Self-Care and Social Isolation

May 4, 2020

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  • I have learned just about every solitaire game that I can find. I try to keep a routine of sewing for an hour, knitting while watching my favorite murder mysteries and getting in a couple of hours of reading. Exercise is in there too. Since I don’t want to waste anything I bought a meat grinder. By the time this is over I will have learned how to use it.

  • I, too, am an indoor cat and I am starting Week Eight of “house arrest.” I am incredibly lucky to be able to do my job via computer and have been INSANELY busy at work (I work for the federal government and we have been getting temporary COVID-19 regs out). The team I supervise are all full-time teleworkers (as is the coworker with whom I work most closely) so they are pros at this, and that helps a lot. So the workday routine is very much set.

    Interestingly, we do most of our meeting via conference call rather than video conference. Even when we meet via Microsoft Teams, most of us don’t turn our video camera on.

    I have yet to don a pair of sweatpants during this time — I’m wearing jeans and a shirt every day. But I wear the same 5 shirts every week, in the same order. For some reason, that detail seems important to me.

    I’ve surprised myself a bit by how I am not succumbing to cabin fever, but I have plenty of knitting, plenty of tv to watch, and plenty of work to do. When do finally all go back to the office it is going to be very surreal, I think!

    • I LOVE having a Monday shirt, a Tuesday shirt, etc. I worked in fashion for awhile so I couldn’t get away with a schedule that way, but I definitely had set outfits – top, bottom, jewelry and it was so nice in the morning to go, “yups, that one today” and just put them on.

    • There was an article on BBC about why video calls are more exhausting than actual meetings, check it out. Seems like you and your colleagues instinctively go for the more productive way.

    • I also work for the federal government, and we have been so busy! I’m also a regular teleworker, so that has been no change. (The change is that my significant other is now also mostly working at home, as well as stepkids sometimes being here doing online school – so my quiet days and my concentration have been disrupted.)
      My team has also always met with the video off… I find myself wondering why companies feel the need for videoconferencing if they can just as easily have the meeting without video. Who needs that hygiene pressure these days?
      I admit I work in my bathrobe almost every day. It’s comfortable, fuzzy and non-restrictive. I have 5-6 of them and rotate those. No bra, no pants, no worries… lol!

    • I work for a government organisation in the UK, and we’ve been doing remote working for several years. When it’s a close team meeting we never have the video on but somehow, when it’s people you know less well, there’s an expectation that we all turn on the camera

  • y mother is the most organized person I know, even at the age of 97.6, she can still out organize anybody I know. I on the other hand, let’s just say that my mother always said she could tell when I entered the house and find me by my trail of stuff . For years I thought I just didn’t inherit her organizing and cleaning gene. I *******never****** realized that she learned that in the Marine Corps (she was in WW II). I thought she was born that way! I will speak with her later today and ask her. Thank you, I feel so much better.

  • Routine is mandatory! And I always, every day, shower and get dressed and put on a bit of bling because it’s important for my mental health to look my best even if no one is going to see me. My local Bernina/Pfaff dealer has done an amazing job of organizing troops of sewers to sew masks, scrub caps, and hospital gowns. The demand has not ebbed a bit. So I sew (see what I did there?) about six hours /day making scrub caps, listening to podcasts or audiobooks or music. I love to sew, and I’ve gotten pretty good at assembly line construction of scrub caps. But at 4 pm (remember routine?) I shut off the machine and the iron, pick up my knitting, pour a glass of liquid refreshment (OK, it’s wine) and turn on the TV to something entertaining. I’ve always been a homebody, and everything I need is here, for now. I’m staying more in touch with friends and relatives than before, through FaceTime and Zoom and phone calls. This past week a robin built a nest on a light fixture outside our front door and she patiently sits there as robins have done for eternity, waiting for the miracle of her babies to appear. She reminds us that to everything there is, indeed, a season.

