COVID-19 & coming to peace with being at home

I completed two weeks of self quarantine… just in time for 15 90+ more days of shelter in place. Here’s what I’m learning about #stayingin

Follow along throughout my journey on Instagram 

Before you start, if you can:

Ask yourself:

  • Where do I want to be?
  • Who do I want to be with?

Get there, with them, if you can.

Now, set a schedule. And stick to it.

Mine looks like this:

wake up words

Words are important.

Begin each day by reading a poem, quote or phrase. Find a source which will help set the mood up to be tranquil or calming, deep or moving, a little optimism goes a long way. I’ll share some of my favorites on Instagram 

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first meal + focus

Don’t skip breakfast. Start with some fruit and coffee or tea, I love toast with PB or avocado and black pepper or honey and olive oil. While you sip your warm beverage of choice, consider a focus for the day – it can be as simple as being (cyber) social or as big as thanking/embracing your body – let the word(s) come to you which need(s) to and write it down somewhere to keep in the back of your mind throughout today.

morning meditation

Start with three breaths. Breathe in through your nose. Breathe out through your nose. Feel the cool air come in, the warmer air flow out. Feel the cool air come in, the warmer air flow out. Notice the pause between breaths. Let your face relax, let your shoulders relax. Feel the movement of your stomach and chest, out and in, with each breath. Notice, and your breath naturally slows down. Breathe, and everything changes.

For more techniques follow @graceintheworld on Instagram 

yoga every day

Start simple and please pay attention to your body – it often tells you when something is not quite right – I love how simple postures are broken down by Yoga to the People (huge fan of their studios/ethos) and the diversity of levels offered by Yoga with Adriene is excellent, well liked by many fellow yoga practitioners.

I will also provide a pose each day which will fit with each day’s focus, words, work. etc. You know where to get my 14-day guide, right? (email me!)

Most of the time I prefer to practice in the first half of the day but sometimes this feels like it needs to wait until later or be broken into two shorter periods – a few postures here and there – find what works for you and be flexible (no pun intended) with your needs as they will surely vary day-to-day.

A.M. creativity

Creativity demands an active brain and since brain activity peaks in the late morning, best to put all of that good energy into something you’re passionate about towards the front end of each day. I have all kinds of ideas for you: vision boards, creative cooking and more.. here’s a sneak preview of my vision board (for my next 14 days):

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big midday meal #eatingin

Maybe it isn’t so easy to find what you usually buy at the supermarket. Maybe you’re needing to rely on what’s brought to you by a friend or roommate during this time. I wholeheartedly encourage you to embrace this challenge.

If shopping trips are a possibility, think outside of your usual routes and routines – is there a little local market hidden behind the supermarkets most frequent? Does the butcher’s shop offer fresh eggs even when bigger shops are sold out? Innovate, people! Make an adventure of this thing. Some small business owners are innovating as well – a flower shop may offer fresh farm produce or a coffee shop might be your best bet bodega for fresh milk and bread. 

Treat yourself to delivery once in a while, focusing on smaller businesses during peak hours . Or offer a zero interest loan to your favorite local spots via gift card purchase. Beauty salons, boutiques and your brunch go-to’s need your love now. See if a local bookshop is offering a delivery option, support a friend who is struggling by sending them something. Do what you can, intentionally.

So they have one pomegranate and one avocado left in the produce aisle – ever considered topping guacamole with pom seeds? (I did this and it’s delicious!) I dare you to try new things. I encourage you to move slowly and mindfully through the supermarket, taking nutritious foods that many impulsive buyers may have overlooked. Most of you know how much of a foodie I’d like to be and I’d be lying if I didn’t say cooking was one of the most precious activities to mark my two weeks. If cooking is new for you or doesn’t feel so exciting, order delivery! It’s a great time to support local businesses in this way. Treat yourself to nourishing, satisfying meals. (bonus: take your multivitamin to cover any gaps in your nutrition, so important especially during times like these)

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siesta

As a Spanish resident, I must touch on this precious tradition.

I have this idea that people used to take a lot more naps. Before industrialization and modern day demands, before commutes and office spaces and unlimited information at our finger tips, before the coolness of busyness took over our brains and efficiency ruled everything, there was a lot more down time built into the days. I think we’re missing that space between happenings. Maybe you’ll find some of this reappearing during your extended time at home. I love a tiny nap (never more than 30-40 minutes) as a way to reset midday.

work/study/play

One of the first big at home projects I completed was a closet clean out. I do these regularly and clearing out for a fresher space felt like a first priority. I’ll outline how I go about this @graceintheworld on Instagram and/or in my complete 14-day guide email.

Have remote work to do? Want to learn something or study something? Feeling restless and needing to play? Around mid-to-late-afternoon I find myself somewhere between these things. On a good day I can channel the energy into studying Spanish or researching future adventures. For some intellectual stimulation TED talks or a podcast can fit nicely.

page-01-7Sometimes what I need is a blast of physical movement midday: 10 burpees or a good dance to a song played way too loud. I do not have a normal workload to do from home but if you do this is the time to do that. Have a project you’ve been meaning to start/work on (for me that’s this blog topic), give it a shot! However, artist Timothy Goodman says it nicely:

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evaluate/reset

I like to have an afternoon tea. Take a moment around 4P.M. to both reflect on what you’ve achieved and notice how you’re doing emotionally. Care to keep working? Or do you really need to be doing something else right now?

