The probably obligatory (and four weeks behind) quarantine commentary you‘ve all (not) been waiting for.
Hello from within the Covid-proof walls of my apartment in the middle of Freiburg. It’s March the 653rd or so, I lost count. Anyway, it‘s anno Coroni and like all of you, I’m living the teenage experience and follow Angie’s national curfew. Although, not to brag, but I started self-isolation before it was cool aka before it went viral. A week prior to all of you, in those innocent days at the beginning of March, when the dangers of Corona were belittled and the advisory precautions met with mild amusement and little understanding. Feels like a century ago, doesn’t it? That was one month ago. Anyone seen 28 days later? Yeah, that’s where we are on the timeline. So there I was, on sick leave, and observing how the world followed my footsteps (I‘m not an influencer, I‘m an influenza, haha. That was a bad one. Apologies.) and decided to have a major breakdown, too, and suddenly, everyone was self-isolating. I will not tell you about how these past few days and weeks have been for me. That is a topic for another time. Today, I wanna reassure those of you who feel bad, or guilty, or intimidated by all those instaposts, TicTocs videos, social media proof of how productive and active everyone is. Learning new languages, trying out recipes, baking loads of loaves of bread, binging the whole Digital Concert Hall, FaceTiming everyone and anyone, renovating their homes, working out, and being fabulous human beings. Don’t feel bad if you don’t do any of this. Nor guilty nor intimidated. I spend a great amount of time just sitting and staring out of the window. I’m not even thinking clever thoughts to justify it. Just blank, mindless, empty staring. And you know what? That’s cool. Yes, of course I still go running. If you know me or you’ve been following this blog, you know that I like to joke that running is my therapy. Now, its become my survival mechanism. Anyway, for various, partly non-Covid-19-related reasons, that’s about it regarding my otherwise so strongly present enthusiasm. Energizer bunny has finally stopped. And I hate it. But apart from my personal anti-motivation, we are experiencing an unknown situation. And that is scary. And fear paralyses. Energizer bunny as as frightened as all of you. It’s a wild circus of rumours, false news, and conspiracy theories and hovering above it the big question of how long this will last. Economy and humanity seem to clash, people are polarized, easily offended and feeling very, very insecure. Some struggle with home office in their non-suitable for home office homes, some fear for their job, some have already lost their job, some cannot see their loved ones, some have to endure lockdown in toxic company – however your situation is: it is a pandemic and you gotta cope with it. How you cope is up to you (as long as you don’t harm others, of course, basic moral standards apply). I for myself need to feel at least to a certain degree like I‘m in charge of myself and in control of my life. So I came up with a set of everyday tasks I wish to complete. None of them are major but they all improve my overall well-being, physically and psychologically, and create a sense of structure in this wibbly wobbly timey wimey era. What I like about this list is that it is achievable and realistic and very often I end up doing more and if I don’t – well, then at least I did this, right? So if you feel lost, maybe this will help you, too, and that’s why I’m sharing it with you. Here it comes, in no particular order:
Eat one proper meal.
That means cook, or support your local restaurant and order something, or sit down for a decent Brotzeit, or treat yourself with a nice breakfast. Doesn’t matter. But make sure, at least one of your meals is proper. Sometimes, that’s my only source of food per day. Happens. I’m not a big eater, or rather I’m not anymore since I lost my appetite and had lost my taste buds for some weeks. But at least, if that is the case, it’s not some crap I shove in but something nutritious, something healthy, something sustainable, something made with love. No need to pressure yourself to finally try out all those recipes you’ve bookmarked or highlighted. Go with your comfy-zone. The important thing is: Eat. And enjoy it.
One Act of Kindness.
I gave all my Enid Blyton CDs to my neighbours’ kids. I donated blood. I wrote various little letters with tiny little presents and delivered them myself to the recipients’ mailboxes. I went grocery shopping for some who couldn’t go by themselves. I’m being extra friendly and polite, especially to supermarket employees. It’s the little things. And it’ll make you feel less worthless.
Read a book.