  • I must admit I have found I do not miss all the noise that is usually a part of my life. The quiet has brought serenity while I enjoy classical music as my background. I am a knitter for several charities and will have packages to mail to each when the quarantine is over. At 78 I am staying in missing my son and grandsons who I text, call, and see occasionally. God has provided entertainment by sending 6 red fox kits and their parents to our backyard. Their antics make for laughs to lighten the day. I, too, get dressed each day, draw eyebrows where there are none, curl my lengthening hair, and long for the day I can see my hair dresser again. Housecleaning has become a necessity since my cleaning people cannot come. And best of all our attic, garage, shed, basement are becoming places one might even want to enter now. Unfortunately the Visiting Nurse sale which is held in May has been postponed so our donations are accumulating and will need to be stored until October when the next sale is scheduled.

  • For the most part, I am loving not being overscheduled, as my life had become pre-CV. I would never drive anywhere without planning three stops or events, and while it may have been environmentally beneficial, I can now see how exhausting it was. My best quarantine game changer is getting up, getting ready, and making sure I am wearing shoes, not socks or slippers or bare feet. Somehow it signals my brain to get into action.

  • I agree that routine has been the key to keeping anxiety at bay. I’m teleworking and keeping the same hours as I normally would–which gives comforting familiarity. And of course I have my knitting–always my knitting. And I find I’m keeping a stricter workout routine than normal–I have yet to miss a day. For variety I sew face masks for our local cooperative. I’m not normally much of a TV-watcher, but it seemed like a nice escape, so I thought I’d watch-and-knit. However, there are so many shows to choose from–I was overwhelmed! So I contacted a friend who is also a librarian (but retired) and she gave me a wonderful curated list of programs based on my interests. This has opened up a whole new world of novel experiences. I’m not missing my office and am quite happy at home with my family–and feeling blessed.

  • I’m content during this time. We are staying in our cabin in the woods. That, in itself helps to feed our souls. The creek rushes by down below us. We see turkeys, osprey, deer and sometimes an eagle or mink.

    I usually like to paint with watercolor and am still doing that; but not as much. I have started knitting again like crazy. I was knitting a shawl for my son’s wedding that would have been this past Saturday, if not for quarantine. My mind couldn’t seem to stay on a lace pattern though, which was kind of new to me anyway. Now I have started a shawl with simple stockinette. It is very calming.

    We are walking every day along the creek and in the woods. I miss my family and 1 year old grandson. I worry for the new baby that is due any day to another of my children. Other than missing family and worry that everyone will be safe, I’m happy on my own with my husband.

    I am not missing social obligations or going for coffee. I love the simplicity of life now. But look forward to a return to being able to travel and get out and have these worry of disease lifted. Though I am not sure I will ever feel that it isn’t there lurking. I think this has probably changed many of us for life.

  • Am I the only person who wants to know what Hip Hop class you are attending in the privacy of your home?!?

    • I want to know what Hip Hop class your are attending, too.

    • No me too lol

    • You are absolutely NOT alone! 🙂

    • our friend Karen Garcia does a hip hop class nightly from Haines Alaska. She is AWESOME.

    • Count me among those who are poised to click on a link.

    • I would like to know it too.

    • Me too!

    • The classes are private YouTube videos done by @momolebeau on Instagram. He announces them there; you Venmo him some $, he sends you a link, and the video is up for the weekend. A bit lofi but really fun. And HARD, as I say.

      They are NSFW, fyi!

  • Kids are ages 10 & 12. My most pro tip is that weekends, we basically don’t see each other. I let them fall into their screens for the day, mostly, and we do dinner together. There is, by necessity, SO MUCH interaction during the school/work week, this makes it bearable. All the little parenting bits in a day: put away the milk, ohmygoddontputthatmuchinyourmouth, put some pants on if you’re cold, you have to _______, …
    They have been doing a lot more chores. I’ve invented a category of micro-chores. Clean one sink, sweep one set of stairs, little things that can get done in 5 minutes. Hoping to help create mastery of these small things and more ownership of their living space.
    I have been VERY diligent at cranking away on WIPs, I’m down to just 2, one with complicated patterning, one with just a few more miles of garter stitch to go. I think my self-care treat to myself today will be BOTH time knitting the tricky one AND reviewing my dying-to-get-started-on-it list together and casting on something new (including maybe a Swatch for the something new).

