Wasting away in coronaville is starting to take a major toll. You’ve done all the virtual fitness classes, you’ve cleaned your apartment twenty times, you’ve already binged 5 tv series, and your budget for Zoom happy hour wine was gone two weeks ago. Now you’re just anxiously waiting for things to get back “to normal” and for life to begin again in a quasi-zombie state of hardly knowing what day it is.
There are an overwhelming number of outside pressures saying you need to be productive. Learn 4 languages! Write a novel! Earn 10 online certificates! How dare you waste time? All your peers will be miles ahead of you at the end of this if you pick Tiger King over something “career enhancing.”
Then there’s an equally overwhelming number of outside pressures saying that it’s okay to just sit in your thoughts. Be sad. Be angry. Be confused. Don’t feel bad about doing nothing all day every day, and just wallow in your feelings.
I’m here to say both approaches are wrong. Teetering on the edge of any sort of extreme will inevitably knock you over an edge, and you need to find a middle.
If you are cramming 10 hours a day with “productive” tasks you’ll go crazy, and if you sit around and do nothing you’ll be depressed. I have found the key to achieving a happy medium is to incorporate some mentally stimulating activities every day that have absolutely nothing to do the coronavirus or my career.
Intellectual distraction is a powerful weapon in the battle against reality. Here are three ideas on things to do that will get the couch potatos moving and the over-doers to calm down.
1.Start doing the New York Times crossword
When I first started the New York Times crosswords, I would throw my hands up in defeat on a simple Monday puzzle (they get progressively harder as the week goes on). Now, I can make it through a Saturday in under 2 hours with the help of my friend Patrick via zoom. You see, crosswords aren’t about intelligence, they are about problem solving. You learn common clues, like the fact that a Japanese sash is an Obi, and you learn the trends, like how Thursday always has some sort of mind bending trick that can involve things like multiple letters in one square.
The New York Times crossword has a great app that is $6.99 a month, and it is worth every penny. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll learn, how quickly you’ll improve, and how fast the time will past. Not to mention, the thrill of filling in the last word or finally getting the dubious trick is an exquisitely euphoric feeling.
2.Watch a show or movie that gets the wheels turning, and have a conversation about it.
Resist the urge to put on Love is Blind or some fluffy rom com and dive into a show that makes you think. Your phone should be away and your mind should be fully switched on, then talk to someone about it. Have a meaningful interaction where “coronavirus”, “trump” and “weather” are completely off limits.
Here are my quarantine watches that I’d recommend:
- The miniseries Unorthodox (it’s the only non-documentary on this list, but it certainly got my wheels spinning)
- The Act of Killing
- One Child Policy
- American Factory
- Lady Boys: Thailand’s Third Gender
- Under Cover Asia: The Organ Bizarre (Inspired this post…)
- The Pink Room
Be warned, some of these are not for the faint of heart, and the subject matter can be challenging to come to terms with. However, “out of sight out of mind” should hardly be acceptable.
Each film on this list spiraled me down a rabbit hole of research, investigation, and questioning humanity, which has made quarantine life pass by just a bit quicker.
3.Make a nice dinner and wear real clothes
Put real clothes on, slap on a little make up, brush your hair, and have a sit down dinner. Cook something special, crack open a good bottle of wine, and if anyone mentions “covid-19”, make them do 5 push-ups. Share funny memories, talk about the awesome documentaries you watched, dream up a business plan… anything that isn’t about what’s going wrong.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the negatives, but YOU have the ability to look for all silver linings. Having a nice dinner can make you feel like you’re back to “real life.” Revel in the feeling, and know it will be back before too long.
Want ideas for what to make? You’re in luck… this is a food blog afterall!
Things suck. I get it. I’m right there with you. It seems like as soon as I make it to my feet after being kicked down, some force shoves me to the floor once again. Some days I’m happy, some days I’m sad. One hour I’ll be overly optimistic with a zest for life and the next I’ll be staring at a wall questioning everything.
Luckily, Homo Sapiens have the beautiful ability to numb the past. What was once the worst feeling in your life is now just a memory, and what you never thought you’d get over, well, you’ve gotten over it. This struggle and despair you feel now is a present pain that will be nothing more than a distant memory before you know it.
Complacency is the death of progress, so revel in the fact you are living through a piece of history. You are experiencing something you never dreamed possible, and have the chance to walk away mentally stronger with more insight into yourself and the world.
This too shall pass. And I promise, it’ll be okay.