Quarantine Survival Guide (yes another one, but this one is written by a recently recently retired Librarian)

Credit: Martin Schwartz/PEOPLE

As of yesterday (March 24th) there were 17 states that had declared statewide Stay-at-Home orders. An additional 10 states had issued partial orders, meaning either cities or counties within the state had stay-at-home orders in place. Frankly, I think the entire country should be shut down – it would be the fastest/most efficient way to end this, but it’s difficult to overcome greed, gullibility, and ignorance.

Moving on. Since I retired in March of last year I basically had to adjust to a stay-at-home lifestyle. I can’t deny that I dealt with several months of depression. (I do plan on writing a blog post about this eventually,) but the circumstances aren’t exactly the same for me as for everyone else. For one thing, everyone else is going to go back to work eventually. Also, everyone is in the same boat and I believe there is something comforting about that. Obviously I was able to go out to buy things whenever I wanted to (and there wasn’t the fear of things possibly running out) and meet with friends in the days after my retirement, but there were days, sometimes several in a row, where I didn’t leave the house. Eventually though I figured out how to adjust (for the most part) so I thought I would share with you what I have found works for me.

1. Make your bed every morning – I was at a conference a few years ago and one of the people I met there told me a story about how his Grandma taught him, when he was a kid, that THE most important thing to starting off your day is to make your bed. He has been doing it ever since. So I religiously started making my bed after I returned from the conference and you know what, it DOES make a difference. (I admit, I used to only make it when I knew people were coming over. To be fair, I mostly did this because I would bound out in the morning and then forget about it.)

My friend Emily works at Peabody Interiors and did a fabulous video on how to make a beautiful bed:

2. Get your daily dose of nature – open up the windows in your house (or at least open them up a wee crack if it cold where you are) during the day, even if it is only for an hour or so- Getting fresh air into the house is IMPORTANT. Put on a sweater if you need to. Along the same lines, get outside – go for a walk (be sure to practice safe social distancing if you meet people along the way.)

Have your kids play out in the back yard. Make sure they understand that the neighbor kids can’t join them but maybe they can come up with a game that they can play where they each stay in their own yards. A scavenger hunt is always a good idea. There are loads of printable backyard scavenger hunts on the internet – find one you like and share it with your neighbors via text or email! Here is the printable .PDF of the one I created below.

This is one of literally hundreds of printable backyard scavenger hunts you can find on the internet

3. Use up your fresh fruit and veg – if you bought a lot to stock up before isolation make yourself some big pots of soup or vegetables that you can freeze. Or if you don’t have room in your freezer – a) when was the last time you cleared out your freezer? and b) could you possibly share some with your neighbors? (Of course if you do share it with your neighbors do so safely. Leave it for them on their doorstep and let them know it is there by text or email.)

One of my favorite artists Liam O’Farrell drew this beautiful picture of a bowl of lentil soup he made from things he had sitting around that were about to turn.

Lentil Soup by Liam O’Farrell

4. Have kids at home? Kids already have classwork that they are supposed to be doing. I’m sure that it is quite a struggle to get them to do that. But outside of the classwork, keeping kids reading and doing creative things will keep their minds healthy. Hopefully you all have library cards. Many libraries provide a plethora of online resources and materials. For people in my home state of Wisconsin for example, there is the Wisconsin Digital Library which is accessible to every single citizen. There are online classes and databases and many Librarians are even doing online storytimes via Facebook. Check your local library website.

There are also lots and lots of fun crafts to do with household objects. You can search the internet for loads of ideas. A friend of mine recently started sharing posts from this woman on Facebook. I LOVE THEM. She hasn’t posted much prior to the last few days but what she has been posting is FABULOUS!

5. Just because you are at home all the time, don’t let your house build up into a mess. Keep up with your tidying (or as I think of it, Nancy Drewing.) Make sure counters and tables stay cleared off. Put things away that you aren’t using. Pretend that people may be stopping by at any moment even though you know they won’t be. Do it for yourself.

6. Get dressed in regular clothes and follow your usual hygiene regimen – In other words, don’t wear your jammies (or sweats) for days at a time and think you can go for a week without showering. This goes for brushing your teeth and flossing!

When I was a kid, I had to stay home from school for a few months once because of the mumps which was compounded by an infection of my lymph glands. The swelling of my neck was so bad my dad would have to help me in and out of bed because I couldn’t support my head; it was incredibly painful. I also had to be in daily traction to try to straighten my head. Anyway, after a week or so of being in my jammies and being miserable I was quite ripe. My Mom said I should take a shower – it would make me feel better. I resisted but she persisted. She helped me take one and sure enough, it did. And she helped me take many more over the weeks I was sick and each time, I felt better. Whenever I was sick at home after that she would say, “you should take a shower, it’ll make you feel better.” To this day I hear her saying that and I still do it. Isn’t it sad that we don’t realize how smart our Moms are until we’ve lived a good chunk of our lives (or until they are no longer here so we can tell them?)

Even better – crank up your beauty regimen. Since you aren’t able to go to the salon or spa, DYI baby!

