By now you’ve surely come across a bazillion articles & videos giving advice on how to survive quarantine life. Lord knows I’ve seen my fair share. At this point I’m wondering if extroverts are sick of hearing from introverts on the subject, or are extroverts seeking even more respite from all the social isolation? (Let me know extroverts, I wanna hear from you!)
Whichever the case, I want to put a few ideas out there that may help people not just cope with quarantine life, but thrive. I’m going to get highly specific, in order to avoid redundancies from thousands of other articles on the subject. And one last thing, I’m not writing this just for extroverts, as perhaps introverts may discover a new idea or two here as well. Okay, on with the list… here are 10 tips on how to thrive during quarantine.
How to Thrive During Quarantine
Tip #1: Sketchbook and chill.
Grab a sketchbook. Completely blank, no lines. Open up to page 1, jot down today’s date and then just start writing and/or doodling. Doesn’t matter how “good” it looks, you’ll find it therapeutic and who knows, you may actually improve in your writing/drawing technique. This isn’t about becoming Picasso, this is about trying something new that’s fun and easy to do where no one can judge you. There is no “right” or “wrong” here… there’s just pure freedom for you to be yourself.
If you want to post your pages online or show them to friends / loved ones, you can… or if you want to keep your creations to yourself, that’s cool too. It’s up to you… you are in control. In these days of uncertainty where so much seems out of our control, it can be comforting to have one thing in your life that is fully in your control.
Tip #2: Prepare a stand-up comedy routine
(In theory once this is all over, go perform it at an open mic.) *If you’re an extrovert, you probably won’t be paralyzed by stage fright, so you may as well give it a go.
Thing is, a lot of people don’t realize just how hard it is to be a (good) comedian. And I’m not just talking about the grind/travel and lack of financial success (for most). I’m talking about the creative process and overall lifestyle of putting your content out there in the world, only to be continually rejected, ignored, heckled, censored, & canceled.
I say, give it a go yourself. Even if your material sucks and you’re not funny at all, at least you’ll likely gain an appreciation for the lengths that comedians must traverse to become great at their art form. Maybe you’ll think twice before scoffing at a comedian who tells a joke you don’t like, now realizing that they’re not going to get every joke *right*. It’s a long process of trial and error. Comedians know that, and now you’d get to experience a taste of that and see for yourself.
*Bonus Tip: Combine Tips 1 and 2… jot down all your joke premises in your sketchbook. 🙂
Tip #3: Maintenance Mode
I’ve seen several athletes & trainers posting home workouts online, which is great and all, but… let’s set some realistic expectations. I reckon most people do not have the proper equipment and space that are found at public gyms. (If they did, why would people bother paying for gym memberships?)
Hence home workouts are often going to be a bit more cramped, awkward, and not as intense as can be achieved in a proper gym. Of all the things you could be focusing on right now, getting in the best shape of your life during quarantine does not seem the wisest of feats to attempt.
My advice? Do what you can physically for the time being, but focus on other tasks that are better suited for being completed at home. Just keep up with basic daily workouts (sit-ups, push-ups, stretching/yoga, etc.) and be OK with maintaining this moderate fitness level… until the time comes for gyms to reopen. You’ll be in decent enough shape to ramp things up quickly and in theory you’ll have more time to spend in the gym because you spent your quarantine weeks getting so many other things done. i.e., work, finances, organization, home repair, etc.
Tip #4: De-clutter your phone
Now is a golden time to start doing all the low-priority tasks that you always put off because they’re not high-priority. Unless you’re a super hardcore minimalist, I’m pretty sure you’ve got a bunch of excess apps taking up space on your phones/tablets. Make a dedicated effort to browse your several pages of apps and remove the nonessentials. If there’s a chance you may use one later (even though you haven’t used it for months or EVER used it for that matter), sequester all of those apps into one group and tuck it away on page 3 or 4 so that at least they’re not visually cluttering your mobile life. Organize your primary Home screen such that it ONLY houses apps that you use on a daily basis.
Tip #5: Become a morning person (if you’re not already)
I’ve pretty much been a night owl my entire life, but I became a morning person this past year. I’ll expound on the details of that transition in another post, but for now let me just say that once you become a morning person, there’s no looking back. The current lockdown is a stellar time to experiment with lifestyle tweaks, and I highly recommend trying to wake up at sunrise. The level of satisfaction you feel from accomplishing the day’s tasks by noon is truly glorious. You can’t help but feeling *ahead of the game* when you’re scratching things off your list at 6:30am while everyone else is still asleep, unknowingly falling behind… especially if you’re an ambitious soul like me, always hustling.
Tip #6: Watch some classics
Watch some old classic films that everyone else has seen but you never got around to watching. Some suggestions: The Godfather series, original Star Wars trilogy, Heat, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, My Fair Lady, The Wizard of Oz, When Harry Met Sally, The Matrix, etc. It really doesn’t matter how good or bad it is… it’s just another way that you can further connect with people after we all rejoin society. Think of all the new conversations you’ll be able to enter into, whereas before all you had was: “Oh, never seen it.”
Tip #7: Experiment with cooking & mixology
Granted this may be trickier for New Yorkers stuck at home in tiny apartments with even tinier kitchens, but in general… this is a great time to hone your cooking skills. I’ve never been much of a chef (or even foodie for that matter), but since moving to Philly and having a proper kitchen, I’ve started cooking a lot more… and I’m proud to say I make a damn good salad. If you’re a total novice in the kitchen, I highly recommend starting with salads. Go with a spring mix as your base, grill up some chicken strips, and then just start sprinkling in a little of everything you like. I highly recommend chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, shredded carrots, pickled beets, guacamole, hummus, kalamata olives, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and falafel. Play around with ingredients and proportions until you find your sweet spot… and even after nailing that, you can continue to change it up for variety’s sake. Beyond salads, devise your own unique food combinations and if you’ve got various liquors on hand, mix and match to create your very own signature Quarantini.
Tip #8: Start watching Curb Your Enthusiasm
After a couple episodes in, you’ll be so repulsed/annoyed by how petty and awful human beings are to each other that you’ll be glad for all the alone time you have. Seriously, whether you’re extroverted or introverted, you have to admit… it does require a lot of energy to deal with other humans on a daily basis. Enjoy the break from all that!
Tip #9: Reconnect
Yes Zoom is all the rage these days, but here’s a little twist. Rather than just doing video chat parties with your best / closest friends, why not take this time to reconnect with an old friend or family member (who you LIKE!) who you haven’t talked to in a long time? I’ve really enjoyed doing this with a few cousins and long lost friends. Yet another positive to emerge from quarantine life.
Tip #10: Start making lists
This comes naturally to me (as an INTJ/INFJ), but try getting into this habit. You’ll likely find you feel more productive and satisfied looking back at a crossed out list of all the things you accomplished today (despite our collective fog regarding what day of the week today was.) Another added benefit is that you won’t have to employ as many brain resources actually remembering things. Once you jot things down, it won’t matter if you forget about them, because you can always refer back to your lists. I highly recommend Apple Notes for this, and I also use Moleskine’s Actions app for storing/categorizing infinite tasks while displaying only the relevant tasks that I want to accomplish each day.
Hopefully the worst of COVID-19 is behind us at this point, but we’ll see how things play out in the coming weeks and months. Regardless of how much quarantine time we have left, make the most of your “downtime” in order to optimize your eventual return to “normal life”, however that may look in 2020 and beyond.
If you’re interested in reading more articles on lifestyle optimization and self-actualization, follow on Medium at https://medium.com/@jaykaslo