What to do when it feels like we can’t do anything
The prospect of being “trapped” inside for an undefined amount of time scares a lot of people. The news and talk shows are constantly interviewing psychologists and experts about what we can do during our time in confinement due to the coronavirus COVID-19. The good news is you don’t have to go too far (not that we can) to find things to do to help you get through the days ahead. Remember this may not be any easy time for you, but this is not an easy time for anybody. This has never happened before, ever, and what we are living is making history and that by staying home we are fighting this together.
Here in Spain we’ve officially made it through one week of quarantine, home confinement, whatever you want to call it; and a lot of things have happened. Spain’s numbers have now jumped over 33,000 cases and the most worrying part is that now the medical workers make up a substantial percent of that number. Specialists have been speculating about when Spain will reach capacity for emergency rooms and when we will finally peak. In the wake of all of this, our two week home confinement that was set to finish March 29th has been given an additional 2-week period with a new end date of April 11th. Instead of one week ahead, we now have three. Speaking with my family it looks like more and more states are adopting similar measures, Illinois has placed Shelter in Place orders until April 7th.
I had a really nice FaceTime session with my college buddies the other day before the Shelter in Place orders came down and we spoke a bit about my experiences so far. It sounded like the States was just about a week behind the measures Spain had taken, much like the talk about Spain being just about a week behind Italy, and they were asking me a little about what I had been doing to pass the time. I personally feel that I have been able to pass the time relatively easily in this first week of confinement, to the point where I feel like despite the time we have available there is so much that can be done. It really has been remarkable to see the solidarity throughout society to help us all get through this. As you will see in the list, many companies are creating offers to help those of us at home. Personal advice: Try to make the best out of this! Take advantage of all those things you have put off in the past.
I thought it might be convenient to put down some ideas here if you are looking for things to do during your own home confinement. Here is a list of ideas to help pass the time and mentally and physically make it through however long it takes to beat COVID-19.
Probably shouldn’t have to be said, but it’s easy to fall into bad patterns and get really lazy especially with a lot of time off. I have found it really beneficial to try to set a schedule as if it were a normal week, and that all starts with showering. So wake up (relatively early), a nice shower is a great way to get the day going. That being said…
2. Get Dressed
Another bad pattern to fall into. No shower, no need to put on new clean clothes. It really doesn’t matter what you put on, you don’t have to put on a suit, sweatpants to still be comfortable will work, but a change of clothes establishes that start of the day and a break from the laziness. I have found putting on jeans, or something similar, and a shirt do make a bigger difference compared to just a pair of sweatpants, although I won’t deny the difference in the level of the comfort. It’s all about the mindset, and the “business casual” really makes all the difference and maybe even more than the shower as it really distinguishes the difference between bed, the couch, and the work place. Which is another important note.
3. Get Work Done
And do it in an area different from where you would normally lounge around. Fortunately at home we have separate rooms where I can get away from my bedroom and the television in the living room, but this is very important if you want to get things done. Changing that environment becomes critical when you’re in the same place over a long period of time.
Not everyone has the benefit of being able to work from home. I for one cannot physically give the tours which I love doing, but this quarantine has given me the time to work on the blog a bit more and prepare myself even better for what will happen after this is all over. Hopefully it won’t take a long time for tourism to return, but I want to be ready. My work from home has been researching, writing, and creating. I am always trying to learn more about Barcelona, Catalonia, and Spain and now have no excuses. What can you be doing for your job during this time?
4. Learn Something New
It doesn’t have to be something for your job, but now we have the time to do what we always have said “I don’t have the time right now”. Is there something you have always wanted to learn that you always used that excuse with? Well now we really don’t have that crutch anymore. Watching one of the talk shows about the coronavirus pandemic, one of the professionals being interviewed seemed to really be against this point, basically saying that this was a very difficult time for people and personal growth was not a focus. I won’t contest that point at all, it is a very difficult time for everyone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to make the best of it. A lot of these ideas are trying to make the best of a bad situation. There is no reason why we can’t come out of this even better and stronger.
What is great about learning new things is that it doesn’t have to cost you anything. Everyday we have a wealth of resources available to us on YouTube and online course for free. If you have never taken a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) now is your chance. Instead of watching all those music videos (which at some point during the quarantine you will do) and aimlessly clicking around, try learning a new skill. I am currently trying to work on my programming, something that I always struggle with. I’m pretty good with languages but computer is definitely not one of them.
YouTube is a great tool to use and you can find so many tutorials that answer a lot of questions or teach you something you didn’t know before, but it can be distracting with its menu of of suggestions on the side that can easily lead you astray. MOOCs really help out here. Some great sights are edX which allow you to take university courses through accredited institutions. Several years ago I completed a course through MIT on the History of World Architecture that has been pretty helpful with tours. I am currently taking a course on Diego Velázquez through a course with the Prado Museum in Madrid to learn more about Spain’s most prolific painter.
Another option is Skillshare, which has other professional create great video content to help others in their fields. Right now Skillshare is offering a two month free trial of their premium access (basic access is free) that is normal $15/month or $8/month for the yearly subscription.
I almost feel l bad putting this so low on the list (although there really isn’t an order) because this is so important. Talking with my family and friends back home it seems that the Shelter in Place really hasn’t hit the level it has here in Spain where they have taken the most drastic of measures. Cars are being stopped and turned back around if they don’t have a specific reason to be out, people are stopped in the streets if they are just our for a stroll. My favorite video I saw yesterday was a high speed chase of some guy on a bike ride with the police in pursuit. The police were on horses! Exercise has become more difficult without the ability to go outside for many people. But it’s no excuse.
