Hey. I’m back. I know, it’s seems like forever since I’ve written. To be honest, it was so long, I forgot my WordPress password. I almost didn’t renew my Ampersandblog.net domain (& did at the very, very last minute). It’s not like I intentionally stopped blogging for any particular reason–it sort of naturally happened. I wasn’t feeling super inspired by anything & was doing a lot of writing (offline ;)). And I didn’t want to force it you know? Blogging has been a hobby and I didn’t want to feel stressed out by it.
But we’re here now! Amidst all the things going on the world, I’ve been drawn to comforting, easy, familiar things (as we probably all have), and I felt like I wanted to blog again. So thanks for bearing with me, for those of you who asked if I still blog, for reading anything I write at all. We’ll see if this becomes a regular thing!
We’re all in quarantine, doing the social distancing~ thing so figured I’d share some tips that have helped me stay (somewhat) sane during the past two weeks. By no means an expert (& always looking for new tips!) but hope this helps even a little bit!
Shout out to all my Type A’s out there!! I’m not sure about you but as soon as everything shut down two weeks ago it was like my entire world lost its structure. No commute, no set work hours, no fitness classes to attend, nothing. Everything got very flexible. While there are definitely some pro’s to that (don’t miss ya 7am train ride @septa), as someone who craves routines, I knew this was going to make me insane.
So I created a schedule. A color coded, detailed schedule in my Google Calendar (previously untouched & coming in handy!) I have my work meetings, social virtual~ gatherings, workouts I want to do/live classes I want to attend & self care activities (seriously I scheduled “face mask” tomorrow at 7:30pm and “long walk” on Saturday at noon).
It honestly gave me a lot of peace sitting down on Sunday night and filling up my calendar. It helped me keep my routines (like getting ready to work at the same time, every day) & the illusion of a full calendar/being busy calmed me right down. Obviously I’m flexible and giving myself a LOT of grace during this weird, crazy time, but highly recommend scheduling some activities (social, physical & self care related) to keep you sane/engaged/not sleeping till noon and wondering which day it is. Color coding not required.
Find a Mindless Activity
And on that note, find a mindless activity (and schedule it! JK sorta). Like something besides Netflix & binging The Office (for the millionth time). Baking, reading, crafting, coloring, writing, knitting, dance party-ing. Have a hobby you’ve always wanted to try? Now you LITERALLY have time to pick it up. Sometimes it’s nice (& necessary) to escape and let your mind wander or not think about anything at all.
Virtual Happy hours & Coffee Dates
I’ve definitely mentioned this before, but I hate phone calls & really don’t enjoy FaceTiming. I rather just catch up quickly over text or drink some wine & catch up for 4+ hours in person. I always say I’m going to “learn to like catching up” long distance, but I never started enjoying it…
…until now. As an extrovert, I need socialization. Since we can’t be in person, virtual social gatherings are the next best thing and honestly? they really help. I’ve FaceTimed/caught up with more people in the past 2 weeks than I have in the past 2 years. I’m not kidding. I’ve reconnected with friends I haven’t spoken to in waaaay too long, FINALLY did that group FaceTime because “I’m not too busy,” and actually sorta enjoy talking on the phone now?? (Side note: I think–surprisingly–Facebook Messenger Video is the easiest way to video chat, especially if some people don’t have access to Zoom/FaceTime!)
We’re all social beings. We NEED to connect in some way. So why not actually schedule that virtual happy hour with your 3 best friends from high school and gab about Tiger King for 2 hours? Seriously what else do we have going on. Now’s the perfect time to make those reconnections & strengthen our relationships.
Turn off the news
Listen, I’m all for about being informed & being responsible citizens. I’m NOT about getting into deeeeeeep rabbit holes of news cycles and horrific statistics and really sad stories for hours at a time (I did it, 0/10 recommend). Read a few reputable sources (emphasis on a FEW). Get informed & get out. Sometimes we feel like if we read more or learn more, we’ll feel more in control but honestly, at the rate that things change in this pandemic, sometimes we just need to take a break from the news & focus on living the best we can in this new reality.
