We’re all in this together.
All of humanity here on Earth is simply trying to survive the Corona pandemic ..
Yup. That’s about the only comforting thing about what’s going on in the world right now. We’re all in this together.
It’s a scary time for us humans, and unfortunately, things seem to be getting worse, before they can get better. Travel bans. Involuntary quarantines. Governments closing international borders. We can’t be sure when things will settle down and go “back to normal,” and the uncertainty of the whole situation only adds to worry, stress and anxiety.
I’m with you. There’s no way around it. CORONA TOTALLY SUCKS.
But all we can do is take what’s going on day-by-day, stay informed and present, and do our part to help when we can. For many of us, the best thing we can do right now is stay home and socially distance ourselves from others, to try and stop the spread of this deadly coronavirus.
As I write this, I’m here in Madrid, Spain, on day 6 of my home quarantine. Although it’s definitely been tough, I’m feeling extremely lucky to be in my current situation. I’m healthy, happy, and my only pressing task to help humanity right now is to stay indoors. I’m confident I can do this 💪And if I can do it, you can too!
On Instagram the other day I shared a post and a story with some of the ways that I’m staying sane during this period of home isolation:
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💡WAYS TO SURVIVE CORONA QUARANTINE 🦠😷 . Instead of simply defaulting to Netflix— 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘪𝘯 𝘮𝘺 𝘰𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘺 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘰𝘶𝘵— I'm trying to use this extra time at home wisely. There are so many things I've been wanting to do, but been putting off, and many others that haven't gotten the full attention they deserve. So, instead of sitting in front of your 📺 for the next 15 days, why not join me and: . 📖 READ. I'm finally getting through the 3 books that I "haven't had time" to read yet. . 👥 CONNECT. My boyfriend and I have been using the extra time together to have deeper conversations and learn about each other. . 💪🏼 EXERCISE. A major goal of mine during all this is to continue working up a sweat and staying in shape from the comfort of my home- Youtube is full of videos for all levels, interests and workout styles [sharing some of my favs in my #instastory today!] . 🧠 LEARN. I just signed up for an online class, and I've also been watching free webinars and reading articles about blogging, coaching and entreprenurship! . 🛠 MAKE HOME IMPROVEMENTS. We're finally moving forward with some little tasks around our new apartment that we've been putting off for months 😬 . 🥣 COOK. Since we can't eat out, we've been trying to get creative with our quarantine meals and try some new recipes. Gluten-free banana bread is on the docket for tonight! 😋 . 🍷 DRINK WINE. Oh yeah, there's also been wine. Lots and lots of wine 🙃 How are you entertaining yourself during your corona quarantine?
Well, so many of you have reached out for more creative ideas and the links of the resources I mentioned, that I decided to put together this post with all the specifics!
It’s a work in progress, and I’ll be adding more ideas as my days in quarantine progress, so be sure to check back!
Take a break and make time to take care of yourself.
There is a TON of content out there right now, encouraging us all to make the most of our quarantine and this extra time at home. Heck, this blog post is one of those pieces of content. BUT, while I’d like this post to give you ideas for productively filling your time when you’re feeling motivated and have pent up energy, I also want you to know that it’s ok to take a break from the productivity.
Personally, I’ve been going through a pretty intense rollercoaster of emotions. Last week, I was in the “quarantine honeymoon phase“- I was feeling great! I made a long to-do list of productive activities and things to do around the house. That’s when I wrote the majority of this blog post. This week, I’m feeling low. That initial excitement and eagerness to crush my goals and move forward with my projects is fading. I’m feeling claustrophobic, anxious, exhausted.
And you know what?! THAT’S OK! When your entire world has been turned upside down, and you’re not sure when all the chaos will end, it’s okay to feel down. It’s okay to give yourself a break. It’s okay to wallow and to do nothing for a while.
My friend Dani shared the below Instagram post with me this morning, and it really hit home.