If you can, GO OUTSIDE. Do you have a yard? A balcony? Can you put on gloves and a face mask and walk once around the block? Around the outside of your house? How about a rural getaway or a walk up and down the driveway?

Adding just a few minutes of fresh air or outdoor footsteps in the safest way possible changes everything. In some cases this won’t be possible but if you have the chance and it’s been deemed safe to do so don’t miss this priceless opportunity. For me, grocery store runs become as exciting as they used to be in childhood.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” –Proust

Alternatively, fresh air and sunlight when and where you can get it. Move your workspace under the window or wake up a bit earlier to take in the days’ first rays. Nap like a cat on the sofa in the sun. Take it all in (and maybe take some vitamin D?)

connect

“What did you struggle with today and what gave you hope?”

Ask your friends, ask your mom. Call your grandmother and all of those people you always mean to, but somehow never do. This is an amazing time to reconnect with anyone you’ve lost touch with. Set a time to make a phone call, maybe every afternoon before dinner? We are social creatures and isolation is deeply uncomfortable. The power of a responsive voice, of someone listening to your voice or a face on live video chat, you need that. Call somebody every day. Don’t wait for them to call you.

Houseparty app is a fun way to play games with friends and their friends. Why not make new friends from the comfort of your own sofa?

snack

You may be moving differently than you normally do. I usually walk five miles a day and attend yoga or Pilates weekday evenings. Now I’m lucky to get in a half mile and 20-30 minutes of yoga daily. It’s too easy to get concerned about how my body might be changing. Food + control can be a slippery slope. Actress/activist Jameela Jamil spoke eloquently to this, she said,

“I know now might be an unsettling moment as you may be eating different foods, maybe more food, and moving around less, and generally just feeling out of control in life. Know that it’s all going to be ok and that by doing what you are doing you are potentially SAVING lives. Try if you can to look at food as a miracle and a friend, and thank your body for keeping you safe and well in this testing moment. And also thank you for staying in and doing what is best fo the world around you. Nothing matters right now more than ending this pandemic. I see you I am with you. I love you. Unfollow anyone who is making you feel bad about the way you look and focus on the things and people you love in this moment.”

Light tapas-style dinners feel good to me but please do what’s right for you.

relax

Yes, you should stay somewhat informed and no,  it’s not easy to talk about anything besides COVID-19, but please consider allocating some time (especially at the end of the day) to get away from all of that worry and fear and allow your body and mind to relax. If meditation works well for you, great! Do more of that. If escaping into reading or watching a sitcom or realty show suits your style/mood today, now is your moment. Allow yourself to unwind, to check out, to journey into your own secret refuge, whatever that may be. But set a time limit. Too much of these things can turn on us – moderation is key.

Note: on the days when I felt the stress was altogether too much, I silenced all text/call notifications and temporarily removed social media apps and news updates from my phone. I’m now considering media-free Sundays going forward (beyond this virus as well). We all need a break from the frenzy!

Focusing on smells can be a great relaxation trick. Pull out your yummiest smelling lotions and potions and candles – now is the time to surround yourself with the best scents.

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take care

It’s too easy to spend the whole day in your PJs with an unwashed face and messy hair. That might slide on an actual sick day or two but this is longer term and I realized early on that simply putting on a fresh outfit and keeping up with basic grooming (I’m not telling you to wear makeup or shoes unless you want to) seriously improved my mood. Maybe it’s the rhythm of dressing up in something new for each day, but I think keeping a routine provides a reassuring sense of normalcy.

If you, like me, find a little more time that usual in your evenings, level up with a little home spa treatment every few days:

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and don’t tell me you don’t have time to floss your teeth before bed right now.

sleep well

Dedicating a room to sleep is ideal. Many of us may live in multi-purpose spaces where this is next to impossible. I ask you to consider your surroundings – are they hospitable to rest and relaxation? Keep things tidy and focus on a neutral or soothing color pallet (think greens and blues) – update your home decor to maximize comfort – and practice simple nighty routines. I end each day with a cup of herbal tea.

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Times of struggle unearth our deepest truths and the incredible power of our hope reveals itself in human innovation, resilience. To have a roof over our heads and food to eat is the simplest, most precious gift. To be with or communicate with those we love is equally so. Now more than ever I am reminded how important this base is. I knew it but had let myself forget it. I’m also remembering that, above all else, my body is my home. It is a time for boundless care. Maybe this call to turn inwards is the silver lining.

