MARCH 2020 / MY TOP TEN THINGS TO DO IN QUARANTINE
If I have learned one thing this month, it’s that everything can change in a heartbeat.
Things were looking pretty good at the beginning of March. Business was booming at Outfit and the whole team was set to fly out to Texas for South by Southwest. I was gearing up to apply for a new visa. After almost a year in the US, I was stoked to finally make my first savings deposit.
Then coronavirus happened. The live events and experiential marketing industries shut down seemingly overnight, drying up the work I had just started to get a handle on. New York City locked down. I found myself hastily packing a bag Chernobyl-style for a few days upstate. Two weeks later, I’m still here in self-isolation with no definite end date in sight.
Like many people, I’m only really starting to process what this all means. I haven’t quite figured out how to feel. I’m extremely grateful to my friends Dan and Steve, who have taken me into their home unhesitatingly. That kindness means more to me than I can put into words. I’m also thankful for my team at Outfit, whose tireless efforts to make things work is giving me the strength to keep going. The outpouring of love from my family and friends has been very much appreciated.
Underneath all of that, I’m scared. I’m scared of losing my job, running out of money and having to go home. There’s also a part of me that feels sad. I’m sad about the challenges everyone is facing, especially since there are so many inequities in the US to start with. But on the other hand I feel a strange sense of calm. This crisis is outside my control. We are all in it together.
In the spirit of staying sane, I thought I might share what I’ve been up to with the ‘quaran-team.’ There are five of us in the house (seven if you count the cute dogs) and we’re quickly learning what we need to do each day to keep morale high. Without further ado, here is my list of the top ten things to do in quarantine.
Exercise is hands down the number one thing keeping me from the metaphorical cliff’s edge. The great thing about working out is that it’s something I can control. I might not have any power over the world dissolving into disarray, but at least I can finish that set of burpees. Plus, getting into the zone makes things feel almost normal. It’s easy to pretend I’m going about a regular session in the gym when my muscles are burning with a familiar ache.
There are heaps of awesome home workouts available online requiring minimal equipment. For my fellow HIIT lovers out there, I recommend Kayla Itsines and Natacha Océane. But don’t be afraid to start small. Hit up Pinterest for some five-minute circuits if you’re a newbie.
2. Catch up with your friends
I’m going to sound like a broken record saying this, but it’s true that social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Take advantage of the opportunity to break down the usual timezone barriers and call those friends you’ve been meaning to catch up with for ages.
There is a cool app out there called House Party specifically designed for group video chats. I’ve been using it to reconnect with everyone from my Peace Pals crew at the UN to my high school BFFs. Talking to them has been a huge source of joy.
3. Bake up a storm
I love to bake. A fun fact about me is that I actually used to work as a Baker at Muffin Break. But I haven’t baked very much in recent years due to being both short on time and low on stomachs to feed besides my own.
Neither of these is a problem now that I’m in isolation with four men. I’ve taken great delight in baking for my friends and in turn they’ve also cooked up some delicious treats for me. Here’s a link to my favourite carrot cake recipe. I guarantee it will trick everyone into thinking you’re a master baker.
It’s quaran-time for your hobbies of choice! For me, that’s writing. I’ve penned letters to my friends (who doesn’t love mail?), made my first diary entry since November 2019 and am now crafting this post. Besides that, I’ve been jamming out to Adam Lambert’s new album Velvet. Maybe I’ll even start reading a book. Doing the activities I enjoy is contributing to my sense of normality and overall well-being.
Your hobbies might look different. Some of my friends have been binge-watching shows on Netflix, watercolour painting and playing Animal Crossing. Whatever it is that you’re into, capitalise on having the time to do it.
5. A good, old-fashioned board game
Disclaimer: this might not work if you live alone. But I thought I’d mention it nevertheless because it’s something I’ve found surprisingly fun. Rally the troops and spend a few hours knocking out a good, old-fashioned board game. In the ‘Big Brother house’ (as we’ve nicknamed it), the boys and I have been enjoying Othello and Bird Bingo.
There are a bunch of modern alternatives out there if digital games are more your thing. The Heads Up app has been a hit with the quaran-team. For anyone who is hyper-competitive like me, games are a fun way to chase an endorphin rush.
6. Do your life admin
Some of you may remember from my last blog post that I have an annual plan setting out the various tasks I want to achieve each month. One of the unexpected benefits of quarantine has been having the capacity to tick off items that are perpetually at the bottom of my priority list. Think organising folders on my laptop, running software updates and deleting photos from my iPhone. It’s not exactly exciting…but it is pretty satisfying.
Another task I’ve been able to do in the ‘life admin’ bucket is updating my budget. For many people (myself included), this is a time of financial anxiety. Creating or updating a budget is one positive technique you can use to help ease the tension. Check out The Financial Diet for some advice on getting started. The host, Chelsea Fagan, is my personal finance hero.
7. Update your resume and LinkedIn
Now might also be a good time to get your resume and LinkedIn up-to-date. Regardless of whether your job is in a precarious position, I’m a big fan of building a strong personal brand. Utilise the time you have in self-isolation to reflect on what you want to convey and how you’re going to do it. Unsure where to begin? There are a few tips from yours truly here.
8. Enjoy a cheeky drink
This might be a little controversial, but practically everyone I know is taking self-isolation as a hall pass for consuming adult beverages. What else are you going to do, really?
Since being in quarantine, I’ve been completely exhausted. I’m not sure if this is due to the general stress of everything going on at the moment or if it’s the lack of downtime in my everyday routine. Whatever the cause may be, I’m seeing it as a blessing in disguise that I have the chance to catch up on sleep.
If you’re in a similar position, listen to your body. Maybe the extra sleep will empower us to come back with a vengeance when all of this is over.
It had to be said, right?
So there we have it: my top ten things to do in quarantine. Hopefully this list gives you some ideas about how to spend your days or at the very least puts a smile on your face. Wherever you guys are in the world, I hope you’re holding up okay. Stay safe. We will make it through this!