    • Wow! Consciously taking time off from each other is brilliant. Good for you! I no longer have kids at home (thank ALL the Gods) but see the pressure to be present to your kids 24/7. And “Micro-chores!! You need to write a book. You go girl!!

    • Your concept of micro-chores is brilliant! We need to embrace this immediately. Even though there are just the two of us, and we try to keep things neat, we really miss our regular house cleaners. Even more than going out to eat! I think we can handle 5 minutes.

  • Living in a rural area, the rhythm of our lives hasn’t changed drastically. The animals need feeding, the barn needs cleaning and my hubby is transplanting veggies and flowers in our little greenhouse for our summer garden. But now instead of leaving the house for work, my husband moves from one chair in the dining room (where he eats his breakfast) to another chair that serves as his office. I try to schedule noisy tasks around his various video and teleconferencing calls. I disappear up to my sewing room, making masks and finishing up various projects. Just as many of you mentioned in these comments the hardest part is not being with my two adult daughters. I read just enough news to stay informed but not so much that I am overwhelmed. A new addition to our routine is a mid morning latte lovingly made by my hubby, a small treat we share. I’m so glad we live where we can walk freely on our own land daily with our pup. Those walks really help! Evenings are books on tape while I knit, hubby reads. Sometimes we watch a bit of TV or a movie. We are doing ok.

  • I am so fortunate to live in a warm coastal climate. Most of you are probably saying “Quit yer complaining!”
    But. I miss knit night with my girlfriends. Church. Dinners out. My gym, oh my gosh my gym.
    When I realized it would be months not weeks before that routine would be back, I assembled a “gym” in a corner of the garage. Had some stuff, ordered some stuff.
    “Honey, I’m headed to the gym” is our little hike but it has solidified my workout routine. A couple apps help. The bedroom is for “I’m going to yoga now.”
    Other than that, I’m grateful for gardening, dog walking, bicycling. I can golf (they’ve set up a wonderful system here.
    I like to cook and have challenged myself to Meatless Monday. Bread baking (omg the breads!)
    As May arrived, I decided the wine situation had gotten out of hand, though, so I’m doing a dry May.
    Last night I put on a dress for dinner. Some days I stay in yoga pants all day.
    And yes, each day needs some kind is scheduled goal. Monday is gym, house cleaning and laundry — gotta run!!!
    Stay safe, everyone. And don’t kill your husband because he leaves the Splenda packet in the counter. Every. Single. Day.

    • The editor in me must apologize for my typos above, including the spelling of my own damn name, lol

      • Ha! Glad it’s not just me! A few days ago I ventured out to the post office. Masked, gloved, left my package at home. This time has messed with my brain.

      • I enjoyed reading all the comments. I was raised by a Army colonel, and have a similar desire for order. I have realized (after 34 years of marriage) that when my oblivious messy hubby retires I’m going to go crazy! I seem to spend so much time trying to reinstate order in my home. I think it gives me an illusion of control over my life. Also, we have 4 adult offspring who are quarantined here as well. They, however, are fairly neat. I am a recently retired nurse. Am thankful that I have been home to care for my daughter who has had flare ups of her autoimmune disease. Have been able to knit, recover dining chair seats, cook meals for food sensitivities, sew masks, read, and enjoy Picard, Call the Midwife, and Outlander! We are all trying to hold it together and be kind to each other until everyone can go home again.

      • I’ve misspelled my own name, liz, as luz so many times I’m thinking of just changing it anyway. Luz is a nice name!

        • My nephew’s mother-in-law is a Luz. Sweet lady, wonderful daughter, and I absolutely adore her grandchildren. So I agree, Luz is a very nice name.

