When, all of a sudden, your daily routine is taken from you, anxiety can kick in. It´s pretty easy to know what to do at home when you arrive from a tiresome day at work. But doing home office and being enclosed at home 24/7 can cause some uneasiness – even though, in theory, you could basically shut your computer off at 6 pm and go on to do what you usually did once you got home from the office. Easier said than done.
In this perspective, I decided to jump in and suggest a few projects you can commit yourself to in order to make this quarantine process easier. I have read some lists already with great suggestions (Messy Nessy was definitely my fav by the way). Still I think it can be helpful to share what I have been doing, and maybe push someone else out there who, so far, hasn´t identified himself/herself with any ideas. We are all eager to forget about the world outside a bit, and get excited over something in these crazy times. Maybe you will find a new hobby in this list that will stick with you way past this confinement moment!
- TAKE ON A FITNESS CHALLENGE
That excuse that you didn´t have time to work out is gone. Home office is no vacation, I know. But if you consider that you have gained the time that you used for going to your office and coming back home, why not see this as an opportunity to invest in your health? Work on that beach body you have been talking about?
On YouTube, for example, you have a variety of free fitness challenges to choose from. You can start with a 7-day, a 15-day or even go full-throttle taking on a 30-day challenge! I find these programs a lot easier to commit to, since you already have a pre-determined set of videos to follow. Plus, they are progressive. Take a look at Boho Beautiful for pilates challenges, Yoga with Adriene for yoga challenges, IdealFit for a 15-day fitness challenge. If you want more varied videos to follow, take a look at Popsugar, where you find different playlists like dance, cardio and beginner´s.
2. START A NEW BOOK
If you, like me, is a book lover and is always piling up books at home with almost no time to read them…well, here´s your opportunity! From last year up to now; I have been sitting on about 5 books that I have come across and couldn´t abandon at the bookstore (hard to leave a bookstore empty-handed, isn´t it?). Now, the difficult decision was just which one to start with!
But, if you are an avid reader, and now finds yourself with a different kind of problem, namely, no book in sight (because you have devoured your pile), I have a few websites to inspire you! Goodreads is a social network where you can connect to people, discuss about books, know what they are reading, take a look at reviews…it´s pretty brillant.
On the other hand, WhatShouldIreadNext is another website that might deliver just what you need in a faster way. The title is pretty self explanatory: you type in an author you love, or book title, and you will see a huge list of book recommendations from similar writers or themes. I tried it a few times and it was spot on. Only this time you have time to pile up books and binge read 😉
3. LEARN NEW RECIPES
Before the quarantine, I went to the market to look for canned corn, in order to make one of my favorite breakfast recipes by Jamie Oliver…and guess what? There was barely any canned food left! I understand that people are afraid and, therefore, are stocking up on food that can last for a long time. Nevertheless, I decided to actually do the opposite: aside from the corn I wanted to buy, I only bought fresh fruits, vegetables and meat. Two reasons for that: one, I´m a fierce believer that when there´s a disease spreading around, one of the best ways to protect yourself is to feed your body a lot of vitamins. Second, I can only imagine how much fun these people are having eating canned food for days….We need mood lifters, not the opposite.
I´m a person that loves to eat. I have fun preparing healthy food, and though I´m not the most talented (I admit!), it brings me a lot of joy to prepare something yummy for my husband and I. So, one thing that is making this enclosure easier, is definitely to try new recipes! You can take a look at books you have at home for inspiration, or visit some channels online that you might already follow, but never gave one of their recipes a go.
Food Network and Tasty are some of my favorite YouTube channels for recipes. By the way, Tasty has great ones teaching us how to make canned food taste good, what I believe can come in handy for many people right now (you will still need some fresh ingredients though). On Instragam, I love @fithealthyrecipes and @halfbakedharvest. Though it´s been some time I don´t access the website, I used to replicate a bunch of recipes from Martha Stewart as well. Her website is the most user-friendly and you easily find recipes that fit exactly what you are looking for . There you can even find recipes by ingredient, typing in what you have at home and let yourself be inspired! Isn´t this great?!
