Updated: Mar 19, 2020
In the U.S. and around the world many of us are settling in for an extended stay indoors. This is especially tough with spring approaching, when we're all excited to enjoy some warm sunny days, to stretch our legs, go to concerts, to visit friends. Even as a not-quite-extrovert, not-quite-introvert I'm going to miss my social time a lot. But our lives tend to be kind of hectic and despite the obvious downsides of being put under house arrest by microbes, this could be a great opportunity to slow down and enjoy things we don't usually make time for. If you're stumped, here are a few ideas:
Catch up on your reading. It's the forever answer to the riddle of how to leave your house without actually leaving your house. A good book allows you to visit places, times, and even entirely new worlds that might not be accessible to you even if you could go outside. Last summer I read a graphic novel about a girl who gets so fed up with the dating scene in L.A. that she starts dating a bear she encounters in the woods. That bear turns out to be the best boyfriend she's ever had. How delightfully weird, right? Grab something you've been meaning to read off the shelf, or get yourself a new ebook. You could even take this whole reading thing a step further and start a virtual book club. Have some wine and video chat about which species of bear would make the best romantic partner. I mean why not?
Start learning a new language. With language-learning apps abound, you have plenty of resources to start picking up some new vocabulary. Brush up on your Spanish or teach yourself a few phrases in Welsh. You'll confuse the part of your brain that thinks English spelling makes any kind of sense, but who needs spelling, really?
Improvise your own gym. I'll admit, I'm lucky because I have a pole taking up my living room and a pull up bar blocking my bathroom door. But even if your don't have workout gear at home you can still make it work if you're willing to get creative. Make weights out of canned goods, turn hand towels into floor sliders, do incline push ups on the arm of your couch, put your spanx to use as resistance bands. Lots of fitness businesses are turning to offering online classes during the epidemic. Check out your local (or not so local) offerings. If you hate exercising intentionally, turn on some music and dance like only your cat is watching—which is most likely the situation anyway.
Build a fort. Chances are you haven't done this since you were a kid. It's still pretty fun.
Explore your inner artist. You can make a still life out of anything. Gather up some interesting objects and practice your drawing skills. If you have paint on hand, throw some color around. If crafting is your thing, do that. If you're in the mood to be artsy, but the blank page freaks you out, coloring books are a great, no-pressure way to dip your toes in. There's a cool, unique coloring book out there for just about every interest. You may even already have one, uncolored, on your shelf. I have a dreamcatcher coloring book on mine I'm planning to break out soon. In light of the need for many of us to self-quarantine I've added printable versions of some of the Pole Shapes drawings here. Although these illustrations were made with adults in mind, even my five-year-old nephew enjoys them. Hurrah body-positive coloring fun for all ages!
Invent your own culinary masterpiece. Yes, you could also just take the time to make yourself a nice meal using a tried and true recipe. I'm not knocking that. But necessity is the mother of invention and often limitations are a driver for creativity. We might not be able to go out to the store and find every ingredient we need for a recipe, but our pantries can still yield some pretty cool opportunities. Just this weekend we stumbled on something new and delicious. We'd made a dinner using tinned fish and when we were done we didn't want to waste the oil, so we used it to make popcorn! I know what you're probably thinking, fishy popcorn doesn't sound appetizing, but with a little sesame oil and some furikake it turned out amazing. Definitely our best popcorn concoction to date.
Write. Keep a journal, try your hand at poetry, draft some fan fiction, or write a short story. Here are some ideas to get you going:
After entering witness protection, an elephant caretaker is called into a secret meeting.
An insomniac high school coach makes a bid for immortality in a 7-Eleven.
A boxer plays a practical joke on her opponent.
You inherit a hot air balloon the day before your 10 year reunion.
Your roommate joins Tinder, all his matches turn out to be world record holders.
P.S. If anybody writes these, please share them with me.
Get some rest. I'm writing this in the midst of full ginseng insomnia, but for those of you who aren't hopped up on roots enjoy the opportunity to get more sleep. Take naps, even. For extra points, train yourself to have lucid dreams. Sometimes I have dreams where there's all this delicious food on a table in front of me, but for some reason all my attempts to eat it get thwarted. I'm waiting for that day when I can find that point of conscious unconsciousness and say to myself, this is a dream, and eat everything. Maybe this will be the month I finally do it.
Photo by Emily Rudolph