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

Disclaimer: Some of the links on this website are affiliate links. This means that if you click on them, I may receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products or services I personally use and believe will add value to my readers. 

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

Self Care Ideas for Women

Self Care Ideas for Women

Self care is always important but even more so right now as we enter another week of quarantine. A couple of weeks ago, I made a list of self care ideas for myself for those times when I was feeling down and needed a pick-me-up. The list is a quick reminder of all of the things that I can do to make me feel better. Some of the items on the list can be done quickly, others take time. I have managed to do most of them over the past several weeks. Some of them several times. I thought others might be interest in my list so I decided to share it here. This is my list of self care ideas, primarily for women.

Note: the Amazon links below are affiliate links.

15 Self Care Ideas for Women

  1. Face and Hair Masks – I suppose this is a cliche self care idea for women but I love how my hair and skin feel after doing masks. My favorite hair mask is the Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask. A few of the face masks I recommend include this clay mask from Loreal, this peel off mask from Boscia (is there anything more satisfying than a peel off mask?) and the Jet Lag mask from Summer Fridays.
  2. Read a book – E-books are great but even better, pick up a paper book. I love the smell of books. As an added bonus, there are no notification distractions like there can be when reading a book on a tablet or phone. If you are looking for a good book to read, you can check out three of my recent book recommendations in this post.
  3. Log off of social media – The news today is mostly negative. Looking at other people’s curated lives on social media can make me feel less than satisfied with my own life sometimes. I have a bad habit of instantly opening up Facebook, Instagram or Twitter when I am bored. I don’t even think about it sometimes. When I log out of the apps, it stops me in my tracks and reminds me that I need to go do something else.
  4. Go for a walk outside – Being outside in the fresh air always helps clear my mind and the movement is great for my body too.
  5. Jot down your thoughts in a journal.
  6. Schedule a Facetime or Zoom chat with friends or family.
  7. Order take out – Cooking can be comforting but ordering takeout and opening your favorite bottle of wine to pair with it can be a special treat and the perfect way to relax and unwind.
  8. Turn on your favorite song, crank up the volume and have a dance party in your bedroom. My guilty pleasure song of late is “Only Human” by the Jonas Brothers.
  9. Do yoga – One of my favorite yoga channels is Yoga With Adrienne on YouTube. She has classes for all skill levels so you should be able to find something right for you.
  10. Make a list of things you are grateful for.
  11. Do a crossword puzzle – The daily mini puzzle from the New York Times is my jam. I look forward to trying to complete it in less than 30 seconds every evening!
  12. Watch a funny show or video
  13. Start planning a future trip – If you are looking for some inspiration,I have a lot of ideas saved on Pinterest.
  14. Take a bath
  15. Snuggle with a dog – The fluffier the pup, the better.

Do you have any other self care ideas for women that you think I should add to this list? If so, tell me in the comments below!

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Self Care Ideas for Women

What I am Grateful for Right Now

Maltipoo

If there is one benefit to this quarantine for me, it has been a sharp focus back to what really matters to me and what I am grateful for right now. There are days when I get lonely. It has been weeks since I have had a meaningful conversation with an actual human. I am always worried about my sister, my parents and everyone else who is at high risk. The lack of baseball and travel has created a void in my life. I have even started missing riding the CTA trains regularly.

Like everyone, I want more than anything to resume to a least a resemblance of my “normal” life.

But when these thoughts and doubts start to creep in and take over, I make myself stop. I know I have nothing to complain about right now. In fact, I have so much to be grateful for. My friend Erin posted a photo on Instagram yesterday and there were three parts to her post:

  1. Things I wish I would have done before quarantining
  2. What will I be glad to be able to do again when it is over?
  3. What am I thankful I have the opportunity to do now that I wouldn’t have otherwise?

I responded to her post but I thought I could expand upon my answers and make it into a blog post. I am also going to change it up a bit add another item and insert it into #1: What I am grateful for right now.

What I am Grateful For Right Now

My job

I have always envied the people I see on social media who have the courage to sell everything they own, quit their corporate job and do their own thing or go travel the world with the belief that it will all work out.

Right now, I am thankful I have a lower risk tolerance than them. I see many of them mentioning on social media that most of their income has completely dried up over the past month. Many of those who travel were scrambling to get home so they could quarantine.

As of today, I still have a job that allows me to work from home 100% while maintaining the same level of income. This means I can still pay my mortgage and bills for another month. I’m so grateful for this and know how fortunate I am. I can also afford to give to others that need help, whether that be by ordering from local restaurants or donating to organizations helping those in need. I am so thankful to be in the position I am in.