Mathias and I love to dine outside, so we are trying to cope with the quarantine by, once a week, creating a 2 to 3-course dinner, as if we were at a restaurant! It´s fun, it distracts us, and there´s the advantage that we can do it in our pajamas!
4. HOLD A DRINK CONTEST
While alcohol in gel or spray has been in high demand, ingestible alcohol still sits quietly on the shelves (can I get an Amen?). So, let´s take advantage of what we can get our hands on!
This idea actually occurred to me while reading Messy Nessy´s list of what to do during the quarantine. She came up with the super fun idea of inventing your own cocktail! Mathias and I got very excited over this, because we have a stock of wine and gin here (and a Tequila for show, lol). So, why not?! We decided to spice it up a bit and hold a drink contest! On the weekend, we will both come up with a signature cocktail to serve each other, and decide who´s the winner! Make sure to follow me on Instagram to see how it went 😉
The prize?? Hmm…Jump to number 10 😉
5. SHOP ONLINE
I´m not trying to stimulate empty consumption here, don´t get me wrong. But I bet, like me, many times you made plans to buy something for your house or for yourself. However, you never had the time to see it through. Most likely, there was a lack of time to do a store and price research.
For example, I wanted to buy a record player for almost a year, but I never really found the time to learn about what I should be looking for in a record player, best brands, etc…If Mathias had not given me one for Christmas, I would probably still be looking for the perfect one. And boy, am I glad I can finally listen to my records during this quarantine time!
So, use this period to finally complete your plans, find the seller and the quality that fit your budget. Don´t forget to support the small shops, which will suffer the most during this lock down.
Etsy is one of my favorite platforms to shop. There you can find small businesses from all over the world, selling unique crafts. Warning: once accessed, it´s overly addictive, lol!
6. ENROLL IN AN ONLINE COURSE
This is one of the best ways to stay productive in this quarantine! It doesn´t really matter what kind of course, as long as you are interested in it enough to commit. You can take classes that can boost your career (many even offer certificates), showing your superiors that you used your time at home wisely for professional growth; or you can choose a course that will help your business during these tough times, like learning how to open an online store or how to launch marketing campaigns on Instagram.
Another option is to invest time in hobbies, which will help distract you from the crazy world outside. Did you always want to learn how to knit? This is your chance! There are courses online and youtube videos that can help you improve or start a new hobby, like writing, singing, playing an instrument, painting, cooking and sewing.
Coursera is by far my favorite platform to take professional and hobby courses (well, in case you have nerdy hobbies like me….). There you find classes in almost every field, like Engineering, Business and Administration, Finance, Health and History, to name a few. Some courses are for free if you waive the certificate. For example, in January I finished an amazing photography seminar (“Seeing through photographs“) given by the MOMA (Museum of Modern Arts, in NY), This course teaches you how to understand photography in a deeper level, using the MOMA collection. Since this course was a hobby for me, I decided to take it without the certificate, and I can tell you that the richness of the material for a free course is just amazing. The only difference between paying and taking it for free, is that the tests are compulsory for receiving the certification. Courses that offer you diplomas are only available against payment though.
Other online platforms you can use: EDX, Harvard online Learning, and Creative Live. The latter is one of my favorites too, focusing on Humanities and Creative Arts. There are also e-learning platforms for kids like Scratch and E-Learning for kids. When it comes to hobbies, you can take a look at Superior Singing, Bluprint and Doityourself.
7. HOME DECOR – START A DIY PROJECT
Now you have enough time to look around your house. Like, really look at it. What would you change? Which aspects don´t you like or bother you? What could you improve, in order to feel more comfortable or to facilitate your every day life?
I always thought that work invested in your home is life-quality changing. This is your space, where you let go of stress and unwind. I actually have realized that the more I upgrade my apartment, the more relaxed I feel here and the more I want to be home – something important during our current situation.
One important thing: working on your home doesn´t necessary mean spending tons of money. Actually, the idea here is that you occupy yourself with small projects that will 1) make your house look better; 2) make time pass by faster; 3) give you a sense of accomplishment.
