11 TIPS FOR
SHELTERING IN PLACE
someone home-employed and frequently homebound by disabilities, my experience
can perhaps help those of you going stir-crazy right now. Here’s what works for me; modify to fit
2. EXERCISE. You don’t realize how much exercise you get, even in a sit-down job, in a factory or office. Everything in your home is much closer and takes fewer steps to get to than the cafeteria, bathroom, supply-closet, etc. in a collective workspace.
probably have some idea that exercise does your physical health a lot of good,
but did you know you need it for your mental health, too? Your body has an extremely difficult time
producing endorphins—the chemicals that enable you to feel happiness—without exercise. Skipping this can send you on a downward spiral
where do you begin? Start wherever you’re
at. In my twenties, when a mental
illness left me for years so sedentary that standing up became difficult, I
could do only one sit-up and some arm rotations. From that humble beginning I gradually reclaimed
my body, listening to how it wanted to move, and from this I built up an
exercise routine that saved my life and helped restore my sanity. (It helped that my Grandma bought me a gym
membership for a few years, but through most of my life I’ve exercised at
for an example, here’s my own routine, but do whatever suits you best, even if
it looks nothing at all like this. On Monday
and Thursday I lift hand-weights (water jugs will serve if you don’t have
weights.) Tuesday and Friday I do neck
and spine flexibility exercises (to keep my arthritis at bay) plus floor
exercises (the ones you do sitting or lying on the floor.) Wednesday and a weekend day I do leg and
balance exercises. I haven’t got the
lungs or stamina for aerobics, but if you do, schedule them in as fits you best. Dance makes a very nice and cheering
For that matter, if you have a yard, or even a balcony, use it. If your local laws allow it, take walks. If you’re only allowed to walk to the store and back, do that even if you don’t buy anything. Nobody’s going to report you if you walk to the store and turn around without entering. Follow the social distancing protocols—stay a couple yards/meters away from other people but feel free to wave and call out greetings.
4. DIFFERENTIATE DAYS. When you don’t go to a scheduled job, church, etc., it’s easy to lose track of time. When that happens, it’s surprising how quickly you can forget simple things like when was the last time you showered; needless to say this can mess with your physical and mental health. Give yourself a few specific tasks or goals on specific days of the week, just to keep yourself keeping track of time. (For example, I post story-chapters online on Tuesdays, host a discussion on logic on social media on Fridays, and do a Bible study on Sundays.) You don’t have to have something for every single day, just so long as you have some reason to know what weekday it is. This helps you stay oriented.
5. MAINTAIN YOUR APPEARANCE. (This might seem silly to have to even mention it, but when you’re isolated long enough it’s surprising how you can forget even the most basic routines.) It’s all right, since you’re not out socializing, to wear comfy, sloppy clothes. However, you can plunge into depression fast if you don’t do some appearance-maintenance like brushing your hair daily (it can also turn into a tangled nightmare faster than you’d expect.) If you have pierced ears, put earrings in at least once a week, to keep the holes from closing. Do all the basic hygiene things for your own well-being, not just for other people. Keep in mind that the quarantine won’t last forever and you will be seen in public again.
And now and then, just for the fun of it, dress up. Dress in fanciful ways that maybe you wouldn’t dare do in public. If you want to draw lipstick hearts on your cheeks or braid your hair into fun shapes, go right ahead! Or whatever suits you.
6. IMPROVE YOUR ENVIRONMENT. When you live most of your life outside of your home and only go there to sleep, you often don’t do much to make it very livable. Then when something comes along like this pandemic, you’re stuck in a place not designed for an extended stay. But you can change that.
First, just catch up on some of the chores that your working life didn’t let you deal with. Give the place a good cleaning—it’ll cheer you up! If the thought overwhelms you, don’t worry. Just do one thing at a time. Look at one little corner of your home and tell yourself that you’ll clean that up. Congratulate yourself for doing it. When you’re ready, do something else. Don’t even expect to do it all before the shelter-in-place order lifts—yet every little thing you do accomplish is a victory.
you’re feeling more ambitious, go ahead and do bigger things. Picture what kind of environment you’d really
like to live in, and go for it! Want to
rearrange the furniture? You’ve got
time, and it’s good exercise. Want
curtains? Make some. If you want to paint the walls or furniture,
I’d recommend using milk-paint (which you can order online, usually in powder
packets that you mix at home with water) as it gives off no fumes.
(For the record, I’m a terrible housekeeper. But I can make my home at least pleasant enough for a slob like me. If you’re going to stay somewhere for a long time, make it comfortable.)
7. TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF THE INTERNET. If you’re reading this, you have some device enabling you to do so. Congratulations! You have access to online books, poetry, music, videos, social media, tutorials, gaming and other delights—enjoy them! You now have time, and lots of it is free. Keep in touch.
Since you’ll be spending a lot of time online, change the background picture on your screen every so often. There’s plenty of free pictures online in the public domain or in Creative Commons. Wikimedia is a good source. This can cheer you up and provide a bit of a mini-vacation.
8. COOK REAL FOOD. Beware the temptation to subsist on nibbling junk all day—poor nutrition can contribute to depression. So can gaining weight from nervous snacking. In fact, you might not want to have snack foods in your house at all, if their constant presence is going to sabotage you—you’re going to be a lot more exposed to that stuff now than if you only encountered it between coming home from work and sleeping.
(For that matter, be careful about alcohol! There’s no such thing as social drinking in isolation. You could quickly get into a cycle of drinking your troubles away only to have them slam you in the morning with interest, in the form of a hangover, making numbing still more alluring. The normal social deterrents to alcoholism are gone.)
Most of us have stocked up on staples, since we initially didn’t know whether we would even have access to stores. So use them. Find recipes online, or just innovate. Cooking at home might well become a good habit that will survive the crisis and make the rest of your life healthy and enjoyable.
HOBBIES. Pursue whatever hobby pleases you. If you don't
have a hobby, come up with one. Do whatever you used to wish you
could do but never had the time. Don't wait till you're dying to check some in-home things off your bucket list.
10, SING. Most of us will not be sharing our home with a music critic for the duration, so sing your heart out! Nobody cares if you can’t hold a tune with Velcro mitts—just belt it out and enjoy it. You can find the lyrics to your favorite songs online, or new songs to learn. It improves your oxygen levels and just plain makes you happier.
HELP OTHERS. Just because you're physically isolated doesn't make
you useless. Reach out online to those who are lonely, scared,
angry or confused by these events. Cheer people up. Write
letters. Join in on collective problem-solving. Do
research for somebody who doesn't know how. Post beautiful or
funny pictures. Enter helpful discussion groups in your
areas of expertise.
If you have the money, pick out an online charity to contribute to; if
you're materially broke yet spiritually blessed, pray for them.
If all else fails (or even if not) draft a plan of action for when you
can socialize again.
I hope these tips help.