Go in and in by Danna Faulds

Valuable resources relating to this post:

Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health – LINK

Simple Activities for Children and Adolescents – LINK

Psychological Effects of Quarantine – LINK

Identifying and coping with unhealthy thoughts – LINK

Get support regarding your anxiety or stress by speaking to a trained counselor at SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or by texting TalkWithUS 66746

Behind the blog:

It took me a long time to gain the courage to post this statement. This is a glimpse into how I was feeling a month ago, it’s a testament to the burden of stigma which is affecting too many and my offering to those experiencing something similar or worse. I ask you to please read not only my words, but the article attached to them as well since it’s with great care and caution that I reveal this personal hardship to you. In fact, this is hardly personal, it’s the whole world’s, and I insist that we face the countless challenges that Covid-19 confronts us with patiently, with sympathy and with an abundance of faith in humanity.

“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.” -Brene Brown

In February I visited Northern Italy for a wonderful ski trip. Eighteen days after flying back home from Milan I developed a cough. By this time Italy had declared a nationwide emergency and since I work at a school I knew it was incredibly important to stay home (which requires self reporting) immediately to avoid any possibility of spreading the virus should I be a carrier. That decision came with tough consequences. I’ve been in quarantine at home for nine days now. I am confined to one room and bathroom and must keep two meters from my roommates and use a variety of precautions in the kitchen including sanitary supplies which the Spanish government supplied when a nurse came to my house to test me by jamming swabs up my nose and down my throat a couple of days ago. I told some close friends and family as well as my roommates and colleagues about the situation initially since they may be directly affected and I desperately needed some support. Reactions vary. Most are immediately either dismissive or attempt to lighten the circumstance with comedy. Usually after some time the fear and avoidance begins. I understand. I, too, have the instinct to avoid the uncomfortable. I also have the instinct to want to join other humans and I’m fighting this every day in order to respect the quarantine and public safety. I may in fact be dangerous and this is heart wrenching. I am doing my very best to be cautious and be truthful but I am suffering. I haven’t felt physically sick anymore for seven of these nine days (it was a simple two day cough and sore throat, never a fever) but I can’t shake this sick person shame. I don’t get to see what’s going on out there. I hear a lot of fear and I feel so sorry if I’m accidentally/unknowingly part of the problem. As I await a test result everyone asks me for an update. I have nothing. I wait by my phone for hours and shake with anxiety every time it rings. In the meantime I must act as if I am infected as a precaution and it’s scary, alienating. I am grateful for my mother, brother, and boyfriend for continuing to check in via phone but to go so long without being allowed human contact or proximity is crushing. Sharing this is terrifying. I fear mayhem. I fear a blowback which could threaten my safety. I fear eternal isolation. But I want anyone else who might be weighing reporting or anyone else in this awful waiting game, anyone confirmed infected, to know that I know how they’re feeling. It’s not our fault, we’re not unclean, and if I can beg anyone reading this to be brave and do the right thing, to be humane and treat others with respect knowing you’re just as vulnerable, to reevaluate how being dismissive or overly paranoid is seriously impacting people and hurting people, these actions mean everything right now. Phone calls help, but normal conversations only please—I don’t feel sick, I don’t need to rest, I just need to be treated like an equal human being. The world is anything but normal, believe me when I say I know that, but wow do I need a small feeling of normalcy. I’ve used less than half of a roll of toilet paper and no bottled water. I’ve needed yoga. I’ve needed to get offline. I’ve needed a normal weekly amount of healthy groceries delivered by a friend and desperately prayed for patience and autonomy. Please stay calm as you participate in a tremendous act of human cooperation. This could be our amazing opportunity to simplify, to innovate and improvise.. if we choose to go about it that way.. if I’m lucky enough to test negative then my next wish is freedom to choose—where do I want to be and who do I want to be with? —if you’re lucky enough to have those choices right now please take them seriously.

These days I sit comfortably at home. I am healthy and calm and where I need to be with who I need to be with. I too fall into boredom then bounce back into worry or self-care or productivity. It’s rocky, then devastating, then peacefully grounding, uncomfortably comfortable. When I look back on my own words, written in such a state of intense fear and despair, it is gratitude that overwhelms me. We’re all facing the fortune which is good health and the fragility which is life. I hope that we can grow kinder to one another through this understanding. Humans are strange and amazing beings, groups of humans can collaborate to overcome tremendous odds only if they do not fall into the belly of their own fear. If you are suffering or have suffered from Covid-19 and need a safe person to talk to I am here with you, your secret is safe with me. If you’ve realized that you treated someone who was/is/could be sick in a way which was rooted in fear, thank you for realizing that, I hope you’ll take the moment to heart and try to recognize and overcome stigmas whenever, with whomever, they appear next (this goes way beyond Covid-19). Seek and share only sound information, education deconstructs stigma. A patient who is fully recovered from Covid-19 is no longer infectious and should not be treated differently. Be soft with those who are or were suffering. I was in a pretty dark place a month ago, but today I’m ok. I trust us. We will do our best, our best is enough. We will stay home, take care, and give thanks.

Running a blog takes a lot of time, money and effort. Become a Grace in the World patron by buying me a coffee or sponsoring a post! Click this link to donate to my travel fund. Your support is highly appreciated.

Published by Grace in the World

I hope that the experiences I record here could be of some use to those looking to travel and I welcome questions/comments/feedback. Thank you for reading my words. Bon voyage!

10 thoughts on “COVID-19 & coming to peace with being at home

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