Tuesday, March 31, 2020

How to Survive Quarantine (without going crazy!) Part 2

As I prepared to talk more about surviving social distancing and quarantine during Covid-19, I realized that my experience with being housebound goes beyond my own chronic ill-health, but includes being homeschooled in the country in a state with notoriously bad winters.

Right now that probably sounds really rough, right? But ACTUALLY it was great. We had so much space (physical and mentally) to learn and create, to have adventures and pretend! Socially it was difficult for the most intense period of that, but we got through it. And now I've got so much to share with all of you!

In my first post I talked about broad ideas for coping with being stuck at home. In this post, I'm going to discuss specific activities that have helped me deal with being isolated at various periods of my life. I'll also give you some resources to get started on anything that catches your fancy! And I've tried to throw in some pretty unique options that you might not have seen anywhere else.

Grow Plants
The #1 activity I suggest for everyone right now is to grow something. Whether it's starting an avocado tree, doing an herb or mushroom farm, some pots on a porch, or digging up your lawn, you'll get the emotional boost of nurturing new life and hopefully some tasty food! Plus if you ARE digging up your lawn, you'll get exercise and sunlight which are great for your immune system. I first started gardening as a chronically ill recluse four years ago when we moved into our house. Many days I could only work 10-15 minutes, but I gradually built up strength and the garden was healing AND helpful on our budget! I'm actually running a series of tips over on my instagram designed to encourage and assist anyone who wants to dive into starting a garden this year! Follow the tag, #gardeninthetimeofcovid19 on @elenatintil. You will be surprised at what you can grow on a very small amount of land! And yes, even in MN there are steps to start NOW!

Magic your Recycling into a Miniature Wonderland
One of my favorite childhood memories is the day my siblings and I created an entire miniature ski resort from cardboard, straws, string, egg cartons, and other bits of recycling. It was huge. We had the whole slope with a variety of obstacles, a ski lift, and a chalet complete with a little shop.

At other points in time we made a town and countless castles and houses of Popsicle sticks and glue guns. One time my sister made a complete Roman villa with intricate tiles and an elaborate fountain with 'water' made from hot glue.

Making miniatures is a popular hobby nowadays because it allows us to express home decorating and architecture desires without needing a lot of space or money. You really can get ridiculously creative with things you would ordinarily throw in the trash. Whether it's a solo activity or something you do with your kids, it's a great way to convince your mind that you are living in a larger world...at least for a little while!

Refashion Clothes
Shopping for new clothes (even thrifted ones) might be restricted for awhile. So why not jazz up your old ones? There are many tutorials and ideas across the internet, pinterest, and even my own sewing blog. Add some embroidery, beadwork, trim, fancy sleeves, or even turn some of your clothes into new clothes for your kids! You'll be surprised at how little technical skill you need to begin making some radical transformations.

Make a Webcomic to Share--with photos!
You don't need to be an artist to tell a story with pictures. Use your camera and something poseable--your kids, your animals, your Lego collection, and add captions. Continue the story every day and keep your mind working and your friends entertained!

Adopt a Pet
This one depends on your state and rescue agency and what is open right now. However, there is nothing like an affectionate furry friend to help get you through 'stuck-in-the-house' doldrums. My dog, Mateo, was the bundle of fluffy joy that helped us manage three really tough years. Of course, I only advocate adopting if you are in it for the long haul, regardless of future moves or family additions, and you'll need to make provisions for socializing and training your new pet without risking exposure.

Organize your Photos
Personally I find assembling photobooks online to be pretty addicting. You might even call it...a game! In today's world, we often don't bother to print out photos, however it becomes a real slog to dig through and look back at past years, especially if you've switched phone and computer operating systems over the years. Now is a great time to go through and make books of at least some special events. You can save them on the websites and wait for a good deal or a paycheck to come through before ordering.

Write a Fanfiction
Whether you are a professional writer or just a bored fan, Fanfiction is the perfect immersive activity to while away the hours.Fanfiction and freeform RPG story writing were activities that really got me through a serious stress of illness in my early twenties, particularly when my depression and brain fog were too heavy to work on my novel. It is especially fun to do as a group project, as waiting for new chapters to appear in your inbox gives you something to look forward to.

Write your Novel
Now if you have a dream to publish a novel, this period of being stuck at home is a really good chance to get a big portion written. After all, if you can't write it now...when?

That said, this is a really heavy time in our culture and it may be very difficult to write. If you can manage to make it cathartic or escapist, good, but if it's weighing you down and making this already stressful time worse, don't push it.

Perfect your Handwriting
There's a third kind of writing that you can do right now and it's literally the art of beautiful letters. Elegant or even legible handwriting has become an art of the past, but one that is still appreciated by many people. If you've ever dreamed of having nicer handwriting, now might be a good time to work on improvement. I decided I wanted my handwriting to look like Jane Austen's, so I downloaded a Jane Austen font and schooled myself in it, writing practice lines every night (from Pride and Prejudice of course!). Just 10-15 minutes a day can really improve your skills.

I've also had fun learning calligraphy, copperplate, and a variety of artistic lettering styles over the years. There are many resources and tutorials available online.

Learn how to Draw
Drawing is a hugely therapeutic activity. No matter your level, there is always something you can teach yourself using the many, many tutorials online. Long time blog readers will remember that my drawing skills made a massive increase after I had a major surgery and recovery in 2012, and I went on a dress design binge when my fibro and chronic migraines confined me to my chair for six months in 2015 and 2016. I experimented with pencils, pens, markers, acrylics, and digital mediums during these periods.

At the very least, you can use up those adult coloring books you bought back in 2015.

Make Costumes for Dolls/Toys
So here's the fun thing: you don't need to sew. Seriously. Glue, tape, pins, safety pins, or just rudimentary sewing skills...anything to get your fabric, paper, ribbon, etc, to stay in place. Make crazy costumes to amuse yourself, your kids, or your friends (online). Make them for action figures, barbies, or paper dolls. You can even make a paperdoll of yourself, your kids, or that coworker you want to annoy, and then create all kinds of crazy paper clothes for them.

Or just hop over to dolldivine.com and spend hours playing on their dollmakers. It's so addicting and very calming.

Review everything you've ever bought
If you go in your amazon account, you can find everything you've ever bought on the website and review it. Let people know what was awesome and what was not. Books, movies, clothes, baby paraphernalia...warn or encourage. Maybe even throw in some humor. With online ordering becoming even more vital these days, honest reviews are also a needed public service.

Do a staged reading of a play
A trend I'm seeing among my theater friends is to do acapella covers of musical numbers. But it would also be pretty fun to see staged readings of some open domain plays like Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde! Round up some friends, assign parts, and someone to edit it all together into your own recording to share...or not!

Learn how to do an archaic, old-timey skill
If you grew up reading Little House on the Prairie or you're into playing D&D, or you're obsessed with the Civil War, chances are there is some archaic skill that you've always thought "I should learn to do that." Why not now? Look up tutorials on YouTube, order some candlemaking supplies, and bust out that pottery wheel you got for Christmas ten years ago!

Or maybe, you know, learn how to darn those socks that have been sitting in the back of your drawer for five years.

Most of all, stay calm, stay cheerful, and have patience.
These skills don't come naturally, but are more important to cultivate than ever!

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