How to Stay Sane When Quarantining Alone

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.

What’s Next?

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.

Journal

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.

If you want to read more, you can check out a list of Self Care Ideas for Women in this post and 20 Things to do When You’re Bored and Home Alone in this post.

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How to Stay Sane When Quarantining Alone

I’m Looking for a Bit of Inspiration

Millennium Park in Chicago

Do you have those days when you are looking for a bit of inspiration?

I was at a get together with some people I mostly didn’t know a few nights ago and I was telling a fellow attendee about a trip I’m taking in September. I’m going on the trip with a tour instead of going solo. It’s been a while since I’ve done that but I’m looking forward to it.

After I finished my comment, the fellow attendee said to me “So you’re not comfortable being alone then?”

I’m not going to lie – I was a little taken aback by that reply. His question didn’t make any sense to me. My response back to him was “I’ve lived alone for almost 15 years. I’m by myself many hours each day and I travel solo quite often as well. Trust me, I’m comfortable being alone.”

I can’t help but wonder why I can’t stop thinking about that comment and worse, why I’m letting it bother me? But before we judge, the guy was actually very nice and friendly. He and his wife are lovely. I think he just said something I wasn’t expecting.

Of course I WISH I wasn’t alone so much. If you had asked me 20 years ago what my life would be like right now, my current situation wouldn’t have been my answer.

However, it is what it is.

Overall, I’m doing pretty well. I have a job that’s steady and pays the bills. I’m blessed with amazing friends all over the world and I’m close to my family. I live in a great city and bought a small but perfect-for-me townhome a couple of years ago. I’ve managed to keep my dog alive for almost eight years now. I also get to do lots of fun things and travel often too.

But I know what’s missing, or at least what people think I’m missing. The truth is – I’m really bad at dating. I get bored or frustrated and lose interest really quickly. I end things so I don’t “waste my time.” And honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve met a guy who has a good job and is motivated with some hobbies who doesn’t live at home with his parents. True story.

My sister used to tell me all the time that I’m “too picky” but I’ve been privy to enough bad relationships to know I don’t want one of those. I also don’t want to have a baby on my own. So in the meantime, I’m just doing the solo life thing and trying to make the most of my alone time. Some days, I enjoy it more than others.

While I was home alone most of this past weekend, I worked on a blog post about Hawaii that I was going to publish today. It’s a decent post but it’s uninspiring to me right now, which is something I’ve struggled with a lot when it comes to this blog recently.

So I’ve decided to turn to you, my amazing readers. I am looking for a bit of inspiration. What kinds of things would you like me to write about? It can be anything – not just travel. What about me or my life intrigues you that you’d like to learn more about? Don’t be shy, anything is on the table. Leave a comment below or send me a message. I’d love to hear from you.

Subjects I’ve considered include…

  • Single life in the city and maybe even dating stories.
  • My never ending quest to find non toxic sunscreen that works well and skincare products that are gentle but effective (especially for my rosacea)
  • Tips for hosting and cooking for a party (many of which are from my mom who really is the hostess with the mostest)
  • What it’s like to be on the board of a nonprofit
  • How to find nonprofits that match your passions
  • Stories from my book club and/or cookbook club – and why you should have these in your life too!
  • My favorite books
  • What it was like to grow up on a farm

Of course I’ll still post lots of travel things too. I love telling those stories and hopefully, inspiring you to get out and travel on your own.

In the meantime, tell me what you want to read and know! Also, for all of you who are wondering, I’m heading to Croatia and Slovenia with Trafalgar in September. While most of the trip will be pretty structured with not a lot of free time, I’d love to hear your suggestions if you’ve been there and have them. I’d love to have excuses to sneak away and be comfortable on my own when I can.

Finally, while I haven’t been posting a lot lately, I am having a great summer. Check out a few of the highlights in the photos below.

My brother and his family (including the little cutie above) came to visit a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time they’ve brought their kids to Chicago and we had a great time going to the Shedd Aquarium and the beach!!
Stella has taken a lot of uncomfortable looking naps this summer.
I had my eyebrows colored. I thought they were too dark and that I looked like a freak as a result. But my friends disagreed so I kept them…and yes I know I’m about 20 years behind on this one. I should have been having them done all along.
I went to a really fun concert at Millennium Park. The Grant Park Orchestra did their “Envelope, Please” show that night.
I spent Memorial Day with a friend and this beauty and her husband at their lake house outside of Houston. We had a great time!

Want to read more? Check out my posts from my trip to Greece here and here.