closed, folks.
We have to get creative with exercise. It’s a productive way to spend your time, and it’s good for both your physical and mental health to release those ole endorphins.
My roommates and I have turned our garage into a makeshift gym with free-weights, string lights, mats, and very loud music. I’ve done countdown workouts while watching a movie. My one roommate writes the Crossfit workouts she gets from her gym down on sheets of paper and tapes them to the wall for us to try. Keep tabs on your own gym as well if you’re a member, they may also be sending out workouts in the coming weeks.
Below is our ever-curated board of at-home workouts from the Her Track Pinterest page.
10. Tap into your creative side with a craft or new project.
I know this might feel cheesy or unnatural to you, but it’s a really therapeutic and fun way to spend your time.
I also want to be clear that this isn’t empty advice because I 100% ordered some new paints on Amazon AND a bunch of thread to make bracelets with my roommates. It’s nice to have something artistic and novel to work on while you’re feeling creatively (and physically) boxed in.
11. Experiment with new recipes.
Cooking and baking are inclusive, mutually beneficial activities for everyone in your household.
My biggest excuse for not being the world’s most *advanced* gal in the kitchen is that I don’t have the time. “I’m never home.”
Well, guess who is home now?!
All of us. Might as well try out a few new and fun recipes with your co-inhabitants.
Below is our Pinterest board for new Recipes, and we will be updating it constantly with new ideas during this time. We will all be chefs by the time we get out of this.
This is the best time to write.
Do you love poetry but never felt like you had the time to sit down and explore it for yourself? Now you do have the time.
Have you been pushing off that new book idea, just waiting for the right opportunity to plot it out? Here it is.
My best writing always comes right after I’ve been caught up in my own thoughts. It feels like a physical pressure, a fullness, pushing at the walls of my brain, begging to be set free. So when I finally do sit down in the silence, it all rushes out like a dam breaking.
That’s what this break from life can be, an opportunity to take a mental sledgehammer into your own dam, let the concrete crumble and the words flow out of you. It a time of quiet. Of confusion. Of complete and utter issuance. This is when truly expression is achieved.
This is when exquisite, vulnerable and profoundly human works of art are created.
Tell your story. And if you want to tell it here with Her Track, fill out this form and we will be in touch.
13. Use yoga to unwind and reconnect.
Yoga is a fabulous in-home activity for stress relief, strength-building and mindfulness. It’s also very easy to do without additional equipment, and there are thousands of yoga classes accessible online for free.
Core Power Yoga is giving away free sessions during the quarantine: https://www.corepoweryogaondemand.com/keep-up-your-practice
Here is also a full list from Pop Sugar on free Yoga providers during the COVID-19 crisis: https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/free-online-yoga-videos-during-coronavirus-outbreak-47323318
14. Tune into Broadway musicals.
Broadway closed in an effort to fight the spread of the Coronavirus, and a small part of every theatre kid’s soul died on that day.
JK. But also not really.
The theatre brings us joy and humanity in times we need it most, and now is one of those times. But fear not, we still have the trusty ole internet.
BroadwayHD has a library of about 300 productions now live for your viewing pleasure. They now give you a seven-day free trial, so you can stream as many shows, plays, and ballets as you want upfront. It might be time to introduce your family to some of your favorite show tunes.
You BEST believe I will be doing just that to my poor roommates. It’s finally my shot.
“I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot.”
Get it? Hamilton? No?
15. Send letters.
I know, what a PROPOSTOUS suggestion.
But honestly, going to get the mail is one of the few outdoor excursions I am permitted to do these days. I love sending and receiving letters. They’re so personal and special to me. I’ve got three boxes of cards and stationery on my desk that were just WAITING for this quarantine for their time to shine.
Maybe you do too?
16. Spring clean the bejesus out of your house.
Everything you’ve been putting off around the house doesn’t have to exist at the bottom of the to-do list now. This is the perfect time to focus on sanitation and cleanliness; spring cleaning to the extreme.
I am talking dusting, organizing, scrubbing–the WORKS.
We have a whole article on Spring Cleaning below:
17. Maintain focus on your mental health.
As I mentioned at the start of this guide, I recognize that this experience can be triggering and rehabilitating for mental health.
I want to stress how important it is at this time to check in with yourself, and take care of your health. If you’re already seeing a therapist and they’re offering remote sessions, try to take advantage of that. Keep the routine you were on pace with before all of this happened.
If you don’t have a therapist yet, but you’re suffering, hurting, spiraling or painstakingly anxious right now, please don’t feel like you have no options in this crisis. You still do.
There are a number of highly-acclaimed online and app-based counseling services that a lot of people swear by. Talkspace and Betterhelp are two organizations that I’ve had personal friends actually recommend.
Keep your head and your heart healthy. Give yourself grace.
18. Reflect. Remember to be grateful.
We are blessed beyond measure that during a global pandemic we have the gift of sitting in our living rooms, cozied up in our PJs next to our loved ones playing board games. We are safe. We are loved. We are fed. We are ok.
And if you are someone who is able to continue earning your full income by working fully remote, that also is a truly remarkable blessing. It’s an opportunity that NO one would have had not too many years ago and a luxury that many people still do not have today during this crisis.
I too find myself losing perspective, complaining, or feeling very sad and frustrated after a few weeks of this. I miss my family and friends. I miss my colleagues and my job. I miss every event and trip on the calendar I now have had to draw an ex through. I miss the smell of my favorite restaurants and coffee shops. I miss the smiling faces I’d say good morning to.
I miss the everyday life I took for granted.
But I still have it, my life. And many do not.
Humans are sick, and they’re dying. People are saying goodbye to their husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, friends and colleagues forever. People in the healthcare field are losing their lives to protect us. People are having their hearts broken every day.
I recently read a thread on Twitter where a young Chinese man talked about his father passing away in quarantine from COVID-19. His greatest regret and deepest sadness is not being able to say goodbye to his dad.
This is unbelievably heartbreaking.
Just as it is for all of the families not being able to hold funerals to honor their loved ones. People are being taken, and we can’t even say goodbye.
The pain is tangible right now, littered in the air around us like a thick fog. Loss, fear and grief are everywhere. It’s heavy, but we need to breathe it in. We need to understand the severity of the situation at hand and paint that awareness into our hearts.
Focus on gratitude. Remind yourself of perspective. Teach your children and neighbors to do the same. Lead by example. Be patient and kind.
We will see through this time. We are strong. The courageous, resilient spirit of humanity is not one that can be easily defeated.
So keep your head up and your heart open, this too shall pass.