It’s a rough world out there when you can’t get out and about like you’re used to. But don’t worry: Geek Gals got your back! Here are our very own writers’ tips on how to survive while staying at home.
Enjoy tips from our freelance writers Catherine Zaw, Julisa Basak, and Courtney Langdon and our founder/editor ChinLin Pan!
How are you working?
For me, being at home is a big change from working in a noisy environment. So I’ve gotten antsy being in silence by myself. What I’ve done is have others on the same voice-chat while working (like a virtual coffee shop), which really helps spice my work environment up! (I make sure to do this with only people that I can trust to keep me on my toes.) Now these days, I’m “working with” people I don’t usually work with and from different industries/fields — so that’s ultra cool!
When I’m working from home, I do my best to separate my leisurely activities from my professional. I set a set time to work and do my leisure stuff outside of it. It also helps to ‘feel’ like you’re getting ready for work. So dressing up in something nice that I can wear to work rather than being in my PJs help too.
Working from home has always been a desire of mine. When the self-quarantine began in mid-March, I enjoyed staying in my PJs and working in front of the TV on the couch. Now, after a month (and counting), I’ve had to switch up my environment to avoid going crazy. Some hours, I sit in front of the TV and work on my laptop. Some hours, I work at my IKEA standing desk in my little office corner by the front door. Sometimes I will also listen to podcasts while I work!
How do you spend your downtime?
I watch movies with the family or do my side pursuits — like writing my story draft, drawing, doing silly Tik Tok videos, connecting with friends through Zoom etc. It’s good to do the latter because now there are ways to stream entertainment online. Some plays have become available to stream. And my family and I even watched a whole ballet performance by the Moscow Ballet group on their YouTube page.
As a super productive person (that might be a flaw at times), I’ve been able to keep myself busy in three ways:
- Working on our geek TV podcast, The Bingeables Podcast (available on your favorite podcatcher!)
- Working on various projects around the house, from unpacking boxes to putting together IKEA furniture to organizing my stuff in my rooms
- Catching up on my TV shows via Hulu or watching comfort shows on Netflix
I have recently become obsessed with LEGOs. And I have assembled some of the large sets in the Creator Expert series that involve buildings. Not only do I have fun seeing the whole project come together, but there is something mentally soothing about slowly working your way through the instruction guide and the hundreds of little pieces. (I tried a large puzzle at the beginning of all this but was really frustrated when I got to the end and discovered that one piece was missing. And in a prominent place, ARGH. Happily, that almost never happens with LEGO sets.) I already have plans to decorate the finished buildings as haunted houses for Halloween, YAS!
How do you stay sane?
I already enjoy doing activities on my own, so social distancing is not too much of a problem for me. I write, I draw, I watch movies, I engage with my family at home and friends online. And most importantly, I avoid the news as much as possible by simply getting the facts and moving on (that doesn’t mean all this stuff saddens me or scares me though). Additionally, I also try to meditate and count my blessings.
If you’re stressed and feel like you’re going crazy, take a deep breath and assess how you feel mentally and physically. Maybe take a nap. Maybe you’re tired of watching TV or movies 24/7. Go out on a walk around your neighborhood (make sure to allow at least 6 feet of distance from other people).
Because I have to now manage my daughter and her schoolwork (which is its own level of insanity, let me tell you) while working from home, having a schedule that has breaks planned into it has been a big help in not losing my mind. When the morning is rough, I know that at 11 AM, we will take a walk through the neighborhood for her P.E., followed by lunch.
If I can make it through the afternoon, I look forward to 4 PM when we go back outside and she plays while I get in more exercise for myself. At night after she goes to bed, I relax on the couch with a book or Netflix. One of the things that all of these activities have in common is that they are physically separate from the dining room where we work and do school.
The other is that I work very hard to not let my work encroach into these planned breaks. If I do still have work in the evenings, I go back to the dining room, handle it quickly, and then back to the living room to relax. I cannot keep my work in the living room. Or I would talk myself into picking it up and doing it, which is a surefire way to slowly break down until you crack.
How are you staying in touch with others?
I’ll be honest — most of my social interactions haven’t really changed! Many of my friends are already long-distance so we’ve maintained the same mechanisms of communication. I am on the phone and on video-chat a lot more these days though! As for the friends I usually see in person, I just try to keep a perspective of “everyone is long distance.” And sometimes that mindset helps me not miss seeing them too much.
I reach out to my friends to ask how they’re doing. I message my family. My mom calls once a week to check in on me. Keeping up with your normal social interactions via text, call, or video chat helps a lot. I send lots of heart emojis during this time so everyone knows I’m sending over positive vibes and love.
One new thing we have started doing regularly is to FaceTime my mother at 11:30 every weekday. This serves two purposes: it allows my daughter to read aloud two books as part of her schoolwork, and it gives my elderly mother a sweet interaction with her granddaughter that she normally wouldn’t get. This has evolved to be called “Book Hour with Nana,” which is funny because the book reading only takes the first 15-20 minutes.
The rest of the time my daughter sets up toys in front of the camera and “plays” with Nana while she eats her lunch. They talk about the toys and laugh at their antics. And both my daughter and mother look forward to it everyday. One day, my daughter will remember this as a special memory of her grandmother.
How are you keeping your sense of humor?
The internet is thriving these days with a boatload of memes and new content, which keeps me laughing and smiling. Sorta helps that many people share similar experiences of waiting in line to get into the grocery store or using a variety of different household objects as substitutes for gym weights — makes for funny jokes!
Memes, Tik Tok videos, jokes, there’s no dearth of them even in these conditions.
I watch funny YouTube videos, I see funny memes, and I hear stories from my colleagues.
Any other advice or fun stories?
I am a big EDM person and it’s been incredibly heartwarming to see lots of DJs and music artists streaming their content. Recently, there was an online music festival (Digital Mirage) that went on for the weekend and the recordings from that festival are really making my week and giving me something to listen to!
I’ve been getting to watch free concerts, performances, and digital walk-through of museums. I’m also taking a free Yale course on Coursera called the Science of Well-Being that’s being offered right now. My dad who really wanted to see a ballet, despite the tickets being so expensive, got to stream one for free. It’s amazing with what’s being offered now because of the quarantine. Take advantage of a few positive circumstances while you still can!
Play your music LOUD and just dance around the house like no one is watching. It’s so therapeutic. Sing along to some of your favorite songs. One of my colleagues had a fun night with her girlfriends when they did presentations and dressed up as characters. That can be a great opportunity to pull out your cosplays and make fun PowerPoint presentations.
Life will never be the same again, and that’s okay. Maybe it will be better, but it won’t be the same. Look around and find the things you enjoy now and try to do them as much as you can. Reach out to the people you love for no reason other than to say, “Hey! How are you? You okay? Did you eat?” Stop and just take a few deep breaths, feeling the air fill your lungs and slowly push back out again.
Believe it or not, through all the craziness, one day you will look back on this and will think fondly on some thing you did or saw or heard. When I get really stressed out, I think to myself, “A year from now, what will I be missing from this time? What can I never see or do quite the same again?” That’s what I go after, the small things that I take for granted now that I might miss later. Don’t regret something you didn’t do. Embrace it all now, the good and the ugly. That’s what I try to do, and, as Robert Frost said, “And that has made all the difference.”
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Featured image credit: Emma Matthews/Unsplash