It doesn´t have to get complicated either. Even rearranging furniture can make a big difference. A simple repositioning can make a room look bigger and the moving around easier. Additionally, if you have cats, you will get extra points, because they usually love to explore the rooms we modify.
Talking about pets, on YouTube you can find many people who teach you how to pimp your house with pet-friendly “furniture”, like Box Yourself. His projects look amazing and they are all made out of cardboard boxes or items you can easily find! It doesn´t get cheaper than that! There are also many projects you can do with yours kids, who I´m sure also need some creative distraction right now. I´m such a fan of this channel.
If you are looking for something more serious like furniture making or improving, take a look at DIY for Homeowners, a mother and daughter channel. There you can learn simpler things like how to properly clean wood tables or more complicated projects like building a table. Doityourself, already mentioned here in number 6, is also an excellent source of home improvement/decor info. By the way, they just launched an excellent list of DIY projects you can do while in quarantine. Go check it out! Number 1 and 5 are my favorites!
8. ORGANIZE AN ONLINE HAPPY HOUR HANGOUT
In times of social distancing, this idea should be on top of your list! Even if you don´t live alone, it´s nice to see other people you are unable to meet with right now, like friends, family members and co-workers. I´m actually borrowing this idea from one of my besties, Bianca, who came up with it and organized a fun happy hour last night for our group of friends. We each had our snacks and drinks, and talked about everyday stuff. We enjoyed it so much that we are already organizing the next meeting. There´s even the possibility of throwing a themed Hangout. This is an idea to be copied!
Here´s a fast and easy guide on how to organize your Hangout gathering.
9. PLAN YOUR NEXT VACATION
WHAT?! Everybody is postponing their trips and you are telling me to organize one? Not really. But give me a chance here: we, travelers, are all feeling a bit empty right now. I didn´t have to cancel only one trip because of the epidemy, but two. Instead of walking around the streets of Lisbon eating my pastel de nata right now, I´m actually sitting here in my PJ´s writing this article, while Mathias is burning the kitchen downstairs.
We would all love to be somewhere else right now but, instead, we are making sacrifices for the greater good. This doesn´t mean that your trip won´t happen, it is only pushed a little further. Maybe researching about next destinations will give you that optimistic feeling you need – that feeling of “looking forward to” we all need right now!
Last week Mathias and I sat at the couch and, out of curiosity, started to read about cheaper destinations. Just pure travelers´ entertainment. We came across Peru. We had no idea about the beautiful landscape this land holds! We decided to research further and, 2 hours later, we basically had put a 10-day trip together. Do we know when it is going to happen? Nope. But when all of this has passed, and the right offer appears…we just need to open the drawer and take our draft out (yes, we are old fashioned, we write!).
Here´s some of my favorite reads about traveling: Trip Savvy, (who has an amazing article right now featuring 12 best virtual vacations from your couch), Travel Magazine (who put together an uplifting list of how to prepare for your next trip during the quarantine) and Condé Nast Traveler. CN just launched, 2 days ago, the best article ever: they put together a list of wildlife webcams, where you can watch animals around the world!
The message here is: do not stop planning, because the chaos shall pass. After all, our dreams are not and should not be put on hold.
10. INDOOR PICNIC
I´m an outdoor person, thus it´s not the most comfortable for me to be away from fresh air and nature. It makes it even harder that we live just by a forest…so close and, yet, so far. To make matters worse, the weather has been great in Frankfurt. It all sounds like a divine test…
So, when Mathias asked me, jokingly, “what are we going to do on the weekend?”, it kind of automatically came out of my mouth, like it knew even before my mind did: “a picnic….at the balcony”. He stopped his laughter halfway, to say that he actually liked the idea! lol. If you live in an apartment and are lucky enough to have a balcony, use and abuse it! If you don´t, it´s not the end of the world either.
You could organize a nice indoor picnic as well, putting a towel on the floor, making nice arrangements. A nice touch is to use your tv to create a different mood and have your picnic by a fireplace. You can also take it to a park, or to the beach.