How to Find Joy in Social Distancing
It’s Feel Good Friday, but I know this week has been unsettling and different for all of us. While I’ve found several links I could share of things that have made me happy this week, I thought instead I would focus on some ideas that would help us all while we’re practicing social distancing.
I am not going to lie; this week has been a struggle, and I know there are more challenges to come. Earlier this week I was on edge, and it dawned on me that it was only Tuesday… only day two of our social distancing. We all have hopes and dreams and life goals that we are working towards, and it’s human nature to need a little socialization, but this Coronavirus is just throwing a big old wrench into any plans we may have made for ourselves. For me personally, I was finally feeling like I was on a roll going through the business course I am taking (Marie Forleo’s B School) and I was reaching clarity about what I want for myself and my goal for this blog. I finally had a great schedule going with the big kids in school, and the little one in school 2 mornings a week, plus I had his afternoon nap time to work. Managing my blog, focusing on the class, and being a good mom were things I was actually able to do because I had carefully planned out my days and weeks, and I knew what each hour allowed. Now that has completely changed. The kids are all home 100% of the time, it’s a struggle to work on my blog, and I am having a hard time focusing on my class with all of the noise and chaos around me. I also know my limitations, and let’s just say I am not the best homeschooler out there. It’s especially challenging when the kids are at such diverse stages in life…. high school, middle school, and toddler. As I was out walking my dogs the other morning, it dawned on me that I could sit here and feel frustrated and sorry for myself, or I could focus on all of the good things and opportunities that are coming from all of us being at home together (minus Chris who still has to go to work. Zoe’s Kitchen is offering pick up and delivery!) The days may be harder overall, but there are so many positives in each, and focusing on those moments as well as practicing different uplifting activities helps shift my mindset. While I was out walking, I made a list of all of the things that are helping me find joy in this time of social distancing, and I asked all of my friends for input as well. My hope is that these ideas will bring some light into your life right now. (A note about affiliate links: I use them, and I carefully select useful and budget friendly pieces for my home and I am excited to share those with you through these links. I do earn a small commission made through qualifying purchases, and appreciate that support as it helps me continue to run my blog! )
Fresh air is amazing for the soul and has so many physical benefits as well! Each morning right now, I take my dogs out for long walks, listen to podcasts, and enjoy some “me time.” I am still getting up at 5 am to do this so that I can have some time alone when I return home for coffee, planning, and journaling. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that getting outside for morning walks and runs is nothing new to me, but this week I’ve changed things up a bit. In addition to that morning time alone, I take my kids out for late afternoon/evening walks. After a day cooped up inside the house, time outside together allows us to unwind and reconnect (because let’s be honest, by 4 pm we are all in our own corners of the house hiding!) This simple activity helps lift our spirits and gives us the energy we need to get through that list bit of the day as a family unit.
We also love to sit outside when the weather allows and have dinner, play games, and connect as a family. Our absolute favorite game to play outdoors (we’ve already scheduled it for this afternoon when it’s warm!) is Kuub. My parents introduced us to this game years ago, and it’s one that we can all play together and everyone has fun. Well, until one of the kids’ loses then no one has fun but that’s a story for another time. 😉
(Photo from last summer… currently I am carrying around a much bigger tot on that seat!)
Wilder and I love to cruise around the neighborhood on my bike as well. I save this activity for late afternoons after his nap when we are trying to kill time without killing one another. There are so many different activities you can do outside as a family or solo, and that fresh air is going to benefit your mental and physical well-being.
I’ve mentioned gratitude journaling here before because it shifts your focus from what you don’t have (like, say, interaction with people aside from direct family members, exciting events on your calendar, etc.) over to what you do have. In my own journal, I write down 5 things that I am grateful for each day. This practice helps me truly acknowledge and appreciate the good moments after they happen, but it also trains my mind to look for them throughout the day. Just the other day I wrote that I was grateful for a facetime chat with a friend, the way that Wilder says Snowball’s name (Na-ah), Emmy making muffins from my mom’s recipe (loved that it’s being passed through generations), walking the dogs with Sawyer, and that cauliflower can be pizza. Those are all simple little things that made me smile, and when the days feel hard, I can look back through my entries and know that overall life is good.
Face Time Friends & Family
Our tendency as a society these days is to pick up our phone and text, comment on social media, etc, but there is nothing like face to face interaction. Seeing the love and appreciation in a friend’s eyes is priceless. If you are feeling lonely, don’t get on social media because you’ll just feel lonelier and more isolated. Instead, pick up your phone and face time a friend. Your friends and family love you so much, and it doesn’t matter that you might not have showered in a couple days and your house is a disaster in the background. None of that matters! All that matters is that you see each other’s beautiful smiling faces.
