Coronavirus Quarantine: 10 Productive Activities to Keep You Busy
The world is facing an unprecedented time in modern life — the coronavirus, or COVID-19, has pushed a big pause button on all of our lives, from school, to work, to everyday habits we take for granted. Many of us are struggling to cope with these restrictions and are feeling lost and very stressed.
While we can’t control the virus itself, other than personal actions of self-distancing and smart hygiene, we can practice a number of coping mechanisms to help us, and our dear ones, get through this pandemic
Health professionals are responding with many online resources, including the Centers for Disease Control, the American Psychological Association, and the National School Counselors Association. Here are a few for all of us to keep in mind to do our best to practice wellness in mind, body, and spirit.
1. Start with Yourself
As they instruct us to do in airplanes, in case of an emergency, put on your own oxygen mask first. Self-care is not selfish; it is the most loving action you can take because it provides you with the necessary foundation to help others. If you’re working remotely, take time in the morning to eat a good breakfast, shower, get out of your PJs, and set up your workspace with the best ergonomics in mind. Think about starting a journal to track your emotions on a daily basis, which can help foster a sense of self-awareness and mindfulness.
2. Breathe Deep
Did you know that steady, deep breathing can instantly calm your nervous system? As the COVID-19 situation is rapidly (and constantly) changes, taking deep, cleansing breaths can help you stay calm in the midst of uncertainty. There is a multitude of meditations available online or on your smartphone that can guide you toward a calmer state of mind. Even five minutes a day can make all the difference in how you feel.
3. Laugh Out Loud
Laughter really is the best medicine, releasing endorphins and connecting us. Create a list of your favorite laugh out loud movies, podcasts, books, and shows and share it with friends. Make an intention to start and end the day with a giggle and begin to notice how laughter can be one of our best ways to handle highly stressful situations. Think about trying “laughter yoga,” which brings the benefits of yoga together with the deep breathing that accompanies laughter; the combination is shown to lower stress hormones and improve mental health.
4. Eat Well
While food supplies might come and go, on your next trip to the grocery store, resist the junk food and hoarding urge and instead reach for fresh fruits, veggies, and unprocessed foods. With COVID-19 hitting right when many farmers’ markets are opening up, many are looking to provide their local produce in creative ways, from curbside pick up to at-home delivery. Cooking can be a wonderful stress relief; use your social distance time to learn how to prepare something new, such as new cuisine, or food preparation ideas such as dehydrating those fresh fruits and veggies.
5. Get Some Sleep
One of the most important things you can do for your well being is to commit to getting enough sleep. This is especially critical when stress levels are high, as they are right now. Experts agree that sleep is one of the most effective ways of boosting your immune system. Of course, stress can also make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Tap into the many online resources available to help you fall and stay asleep, from making your bedroom a digital-free zone, to sleep meditations, ambient sounds, tonics, and more.
6. Stay Connected
In this time of social distancing, loneliness and separation anxiety are very real issues for people of all ages. While being in the same room with your friends and extended family is not an option right now, the many technology tools such as FaceTime to Google Hangouts do make it easier to connect every day with those in your inner and outer circle.
If you’re working remotely and are part of a team, make sure to schedule some daily face-to-face time and check in on how everyone is doing. Start a neighborhood phone tree to keep in touch and to help each other out, or launch an online creative project! Schedule virtual playdates for everyone in your house, from your kids to you! It doesn’t matter how you stay connected, just that you stay connected.
7. Exercise and Supplements
Exercise facilities in many states have been forced to temporarily shut down, but that doesn’t mean you’re destined to turn into a couch potato! From walking the dogs to riding your bike, or hitting the trails, exercising outdoors will give you a very necessary increase of vitamin D, especially as spring is just around the corner. Gaia's catalog of online yoga and fitness has something for everyone and can be an immune and mood booster for the entire household.
8. Get Curious
One way to offset the boredom factor that is a part of being cooped up is to commit to learning something new. If you always wanted to become bilingual or learn new job skills, follow your curiosity and try something you’d never had time to attempt before. With college campuses and school districts are transitioning to online learning and students at home, think about your own learning curve. Beyond satisfying your thirst for learning, continued education helps to, an important component of managing stress.
9. Turn Off the Noise
When confronted with an unknown threat, it is a common response to want to be on top of the news. Information can be a good thing, but be mindful it doesn’t turn into information overload, which can cause stress, anxiety, appetite loss, and sleep interruption. Monitor how much and what kind of information you are digesting and don’t be afraid to shut off the noise for a day or so, or limit to a certain time span each day.
The 24-hour news cycle can make it difficult to focus on other things such as family, work, exercise, or other healthier coping mechanisms.
10. Find Joy
When our world is turned upside down, finding everyday joy is more important than ever. Post that adorable photo of your dog, grandbaby, or gerbil. Take note of the spring flowers starting to push through the cold ground. Make eye contact (from a safe distance) with someone and remember to smile. Instead of sharing the latest statistics, this can be a time to practice a new way of sharing joy with the intention of easing our shared and individual stress. Think of the Italian neighbors who joined together in song and see how you can spark joy in yourself and others.
We are a resilient species, and with the heroic efforts of our medical community and a global commitment to “flattening the curve,” we can trust that COVID-19 will eventually go away. As difficult as this time is, can we ask ourselves this question — when this is over, what lessons will we have learned? Hopefully, we will have learned to take personal and community responsibility, practice mindful self-care and care of others, and most importantly, never forget how precious our world and all the life that inhabits it is.
As long as you’re practicing self-care, toss in a healthy dose of kindness your way and to others. We may not be able to be together in person during this challenging time, but with the above recommendations, we can be there for each other in spirit. Inspired by this list to create your own? Make sure to share it with your community and remember, a little loving kindness goes a very long way.
About the Author:
Lisa Trank began writing after many years as a performing artist – an actress and singer – and is happy to bring those years of crafting characters and storytelling into her writing life. In addition to Gaia, her work has been published in the Saturday Evening Post, University of Denver Journal, Salon, Tablet, Kveller, MindBodyGreen, and in a number of anthologies. Lisa is also an author marketing and platform building consultant. Her clients have been featured in “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” PBS Newshour, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Colorado Matters, Common Ground, and more. To learn more, visit www.lisatrank.com.