This is a very unsure time in history. I know you are stressed. I know you are anxious, afraid of the uncertainties that lie ahead. You feel hopeless, useless like you have no control over what is happening around you. All of your feelings are extremely understandable and valid. Try to keep in mind, however, that this is feeling-pure anxiety, depression, and hopelessness- is what a lot of people feel every single day of their lives. People with mental illnesses are absorbed by this feeling. What you are feeling right now is their normal. If your anxiety has escalated due to the current circumstances, their anxiety has too.
Our lives have changed. Our schedules are drastically different and, for you, this might be a great thing. You have that excuse to sleep in another hour. You get to stay in comfy clothes every day. You get the option to skip that shower (who cares, no one’s going to see me anyway!) These small luxuries that you are experiencing every day could be a nightmare for someone with a mental illness. Sometimes, they make it almost impossible to get out of bed. It can make you forget about hygiene (who cares, I want to be alone anyway.) People with mental illnesses are not using this as an excuse to relax, their mental illnesses are using it as an excuse to break down everything that they have been building to keep them strong.
So please, reach out to those in your life who you know have mental diagnoses. Now, more than ever, they are going to need to be assured that they are not alone, because their illness is going to make them feel more alone than ever. They are going to need an extra shoulder to lean on. Be that shoulder. Ask them how they are. Let them know that you are there for them, even though it may not be physically. Make a point to tell them every day that you love them; that you care for their well being. Let them know how they make you happy. We are all working together to keep each other healthy, but that does not stop at physical health. Let’s all work together to ensure that the world stays distanced, not isolated.
So, it’s pretty indisputable that things suck right now. Several of us are finding ourselves trapped indoors without hobbies, tasks, and most crucially: socialization. I consider myself lucky to be introverted and happily a homebody, yet it’s rough being away from my friends and extended loved ones.
Even though many of us are limited in the things we can do, that doesn’t mean you and your loved ones can’t keep things exciting and fresh (and let’s be realistic, there’s only so much sex you can have together in quarantine before you need some more activities.) These indoors date ideas are coming from my perspective of being in a relationship, but they would be perfect for friend-dates as well. Just remember to keep your social circle small, and don’t let weird people cough on you.
Pot some plants together.
Potting plants is an inexpensive, interactive, and educational activity that you can do right from the comfort of your own home! Especially when you’re stuck at home in quarantine, having the responsibility of keeping a plant alive can be a great motivator to keep you going and give you something to look forward to. I recently just potted some basil, which I have grown before in the past, and I’m eagerly looking forward to watching it sprout and flourish every day. It’s easy, it’s wholesome, and it’s a great activity to do in the comfort of your house.
Take a nature walk.
If you’re really starting to feel the cabin fever hit, consider going for a nature walk together to get some fresh air and get your feet moving. Obviously, stay away from areas that are populated or full of people, because the point is that we want to stay distanced, but a little nature walk outside is actually recommended by professionals to keep your spirits up during these hard times. I’m lucky to live in New England, where there are tons of woodsy places to visit without people around. Depending on where you live, figure out what works best for your circumstances and lockdown regulations.
Take a bubble bath. Preferably, a bath full of hand sanitizer, but that’s probably not possible in these trying times.
Just kidding, please don’t waste hand sanitizer. But for real- bubble baths during these trying times is exactly what most of us need right now. Pour yourself a glass of wine, put on some music, chill out in the bath, and try to think about something besides coronavirus for awhile. If there was ever a time for pampering and self-love, it’s now.
Read books in bed together.
As the poster child for introversion, reading books in bed is one of my favorite things to do, especially with someone next to me. It’s a sweet, tranquil way to bond and be near each other, but it doesn’t require any conversation (incredible, right?). Currently, I’m rotating between Memoirs of a Geisha, Slaughterhouse Five, and Disappearing Earth to pass the time. Napping together also falls into this category.
Have a wine-tasting/cocktail-making shindig.
No, you shouldn’t be going out to any liquor stores right now, but the good news is you can still buy booze online! Regardless of if you’re with your family, your partner, or even just by yourself, consider hosting your very own wine-tasting/cocktail-making party at home. Come up with some new alcoholic concoctions that you’d never thought about trying before. For bonus points, consider watching something cheesy like America’s Next Top Model or The Bachelor to complete the suburban mom aesthetic.
Watch Jeopardy! and other feel-good shows.
This weekend, I learned that my boyfriend is an actual certifiable Jeopardy! legend. Dear God, we probably watched about six hours of that show total over the course of 2 and a half days. That’s probably not everybody’s cup of tea, but for us, trivia shows actually proved to be a great way to pass the time and share some laughs. If Jeopardy! And Family Feud aren’t your thing, switch it up with a binge-worthy show you can both get behind. For fans of thrillers, I highly recommend watching The Keepers or Bates Motel for some thought-provoking discussions together. If you like baking shows, I cannot recommend Sugar Rush and Food Network enough.
Teach each other a new skill or hobby.
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Lately, my very small circle and I have shared a lot of hobbies and skills amongst each other, including knitting, puzzles, and cooking. Most of us have endless time right now, so why not pick up a new skill or talent to keep yourselves occupied? If you want to spend 3-5 being fully immersed and frustrated in a new task, I highly suggest trying to learn how to knit. It’s the perfect combination of mental pain and fascination. Another idea is to sign up for an online class together, so that you can both learn a new skill at the same time!
Bake something together.
Keeping with the trend of being extremely wholesome, baking something with your loved one is always a great way to spend quality time together and create something awesome with your hands. I’ve been really into baking muffins right now, but I’m also interested in getting into baking bread. It sort of goes back to the learn-a-new-skill thing; if you’re not very good at baking or cooking, use this time to learn some new, wonderful dishes with your partner.
Last but not least, have a luxurious spa night at home.
I guess this kind of relates to the bubble bath idea, but why not take it up a notch and have a full-out spa night? You can make face masks, give each other massages, listen to royalty-free spa music, paint your nails, etc, etc. I personally have about a thousand hair and skin products sitting in my bathroom at the moment, so I’m trying to take this self-quarantine time to catch up on self love and beauty. Also, take this opportunity to catch up on rest! Beauty sleep has never been more important. More than anything else, remember to take care of yourself and the vulnerable people around you. If we all practice adequate social distancing and self-quarantining, I think this will all be over sooner than we think. Even moreso, spending more time together indoors while still branching out could be a great bonding experience for you both, and bring you closer than ever.