Terms like quarantine, shelter-in-place, and stay-at-home orders have been making their way all around the internet and into our daily rhetoric lately.
Will the governor issue a stay-at-home order today? Is that the same as being quarantined? Are any of these phrases different from shelter-in-place? How come one state’s stay-at-home order is different from another state’s?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of ways to avoid losing your mind, let’s clear up a few terms:
- Quarantine: Compulsory separation, including restriction of movement, of people who potentially have been exposed to a contagious disease, until it can be determined whether they have become sick or no longer pose a risk to others. This determination could be made, for example, based on the time elapsed from their potential exposure.
- Shelter-in-place/stay-at-home: These terms seem to be used interchangeably. Both imply that businesses that don’t provide “essential services” should be closed. Restaurants are limited to delivery/take out. In some cases, people are still allowed at parks if they maintain a 6ft distance from others. In other states, outdoor activity is limited to the person’s yard. If you find yourself under one of these orders, read your specific state’s decree. At the time of this article, 25 states have this order issued.
What on earth are you going to do at home for two (or more) weeks?
Let’s start with the practical list of things you can knock out while you spend some extra time at home: cleaning and organization. This spare time on your hands might be the perfect opportunity to delve a little deeper into your cleaning tasks.
I know I am always trying to clean the house on my day off and find myself scouring the same things each week, but never giving one area my full attention. I plan on using this time to tackle the random tasks like: wash the windows, organize the pantry, and clean under the appliances.
This morning I told my teenager we were going to dust the fans and swifter the walls. My children think I have lost my mind, but I find it quite peaceful to clean away the cobwebs! My heart gets happier, with the more things I think about putting on this list…I could go on and on!
Here are a few other tasks I haven’t shared with the kids quite yet:
- Organize your closet by color (or workwear vs. casual clothes)
- Refold the clothes in your drawer and clear out items you don’t wear
- Clean the shed or garage
- Deep clean all the appliances (like the washing machine!)
I did come across this cleaning routine that spread the tasks across the week:
Tuesday: Bedroom and closets
Wednesday: Kid’s rooms
Saturday: Floors and other spaces
Your house is sparkling…now what
Are you worried that you will be bored now that everything is nice and clean? Fear not; it is time for fun! After all, life is all about balance. Watch a new show (don’t binge-watch it, you will be depressed after realizing how many hours you sat there watching Jane the Virgin…trust me.)
Read that new book you have wished you had a few hours to get lost in. Download a virtual escape room on your phone if you have a slight obsession with them (is that just me?). The key here is to have some fun and let yourself relax.
Here is where the magic happens
Alright, now you were productive, yet still made time for fun, but the end is nowhere in sight! This moment is either where panic sets in or the magic happens. It is up to you, but the essential part of staying sane while trapped, err cozied up in your house under a stay-at-home order is to establish a routine. I know you have probably seen that a lot lately. My therapist keeps telling me this is the answer, and I like her and trust her and pay her, so she is likely right…
According to the Blurt Team, “When we have a routine, a lot of the things we do day-to-day slot in, and we don’t have to think about them anymore. For example, when we’re well, we don’t have to remember to clean our teeth, because we know from habit that teeth-cleaning comes after breakfast every day.
Routine can take the guesswork and uncertainty out of bits of our day, which can allow us to feel more in control and less stressed.” I know I could use a little stress right about now! Here is a sample morning routine if you need help getting started:
- Wake up early (or at least before everyone else)
- Exercise and eat healthy
- Meditate and practice positive affirmations
- Set goals for the day
- Review your calendar and schedule your day in a way that makes sense
- Leave some time for things you enjoy
A little piece of advice for you, while you are goal setting for the day: put that thing you really, really want to avoid, up at the very top. Get it done first and out of the way! Figure out when your most productive time of the day is, and do the majority of the other tasks at this time.
Part of your routine, during this period, should also include learning a new skill or improving an existing one. Investing some energy into improving a current ability could be life-changing. For instance, were you once an avid instrument player, but put it down because life was busy? Dust it off and practice. When this is all over, maybe you can join a community symphony!
Have you been writing but always wished to write a book, now might be the perfect time. Maybe you wanted to learn how to write computer code, well now is the ideal time to take a class! Paint, cook, draw: create something. It is good for the soul! You always wanted to learn how to crochet or knit? There are a ton of videos on You-Tube that will help you complete your first project!
These types of things make us feel good during tumultuous times. According to Shana Lebowitz, “there is a strong connection between creative expression and overall wellbeing. Key components of the creative personality, like novelty-seeking and perseverance, are also good predictors of life satisfaction.” The best way to come out of this whole ordeal would be with a newfound satisfaction for life!
Realize this time might be a gift
I know that this time of stay-at-home orders will come with its set of stressors, but try and see the bright side. You could spend this time practicing escapism or gratitude. You can establish a routine and work on being the version of yourself that you wish the world saw. Or you can waste it mindlessly zoning out. It can be tempting to dwell on the unknown or the things you can not control, but that won’t help.
It isn’t often that we get the gift of time. Time to reevaluate what is important. Time to set a new path. These weeks might be your “chrysalis moment.” The caterpillar goes through a rather hellacious process while isolated before turning into a beautiful butterfly.
Other random things I read on the internet that will help you keep your sanity while under a stay-at-home order
- Open the blinds and let all the natural light in
- Therapy, therapy
- Facetime with friends and loved ones
- Watching the same movie as your friends at the same time and then chatting about it when it ends
- Dance and sing and enjoy music that makes you happy
- Get a pet
The key to maintaining the grip on your mood centers around a few key themes: do some self-healing and growth, create and learn, connect and share, and create routines and practices that set you up for success.
None of us have any actual answers for what the governors of our states will do next. I can’t tell you how the CEO of your company is going to react, although I would like to think that most companies will do the right thing. We could be staying in place for a while, and redefine what normal looks like in America. Or maybe it will all be over by Easter, even though I doubt it.
The truth is we all find ourselves in this crazy, unbelievable time together. Nothing like this has happened in my lifetime, I regularly look for ways to stay sane, so I find this new dystopian reality slightly concerning. But I keep telling myself that I will approach this like I have everything else in life: with a sense of optimism, gratitude, and an eagerness to learn.