Welcome to 2020. You’ve lost track of how many weeks you’ve been sheltering in place. You can’t remember the last time you went outside. What are jeans again? You are down to your last 10 precious squares of toilet paper. You either live alone, and are driving yourself crazy, or you live with other people and you are trying not to kill them. That is, except for the newlyweds, who all seem to be doing pretty well so far. How long does the honeymoon phase last again? We will wait.
Anyway — what a time to be alive. Who would have thought a month ago that quarantine would be our new normal? Since we’re all stuck inside, I thought I’d share a few ways to take your mind off everything happening in our world right now.
1. Bring The Great British Baking Show to your kitchen
You may have noticed already that all your friends on Instagram are turning into Martha Stewart. Well, embrace it. Since restaurants are closed and we’re all sheltering in place, cooking is now a very necessary part of our lives. In my last blog post about stress, I mentioned that blow torching creme brûlée is an excellent way to blow off some steam. I’m happy to report this holds true in the middle of a pandemic. Cooking is a very practical and fun creative outlet!
Here are a few of the recipes we’ve tried so far that take just 6 ingredients (or fewer).
If you’re really feeling ambitious, you can take The Great British Baking Show re-enactment a step further and actually film a reality show in your kitchen with your fellow quarantinees — the possibilities are endless!
2. Rediscover an old book series from your childhood
Last month, I started rereading a favorite book series from high school, the Inheritance Cycle. I have very fond memories of the series, so reading it as a 24 1/2-year-old was a little disillusioning, and it did make me question my adolescent self’s judgement. But it was also a lot of fun to walk down memory lane and understand why I loved those books so much while I was growing up. I’ve also been rereading some Agatha Christie novels and just started on my all-time favorite, the Harry Potter series. Take advantage of the time indoors to open up a book you used to love when you were younger. No matter how terrible your childhood literary taste, it’s better for your brain than scrolling social media. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Stay off Twitter
At best, Twitter is a black hole of contention, negativity, and endless rabbit trails. At worst (aka during COVID-19), it’s a truly terrifying place. Social media in general is correlated to depression and especially during this time it can get you into a pretty unhealthy head space if you’re not careful. Be intentional about stepping away from your phone and social media. Take advantage of your 5-mile radius (yes, that’s really a thing where I live — we are officially in a dystopian movie) and experience the great outdoors.
Caveat: I definitely encourage you to take advantage of the benefits social media and technology offer to connect with people. Use social media to maintain your relationships with the people you can’t see in person, but avoid the nonstop scrolling — it doesn’t help anyone.
4. Get a cat
So, at any given time approximately 70% of my camera roll consists of pictures of Emogene. During quarantine, it’s closer to 90%. I’ve decided to just own it, because cats are quarantine GAME CHANGERS. All you cat haters out there, have you tried having a cat while you’re stuck inside alone all day? Cats were literally made for quarantine — maximum companionship, minimum maintenance. There are kitties out there that need homes, and trust me, you need a cat in your life right now (evidence for this demonstrated by a tiny fraction of my camera roll below).
5. Discover new hobbies and embrace your inner grandma
I’ve been doing a lot of knitting recently and it’s been very therapeutic. It turns out a lot of what happens in quarantine isn’t exactly typical of how people in their twenties normally spend their time. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing! This is a great opportunity to use the extra time on your hands to discover a new hobby, or revisit an old one. However, don’t put pressure on yourself to be productive. These are challenging times, and you shouldn’t put unrealistic demands on yourself to accomplish great things (yes, Isaac Newton did invent calculus when he was quarantined but we don’t need to talk about that). Give yourself some grace. Make sure that your hobbies are fun and life-giving for you, not just another thing on your to-do list.
6. Be distantly social, not socially distant
Confession: I don’t really like hugs (why does it make sense to hug someone when you see them every week?). So when social distancing was first implemented, I didn’t think it was the end of the world. But now, even this hug-averse person is starting to miss them. We all have an innate need for intimacy and relationship. As you seek to maintain that ever-important 6 feet away from people, make sure that you are being intentional about spending time with them — even if you can only air hug them or see them over Zoom. Let’s look for opportunities to laugh and have fun together in the midst of this time. It’s a pretty big challenge, but humans are endlessly creative. As we look to minimize in-person contact and shift to virtual connection, don’t fall into isolation but think of new ways to lean into your community and love people well.
7. Know that God is near
I’m not going to tell you to just “trust God” during this time, because I know how infuriating it is to be urged to have more faith when it feels like your faith is crumbling — or you don’t have any. I don’t have answers to the very valid question of why a good God would allow something like this to happen. But I do know from personal experience that God is real, He is good, and He brings beauty from ashes.
Our church switched to online services just as we were beginning our series on the book of Job, and talking about the meaning of suffering during this time has been really impactful. While many people are saying that the pandemic is God’s judgement on the world, Job’s story serves as a powerful reminder that God’s sovereignty doesn’t mean He is trying to teach us a lesson, but that He is near to us in our suffering and He is able to use it for good. I believe with everything in me that God loves us, in spite of everything going on in our world right now. And He’s using even this crazy situation to draw us closer to Himself.
If you’re looking for a community during this time, even if you’re not sure if you believe in God, I highly encourage you to check out Peninsula Bible Church. We’re getting ready to start an awesome new series on my favorite chapter of the Bible (hint: the author is Paul). We’ll be diving into the very heart of the gospel and attempting to comprehend just how much God loves us — it’s a message the world needs to hear right now.
Well, I hope these tips help as we navigate this weird season together and ride out this journey at home. Now, I’d really love to hear from you — what are YOU doing to keep from going quarantine crazy?