          I had NINE grand nieces and nephews born between January 2018 and December 2019. So I am knitting one-year birthday presents for the boys (bigger blankets and hats, and a crocheted toy). The two-year old girls will get presents later. And I can’t wait to see them all again – that is the worst part of this isolation. I live in a rural area and am retired, so my routine isn’t too bad – unstructured, but lots of time outside with my two labrador retrievers, and time inside knitting. I still am pretty good (or bad!) about ignoring the house cleaning, but dear hubby doesn’t seem too concerned. And lucky me, he does most of the cooking. I can’t complain.

  • Routine is key. I was (formerly) a full-time remote worker. In my current job I was working remotely a couple of days a week. Now that I am back to full-time remote I can tell you this – I wear jeans and a shirt every day (like Wendy) – trust me, sweatpants will NOT be your friend, if you haven’t put them on, when it’s time to go back into the office. I hate meal planning but it has become a necessity. Get outside. Don’t hole up in your home office. I am fortunate for good weather and covered/screened deck. This is my home office now, temps permitting. I am also a house cat so working at home is definitely my jam. One last thing, set boundaries. Don’t roll out of bed and work for 12 hours (unless your project necessitates it). Have a start time, a lunch time and an end time. Pro tip: Tell Alexa “work from home” and she’ll remind you of these things 🙂

  • This morning I have outpatient surgery scheduled to have the other cataract removed, as I had one surgery before we were isolated. I’m excited to get this done and it may signal a return to what ever normal has become

  • Could I ever lay down the needles? In realizing my own introverted routine of knitting & crochet, I also saw the need to learn something new. I have gotten into subversive embroidery. New needle! We made a donation to the Salvation Army. I ordered tailor made trousers. Thanks for the yoga advice!

  • For work, I am either working from home or traveling. The traveling piece is gone for the moment and work has slowed down. Fortunately I have a dog and walk him twice a day. He gets to decide which way we go when get to intersections. :). At the beginning, I did some cleaning of closets and drawers and now that the weather is good, I rearranged my outdoor furniture and planted my vegetable garden and flowers in pots. I make sure to sit and work outside everyday. The sun and birdsongs help. I stay off the internet and away from the news. I was on too much at the beginning and I couldn’t sleep at night. I see my family in person but we keep our distance. I realized this weekend I haven’t touched another human being in 7 weeks. I can’t wait to give and get hugs.

  • Yes, I find that balancing routine and novelty fits. One of the truly fun things my husband and I have started is fun Friday. We stop our business early on this one day for a cocktail and snack, sitting in our garden when weather allows. And then a fun dinner – something that my generally healthy meal planning wouldn’t normally do. Like grilled cheese sandwiches with caramelized onions. And we spend a quiet evening together listening to music. It has been surprisingly sweet. Other than that, tackling projects I’ve been putting off for too long.

  • I, too, dress daily in a cotton knit flare and swing dress and a chef’s apron. I am cooking a lot more, mostly from scratch, and it comes in spurts throughout the day, so it’s safest to be ready.

    I’m messy when I cook, but kitchens are easy to clean up.

    I am also making face masks for Kentucky Face Mask Warriors and I am setting up an Etsy shop for masks and hankies. I will be in the group quarantined the longest on counts of age, an autoimmune disease, and a couple other counts. I might as well have an enterprise, however small, to occupy me.

    I do make it a point to drive in the country for one reason or another several times a week to be able to appreciate the advancing seasons, and I also practice standing yoga.

    I am not suffering, either, being a bit of a bit of a hermit at times by nature.

