One of the toughest things about quarantine is the feeling that our year is slipping away. But time stuck at home doesn’t have to be time wasted. If you take advantage of it, quarantine is an amazing opportunity to grow into a “you” you can be excited to bring back into the world. Then, realize you’re not going into the world anytime soon and deteriorate back into the mediocre “you” you’ve always been.
Try learning a new skill in the kitchen. Some people get intimidated by cooking, but don’t worry! Literally anyone can add a few recipes to their repertoire, get bored, and then revert to ordering delivery because waiting for food to arrive provides at least a tiny spark of excitement, however fleeting and trivial. Or jump in on the sourdough bread craze. There’s just something so amazing about using a living organism to create food that feeds your body and nurtures your soul, then throwing that living organism in the trash because you’ve been staring at its gross Ziploc baggie in your fridge for seven months and you can’t stand it anymore. Talk about broadened horizons!
Tap into your creative side by creating and then abandoning a webcomic or blog. Just imagine yourself in a few years looking back on quarantine as the time you started a vast catalog of original creative work that opened new doors for you. Then, stop imagining it and go back to playing Animal Crossing. When you stumble across those dusty art supplies and half-finished sketches next time you move, you’ll be reminded of all the progress you made with Tom Nook.
Our social lives may be diminished, but that’s just a chance to reconnect with loved ones until the novelty wears off and you go back to spending evenings drinking White Claws and talking to your pets. It’s never been easier to set up a standard weekly hangout on the calendar. And it’s even easier to have a monthly hangout. Eventually, you and your loved ones will wonder how you ever lived without half-heartedly suggesting and blowing off zoom hangs every 6-8 weeks. I think I speak for a lot of us when I say these strange times really make you realize how much you took people for granted before you go back to taking them for granted.
Plus, there’s never been a better time to give up on getting into the kind of shape you’ve always dreamed of. You may not have your regular gym access, but nothing can stop you from jogging but you! Which you will. Get into the groove by starting small and making yourself go a little farther every day. Then, a little less far every day. Eventually, you’ll be back to not running at all! And preparing your own meals is a great way to eat healthier until the sheer lack of stimulation drives you back to boredom-snacking through complete boxes of Cheez-Its. One easy trick is to make a big bowl of salad on Sunday night, then let it sit untouched in your refrigerator forever. Fresh avocados provide a great visual guide for exactly how long it’s been since you gave up on getting “quarantine-fit.” If I can do it, you can too!
But more than anything, use these slow days to practice mindfulness. Just taking a moment each day to appreciate the value of time will really make you think twice before spending the entire day playing video games and napping. Sure, you’ll still take the naps, but at least now you know they’re precious.
So don’t waste the opportunity. Ask yourself, “Which areas of ‘me’ have I been neglecting for lack of time, and which do I want to start neglecting for lack of follow-through?” You may think that quarantine is a burden, but if you focus on the opportunity you have to work on you, you’ll start to see it as a blessing. Then, after months of grinding monotony and backsliding, you’ll realize that it really is a tremendous burden after all. So as you gradually go from asking, “When’s the next time I’ll have this much free time?” to “When’s the next time I WON’T have this much free time?” Remember, this is a chance for all of us to get better, but ultimately end up a little worse.