So if you’re starting to feel those post-honeymoon quarantine blues, here are some self care practice to try out!
I talk more about meditating below in the “developing healthy habits” section, but this practice is really helping me cope with my pent up anxiety and stress right now. even if you don’t like meditating, try doing some deep breathing exercises multiple times a day. This will help keep you calm and manage negative feelings. During uncertain times, it’s very important to stay mindful and check-in with yourself.
Maybe you just need a day off to totally pamper yourself. You could create your very own little home spa with a warm bath, candles and calming music. You could make some tea, curl up in a cozy space and read a book. Give yourself an exfoliation treatment, a facial or a mani-pedi. If you have someone else stuck at home with you- give each other massages.
Start a gratitude journal or list.
I write down “what I’m grateful for” every morning in my planner. Starting my day this way helps me focus in on the good and begin my day with some positive thoughts and emotions. It’s helping me keep things in perspective during this difficult time.
Sometimes you just need to put everything else on hold, give in and do nothing. Doing nothing has never been easy for me. I get restless easily and need to occupy my mind. But through this process I’m learning to embrace the quiet and stillness of this quarantine. If you feel like you need it, take a full day to rest and rejuvenate.
Catch up and check in with friends, family, and acquaintances
As my friend Sasza put it in her Instagram post yesterday, “this crazy, unique Coronavirus world is giving us an INCREDIBLE EXCUSE TO CONNECT.” And she’s right! In the midst of all the horribleness spreading so quickly around the world, many people are also using this time to spread love.
If you’ve been wanting to reach out to an old friend or a cold connection, if you feel like there’s a specific someone out there that could use your support, reach out.
Use this extra time on your hands to spread some positivity, some love and some support. I think we could all use it right now. Plus, it’s always nice to hear from an old friend.
I already have two 3-way Facetime dates scheduled for this weekend and a number of catch up calls. It’s really giving me something to look forward to, and is a way to connect even if we can’t be close.
Tip: If you’re scheduling calls with friends in multiple timezones, I use this multi-timezone converter to make sure everyone’s on the same page for my calls and meetings 😜
Looking for ways to connect with friends and maintain long distance relationships during this time? I wrote a post all about creative ways to stay close with your besties and do things together from afar.
Connect Deeper: with yourself and others using these relationship building activities
Instead of defaulting to movie marathons or “Netflix & Chill,” my boyfriend and I are trying to spend our extra time together to connect on a deeper level and get to know each other better. Most of our nights so far have been spent cooking yummy food, drinking wine [or beer], and talking. We never seem to run out of stories to tell each other, and although it’s been tough, it’s been one hell of a bonding experience.
So whether you’re stuck at home with a significant other, a roommate, family members or friends, why not take this extra time to spark up some deeper conversations?
Need some guidance? Try out these resources to connect deeper:
36 Questions to Fall in Love – These thought provoking questions are awesome conversation starters to go through with a significant other, friends, family, or really anyone! They get you talking about topics you probably never even thought to bring up before and always end up spiraling into deeper convos!
Love Languages Quiz – I originally learned about the 5 Love Languages when taking a couple’s email course created by BBXX. Discover how you express and like to receive love and affection in turn allows you to communicate better and form stronger bonds in your relationships! This activity is great to get to know yourself, and also fun to do with others.
📚Read: books, e-books, articles, blog posts & anything you can get your hands on
One of my 2020 goals has been to read more. Reading has always been something I’ve wanted to like, but not something that totally called to me. As of late though, I’ve found some books I really enjoy [and honestly have a hard time putting down].
Now I find myself craving time to read books, and even penciling “reading time” into my to-do list!