  • I am reading Jen Hatmakers new book. She gives us permission not to be super woman. She gives us permission to examine what we need during crises. It looks different for each of us. She gives us permission for ordinary joys and ordinary worries. My routine is something like this:
    Open eyes…look at clock….think Shit It is after 9 and Im still tired
    Get up. Husband has coffee at the ready. Take antidepressants.
    Scoop kitty boxes.
    Wash hands like surgical nurse.
    Read email, post to my blog,
    are you bored yet?
    Look at to do list made the night before.
    Beg heaven and earth to help my family member who is suffering right now.
    Get outside. DO yard work.
    Possibly cycle if wind is low and temp is over 50.
    Knit knit knit
    Dont sit until 3 pm
    Ask husband about dinner preferences. Cook for him. Eat Peanut Butter and Jelly for self. Im on a binge.
    Check in with Karen, what are we texting about while watching TV tonight?
    Get huge second wind at 9pm.
    Toss, turn and try to relax to fall asleep…by 1:30.

    • So much this sounds like my day.

  • My life has just been really complicated lately! I was sick with a sinus infection and then my gallbladder was misbehaving, and since I’m immunocompromised ANYWAY, that has made everything right now really special! 🙂 But yes, I do a lot better when I have routine in general, and rightnow that’s even more important, although I’m also giving myself space to be fill in the blank: tired, sleepy, sad, super-cleaner, etc. 🙂 I’m not trying to push myself all that hard and I’m just trying to hit the basics of good food, water, sleep…and knitting. 🙂

  • I’m a recently retired nurse practitioner. Part of me wants to reinstate my license, jump in up to my eyeballs and fight this thing. The other part of me is just enjoying knitting and being still. For the first time in my life, I’m still.

  • I have expanded my workouts. Originally I walked at sunrise w a girfriend on weekdays and had a weight training session twice a week. I asked my weight trainer if we could train on FaceTime and it has gone well. I decided to start hiking and my weight trainer goes with me now. We do it twice a week. I’ve also intermittently tried some of the free workout now offered through cable. Love the 10 minute abs. I finally noticed I dropped a few pounds. A blessing since I have been on a sugar binge and have been baking more. I have also enjoyed gardening, plein air painting, and bicycling a couple of times. Of course I’ve also been knitting and binge watching shows on Netflix in the evening. I’m working on the lovely Polarize pattern by Courtney Spainhower.

  • I’m laughing as I try to find a synonym for housewife. I’ll say my job is Mistrss of the House. I have a routine and a schedule. Spring cleaning abounds just now, helped out by a sweet, old, blind, slobbery dog who has bumping into and drooling on furniture down to a fine art.

    I’m cross stitching, knitting and hand piecing a quilt like it’s my profession in my spare time. I choose my projects according to what I’m thinking about at the time, as that’s what I want to work on. Just cast on a Miso scarf.

    I exercise every day and cook healthy meals (most of the time). It helps that i enjoy cooking.

    My husband is an essential worker (sterile processing in a hospital) and work is about to start getting super busy for him. When he’s not at work, we happily hang out together. Sometimes we go down in the basement and do a bit of blacksmithing. Other times we quietly do our own thing, sometimes side by side, sometimes not.

    I’m learning how to use a zero turn ride on lawn mower and have managed to keep it out of the trees and the creek. I’ve also learned how low I need to duck under the apple tree, so I don’t scalp myself.

    I try hard not to focus on what I can’t do and try to enjoy and appreciate “the moment”, be grateful for what I can do and what I have and try to keep a sense of humor.

  • Are there no other night people out there who feel newly liberated? I peak around 3am. Working from home, I can stay up till morning and sleep until noon. No apologies. For those of us with this biorhythmic slant, the need to conform to an alien schedule set by others is a kind of temporal confinement that is more annoying than the current physical one. I’m also loving the quiet, the fresh air in the middle of the city, the absence of haste, the kindness of strangers. What I don’t love, of course, is that all this goodness is possible only because of calamitous suffering and death. Honestly, is that what it takes? I just hope that afterwards (if such happens), the new normal doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    • Amen!