My Pup

I know that she cannot talk back to me or help out around the house but I am so glad my Maltipoo, Stella, is here to keep me company. Her antics make me smile. She doesn’t allow me out of her sight, which is good (but also so annoying sometimes too :)).  She is the catalyst for all of the walks I am taking which ensures I still move and get fresh air.

My Family and Friends

If there is one thing that I hope continues after all of this is past us, it is catching up with friends and family over FaceTime or Zoom. This has definitely been one of the big bright spots over the past four weeks. I have spoken regularly with friends I usually don’t talk to regularly and been able to catch up and chat with family and friends I usually only see once or twice a year. I have appreciated the virtual happy hours. The smiles and laughs. I love hearing life updates and listening to struggles and concerns as well.

Spring is on the Way

It is still quite chilly here in Chicago most days but that doesn’t mean that spring isn’t coming. I noticed a couple of days ago that the grass is starting to turn green. The days are getting longer. And most importantly, the tulips and daffodils are starting to poke out of the ground and will be blooming soon! As I have mentioned in other posts, I always look forward to tulip time in Chicago. It instantly brightens up the city and make me so happy! It is definitely something I am grateful for right now.

Things I am Grateful for Right Now

Things I wish I would have done before quarantining

There are two things that stick out in my mind for things I wish I had done before quarantining:

  1. Go to the dentist – I had an appointment to get my teeth cleaned a few weeks ago. Long story short, it had to be rescheduled to March 30th. Well, clearly that was canceled So now I am well overdue for a cleaning and I can tell. I am looking forward to getting a new appointment scheduled when it is safe.
  2. Have Stella groomed and shaved. I haven’t had Stella shaved in a while but being with her 24/7 is wreaking havoc on my allergies. It would be so much better if she was shaved I think because she wouldn’t be picking up so many allergens in the grass during our walks.

What will I be glad to be able to do again when it is over?

Resuming “normalcy” is what I am looking forward to doing again when this is over. I want to visit and hug my family, in particular, my nieces and nephews. I’d like to work in the office where I can be around my coworkers. I learn so much from them and it is nice to chat and laugh with them. I’m looking forward to going out to dinner and to the theater with my friends here in Chicago. I miss this a lot because it is something I do often. I also look forward to going outside without worrying about being infected by others or possibly infecting someone else.

What am I thankful I have the opportunity to do now that I wouldn’t have otherwise?

As I mentioned above, being able to catch up with family and friends virtually that I do not see regularly has been one of the bright spots of this quarantine. I am very grateful for that right now.

Another thing that I am grateful for is the pause to the rat race of regular life. I’ve noticed when I go on a relaxing vacation (ie. to Hawaii) that I struggle to stop the constant chatter in my head about what I need to be doing now or planning next. I try to not make many plans when I go to Hawaii but just being still without feeling guilt is very hard for me. I always feel like I need to be doing something “productive.”

This quarantine has been a perfect time for me to step back and just be. I cannot go anywhere. My role in this is to stay home, remain out of the way and let others do their jobs. There is no thinking about what needs to be done right now. There is no planning for tomorrow or the next week. Because it is already determined.

I’m staying home and working Monday-Friday from my dining room table. I will take Stella for walks and make meals. I will read and blog and finish the puzzle that has been partially completed for a few days. That is it. There is nothing more. There is peace in knowing this. It takes my anxiety down a bit and comforts me. It quiets the chatter.

Final Thoughts

I mentioned this in one of my other quarantine posts but if you are struggling and need someone to talk to, please reach out to me or something else you trust. You can email me at [email protected] I would be happy to set up a chat over the phone for via Zoom. You are not alone. We can get through this.

Also, I want to send CONGRATULATIONS and big virtual hugs to my friend Julie and her new husband, Jeff. They got married yesterday. It was not the celebration they envisioned but it was wonderful nonetheless. I cannot wait to party with them later this year when we will celebrate in style.

I mentioned my friend Erin above. Along with posting great content, she is leading free virtual yoga sessions a few times each week. It is a great chance to move your body and calm your mind. You can find out more on her Instagram. Here is the link.

Reading, blogging and puzzling are a few of the things I have been up to while quarantining. If you are interested in reading about other ideas I have for keeping yourself busy while being bored and alone, check out my last post.

Finally, what things are you grateful for right now? I would love to read them so tell me in the comments below!