Read Books/Listen to Podcasts
Now is the time to tune into all of those podcasts you’ve been hearing all about or read all of those books you’ve got on your bookshelf but haven’t made time for. With the kids home that can be a challenge, but we’ve started a designated reading time when I put Wilder down for a nap so it’s quiet in the house. In the mornings when I take my walks I listen to podcasts. There are a million things to listen to or read out there, but I highly recommend you do this for inspiration or entertainment, and maybe stay away from the news podcasts at the moment. You can find several of my own book reviews here and I also share a lot of different books and podcasts in my Feel Good Friday posts. Some of my favorite podcasts are The Moth, Tim Ferriss, Rise, Marie Forleo, How I Built This, and Masters of Scale for inspiration, and for entertainment I love true crime like Serial, S Town, Cold, and Up & Vanished.
At Home Spa Treatments
One of the first things to go when I am in a busy season is spa treatments of any kind (meaning at home or in a specialty shop). With no more soccer to drive to, no classes to teach at the gym, I’ve got time in the evenings to show myself a little self care with a face mask (I love this one for mature skin), pedicure, or maybe a nice salt soak in the tub. Emmy also loves to pamper herself with these treatments, so it’s something we can do together and is a great way for me to connect with my socially frustrated teen during this time. Additionally, I think that showing ourselves a little love during this time makes us feel a little more human.
Family Entertainment Nights
We typically have a family game night once a week and watch a movie or a show together another night, and now that we have no activities, we’re able to do it more frequently and my kids love that! We’re currently watching Legacies and season 2 of Lost in Space. Game night changes each time… whatever we’re in the mood for. A friend of mine also suggested family talent show nights, and I love that idea! For the family who feels like they don’t have talent, might I also suggest a little Whose Line Is It Anyway? Back when I was in high school, I was obsessed with this show. My friends and I would get together and play our own version in our basements, and we would be dying of laughter! If you have never seen it, it’s a hilarious improvisational show. Check out this collection of clips… I think I know what we are doing this weekend!
Move Your Body
Exercise releases endorphins that lift your mood almost immediately! If you’re already working out regularly, don’t let this social distancing disrupt your routine. And if you’re not exercising at the moment, take this opportunity that’s been given to you. As mentioned above, there are plenty of things you can do outside to get moving with little equipment needed. Likewise, there are so many indoor workouts that were already available, plus more that have been made free for the moment. I have been a fan of Betty Rocker’s for a while, and love her workouts and plan to include a couple in my week. Just yesterday, I did this one in my kitchen while Wilder played. Friends have raved about Yoga with Adrienne though I have yet to try one of her videos. Peloton has offered a free 90 day trial of their app given the circumstances. I have not yet tried it, but it appears to have so many options, even meditation. The gym that I go to and teach at has also offered live streaming classes on their facebook page, and the videos stay in their content so you can access them at any time. You just have to follow their page if you’d like to use those. As you can see, there really is no excuse to not move your body throughout this time! There are plenty of choices, and you’re sure to find one that suits your workout level and preference. If you are feeling down, I can 100% guarantee you that simply getting up and getting moving will lift your mood in no time.
Play Some Upbeat Tunes
Struggling to get yourself moving? Put on some upbeat tunes and you’ll be bopping around the house in no time without even thinking about moving your body! Music easily sets the mood in a space, and when my kids and I are all at our wits ends, it’s one of the things that brings us back together again always. You don’t even have to dance along, and music will still have an effect on you. As for me, when I hear a happy tune, I can’t help but to shake what my mama gave me. Wednesday morning I took the dogs for a walk, came home, and created a new playlist on Amazon Prime music (the streaming service we use for music). I named it “Pump Up Music” and added songs that always inspire me and make me feel invincible as well as some upbeat songs I know my kids love. That day, my older kids decided to hide in their rooms in the morning, but I blasted it and danced around the kitchen with Wilder and had a fabulous time! Usually, when the older kids hide I feel pretty frustrated, but that day, I was happily jumping and bouncing around! They did emerge after a little while and join for a bit, too. In case you’re curious…
Get Crafty or Creative
Have you been wanting to try a new hobby but haven’t found the time? Perhaps you’ve wanted to learn to crochet, or maybe you’ve wanted to write a book. Now is the time! You can order supplies from Amazon, or work with what you have. I just ordered a gold leaf kit and giant googly eyes the other day for some projects of my own, one of which I thought I wasn’t going to have the time for. Surprise! Now I do. Looking for something to create? I’ve got several craft ideas right here for you. There are also so many videos on youtube teaching you every creative skill you could ever imagine! Use your resources. Creating something with your hands keeps you productive, focused, and helps you with your mind-body connection.