Now I know this is the most difficult one for a lot of people to stick to but it’s all about getting started. With just one session you feel so much better, and believe it or not there are endless possibilities to what you can do inside your house. Work out in the morning, workout midday, workout in the evening, whenever. Just do something. This is when YouTube comes in really useful. You have all sorts of ideas for different workouts.
My basketball season was suspended just before the State of Alarm was announced and we still don’t know if we will be able to finish the season this year but we want to be ready if were are able to start back up! Fortunately our team’s physical trainer, and personally really good friend of mine, has been helping us out during this time. Check out his instagram page for ideas @state_of_workout.
There are all types of strength workouts you can do with just your bodyweight if you don’t already have equipment at home and really good cardio exercises you can still do right in your living room, you don’t need to leave the house and run in the park!
Another one that prove that this list has no order! No way this should be #6 and realistically can fall under learning as well, but we don’t always need to read to learn and in times like these, escaping to another world might really help pass the time and at least feel like you left the house for the day. Now is the time to finish that book you put down and haven’t had the chance to pick back up, to start that novel you have always wanted to read, to simply open up a book and enjoy the time. I’ll roll out a post soon about some of the best books set in Barcelona for those of you who are looking to read something along those lines.
The good news is Amazon is still working during the coronavirus quarantine so you cans till order things to your house. The better news is that a lot of companies and publishes are offering free e-books and audiobooks as long we are in confinement. Just yesterday, I was looking online at a list publishers who have released and will be releasing more and more books for us to pass the time. So many possibilities! For those of you who don’t want to read, the audiobook option is a great one.
For those of us with Amazon Prime, remember it is more than just free shipping. There are so many different option with Prime, click the link just to see. There are always free ebooks available with Prime Reading. Many time I feel the list is a bit weak (at least in Spain), but that it mainly because Amazon also offers an option for Kindle Unlimited which has some really great options. If you join now you have a two-month free trial! I just downloaded a free version of Henry Kamen’s biography on Carlos V and made some really good progress on it yesterday taking advantage of Sunday to get some reading done.
7. Streaming Options
Two drastically opposing ideas, but not so much. All the streaming options that we have every day can help us in much the same way as reading a book. And let’s be honest, it’s so much easier. I’m not going to get into all the different options of series (there are plenty of posts about that already) but with Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, etc. There should be no shortage of material of series, movies, documentaries for you to see. The big question is usage. Hopefully you have already seen enough ideas so far in the list that you don’t only rely on sitting on the couch and watching TV all day. And if you do it one day, that’s okay. We would probably do it normally anyway, so why not every once in awhile at home. We have been watching a movie here most nights and it really does help to disconnect. One of the things that I have seen that I really like is that some of these streaming companies have made some of their material free, especially for those families with kids to help parents keep them entertained.
8. Eat Well
If you are working out at home, complete the process by eating well too. So many times with our busy lifestyles we eat on the run or don’t eat as well as we should. We are definitely as busy as before so eating well can become a bit easier. As we basically have to eat at home you can eat better. My girlfriend has gone as far as to plan out meals a week in advance and it has really helped to keep to a schedule and plan. I have to give her most of the credit here but it does help to eating better. Again, being at home doesn’t mean we can’t come out of this better! Meal planning also takes up some time in your day and fills those hours as well as cooking and cleaning.
With home confinement, one of the few things we are actually able to do is go to the supermarket. Not only does this activity now take a bit longer with the lines to keep the occupation level safe, but it also takes bit longer to grab all of the ingredients and items you need to not have to leave the house as often.
9. Clean and Organize
After a week in confinement we took to doing a massive clean of the apartment. Opening up all the windows to air out the place and make sure everything was in its place. It helped that it was a beautiful day outside to bring in a lot of light to the apartment that it really did feel like a Spring Cleaning session. Afterwards, we we enjoyed a nice vermouth on the balcony with some chips but the idea was to have a bit of a reset and get ready for the next week.
One of the big things I did was to move the furniture around. Not huge changes, but those big enough to make a difference to the living room situation. One of the fortunate things about my apartment is that we do have quite a big amount of space that I was able to open up quite a bit and set some distinct boarders between different spaces. We not have more space to do workouts, without really affecting the TV space.
I have always been a proponent for the Feng shui idea and even in college would change the layout of my room every so often just to change the atmosphere and create a different feeling. After a week without much movement, I thought that a change was necessary. Obviously it’s the same apartment but it gives off the feeling of a different space which will make the next week more bearable. Already looking for more ideas for next week!
10. Join me for a Virtual Tour
One of the big things I have been working on during the last week is how to bring you virtual tours. We may not be able to leave our houses but that doesn’t mean we can’t travel. I’m still in production mode but hope to be able to offer some tours soon. Until then stay tuned!
Those of you have joined me on one of my tours hopefully remember how much I personally enjoy them. Not being able to provide those tours over more than the past week has been difficult. That being said, I have really enjoyed being able to get back to the basics reading, writing, and creating as I strive to always continue to learn new things that I hope will really improve those tours when we beat COVID-19.
My objective in the Virtual Tours, apart from keeping me busy, is the hope that it provides you all a moment, however brief, of entertainment during your day where you can leave your house and take a walk with me around Barcelona.