I know, I can feel some of you rolling your eyes at me through the screen haha It’s like Quarantine/Self Care 101. Exercise makes us feel good. It’s really really good for our mental health. Yes, we have to do it from the comfort our homes/apartment but it’s worth it, even if it’s 15 minutes.
Ya know I love yoga so I’ve personally been supporting my local yoga studio through their online Zoom classes (but also love Lululemon’s free YouTube channel). I’ve also done workouts through my favorite fitness studios like Barry’s and Rumble. They have live classes throughout the day but save them on their Instagram Live tab so you can do them whenever! Best part is that you don’t need a lot of equipment or space to do them.
I also recently downloaded the FitOn app. It’s completely FREE & has a TON of different types of workouts, with a varying levels of difficulty and class time lengths. Honestly, even doing some jumping jacks will probably help your mood a tiny bit. I used to have a client back in my PR days who always said “some movement is better than no movement” so while we can’t hit the gym, getting moving in SOME way can really help.
Hi, just a reminder that we can still go outside (while practicing safe, social distancing of at least 6 feet). It’s not against the law to go outside. We don’t have to be hermits, confined to the space of our homes or tiny apartments. We can responsibly get some fresh air & we probably all should!! My mood is DRASTICALLY different on the days I go for a walk (even for 5 min!) vs. on the days I don’t. Plus it’s SPRING out and things are BLOOMING & how wonderful and happy is that? Let’s enjoy it.
Meditate and/or Journal
The world is kind of scary place. Anyone else feel their anxiety reaching an all time high? Cool, same.
As a society, collectively, we’re stressed. So naturally, on a personal level, our emotions are being heightened. I’ve found that just actively BREATHING helps. I really love the Headspace app (they even have a FREE section for “Weathering the Storm,” designed for this & their sleep meditations rock) or Stop, Breathe, & Think if you’re looking for something super simple (you can also track your emotions!)
And, duh, writing/journaling has always been my favorite way to process and just get stuff OUT. Even if it’s on a random piece of paper, write everything that’s going on your head, stream of consciousness, no one’s going to see it style. Who cares what you write? Just writing is super therapeutic. Need help getting started? I really like this blogger’s 30 Day Writing Challenge. She sends you open-ended prompts every morning/you can access other prompts whenever you want.
Find your simple joys
I love love love simple joys. So much so, I wrote an entire blog post about them here. I have a running list on my phone that is 50+ items long. I love finding them, I love asking people what theirs are, I love that they exist in general.
A simple joy, by definition, is “an object, feeling or experience that intrinsically brings you happiness, its mere existence in your life creates joy without ties to consequence or additional outcomes” (source). In other words, very small, ordinary things that make us happy for no apparent reason.
Personally, I love jean jackets. Chocolate croissants. Exposed brick. Daffodils. Shiny pennies, tails up. Twinkly lights. Handwritten cards. Among MANY others.
Find your simple joys. Then think of some new ones. Hell, incorporate as many as you can into your daily day-to-day (don’t for a second think I’m not stocking up on chocolate croissants every time I go to the grocery store). Appreciate them, be grateful for them. The simple joys of life are going to get us through the day-to-day & help us to the other side of this, promise.
Help your community
If you’re able (& want to!) try to help your community in some way. I think a lot of us are feeling helpless–there’s this huge crisis affecting EVERYONE in the world and there’s not much we can “do.” (Except stay home!! For real!) But we can start small, right in our communities.
Support your local restaurants/bars/coffee shops. A lot of them are depending on deliver or carry away orders. When you take a online fitness class, Venmo a donation to the instructor, because most of their livelihood depends on teaching. Sew masks if your local hospitals are accepting them, or put notes in your windows supporting teachers, parents, healthcare professionals so they have a little pick-me-up when they walk by. Donate to organizations who are committed to helping the most vulnerable groups at this time. Even just smiling at people when you pass them on the street, or giving people enough space in the grocery store. Small things that actually can make a huge difference.
Hope this helped with your quarantining just a little bit. If anything, hope it killed 15 minutes of your boredom as you read it ;) Hang in there. Stay home. Wash your hands. We’ll get through this together. &.