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What I am Grateful for Right Now

20 Things to do When You’re Bored and Alone

Things to do When You're Bored

Well, here we are. I am in the middle of week three of sheltering in place and working from home with no end in sight. This means it has been about three weeks since I have had more than brief interactions with an actual human. So how’s it going? It is going okay for the most part. I have always dreaded the idea of working from home. I thought it was be awful. While it is still not my preference, it is not as bad as I feared it would be.

I have been keeping busy working most days as usual. I have also found lots of things to keep me occupied during the evenings as well. For those struggling to find things to keep them busy, here is a list of 20 things I have been doing to pass the time. They are things you can also do when you are bored and home alone.

20 Things to do When You’re Bored and Home Alone

  1. Read a Book – Who else has a stack of books on their bedside table that need to be read? I have lots of them and several have been there for a long time. This is the perfect time to actually read them. A few of my other favorites include Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series (starring Navy Seals, lots of drama and romance), Water for Elephants, My Sister’s Keeper and The Book Thief.
  2. Put together a jigsaw puzzle – I bought a few new puzzles a few years ago but only put one or two of them together. It turns out that I don’t have the patience for puzzles. But, I have lots of time now so I am making it a goal to put all of the unopened ones together by the time I go back to working in the office. Wish me luck!
  3. Go for a walk – There is nothing better than exercise and fresh air.
  4. Play with your pet – Or take it along with you on your walk! If there is one good thing to come from quarantine, it is how happy it is making my pup.
  5. Learn a new skill or improve upon the skills you already have – As someone who loves to learn new things, this one is really exciting to me! Now to decide which skill I want to learn most (photography and coding come to mind first)!
  6. Start a blog! – This one will take time and thought so it is a great thing to do when you’re bored.
  7. Bake – This is both good and bad. I like to bake but I am the only one here to eat the end result so I have been avoiding it. But I think banana bread may be on the list for this weekend.
  8. Clean – Find those places that seldom get cleaned and start there. Under your bed, the baseboards and the windows and places that instantly come to mind for me.
  9. Start (and finish!) all of those home improvement projects you’ve been putting off. If you own a home, you undoubtedly have a list of home projects you have been wanting to tackle. Now is the perfect time!
  10. Workout – There are so many free workout options online. A few of my favorites include Sydney Cummings, MadFit and Yoga With Adriene. My good friend and yogi Erin has also been offering free classes on her Instagram. You can check her out here.
  11. Watch Netflix/YouTube/etc – My goal is to binge Season 2 of Big Little Lies.
  12. Paint your nails – I know it is more fun (and usually more precise) to have them done at a salon but since that isn’t possible right now, find one of your favorite colors from your collection and paint your own nails.
  13. Facetime/Zoom friends or family – You can amp it up by making it a virtual happy hour! BYOB!
  14. Go through your social media accounts. Unfollow accounts that you are no longer interested in.-  It has been a while since I have done this and it is overdue. I always feel better when my social media accounts (particularly my Instagram account) are curated.
  15. Create a happy list! – Write down things that make you happy. I have so many things that make me smile and that I am grateful for. Writing them down and reading through them instantly makes me feel better.
  16. Craft – Dust off those long forgotten crafts you had good intentions of completing in the past but didn’t and finish them now.
  17. Do laundry – Not a fun one but a necessary one and not such a bad task when you’re looking for things to do when you’re bored. It is interesting to see how my laundry has changed over the past couple of weeks. Instead of washing dresses and tights like I do when I am working in the office, I am washing mostly yoga pants and socks.
  18. Organize your closet and put together a donation pile. – I used to stay on top of this because a good friend owned a consignment store. Since she is out of that business now, I am not nearly as good about going through my clothes and getting rid of the things I no longer wear. This would be a great task for me this weekend.
  19. Plan a vacation – One of my favorite things to do. Plan a trip to take for when it is safe for everyone to travel. Dream big!
  20. Write postcards to save Democracy – I have been writing postcards to voters for several years now and there are campaigns going on even through this quarantine period. I encourage you to check the organization out here if your interested in getting involved!

There is my list of things to do when you’re bored and home alone. How many of these items have you done while at home sheltering in place? Let me know in the comments below. Do you have any ideas for things I should add? Let me know those in the comments below as well.

If you would like to read more, check out some of my other posts, including 7 Ways to Stay Sane When Quarantining Alone and 15 Self Care Ideas for Women.

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20 Things to do When You're Bored and Home Alone