Money saving tip: I recently downloaded the “Libby App” and integrated it with my public library back at home in NY! Now I can rent eBooks from the library and instantly download them right to my Kindle. There are so many ebooks and audiobooks to choose from, and right now it’s really helping me to save and be careful with money! 💰
My favorite books of the moment:
Currently on my reading list:
Focus on Developing Some New Healthy Habits
Nothing like some extra time you weren’t planning to have to start developing some healthy habits! Many say it takes around 30 days to successfully build a habit into your routine, so think about it — post 15+ day quarantine, you’ll already be more than half way there! 😜
There are SO many healthy habits you could focus on developing during this home quarantine, but here are 3 that I’m focusing on:
Meditating is a habit I’ve been working on incorporating into my life for some time now. In anxiety provoking moments like these, staying mindful and taking the time to check-in with yourself is super important!
My favorite meditation apps:
So maybe “sleeping more” doesn’t exactly seem to fit under the “productive” category, but if you ask me, it’s just as important as anything on this list. Getting enough sleep during our crazy day-to-day schedules isn’t an easy thing to do [at least for me]. I never seem to get in my full 8 hours, and am always struggling to feel rested. Well- take certain things out of your daily equation like a commute or a trip to the gym, and you just bought yourself some extra shut eye!
Sleep is not only important for your mental wellbeing during stressful times like these, but getting enough rest is also crucial to support your immune system. I think that it goes without saying that we should all be focusing on our immune system health right now ..
I never seem to drink as much water when I’m working from home as I did when I was working in an office. In the office environment, going for a glass of water is often a social experience [and an excuse for a work break], but here at home, it rarely crosses my mind.
Drinking 8 glasses of water per day helps remove toxins from the body, it’s good for your skin and hair, and keeps you nice and hydrated! There are tons of other benefits too!
Interested in learning more about healthy habits? Check out these 12 habits of super healthy people.
Learn: take an online class or watch a free webinar
Another incredible way to make use of your extra time at home during this quarantine is to invest in yourself, by learning something new. There are so many online classes and courses out there today, and many of them are even free!
Master Class – if you’re looking for super niche topics taught by industry experts, check out Master Class’s site with over 16K minutes of valuable and engaging content.
Coursera – an online learning platform with endless learning opportunities featuring online courses, specializations, and degrees offered by top universities like Yale, Michigan and Stanford, and leading companies like Google and IBM.
- Yale University is actually now offering its most popular class of all time, The Science of Well-Being, on Coursera for FREE! It’s all about increasing happiness and building more productive habits into your life. I just signed up, and start tomorrow! 😜
Career Contessa has a ton of free webinars offering career advice on their site.
Mana Money School – I know most of us are a bit stressed in the finance department right now, so it would also be smart to take some time to build a healthy money mindset. Mana Money School is a course designed to help you gain financial confidence, and 100% of proceeds go to building more content to support you and others on the path to financial freedom. You can get 10% off using my code: “manalauren” at checkout! [Full disclosure- I handle all their marketing 😜]
Exercise & Move your Body
Staying physically active, fit and healthy is more important now than ever! Not only do exercise and movement act as an effective coping mechanism for those of us dealing with stress and anxiety right now, but exercising while in quarantine at home will also help you maintain a sense of normalcy in your routine.
So try to take short breaks from sitting at your computer and intentionally incorporate movement and physical activity into your home lockdown.
Some of my friends and I are putting together a super complete list of at-home Quarantine workouts, and it’s seriously been getting me through this past week. For me, exercise is not solely physical, but also extremely important for my mental wellbeing and health. Not being able to get outside, go for a long run and clear my head has been difficult, but for now, these videos, routines and apps will have to get me through.
I’ve also used and love these websites and workout apps:
- SWEAT with Kayla Itsines – An app with intense 28 minute HIT workouts that you can do from anywhere.
- Darebee – A free site [donation based] with ENDLESS workouts for all fitness levels.
Not the intense exercising type? There are still plenty of ways to move your body! Just look at my adorable friend, Nati, who started her very own #quarantinedancechallenge 🤗
Cook: Try out some new recipes
Although going to the grocery store [even though it’s right across the street] has turned into quite the daunting task, I’m trying my best to effectively meal plan, buy the ingredients I need in bulk, and keep my quarantine cooking creative.