Make Your Home Your Sanctuary
During this time of social distancing, we are all spending a lot more time within the walls of our homes. If you’ve got projects you’ve been wanting to tackle, or spaces you’ve been wanting to organize, take this opportunity to do just that. We don’t thrive in chaos, but when our homes are cozy, tidy, and creative expressions of ourselves, we can feel so much more at ease instantly. You will be able to enjoy the fruit of your labor and relax so much easier at home, but also, there’s therapy in the process. My only advice here is not to feel overwhelmed by every project and room that needs attention. Focus on one area at a time: declutter, organize, and make it yours! This past week I shared how I easily refreshed my own home for spring here and here. Hopefully that will give you some ideas!
Try New Recipes
Baking has always been therapeutic for me, and for Chris it’s cooking. As I mentioned above, working with your hands is therapeutic, plus when you cook or bake, the house fills with glorious aromas of whatever you’re making. Of course, right now you might be limited by what you can find in the stores, so get a little creative! This past weekend, I took inventory of what I had and decided to make snickerdoodles. Our house smelled of cinnamon, sugar, and butter, and who can argue with that? I used this recipe which was a little too buttery and crispy for us, but that isn’t really stopping us from eating them. Next time I will try a softer bake recipe.
Do Good for Others
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”- Barack Obama
Check on elderly neighbors and see if they need any help in their yards or need any supplies from the stores. We have some neighbors I have been checking in with, and I finally introduced myself to an elderly neighbor I see every day walking his dog. We’ve had casual conversations, but this time I made a point to stop and finally get his name and tell him mine, and I told him I would check in with him if/when things got crazy here. I actually had planned to bring him cookies, but then I thought that was a weird gesture in this time, so I will have to do that when it’s over. Instead, yesterday I walked over to his house and stuck a handwritten letter in his mailbox. I let him know we were here if he needed anything, told him about the cookies I had wanted to bring him in case he actually would love that, and I enclosed my business card and wrote my phone number on it so that he had ways to reach me should he need me. It’s a small gesture, but in this time we must know boundaries and I didn’t want to overstep.
If you have money to donate, there are some great local and national funds you can donate to that will ensure that the kids who rely on school lunches are fed.
Support local businesses. These small restaurants and shops are the ones that are going to be hit the hardest with the economic impact of this virus and social distancing. You can shop online, buy gift cards to use later, or order food for pickup. We were doing no-spend March but I decided in light of this situation we had to do our part to help sustain businesses and order when we can. We ordered pizza and salad from one of our local favorites, Cugino Forno, the other night. I know… twist my arm! We can do no-spend March next year. (PS- this image is from my instagram stories where I said I believe in supporting local businesses by ordering take-out, and I also believe in pajamas at 6 pm. )
Be Selective with Media
It’s so easy to see only the big scary headlines out there. I’ve seen so many stories, but I weed out the negative and choose to focus on the positive each day. I fully believe this helps me stay much more hopeful than anxious. Instead of reading about the new cases popping up overnight, I read the stories of recovery, and the news from China where Apple was able to reopen stores. In the sea of information out there, focus on the good news. I promise there is enough of it out there as well.
Other Fun Ideas
Now I wanted to share some of the ideas that my friends mentioned when I asked what they are doing to find joy.
Baking, not watching the news excessively and telling jokes to each other.
My company is now all working remotely, so I’m scheduling Skype “coffee breaks” with my colleagues that I usually chat with on a daily basis so we can have a few minutes to see each other and talk about all the silly things we usually waste time talking about during more “normal” times.
Finally planted an actual spring veggie garden for the first time because I had the time. So many cool weather veggies on deck for May!
Dance parties, learning some cooking skills.
We are planning an outdoor movie night on the next warm day/evening.
Liquor. (I think she was joking…)
We are organizing this locally and several other cities are getting involved! (It’s a yard art drive through tour- how cool is that?)
I like organization and a clean home. Spring cleaning is one thing I’ve been doing. From organizing a spice pantry to throwing out things we don’t use. My next plan is to get my flower planters ready and tackle weeds that are popping up. I work at a Science Center so I’ll suggest taking a look on YouTube for simple science projects, or STEM projects you can do with the kids at home.
We are planning to bake our way through quarantine and probably come out 10lb heavier. But it kills two birds with one stone, something to do and something to eat.
Putting together a family play or talent show.
I’m doing stand-up for the cats.
Girls’ Night In FaceTime party. Pour a cocktail at home and video chat with friends.
Zoom! It’s a great way to get friends together to chat and interact. I had a Zoom wine night with some girlfriends last night. It was what I needed!!
Obviously I have very funny friends! 😉
I truly hope that you have found some fun new creative ideas to get you through this time with joy in your heart, and peace in your home. If you have any ideas that weren’t mentioned here, or that expand on anything I’ve said, I would love to hear from you! Let’s share what is getting is through and spread some positivity in this world. After all, we need it now more than ever.
Much love to you, my friends. Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay sane.
PS- Looking for more ideas? My friend Janet shared some here as well.