Not a whole book a day (unless you want to). Even if it’s just 5 minutes, or 2 pages, do it. I’ve gone back to reading right before bedtime, when the phone is already on silent mode and I’m all wrapped up in my warm 2,20x2m duvet, feeling protected from the chilly night air (because my window is always open at night. I feel like suffocating otherwise) or on my French balcony, enjoying the sunshine (I know I am very lucky to have that opportunity) and watching the less busy pedestrian zone below. I have just finished Frankls Man’s Search for Meaning, Haruki Murakamis What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, and J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (Tinker Bell is such a nasty bitch, wtf?!?!). Right now I’m reading one of Arto Paasilina’s books because they’re easy to read and light and quirky, and John Muir’s My First Summer in the Sierra in preparation for the summer. The first few days I could only read cheap thrillers and couldn’t concentrate on any more attention-required literature. Again – whatever works for you is great. Dan Brown is as good as Marcel Proust during quarantine. Just don’t read
Twilight. Honestly, that was so bad, I couldn’t finish it and it had already been degraded to a Klobuch (aka the ones that lie in my bathroom, next to the loo, so I have something more interesting than shampoo bottles to read. Although, it is with great shame and regret that since phones have gone smart, Klobücher have become an endangered species). So read anything but Twilight (the same is valid for its equally popular fan fiction).
I run, as mentioned above and in various other occasions. But I also try and start my day with 15-20 minutes of stretching, planking, Yoga, whatever. The best thing is, I suck so much at Yoga (so much, Rachel Bloom should make an anti-Valencia song with me), it makes me laugh so much at how much I suck and what better way is there to start the day than with laughing about yourself? Not everybody is a morning person like me, and if you’re not – try take that time each day, and give your body some stretches and some healthy exertion. Don’t feel like you gotta come out of lockdown totally ripped. But do if you want to.
One Mental Health Exercise.
Well, because I need it. And since I can’t get the Therapieplatz I desperately need, that’s the least I gotta do. But even when you generally feel fine in that department, it’s never wrong to take the time and maybe just breathe for 5 minutes, or meditate, or even let the tears of fear and insecurity come and give your anxieties room. Don’t suppress them.
Check up on your family.
I try to contact my Mum and my brother every other day. Can be a short text, a voice messages, a call. Whatever. But a quick update on everyone’s well-being helps. Especially since my Mum and I have only just started reconnecting and we have a long way to go and I am very insistent on our almost daily updates, as superficial they may be.
or clean something in the apartment. To make sure that chaos doesn’t reign. One tiny task is enough, and usually, once I’ve started, I do a little bit more.
Plan your JMT.
Which is, agreed, very unpractical advice for you unless you plan on hiking the John-Muir-Trail in summer like I do. Assuming the world is back in working order by then (please be). But even if it is not – we don‘t know and we can’t do anything about it (apart from staying at home, keeping our distance, wash our hands, you know the drill) so how about we focus on what we can do? All other questions regarding my future are too overwhelming at the moment (it is very difficult to plan a future when you don’t even know if you’ll make it through the day) but with working on my summer plans every day for a little bit I savour the anticipation, and I control the situation. I’m in charge. And I can be in charge of it from my home-is-my-castle. Whatever your JMT is – hold on to it.
Contact at least one person outside your comfort zone.
Because now is probably the worst time to have a textophobia. I tend to eliminate my contact to a minimum and give everyone the silent treatment when I’m not well. Since I usually just happen to see people, I am now, like all of us, depending on non-face-to-face communication and in order to make sure I do and at the same time make sure I don’t get overwhelmed by the pressure of doing so, I have decided one person per day is compulsory, more than that is optional and that works surprisingly well I must say. I’m also dedicating specific periods of time for communication and I have noticed that my text messages or voice messages are fewer but much more elaborate and meaningful. If you happen to get one, it means I made time for you, and dedicated this time to you, and show you my appreciation by giving you my time and attention so feel honoured and loved. And don‘t be mad if it takes me forever to reply.
So there you go. I hope you find inspiration in this or you felt at least entertained for the 3 minutes it took to read this and whatever you do: Here’s the obligatory reminder and well-wishing: