This post was most recently updated on March 21st, 2020
I know what you’re all doing. You’re planning to ride out this perfect storm of Coronavirus cooped up inside your homes, and you’re not coming out until you’re promised you’ll be 100% safe. Please believe me when I say it doesn’t need to be like that. In fact, it’s probably the worst thing you could do. Am I an expert on contagious illness? Absolutely not. But what I do know something about is human nature.
You need other people
We thrive on connections with others. And we’re not living on this beautiful planet to stay cooped up inside, isolated from friends and family. I know you’re thinking you’ll be safe if you don’t interact with anyone — if you keep a distance from everyone. But you’re going to go crazy if you don’t have any human connection. Don’t go for group hugs and gatherings outside your home. But you do need to talk to others, to “vent” a little, to share with others and encourage them. It sure helps if that’s face-to-face!
So greet your neighbors, wave hello to others while you’re driving, smile at whoever you pass on your way to the grocery store. Invite a friend over for lunch or to watch a movie. You could still play an online game with another couple. And your children can have virtual play dates with their friends — via Facetime or Google Hangout. Be sure to take normal precautions by washing your hands often, taking vitamins, and getting enough sleep. Of course, if you are immune-deficient, you will need to proceed with caution.
At the very least, make regular phone calls to family and friends. As in actually TALK to someone; don’t just send a text. Call relatives and ask them questions about your family history. Talk to your grandchildren and ask them what they are doing to fill their time. Call your parents and let them know you love them. Keep your people connections alive!
You need to breathe fresh air
Literally. For your health and your sanity, you need to get outdoors. There is something about a spring rain that is so refreshing…or the dawn of a new day that brings new hope. And especially when the sun comes out, you need to meet it! You’ll get that Vitamin D and the cheer that sun provides. Getting outside will revive you and give you mental strength as well. Go outside, even if you decide to stay in your own backyard. Breathe the fresh air, enjoy your garden (smell the flowers!), or have a picnic. At least open your windows! An elderly neighbor of mine sits in a chair on his front lawn and waves to everyone that passes by.
This might be a time when you rely more on social media and electronic entertainment to get you through this period of isolation. But it would be much better to unplug and get outside. You can still go on outings, as long as you maintain safe distances from others. You might even be able to go camping. Don’t limit yourself to your house or apartment..
You need to move
This is also crucial for your health — both physical and mental. Take your dog for a walk. Go hiking. Ride your bike. Go for a stroll on the beach as long as it is not full of people. You cannot stay cooped up inside and feel better. Why not take a walk in your neighborhood park? If you do allow your children to play on the playground equipment, however, you should be prepared with hand sanitizer and instruct them to not touch their faces until they use it. It’s actually much safer to have them bring their own bikes or scooters and avoid the playground equipment altogether. Being at the park also gives you a chance to connect with others; smile and help brighten their day as well.
Other activities can including kayaking, paddle-boarding, surfing, dancing, jumping on a trampoline, or going for a morning jog.
Don’t stay cooped up inside when you can (and should) get out and exercise.
You need to help others
It just plain feels good when you are able to help someone else. Plus, a small action on your part can mean so much to another. Check with your elderly neighbors to be sure they have what they need. Leave a bouquet of flowers on someone’s doorstep. Bake cookies and share them with a neighbor. Offer to pick up items for those who are unable to get out or bring them a home-cooked dinner. Note: any food preparation for others must include sanitizing and safe food-handling protocols. You could also pull weeds along the sidewalk or pick up litter (wearing disposable gloves). Make the space around you a little better for others.
If you or your family members are staying home from school or work, you have more time on your hands than you ever have. Put it to good use and think about what you can do for others. And if you absolutely cannot avoid being cooped up inside, there are still things you can do to help others. Record yourself reading children’s books and send the videos to friends or family. Write a note to cheer up someone, and drop it in the mail. Pray for those you may know who are sick or lonely.
You need to explore
Well maybe you don’t, but this is something I’ve found that really helps me. Exploring some place new makes me happy. It gets me out of a slump. It could just be picking up take-out from a restaurant. (Believe me, restaurants are so anxious to have your business right now, and they are bending over backwards to sanitize everything!) Conquering a new mountain hike is also a treat for me. Somehow, seeing the view from the top of a mountain helps put problems into perspective.
Here are some more ideas for places to explore:
- Look for a new park to take your children to
- Look for shells along the beach
- Use an app like GPSmyCity to take a driving tour of your hometown. Drive the route safely in your car and read the descriptions of the places you see.
- Start planning your next vacation by exploring travel blogs (making future plans is a hopeful activity!)
- Explore your own neighborhood and look for ways you can make a difference
You need to create
I highly suggest you find a way to create something during this difficult time for everyone. It helps your spirit to be hopeful; it can even be therapeutic. Now would be a great time to use YouTube tutorials! Try your hand at watercolor painting, making a simple strip quilt, or writing a children’s book.
If crafting isn’t your thing, try new recipes! There’s no shortage of new recipes online to spur your cooking creativity. Never tried baking bread before? Now might be the right time to give it a try. If stores are limited on stock, use Pinterest to find ideas for what you can make with the ingredients you have on hand. Bonus points for the most creative concoction!
Come up with new games to play — find ways to be silly together! Laughing is so good for our souls.
There are very simple things you can do to feed your creative needs. Sit down and get out the coloring books with your chlldren. Re-organize a closet — that’s certainly being creative. Re-decorate your living room or try a new paint color on the walls. Even better if you can get outside, so why not plant a new flower garden or a vegetable patch? Everyone has an inner drive to create, so instead of feeling cooped up inside, find ways to create new spaces and skills in your life.
You need beauty in your life
Having beautiful moments in your life is so crucial to weathering difficult trials like the global spread of COVID-19. And yes, you can control how much beauty there is, even if you can’t control everything else. You can choose to find beauty in simple things. Listen to beautiful uplifting music, watch the sun rise, and smell the flowers. Look at family and vacation photos, or take avirtual tour of an art museum.
Enjoy simple moments with your partner or children. Encourage your children to put on a talent show for the family — you’ll have them proudly dancing and karate-kicking, for sure. Appreciate that you have more quality time together. In other words, count your blessings! There is no better solution for being cooped up inside than being grateful for what you do have.
I truly hope you will acknowledge the Coronavirus threat is temporary and things will be better eventually. Take advantage of the opportunities that you have rather than focusing on the challenges. Don’t feel you need to stay cooped up inside, hiding from the world. Get out there and be a light to those around you!