So far we’ve eaten paleo-friendly crockpot meatballs with zoodles, vegan chickpea curry, breakfast bowls, arepas, and last night I made a coconut flour, gluten-free banana bread! Tomorrow we’re making a paleo and whole 30-friendly Korean beef stew!
My boyfriend and I have even been trying to get creative with our canned-goods cooking 😂Check out this fancy-ass canned tuna, red pepper, tomato and hard boiled egg salad we made the other night:
We’re trying to keep eating healthy for the most part, and avoid all those inevitable lock-in junk-food cravings. The major advantage of eating all our meals at home right now, is that we’re saving a ton on dining out!
Play games in person or online
A really fun way to spend time with friends and family at home, and actually enjoy the time you’re spending together 😬, is to play games. Games can be a welcome distraction, and an effective way to escape all the news and media noise for a while.
My favorite games and board games:
- Settlers of Catan– I recently became obsessed with this board game, and can’t get enough of it. Unfortunately you need 2+ people to play, so it doesn’t help me much right now. As soon as we can kidnap someone into our quarantine, I’m breaking it out! This civilization building game involves harvesting and trading resources in a competition for “victory points.” It gets pretty intense. There’s also an app “Catan Universe” for you online gamers out there: Catan for IOS. Catan for Google Play.
- Monopoly – This one is a classic in my family, and a sure way to pass a lot of time! There are so many different versions of Monopoly out there now, even a “Friends” themed board. There’s also one called “The Longest Game Ever,” which weirdly seems appropriate for a home quarantine that no one has a definite end to …
- Cards Against Humanity – if you’re stuck inside with a group [of adults], this one is sure to be a party pleaser. Pour some cocktails and crack it open for a slightly scandalous game of provocative questions.
- Jenga – Another classic in my book, and fun for all ages!
- Not interested in any of these? Check out this list of the 30 best games of all time.
Don’t have any boardgames at home, and not looking to order one? There’s also always card games!
Dive into spring cleaning and home organization
I also have big plans this weekend to use my quarantine time at home to FINALLY catch up on laundry, organize my cupboards and clean out my closets. I’m actually excited about it! Does that make me a total weirdo? 🤷♀️
I’ll be adding to this section as I tackle this tasks, but for now, here are some other ideas for spring cleaning:
- The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist
- Purge your closet and love your wardrobe again
- Tips for tiny pantry organization
Working from home?
As a freelancer, coach, and blogger, I’m used to working remotely and from home, but I know that for a lot of you this whole “home office” thing is new. Let me tell you, I get it. It’s not easy to uproot your whole work routine and readjust your schedule.
Working from your house or apartment can seem like fun at first, it’s like taking a mini vacation- until it’s not. After consecutive days working in isolation you’ll soon realize your new situation can prove problematic if not well managed. Without a boss or coworkers around to bear witness, is easier than ever to lose sight of priorities, procrastinate tasks, and miss deadlines.
Here are my top tips for productively working from home:
Treat your morning as you would on any normal work day. Get up at the same time, shower, workout, get dressed, make breakfast- do whatever it is that you normally do. Keeping your routine on track will only help you stay focused. Sitting slumped on the sofa in your PJs all day isn’t great for motivation or productivity.
Time block. I like to block out specific hours for different clients/projects and plan out my tasks for the day in 50 minute sprints [a trick I learned from Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits]. I write out my priorities and meetings scheduled for the day into my Panda Planner [also an amazing productivity resource], then figure out what times I can schedule in to tackle what tasks. Then, when I’m working on something, I set timers, but my phone on silent and focus for a full 50 minutes.
Stop working at a reasonable hour. Just as it can be hard to get organized and motivated when working from home, it can also be difficult to separate your work day from your “other” home life. What I like to do is pick a reasonable time to stop working, and when that time comes, I close my computer, silence my work phone/ notifications and put all of my work stuff out of sight.
