Congratulations on surviving the first week and a half of quarantine!
Needless to say, it's been a season of adjustment for everybody. On March 24, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were officially postponed, and the last time it yielded to postponement was during the Second World War. There's still good news amid the bad, though: Players in the fashion industry are contributing their resources to combat the pandemic, public figures have stepped up to use their platforms to help those direly in need, and there is optimistic reportage on how the skies have been clearing due to the abrupt clearing of road traffic.
This lockdown situation is definitely extraordinary, but it's not without its upsides: With the concern of transportation eliminated, we finally have more time to reallocate to the activities we love.
We're easing into the month of April now, meaning we're still technically in the first half of the year. The slew of bad news brought by 2020 doesn't negate the fact that the year is still ongoing—our New Year's resolutions should still be in full swing! It may help to regularly reorient yourself to using this month-long stay-in for good. That said, here are some things to think about while you plan how you'll be spending the rest of the quarantine.
Set boundaries on how Netflix, YouTube, Tiktok and other video diversions figure into the day.
There are waves of content online that are definitely up for your enjoyment. But when you begin detecting eye strain— and brain strain, if you've been bingeing for too long—don't hesitate to turn off the TV or put down your device, and gain momentum on another task.
If you want to catch up on Netflix shows and movies but want to curb the temptation to lounge around in bed all day, you can multitask: I've always found it really fun to set up Netflix on my laptop or phone while tinkering with a hobby, whether it be sketching, watercolor painting, forming a collage with scratch papers, and so on. You can also prop your phone up somewhere safe while you cook.
And of course, be cautious about your binge-watching eat up your sleep time. Ideally, that's a line you shouldn't cross. Sleep is a scheduled part of your day, too, not a blank slot consumable by other activities.
Design your surroundings strategically.
This is a big one. You'll find a lot of inspirational content online detailing how best to spend your quarantine. Despite how appetizing those self-care tips look, you might have some difficulty flipping on the productivity switch. Good news! Fixing your physical environment might be able to help you with that. Career researcher Melissa Chu wrote about this: "Making changes to your environment makes it easier to do what's right without having to think about staying motivated."
It's mutually nourishing: If your surroundings are messy, you tend to feel messy inside, too—and if you rearrange or redecorate your personal space, you might feel more empowered to take on new angles of self-care. We tend to abstract our situations and assume that we can overthink or over-perceive our way into where we want to be. Opt for balance: It oftentimes takes real, concrete steps to build the frame for that.
If you have old possessions that you don't identify with anymore, file them away to donate or dispose of later. Maybe switch up the layout of your furniture, repaint a wall, or organize a bookshelf acccording to genre. Keep your space inspiring so you'll love being in it.
Stay informed, not overwhelmed.
The ubiquity of the internet is the central condition of our times, and it's apparent now more than ever, given that the web is a necessity for those of us who work remotely. There's a fine line between religiously absorbing online content in order to stay updated, and eventually suffering from compassion fatigue, which is described as the restless, deadened feeling that comes as a result of constant exposure to terrible news, knowing there's not much you can change.
"Though [compassion fatigue] was not yet well defined [in the 1980s], there was a sense that proximity to trauma could itself be damaging, like secondhand smoke," wrote Elisa Gabbert for The Guardian. This is poignant now that COVID-19 has hijacked public consciousness and public concern, while simultaneously rendering everyone literally immobile.
When you're struck with the vertigo triggered by incessant content consumption, unplug. Keep yourself informed, but know when to return to your offline life, and develop a metric for determining whether information is leading you to being more aware, or more disheartened.
Don't think things won't get better, because they will.
It's undoubtedly a taxing period, but remember that the world has lived through worse. Don't pass up this opportunity to enjoy your downtime, as well as the company of those you find yourself quarantined with.
You can take after the poet Jack Gilbert and argue that we should be stubborn enough to still enjoy ourselves somehow, despite the turbulent sociopolitical climate. There are things to look forward to. Post-quarantine, people might turn to more ethical and thoughtful consumption after the hard lessons of the supply shortages as well as the months-long inability to participate in recreational malling. Good habits formed over the course of this staycation can be sustained. Reunions will be sweeter and more meaningful after this season of separation.
That said, don't be weighed down. Unwind, dress up, and take good care of yourselves for the remainder of the quarantine!
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