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As we live in quarantine, unsure if slow jogging is a few miles or a million more than usual, Melissa Kirsch, a culture and lifestyle editor, is part of a team at The New York Times that spends a lot of time That how to complete a full and life in isolation. We asked Ms. Kirsch, who writes At home newsletter, To share what he has learned in the past year and talk about some of his own strategies for staying well during uncertain times. The following are his edited comments.
Give yourself something to look forward to. I meet two friends on FaceTime on Monday night to watch a crime documentary. We don’t talk during the film, but being in the room, even on a screen, makes the experience more exciting. If my energy starts swinging in the middle of Monday afternoon, I remember that it is film night and one will feel both relief and anticipation. It is not an actual film in a theater, but it still feels special.
Think about how I want to look at the moment. I find myself consciously trying to do things that will make me feel better about this experience in the future. This can mean reading more or cooking or trying to be creative about the ways that I associate with other people – such as writing letters or meeting people for a walk in the cold. I don’t want Zoom to be a blot of chats and Netflix this year.
Write short descriptions. I keep a log book, which is an idea I got from artist Austin Klein. Every day, or as often as I can, I try to write down the most mundane details of the day. Today, I can write something about the fact that I reheated the pharaoh for lunch or that I talked to someone in the Times about a computer problem. Those little details that make up one day are the things we will forget when we look at this time. I hope that when I read them more than a decade from now, the days will come to life: how it really was, aside from the big narrative of “a year in quarantine”.
Like I am a person with a purpose. I try to give the day some structure, even if it is just to make my bed and take a shower and leave the house in the morning for a while before work. Doing those things really helps me feel normal. Another thing is gold. Going to bed at the appropriate time has helped to keep some kind of armature for days.
Set my days apart I really want to clearly demarcate week to weekend. We usually consider weekends to be a time to slow down. Each day is the same as before, so I’m trying to see the weekend as a time of speed. So I can have a socially perverted exterior hanging out with a friend in the middle of the day and meet up with another friend in the evening, and squeeze in cooking and cleaning and chores. I don’t have a commute or social event, so I don’t need much time to recover from the week; I need time
Make exercise a part of my “social” life. When my daily life is busy and chaotic, I often consider exercise as a single activity, a short period of time for contemplation before reconnecting with the world. Since so much of my time has already been lost from the world these days, I’ve started jogging without headphones, consciously trying to take advantage of those moments when I’m out of the house and around other people, even if I am not deliberately talking to them. I purposely jogged on the street which has a seating area or playground in an outdoor restaurant, routes I might have avoided earlier. In this way, I am not exercising to keep my mind and body in shape, but to live in my neighborhood, living my life in parallel to realize how we are all connected.
Get information Whether it is jogging to a far greater population or intentionally taking some place to visit some shops and more things, I try to do each exercise to recuperate my experience of the world. Our thoughts and actions and creativity are inspired by the people and things around us. And when we have limited people and things, it makes life short. Even though we are social disturbances, we still need social interaction, information input that keeps our brains sharp and our personality interesting.
Create a short routine. These can be small enjoyable things. It is not necessary for a routine to have an elaborate, punitive system that you implement in your day. Rather, you can take the small things that you do every day and just keep doing them. It can be decided whether you are going to just drink coffee at your stop every morning or to walk your dog at 1 in the afternoon. I make my bed every morning and do crossword puzzles during lunch. These are pretty rudimentary elements of a day, but they are two poles between which to hang the wee hours of the morning. Anything you do regularly and with intention can give the day some shape and some meaning.