One month under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s official stay-at-home order that began March 19, Californians are losing hope that life will get back to normal soon. It also leaves people asking what they can do to stay busy in their homes.
For many people the question is no longer “when will there be time for this?” but more “what can be done to fill all of this time?”
The first step starts with finding a possible new interest. In this chaotic event that is the COVID-19 pandemic, many are left anxious and stressed; whether it’s due to loss of employment, figuring out how to balance kids (out of school) on top of working from home, not being able to participate in daily activities to escape their mental prisons, or just plain boredom. Everyone can use an outlet.
The Australian Government’s Department of Health mentions that finding a new hobby and spending time doing that which has meaning to a person is beneficial when dealing with mental strain. According to a study done by the Australian Psychological Society, “4 in 5 participants found activities like listening to music…moderately or highly effective in managing stress.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also mentions that taking a break from stressful activities, such as watching the news or reading the newspaper, is helpful in reducing anxiety caused by the pandemic.
With the malls, public parks, amusement facilities, pools, beaches, and everything else under the sun that citizens usually access for enjoyment, closed, what are the alternatives that keep everyone busy?
An excellent way to be outside in the sun and get one’s hands dirty is home gardening. Terracotta pots are a great tool to begin the garden and they’re priced as low as .77 cents at Home Depot or Lowe’s. If getting to the store is not an option, Home Depot will ship and sellers on Etsy.com also offer an array of pots ranging from $6.50 to $30 depending on the style you want.
These pots are also perfect for customizing the garden to fit one’s space and adding in an art project. With a little paint and a few brushes, purchased for less than a Better Buzz iced coffee, use this as an opportunity to get little ones involved by letting them get creative. Don’t worry, adults and teens are welcome to try their hands at this as well!
After the pots are ready, decide what plants would fit best in the current environment. This takes into consideration what kind of soil, how much sunlight, water, and space is needed to grow a mini oasis. The Horticult, a blog produced by Chantal Aida Gordon and Ryan Benoit, is another great tool for beginners in the world of gardening.
For people whose passion may not involve plants, spending more time in the kitchen could be what is needed. During our regularly-scheduled lives, many do not have the time nor the energy to cook a one-course meal, let alone a four-course meal. The same can probably be said for baking. Quarantine is the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill set in the culinary arts or just figuring out how to make chocolate chip cookies for the first time!
Knowing where to begin can be a bit overwhelming for people, so making a list of foods they like or have on hand can be a good place to start. The apps called “Tasty” and “Yummly” are great for beginners and show step-by-step instructions on how to create masterpieces in the kitchen. Both include lists of ingredients, options for those with dietary restrictions, and videos showing step-by-step demonstrations. Another app, “My Fridge Food,” is also incredible in helping those who are intimidated by their stove. With a list of different ingredients, people can choose what they have in their fridge and the app will generate different recipes that can be made with said ingredients. It will even show what ingredients may still be needed if missing one or two.
There are so many options for what can be done during this uncertain time to help keep anxieties at bay and allow individual growth and the building of new skills. Take a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood while social distancing, start a mini arts and crafts fair (YouTube is a great source for this), learn to cook, create a garden, listen to a band that hasn’t been heard in awhile, or read a favorite book that’s been sitting on the shelf for too long. Most important of all, take care and know that our current reality will improve. People are stronger when their minds are clear and not weighed down by outside stressors.
While this is a complicated and nerve-wracking time for communities across the globe, it is also a time that can be spent learning new skills, deepening our empathy and understanding of one another, and focusing on personal or professional growth.