Set boundaries with others who are also working at home, like your partner, roommate or spouse– It’s all about communication my friends. We’re all in lockdown, on top of one another, and shit can get real, real fast. Make sure you’re keeping communication open and discussing boundaries and plans before conflict rises. My boyfriend has claimed the dining room table as his “home office,” while I’m sticking to using my desk in the guest room. This gives us space during working hours, and allows us to focus in without distractions.
Podcast it out. 🎧
While spring cleaning, cooking, and doing various other chores around the house, I’ve had podcasts on in the background. They’re a great way to pass time and a welcome distraction. Plus, I’m immersing myself in enlightening conversations, and learning without using much brainpower!
Podcasts I’m loving:
- Radiolab. One of my new favorites. The hosts, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, are so entertaining. They describe the show as one “designed for listeners who demand skepticism, but appreciate wonder.”
- Marketing School by Neil Patel. If you’re a marketer, a blogger, freelancer or business owner, this podcast is sure to offer you some value. The episodes are super short but packed with valuable tips for effective digital marketing, SEO, email marketing, etc.
- Dear Sugars. And oldie, but a goodie. These heartfelt conversations featuring empathic advice on a range of topics will never get old.
- That’s so Retrograde. This hilarious duo, located in LA, talk about everything from pop culture to wellness, astrology and how to be the more authentic version of yourself.
- Simple Pin Media. Hostess, Kate Ahl, started Simple Pin Media to help business owners and bloggers drive traffic and conversions with simple, actionable Pinterest marketing strategies.
- Crime Junkie. One of my favorite true crime podcasts featuring ongoing, unsolved mysteries. They’re a great distraction from everything going on and sure to keep your mind engaged.
- So You Want to Work Abroad? Sponsored by Cole Han, this brand new podcast is perfect for anyone thinking about moving or working abroad. It features interviews with seasoned and successful expats, giving tips and advice for making an international move.
- BBXX: Let’s Get Intimate. The BBXX podcast is perfect for anyone on an ongoing journey of self discovery. The provocative and entertaining interviews featured on the podcast challenge the way our culture has conditioned us to talk about sex, intimacy, and relationships.
- Back to Balance. My amazing friend Nati [the smiling quarantined dancer from above] also recently started her own podcast! It’s all about living a healthy and happy lifestyle and focused on finding and maintaining balance. She even did a “Quarantine Reflections” episode talking all about how her and her husband are making it through together and sharing tips for working from home!
Tips for Quarantine with Kids
I don’t have kids, but I know there are a lot of you out there on lockdown who do. Not only are you trying to stay sane and adjust to this new reality yourself, but you have little ones to adjust, that you’re helping keep occupied, safe and healthy. Power to you, I admire your strength!
To help you out with some tips for quarantining (is that a word?) with kids, I reached out to my friend Courtney, of Alkeks Abroad. Here’s what she had to say to all you other parents, aunt & uncles and other caretakers out there:
1. Give yourself a schedule to follow. Don’t be too strict (I don’t write down any times), but I find having a routine to follow each day helps the day flow easier. Especially if your kids are normally in school and used to to the structure.
2. Give yourself grace. This is a once in a lifetime experience to bond deeply with your family. Your kids won’t remember the specific activities or your homeschool lessons. They will remember spending time with you.
3. Go for a walk (if that’s allowed) and get some fresh air everyday. Come up with a scavenger hunt of things for them to find or make the walk a competition (like who can find the most sticks etc).
4. Pay attention to what your kids are interested in and go from there. My daughter is interested in learning about animals (because that’s what they are doing in school) so we watch a short Youtube video on a different animal every day and draw a picture of it after.
5. Take advantage of Youtube and other online resources. One of our favorites is Cosmic Kids Yoga, which I have found kids of all ages love. Blippi is also great as far as being educational and entertaining.
