I’ve been home, inside my apartment, for the last eleven days. Last Wednesday, when I started showing some symptoms of COVID19, I was told by a doctor to stay in. Only a day later, the Dutch prime minister advised everyone who can do so, to start working from home.
Since then, the square footage of my daily life has snapped from my city, my job one city over, and a roster of daily activities, to the confines of my apartment. My bed, my couch, my kitchen table. And not even my own bed, for the first eight days — to keep my husband Ken from getting sick, I slept in the guest room for my first week at home.
It’s been a surreal and stressful time, and I know I’m far from the only person to be disoriented at the sudden, dramatic change of pace. I’m also very lucky that the things I’m worrying about are fairly small. While I got a lot more sick over the course of last weekend, I’ve been recovering slowly but steadily from home since then. My area of focus has been getting better from what was, for me, a fairly mild case. I know many others are facing much heavier worries: about job security, finances, and their health and that of vulnerable loved ones.
I wish I had words that could give you comfort or offer solutions. But unfortunately, our individual areas of influence and power are, for most of us, quite small. Instead, what I can do is speak from my own experience, as someone who’s been cooped up at home for the last two weeks. I wanted to share some tips and free, online resources for tending to yourself while you’re home.
Take what looks good and leave the rest. And whatever your situation, I am sending you strength and solidarity. ♥
Some Tips for Staying Sane at Home
Create a daily routine similar to before
One thing that’s proved really useful to me in maintaining a sense of daily rhythm, is having a morning routine that’s similar to before I was home. Every morning I get up, I make coffee, and I get dressed as though I’m heading to work at my office. I still do my morning reading over coffee, and (before I was on sick leave) I’d sit at my desk when work started and check my email as though I’d just come into the office.
As a programmer, my job is possible to do remotely; and, as someone without kids, I haven’t had to adjust my daily rhythm around bringing them to school (or schooling them from home). I know that’s not the case for everyone, but I hope you can borrow at least some of the parts of your usual routine to create a new rhythm for yourself, in whatever way you can. Even just a few small steps every morning can help you have a sense of routine in this disorienting time.
Find small areas of control
One of the things I’ve been struggling with being home, is having very little control over this situation. Especially being sick, the best thing I can do for everyone else is stay in. So, my area of control has shrunk dramatically; and, in a stressful time, that can feel frustrating and scary.
It’s helped me to find small things I can control. I made a cleaning checklist, for example, that I separated by day: laundry on Tuesdays, clean the kitchen on Wednesdays, clean the bathroom on Thursdays, et cetera. Planning meals and ordering groceries online (since I can’t go out) has also helped me feel more in control, and last week I redid our monthly budget.
If these sorts of things stress you out, don’t overburden yourself with them now. But if you crave control and are stuck at home, these sorts of tasks may help you feel a little less cooped up.
Create pockets of normalcy in conversation
Right now, it feels as though every conversation I have revolves around the pandemic. Even conversations that don’t have anything to do with the virus (“I love your hair! Are you growing it out?”) often circle back to it (“Not on purpose — I haven’t been able to go to the salon in four weeks from all this”). Especially because checking the news frequently can make us feel more up-to-date on this situation, I often feel like my conversations become a back-and-forth on new numbers, how bad this situation is, and how we can’t believe what’s happening.
There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s good to air our frustrations and fears. At the same time, I think it’s helpful to have conversations that feel normal. Sometimes my friends and I set aside a part of the conversation to be about everything-but. Talk about what you’re reading, your new (home) workout routine, or funny memories you have together. Try to make small parts of your life feel normal, if only for a few minutes; it can help ground the rest of the time we’re spending thinking about this situation.
Get fresh air how you can
This will be limited based on your location and situation. I haven’t been able to leave the house at all because I’m sick; but, I can open my windows or sit on the balcony. Maybe you can go on a short walk around the block, or (if you live near a rural area) a longer walk in the woods or a hike. Please remember to observe social distancing while you’re out (if not for you, then for the sake of others!) — but being outside has really helped my life feel less contained right now.
Find ways to stay active (mentally and physically)
Home workout videos, living room yoga, reading a challenging book, or watching online lectures — do what you can to stay active while you’re at home. This has been hard for me as I’ve been so tired, but doing a little more each day as I’ve been recovering has helped me feel more in control and fulfilled even with these restrictions.
Take stock of what you have (outside of cans of soup)
This has been the most surprising find for me. Shortly before the virus hit our area, completely unrelated to this crisis, my partner and I decided to do a no-spend month. No new books, movie rentals, games, clothes, take out, anything. Spending the next two weeks at home has forced me to find entertainment and activities in things I already had. And it turns out, there’s lots of that. I own several books I intended to read but never did; signed up for online classes I never finished; even own a few Bible studies I never completed. It’s actually been really fulfilling to complete what I can. Try to take stock of the things you may own that you haven’t taken full advantage of. They may give you a sense of accomplishment or gratitude for what you already have available to you.
15+ Free Activities and Resources You Can Access at Home
As a response to the current situation, many companies and organizations have opened access to their resources to the public online. You may have heard of the Metropolitan Opera streaming their catalog of operas for free, for example, or of certain fitness classes offering online access.
I’ve collected all the free resources I could find to share below. I hope you can find something you like for you or your family, and please share this list with anyone who would find it helpful! If you know of a free resource I don’t have listed, please comment below and I’ll consider adding it.
None of these are affiliate links; I make no money off of any of these recommendations or resources! Please enjoy them.
- 60+ Free Fitness Classes from the YMCA
- Fitness from PureBarre On Demand: 60 Days free with code ‘extendedtrial’
- 30 Days of Yoga from YogaWithAdrienne
- Down Dog: Free Until April 1 (and until July for students and teachers)
- Online Books from Scribd: 30 Days Free
- Overdrive free ebooks (see if your library has it)
- Project Gutenberg: Free Classic EBooks
Arts and Culture
- Metropolitan Opera daily opera streams
- Berlin Philharmonic Free Virtual Access
- Virtual Tour of the Sistine Chapel
- Virtual Museum Tours from Google Arts and Culture
- Louvre Online Collections
- Virtual Tour of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum
- San Diego Zoo Free Activities
- New England Aquarium Virtual Visit