By Erin Kessler
Remember those times when you just wanted some time to yourself, to practice self-care, to think, create, or try something new? It’s now! I’ve been framing this social isolation time as an opportunity to do some of the things that I’ve always said I was going to do—if only I had the time. What that means is different for each person (and just relaxing is fine too), but here are some ways to “thrive in isolation”:
Cook up a storm
Working with tight deadlines, I don’t usually have time to cook elaborate meals, but working from home has shaved off a chunk of daily commute time that I can put towards food prep. One of my favorite cooking websites is Marc Matsumoto’s Japanese-American fusion norecipes. You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy this quick vegan okonomiyaki; you can basically put whatever you want in it. Another favorite is his quick chili recipe—perfect for making in batches and storing in the freezer.
Get lost in a good book
For the last half of 2019 I was working on a project that required a lot of travel. Exploring new places was fun, but now that I have time to spend at home, I can finally explore my growing book collection. Reading transports me to other times and other worlds, and the beauty of language nourishes my soul. And if you can’t travel outside, why not be an armchair traveler?
Here’s what I’m reading and the places they focus on:
Disappearing Earth by Julia Philips — Kamchatka, Russia
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante — Naples, Italy
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts — Mumbai, India
Doing something creative is calming, gives us a sense of purpose and fulfillment and has similar benefits to eating healthy and exercising. It doesn’t matter what you do, it just matters that you do something to get into that “flow” state, when you’re completely immersed in something.
You might want to learn to code—I’ve been meaning to take an HTML5 course on our team’s UDEMY account— or just relax with an adult coloring book. I just picked up 50 Ways to Draw your Beautiful Ordinary Life, and it’s very therapeutic. You don’t have to be Michelangelo; just pick something you enjoy, that will take you away from the stress of the daily news cycle.
Move your body
Exercise is essential to health and well-being and releases feel-good chemicals in the brain. With gyms and studios shut, the FunkyCorp team are learning to improvise; from rooftop yoga to TikTok dance routines, to living-room HIIT workouts. You might be missing the gym, but there is a lot you can do in your own home or neighborhood.
I’ve started jogging at lunchtime, something that I didn’t have time for before, and I’m feeling healthier than ever. If you prefer to stay inside, I recommend the Yoga with Adriene videos, which ease you into the practice, or if you are a veteran yogi, Yoga with Kassandra is more fast-paced.
Try some green therapy
I have a confession: I am a plant killer. Every plant that I have ever owned has died, and I have vowed in the past to never buy a plant again. But, I miss the lush office plants in the FunkyCorp office, and plants are known to help you relax, focus, and boost your mood. So now that I’m at home all of the time, I decided to take another stab at it, with a caveat: nothing that needs to be outside on my balcony where I will only forget about it.
I bought two leafy green house plants, which were described as “low maintenance.” Whenever I feel stressed or just need a quick break from my screen I check on them to see what new leaves have sprouted. It reminds me that despite the world changing around us, things continue to grow unaffected by the coronavirus.
So far I’ve been able to keep them alive. We’ll see how this goes. I’ve also downloaded PictureThis, an app with useful tips on plant care, which can identify most plants. Maybe something to do on a solo walk in the neighborhood or park while getting a dose of green therapy?