Ten weeks. As of today, May 24th, that is how long I have been self-isolating at home. Chicago is still under a “stay at home” order so other than a few trips to the grocery store, a trip to Target and my once a week excursion to restaurants to pick up food, I have been at home for ten weeks. It seems like the time passed so quickly while at the same time it feels like I have been home forever. I am not going to lie. Sometimes, figuring out how to stay sane when quarantining alone is difficult.
The Hard Truth
This week, the hard truth came. This is my normal now. We had a call early in the week and the “read between the lines” message was that I will probably not be going back to the office in 2020. They can keep us safe in the office but for cities like Chicago and New York, they have no way to keep employees safe on public transportation.
Oof! That was a tough thing to hear. Not unexpected, but not easy. Telling myself that being isolated and working from home is only temporary is not true anymore. I do however, appreciate their concern for keeping us safe.
So the question for me now is how do I proceed from here? Do I continue to stay by myself in Chicago? Other than having one friend over for dinner five weeks ago and a few courtyard visits with my neighbors, I haven’t had any in person human contact since the stay at home order started. Am I better off staying this course or should I pack things up and plan to spend the foreseeable future with my family in Iowa.
On the farm in Iowa, I can be outside without a mask and around people (my family) every day. It is tempting. The thing that makes me nervous is that Iowa is opening up quickly and is not taking social distancing as seriously as we are here in Chicago. I am worried that I have spent all of this time self-isolating in Chicago only to go to Iowa and get sick.
While I ponder all of that and try to make the decision that will be best for me, I thought I would share a few of the things I have done over the past ten weeks that have kept me sane while quarantining alone.
How to Stay Sane When Quarantining Alone
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Keep Up a Daily Routine
I am a creature of habit so keeping up a daily routine has been key to keeping myself sane while quarantining alone. For the first few weeks, I kept up a daily routine that was similar to the one I used when going to the office. Over the past couple of weeks, it has evolved a little bit to fit my new normal life. I have been sleeping in a bit later since I do not have a commute and I make myself breakfast every morning. I wasn’t always so good about breakfast before. Many things have stayed the same though.
- My routine after waking up is basically the same. I wake up, brush my teeth, put in my contacts, brush my hair, get dressed for the day, make my bed, put on some SPF and makeup and then make myself some tea before logging on for the day.
- When I am done working for the day, I go for a long walk with the dog, workout and then I make myself dinner.
- I also go through the same bedtime routine. I shower (I love my night showers!), do my evening skincare routine, brush my teeth, take out my contacts and then get into bed and try to read a bit before falling asleep.
This routine keep some semblance of normalcy in my life and is much needed for my mental and emotional well being.
Log Off of Social Media
One habit I have that I have disliked about myself for a long time has been how much time I spend on social media each day, particularly Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These three apps are my crutch when I am bored or trying to kill time or happy or sad or anytime really. I live alone (besides the pup) so it isn’t a problem due to me ignoring people. There is no one to ignore. But I so find that I can so easily get sucked into the vortex and next thing I know, an hour has passed.
I decided to break the cycle this weekend by taking a 48 hour break from the apps. I deleted Instagram from my phone and logged out of Facebook and Twitter. The number of times I have mindlessly tried to find the Instagram app on my phone or clicked on the Facebook and Twitter apps over the past day is so sad!
Opening those apps is such a habit. It is even worse than I thought and something I really want to work on stopping.
Find a Way to Stay Physically Active
For the first four weeks I was at home, I didn’t do much to stay active. It was still cold in Chicago. The gym was closed. I wasn’t walking to and from the train each day. I wasn’t leaving my house for lunch. It was all part of the “this is temporary” mantra. I was doing so well at being active leading up to quarantine. I was going to the gym and working out with my trainer and getting 10,000 steps every day.
Then it basically went to nothing. Lucky for me, my trainer sent me a text asking if I wanted to start doing training sessions via Zoom. I said “yes” because I didn’t want to lose all of the progress I was making up to that point. Now we work meet twice a week via Zoom. I also try to go for long walks when I can to get some steps in. I am still not up to where I was three months ago but it is better than nothing.
This is a relatively new activity for me. I had wanted to start journaling daily for a while but was never able to get into it. I started journaling by keeping it simple:
- In the mornings, I list three things that I am grateful for.
- In the evenings, I list three good things that happened during the day.
This was a great way to start my journaling journey because it is easy and quick. Since I have been doing it for a bit, I decided to compile a list of things I wanted to journal about. You can find my list of 25 Journal Prompts here.
Keep in Touch With Family and Friends
Zoom has become my best friend and worst enemy at the same time. Who else can relate?
I love Zoom for chatting with my friends and family. Zoom has actually allowed me to keep in touch more with some friends and family members now than before we started quarantining. I love hearing all of the crazy things that my nieces and nephews have to say on our family calls. Catching up with friends who have moved away and my book club via Zoom has also been a pleasant experience.
Zoom for work though… I am not really sure I like it all that much. It is a great way to connect with my co-workers. It can also be too much though. Zoom call after Zoom call after Zoom call throughout the day gets really tiring. I find audio calls to be a great reprieve some days.
Do Some of the Things You Haven’t had Time for in the Past
I have done a lot of work on this blog while I have been home. I also completed some projects around my house that I had been meaning to do. Finally, I am getting through some of the books that have been on my “to read” list for a while. I finished “My Lovely Wife” and “The Wedding Party.” I currently have It Was Me All Along,” “Little Fires Everywhere,” and “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” on my Libby shelf.
Be Patient With Yourself
Finally, the most important thing you can do to stay sane while quarantining along may be to be patient with yourself. This situation is not normal. We are not working from home. We are working at home during a pandemic and a time of great uncertainty and stress. There is no road map for how we should behave or react.
I’m an introvert by nature. I like being alone and thrive when I have time to myself to think and recharge. My home is my happy place. I also have a four legged beast who depends on me for food, water and walks.
That being said, some days I feel more alone than others. At times, my emotions have been all over the place. I will go from happy to overwhelmed to sad to over everything in life in a few minutes. The key for me is to recognize the feelings and let myself work through them. If I need to, I call a friend or my sister. Or I go for a walk. Or I take a nap. I allow myself the space I need to get back to a place of peace.
There is my list of ways to stay sane while quarantining alone. Do you have other ideas that I did not mention? If so, tell me about them in the comments below or via social media. I would love to hear them and add them to my list.