We're indoors right now, and we should be; for the sake of others, and to safeguard our own health, our self-discipline around social distancing is paramount.
But that doesn't mean these long days and nights at home, while certainly stressful, can't yield benefits. In fact, when it comes to getting in touch with what makes you happy, staying in can be incredibly productive.
Just ask staying-in expert Jessica Misener, author of "JOMO: 350 Ways to Make Staying In More Fun Than Going Out" (Adams Media, 2019), the definitive source for finding great innovative and stress-busting ideas to take advantage of right now.
Above all in this when most are sticking close to home, Misener tells Pause that it's important to be mindful of your screen-time. "It's hard to put the phone down," she sympathizes. "I've turned off my push notifications for news," which alleviates the constant bombardment. Physically separating from your phone helps, too. "If I want to read and be unplugged, I put my phone in another room."
Self-care is also really important, and to Misener, that means meditating in unusual ways. "I find cooking, specifically chopping onions, to be meditative as you focus on preparing food. Cleaning can be meditative and peaceful. Knitting is really meditative. Whatever takes you away is valuable," she says.
Here are some other great suggestions to use while sheltering at home:
1. Snag the funniest book on your shelf
Because laughter really is the best medicine, read "Bossypants" by Tina Fey, "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" by Mindy Kaling, "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" by Issa Rae, and "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler. Or better yet, allow them to read to you via audio books. It's like listening to your most trusted - and hilarious - girlfriends.
2. Watch a puppy or kitten livecam
"There are tons of sites where you can watch baby animals doing all kinds of adorable things live," Misener writes. She recommends visiting Animal Planet's website and checking in on live dog and cat rescues, and Explore.org to get a glimpse of guide dogs in training. "Watching cuddly creatures online will ease stress and brighten your whole day."
3. Learn a new skill
Kids aren't the only ones who can attend online school. There's a tutorial for simply anything on YouTube - cooking, building a computer, needle felting, glass blowing and more. Your digital teachers are (always) standing by.
4. Take a virtual museum tour
According to Misener, several of the Smithsonian institutions and other famous museums offer virtual exhibit tours on their sites. And you can "tour most of the Louvre, wings of the British Museum and even the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with only an Internet connection." Dive in, art lovers!
5. Write Yelp reviews for your favorite spots
Now more than ever, your neighborhood favorites need your positive comments. Take a trip down memory lane to recall some of your best experiences at your local coffee shop, dry cleaner, grocer, shoemaker and more. Pay the good karma forward.
Lisa Marsh is a competitive fencer, a mom to teens, a reader of many books and an author of four of her own. In her 30-year career, she has written for everyone (it seems).