I haven't washed my hair all week; I technically don't know what day it is, and I've been eating breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast – welcome to my life under quarantine.
Like the rest of the general population, I've been living in self-quarantine and practicing social distancing for the past week as the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And I know I'm in a position where I haven't been exposed to anyone with the virus and it's statistically unlikely that I’ll be affected as I've remained indoors for a week straight (aside from brief unaccompanied walks around the block once a day for some fresh air). Yet, I also know that if I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time and cross paths with someone who is infected and I end up touching my face, I could very well be at risk. Which makes this entire experience a daily battle. The unknown.
This is why I've been consciously trying my best to remain positive and take each day as it comes, because hell, how is a negative mindset going to get me through all of this? It's not. If anything, it'll make things harder. Way harder than they already feel.
And while I'm fortunate enough that I can work from home during this time, it definitely hasn't been easy and, oh boy, things are just getting started. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he believes social distancing measures could be in place for weeks and possibly even months. So, that's reassuring, to say the least.
For many, working from home can be a perk of the job and something they look forward to. For myself, I've always found I thrive in an office environment where I can collaborate and communicate with my colleagues face-to-face. I also found there are always fewer distractions at the office – for instance, my freaking adorable cat isn't there to interrupt me.
So when I found out that I was going to be working from home for the foreseeable future while the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, I panicked. I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to stay focused, productive, and efficient, while still keeping sane and not letting the growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country freak me out, and while also trying to not worry about the health and safety of my family and friends who are also going through the same daily struggles.
In between working, I've become pretty good at doing facemasks at all hours of the day, making Spotify playlists (or quarantunes, if you will), working out, eating surprisingly healthy, and deep cleaning my apartment. Basically, how I see it, I'm going to come out of my quarantine life a better, healthier, and fitter version of myself. So, yeah, that's how I'm looking at things.
But I understand that this uneasy time can be a lot more challenging for some individuals and that a good playlist or group FaceTime with your friends can't fix things – but they most certainly can help.
So, if you find yourself struggling to get through your new quarantine life, I wanted to share a few tips I've found that have helped me stay both positive and productive during this unprecedented time.
Make a Morning Routine
For me, the most important thing to do when working from home is to have a routine in place that I follow every day. That includes waking up at a set time (rather than rolling out of bed 15-minutes before I'm supposed to log online). While I might not wake up as early as I would if I was going into the office, I like to wake up around 7 am so I have plenty of time to get up and organized before getting online for the day.
After waking up, I avoid checking my phone and spend at least five minutes stretching and focusing on my breathing, so I can continue on with my morning with a clear head, free from distractions. Then, I'll put on the kettle to boil some water while I shower and get ready.
Once I'm showered, I still follow my skincare routine, I find this brings some normalcy to my routine, and then I make sure to make my bed and change into clothes – I like to refrain from working in pyjamas at all costs. Then I'll have some hot water with lemon before making something healthy for breakfast.
Have a Dedicated Work Space
It's important to try and find yourself a dedicated and comfortable spot to work from that you can associate with your job and leave when you’re off the clock. And no, this doesn't mean the couch (and definitely not your bed!). And I understand not everyone has a separate room that they can turn into their temporary office, so even making room at your kitchen table or counter will do the trick.
Make a List
There's something satisfying about making a list and getting to cross things off one by one as you complete them throughout the day. And when your daily routine consists of working, watching TikTok videos, and trying to avoid eating all your quarantine snacks, any small victory, even if it's just completing an easy task for work, is an accomplishment.
I like to start my day with two lists: one personal and one for work. And I like to make my lists as specific as possible, meaning I include every minor task I want to complete that day, including replying to a very specific email, taking out the garbage, or remembering to take my vitamins.
Remember to Move
When spending so much time at home, it's easy to get consumed with whatever you're focused on and before you know it, you've been sitting down for three hours straight. I try to move around at least once an hour and this might even mean just getting up to get more water, walk around my condo, or taking a quick walk outside, which is definitely something I took for granted before.
Plus, after the workday is done, I've been getting into the routine of doing an at-home workout, which has been a great way to blow off some steam.
Still be Social Just Remember to Distance
While you might be practicing social distancing, you can still be social, you just need to do it online. Consistent social interactions are important right now, especially for those who are no longer seeing their coworkers and friends in person anymore, as they can help ease any feelings of isolation or loneliness.
In the past week, I've carved out time every day to FaceTime and talk on the phone with my family members and friends back home in Vancouver, while also staying in constant communication with my friends in Toronto through group chats and video calls. I've also been really active at checking in with friends through Instagram, regardless of where they are in the world, just to let them know they aren't alone through all of this.
Turn It All Off
Since new details and updates on the state of COVID-19 both here in Canada and on a global scale are given frequently throughout the day, it's understandable to feel overwhelmed or anxious as we're all living in a scary and unprecedented time. If you do find that the news is really starting to get to you or the people you follow on Instagram are posting way too much about the coronavirus outbreak, don't be afraid to turn off your phone or TV to distance yourself from what's going on.
By steering clear from the negativity in the news, you'll be able to have a healthier and more positive mindset, which is something we should all strive to have right now as we learn to navigate these unchartered waters together.