  • Even though I’m working form home, I get up, get dressed (jeans or leggings, but always with something nice on top), and put on my makeup. Working from home is much harder than working from work, and I find myself – not a morning person at all – starting an hour earlier than usual. There are a lot of zoom meetings, and if I’m not an integral part of it, I turn off my camera and knit. But most of the meetings are small – even one-on-one – and I like to be able to look at people while I talk with them. I miss the sort of casual contact I had throughout the day with my team, but am proud for the way we’ve kept our services and resources running (I’m an academic medical librarian), with all but one of us working from home. I both dread and look forward to the day we are back in the library. And I really wish the weather would improve!

  • So yesterday, I started a new little daily routine (we’ll see how long it lasts) of keeping a written list of the “normal” things of the day. It’s an effort to focus on the mundane that keeps me grounded and to appreciate it’s importance in my life. So far today — trash pickup happened, I did laundry, there has been house wren singing outside my bedroom window most of the day (he’s claimed the nest box right there), hearing lawn mowers, ramping up the sourdough starter for making bread tomorrow. I note lots of novel occurrences as a matter of course and they are a great perk, but the normal is what keeps me grounded right now.

  • Link us to the Hip Hop class please!

  • Since I’m old, and can not get a flu shot for reasons, I usually observe a lot of solo hometime during flu season every year. Si this is the nirmInirm only much more more so. Im an artist, with my studio in the house, but I had dismantled it early this year in anticipation of a move in the next year. That’s now on hold! As are all my exhibit plans.

    I’ve always dressed daily and looked presentable, something different each day, whether or not anyone might see me. I’d be depressed very quickly if I stayed in night clothes. I’d feel like an invalid. A lot of my life is as usual. I have lovely neighbors and a son who lives locally. I only see him once a week when he drops off groceries. I long to hug him.

    It’s odd that though I love being home alone, it’s a bit harder when it’s dangerous to go out, so it’s not a choice. Some weird emotions around that! And I’m avoiding news beyond the basics. But I’m keeping in touch with friends who like me, are alone at home. Our experience is different. On the other hand, we’re not being driven mad by partners quirks! Im widowed, and I know my late husband and I could be on really bad terms by now! But for his sake I’m glad he never had to live through this time.

  • I have always enjoyed just jumping into sweats and a tee when I don’t have to go out, but one day a number of years ago, I was home for two days in a row and didn’t feel like showering…but I looked in the mirror and realized with horror, “This is where it begins!” (That thing where adult children worry about their elderly parents’ hygiene… 🙂 ) So, while I’m still in sweats most days, I’m making sure to shower and do laundry regularly, but all the other “going out in public” things are left by the wayside.

    My days are filled with a rotating routine of having my quiet time and coffee in the morning, email and online time, choosing something from a long list of household projects I never have time for (no excuses now!), knitting, sewing (I’m a beginner), practicing my clarinet (about to be in one of those virtual performances), reading, working jigsaw puzzles with my daughter, etc. Oh, and I was just challenged to purchase a weighted hula hoop and work out with my knitting buddies. I thought it would be a breeze because I was the neighborhood champ when I was 10. Suffice it to say, I’m not 10 anymore! I work for a school, but in the front office, so I’ve not had as much work-at-home tasks as a lot of folks, but that’s beginning to change as we gear up for next year.

    I’m allowing myself the occasional day to leave most of those things off the list and just knit or read, but keeping up a list and a rotation is working well for me. I, too, am a homebody, and am enjoying this time to focus on things that just can’t happen when my regular workweek is in force.

  • You have time to work out? I’m jealous. I’m trying to get my increasing stubborn 2nd grade granddaughter to finish the second grade! This to shall pass and so will she!

  • Our family has practice with social isolation because of a chronically ill family member. Routine is a big deal. We’ve been keeping sleeping and eating routines, dressing for the day, planning meals so that we can plan groceries, etc. Some of this has been helped by working remotely as well.

    We’ve developed projects, which helps some with the desire for novelty. The projects involve a certain amount of learning for most of us.

    Also, gardening and going out in natural settings has really helped with the novelty. Every day brings small changes in natural settings. Things grow, bloom, die back a little, and so on.