7. Meditate – learning how to reduce stress is VITALLY important, not just now but really always. I started practicing guided meditations because my sleep is for shit. You know, the wake up around 3 in the morning thing that most menopausal broads experience. I created a playlist of a bunch of YouTube videos I use, here is the one I’m currently successful with.

Also, jigsaw puzzles can be a stress reducer and/or if done with your family they can be fun too and a way to escape technology for a bit.

Additionally, if you have any projects hanging over your head that you have been putting off, bite the bullet and get them done! Don’t let yourself think, I have weeks now. It will always be in the back of you mind nagging at you and you won’t truly be able to relax. Just do it! (This means, just because they pushed back the deadline for filing your taxes, you don’t necessarily need to hold off filling out the actual forms, or at least getting everything pulled together you need to fill out the forms.)

8. Challenge your brain – many of you may be working at home and also have your kids with you but don’t let your only other activity be watching Netflix. There are a lot of Universities currently offering free online classes as well as your local library (as I mentioned before.) I myself am taking the Yale University course the Science of Well-Being. Here is a list of 1,500 free online courses from top Universities put together by Open Culture.

Puzzles and games also can challenge your brain – crosswords are an excellent way to do this. So are other word games like Scrabble, Charades or Pictionary, games that make you think.

You can also try some armchair traveling. Here are several virtual tours to try from the safety of your own home:

  • Here is a list of several world attractions like the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, Rome’s Colleseum and the Palace of Versailles that you can visit remotely
  • Here’s a list of National Parks you can visit virtually
  • Here’s a list of museums from around the world that offer virtual tours

9. Limit your intake of news and social media – as important and as much as you want to stay connected to the outside world, you need to make sure you don’t spend too much time inundating yourself with news about COVID-19, the economy, and the politics surrounding everything. For myself, I have set up my Facebook so that I only see notifications from certain people and FB pages and I only read those notices about 75% of the time. I have turned off notifications for most of my apps and unfollowed a bunch of people on Twitter. But despite doing this the algorithms still generate things and I find myself going down the rabbit hole, which is why I try to limit my actual screen time, at least on social media.

10. Support Small Businesses – as you know a lot of local businesses are going to be hit over the next month (and some are already struggling.) USA Today put together a website where you can buy gift cards to use A.C. (After Coronavirus.) If you can afford it yourself, even if it is only a $5 or 10 gift card, it will help. Remember, if we all buy them they will get a nice sum of money that will help them through this.

ALSO, don’t forget their employees – especially those who live off tips. People in the service industry like restaurants and salons are really feeling the pain. Most of them are trying to get onto unemployment (which has been extended right now) but some are having a difficult time getting through to the Unemployment Office. If you know your manicurist or hair stylist or massage therapist or the person who extends your lashes or the servers at your favorite restaurants well enough that you can Venmo or Paypal them a little cash for the tips you would be giving them if you were able to go to their establishment – DO IT. It can make a world of difference.

11. Laugh as much as you can – laughter really is the best medicine. Here’s the info on why from the Mayo Clinic.

For those of you who remember Senor Wences, S’alright? I always loved him. If you don’t remember him, check out this incredible ventriloquist and enjoy!

Updates:

March 26 –
It’s called “Physical Distancing” – read an article this morning about how the WHO is recommending people stop using the term “social distancing” and instead say “physical distancing.” This is SO smart. We really do want to just keep our distance physically but still remain as socially connected as possible.

About a year ago a small group of my fellow retired library directors and I started meeting for lunch on a semi-regular basis. We set up a luncheon for this month which of course we rescheduled to next month. When our Governor issued a month long stay-at-home order we thought we might have to postpone indefinitely. Instead though, we chose to keep the date and have a virtual lunch date. I now have a Zoom account and we are going to see how this works.

Another friend of mine has been enjoying remote happy hours with her friends on Friday nights. That is actually impressive.

March 28th –

I forgot EXERCISE! I am lucky in that I was already doing my Pilates sessions remotely (via FaceTime) before this all hit so I have a lot of equipment at my house, but you don’t need to have a lot of stuff to exercise. Of course taking daily walks in one of the easiest things to do (though a friend of mine who lives in downtown Chicago said that on nice days there have been so many people outside she hasn’t been able to go out.) There are also tons of videos on YouTube for a variety of workouts. For myself, the most important thing is stretching, especially this particular stretch –

We’re all sitting around more than usual so muscles need to be stretched out. I do this heel drop a few times a day and I tell you, when I miss a day, I feel it!

I think I’ll stop here, my list has gone on long enough and I know that people are getting inundated with recommendations on what to do. Hopefully you’ll find a few things here that are helpful. The important thing to remember is we are all in this together. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Help each other – that is key! And…

4 thoughts on “Quarantine Survival Guide (yes another one, but this one is written by a recently recently retired Librarian)

  1. Really good tips Jennie, definitely believe in keeping the bright side out and definitely continue life as normal, as much as possible while staying at home.

  2. Love this! I pinned everything! Have you ever read the book “make your bed”? One of my other genius clients gave it to me for Kaden to read. I read it myself and make my bed everyday now!

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