Hildegard and I have been practicing social distancing for just over a month now. It’s been a long, unusual trip, and I suspect we’re just getting started.
Most days feel exactly the same. Wake up, shower, eat breakfast, meditate, get to work. Work until lunch. Eat lunch. Work until it feels reasonable to stop working, but hopefully not much later than 5. Sometimes 8 though.
It feels more pertinent than ever to share some of what we’ve been doing for fun. Somebody else might need a way to pass the time.
We’ve been playing more video games than usual. Animal Crossing has proven to be joyful escapism. I’m also enjoying Outer Worlds (highly recommended for fans of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas) and Paper Mario on the Gamecube (which we still have in our house).
On that note, if you have a PS4, Sony has made Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Journey free for the next few weeks. Get both if you haven’t already.
If getting stressed out from playing a difficult video game will help you unwind and forget about real-world stresses (as it does for me), Sekiro is currently on sale in the PlayStation store. Dark Souls and Bloodborne are obviously great choices too.
Movies and TV
This is a great time to start watching or re-watch Parks and Rec or The Office.
We are watching a lot of movies. 90s Disney classics have gone down well. We’ve also enjoyed Burning, Onward, and Darkest Hour.
If you are interested in documentaries, some of Gary Hustwit’s work — the man behind Helvetica and Rams — is available for free right now. Every week, a different film of his is available to stream for free on Vimeo. This week, it’s Workspace.
Indoor workouts have been very important to our health and sanity. Hildegard is following along with virtual exercise/dance classes, and my uncle kindly sent me some prison workouts. Not quite the same as the gym, but it’s something to get you moving.
I have discovered the best time to walk, at least in our part of the city, is at 8 in the morning. Nobody walks to work anymore, and the foot traffic is almost entirely construction. Similarly, the best time to get groceries is 10:30 in the morning — after the morning grocery rush, before the lunch break.
Separating work from home
This has been very difficult, even for me — and I’ve been working from home for nearly a decade! Without leaving the house to go for a walk at the end of the day, or to get groceries, my routine feels disjointed.
Most days, when the workday is done, I have a beer. It’s helped me acknowledge the working day is over, and it’s also been a great reliever of COVID-induced anxiety.
I was a little concerned about this for a while. I typically have one or two beers every week — not one or two a day. But then I recalled CJ Chilver’s blog post on this very topic:
This worked so well on my anxiety and made my family so much happier to be around me, that it started to get me worried: what if I made a habit of this and became dependent on this small vacation every day of my life? I went on to overthink it and talk for 10 minutes about the worst possible outcomes.
[My therapist] stopped me.
“Does it help your anxiety?”
“Then have a drink.”
For some people, this is not a great solution. Obviously, don’t do this if alcohol is a problem area for you. But for me, a beer or two a day has worked wonders on my mental and emotional health.
You need to find a way to separate work and home, as best as you can. If you can’t (or don’t want to) have alcohol, try putting on shoes at 9 and taking them off at 5. Or work at a standing desk during the day — put your laptop on your iron board, if nothing else will do. Or do your indoor prison workout.
Or maybe just stare out the window for an hour, watch the sunset, and spend an extended period of time taking deep breaths.
After all, we’ve all got the time.