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BUILD A FORT⠀⛺️ Nothing beats a play nook. – and after a long morning of Kindergarten assignments with multiple children and pouring rain, this was the bomb. ✨⠀ ⠀ 🗣”Guys! Grab your building toys! I’ve got the BEST idea! You won’t believe what I have set up for you.” – that’s me selling this. 😉⠀ ⠀ After a few moments of eavesdropping, I shut the blanket to the Nija’s Secret Hideout and sat on the steps to check some emails. They made some important calls on their blocks, and safety towers were built. I didn’t ask many questions but enjoyed overhearing them in some deep pretend play. ⠀ ⠀ Now, I get it. 🙃Some days are going to be long and exhausting. Today we were feeling it too. But it took a secret ninja fort and walked in the rain to help get us over the hump. ⠀ ⠀ In this indoor time of social distancing, think back to what you remember most from your childhood. ⠀ ⠀ Was it a secret space like this? ⠀ Making nature perfume on top of a birdbath (🙋🏼♀️)? ⠀ Maybe it was even the amount of butter on top of your popcorn for movie night. (also, me😂)⠀ ⠀ Let’s make a list. 📋⠀ ⠀ Tell me the small moment that made a lasting memory below, and let’s remember how simple play was before we became over scheduled.
Start thinking about exciting future travel plans.
Do we know when this is going to end? No. Will this end? HELL YES.
While I wouldn’t suggest you make an immediate travel plans in the near future, or even solidify any bookings at the moment, that doesn’t mean you can’t start dreaming something up.
I know I’m itching to get traveling again, and reflecting on my past trips, as well as brainstorming some future travel plans is keeping me sane. Just the thought of being back out in the mountains one day soon or exploring new European cities, is giving me the hope to hang on and get through this quarantine.
Looking into future travel plans and daydreaming of far away exotic destinations is also helping keep things in perspective, reminding me how lucky I am and that I have many things to be grateful for. For me and for many others out there, this lockdown is temporary, and things could be so much worse. For those of you in a similar position, let’s try to remember that, and keep those who aren’t as lucky right now in our thoughts.
Need some wanderlusting inspo? Check out my travel blog’s different locations, or take a hop over to some of my other favorite travel blogs and go-to travel planning resources:
- Gringa Journeys – Leah covers a range of travel destinations from around the world, and her colorful photos give me MAJOR wanderlust.
- Wanderluluu – Lauren is a Colombia-based travel blogger who covers not only Colombia, but many other dreamy destinations. She’s so personable (and has a great name 😜) and her posts are sure to give you tons of tips for your future travels.
- Endless Distances – Sarah’s recent posts about trekking to the Everest Base Camp have got me itching to get back to the mountains as soon as this whole thing passes.
- Come Join My Journey – Anna is another blogger who’s stunning photos and informative posts will give you endless travel inspo!
- The Adventuring Millennial – Stephanie’s travel guides in the US always get me thinking about getting back and exploring my home country more.
Do that thing you’ve been putting off.
You know what I’m talking about. That thing you’ve been putting off. The one that thing that’s always on your mind, but you haven’t quite “gotten around to” yet.
We all have one. What’s yours?
Yesterday I did a thing. A thing I’ve been wanting [and meaning] to do for a longgggg time now, but for some reason always found an excuse to not get around to it. Probably for the “real reasons” of fear and uncertainty, but my “crutch reasons” of “I don’t have the time right now” somehow always allowed me to fill my time in other ways and not get to it.
This week, I ran out of excuses. And so, I did it, and damnnnn does it feel GOOD. I officially launched my Expat Coaching Business!
So even if it’s something you’re nervous about, scared to do, or just simply putting off for no real reason at all, commit now, and JUST DO IT! You’ll feel sooooo good afterwords!
I’m actively growing this list, and have tons more ideas and activities to add over the next few days!
- Ways to continue supporting your local businesses
- DIY Projects and Crafts
- Movies and series on my watch list