Are you stressed? Sure, you are. Nearly all of us are during these rather unusual times. You can’t leave your house for fear that you might get sick. And even if you did brave the world, many areas are still experiencing lockdown or shutdowns, so there’s nowhere to go other than the local grocery store. Many of us are still working from home while others are forced to venture out into the world everyday… which is no fun whatsoever, especially now that you have to wear a mask all of the time. So, how can we find happiness in a society that’s negative all of the time?
Guess what? Grab your phone, you’re going to want to take pictures. The neighbor’s house is on fire! Well, no, but at least that would be something exciting to watch, right? As of the day, this article is being written, there will be no more political debates, proposition ads, or mud-slinging ads on TV. Regardless of who and what wins right now, it’s over. You don’t have to think about it… so minus one percent, at least, from your stress level. Sure, there are still a few ads that will overstay their welcome, but for the majority, they’ll all start to disappear and make way once again for Cialis and incontinence ads. Wait… is there a difference? Ah, let’s save that argument for another time.
THEMED TV NIGHTS
We can find ourselves so wrapped up in the same old things day after day. Next time you turn on your television, why not try watching something you never thought of before.
- Make Monday night Toon night where all you watch is the cartoons you once watched as a kid. Theme the night as well. Drink juice boxes and pizza beagles. Give little token gifts from your childhood to those joining you… My Little Ponies, G.I. Joe, and so on.
- Another great idea for a themed evening would be the old 80s or 90s television shows. As an example, aim to binge-watch three or four Star Treks episodes, your choice of seasons (I’m not getting into that discussion again at which series was best unless I have a phaser in hand) Start with a half-hour of trivia beforehand. In the case of Star Trek, they have a cookbook available that you could also use to make some fun, interesting, and occasionally wormy food.
If you really want to get crazy, add costumes and make everyone speak in silly accents… e.g. Downtown Abbey, Game of Thrones, Golden Girls, A-Team… and the list goes on.
CHANGE OF SCENERY
Most of us during this time has already planned at least five vacations… even if we can afford them or not. The majority of people can’t wait to sit on a tropical beach, sipping a fruity drink, while watching the ocean waves crash against the sand. SIGH… that does sound nice, doesn’t it? Why wait?
3. You can make your own tropical vacation! As long as you have a free wall, you can easily pin up a tropical backdrop. And with a little imagination, you can transform a small space into an entire mini-vacation… well, at least a few hours away. Though I wouldn’t suggest bringing sand into the house, you can imitate the sound of the ocean with either Google Home Smart Speakers or Amazons Smart speakers by asking to play the sound of the ocean. Other speakers might have the same option as well. And forget your beach towel.
2 ounces strawberries (fresh or frozen)
2 ounces Coconut Cream
2 ounces Pineapple Juice (unsweetened)
1 ounce Malibu Coconut Rum
1 ounce Rum (light)
4. Not fond of the beach? Create your own exotic location. Dust off that old bistro set and set in a Paris backdrop. Add a croissant and a glass of wine along with some soothing French music and WHALA! You’re now in France… at least until the mail truck drives by.
A lot of people during this time have started a garden. Great idea, if you have space. But if you’re stuck in an apartment or lack space, there are other ways you can flex your green thumb.
Container Gardens are a great way to grow a few plants with little space required. All you need is a small, somewhat sunny balcony or open area.
- Does your apartment complex have strict rules against plants on the balcony? Try Hydroponics. These nifty little growing stations are perfect for indoor living. They also brighten up any room.
WRITE YOURSELF SOMEPLACE NEW
Ever thought about writing a novel or a blog, but you don’t have a clue where to start? Writing really isn’t that difficult, especially when you don’t have a teacher or professor breathing down your neck. Writing can also be very therapeutic. You can write yourself to anywhere or any time… or make something up altogether. Words can transport you to Mars or to ancient Egypt… your imagination is the limits. Did you hate the ending of a movie you just watched? Rewrite it.
- Write a novel: Everyone can write. Sure. Not everyone can edit, but don’t worry about that right away. Even if it’s the old fashion pen and paper technique, when you start writing down your thoughts, it helps clear your mind from your stress and anxiety. If you have a roommate you want to strangle, strangle them in a story. It’s not illegal and boy does it feel good… just don’t keep your notes anywhere where they might see it. Try your hand at poetry as well. Don’t allow others to judge your work. It’s yours and if it makes you happy, that’s all that matters.
- Blogging is another great way to connect with people on the net. A lot of people don’t know what to write when they first start. I wrote a blog about visiting haunted locations before the pandemic. Sadly, I won’t be able to resume that for awhile. But if you enjoy cooking, bird watching, yoga, you’re bound to find an audience. Even your thoughts about the pandemic might help others get through this hard time. And it’s a wonderful feeling when someone writes to tell you how much you brightened their day with your thoughts.
COOKING YOUR HEART OUT
A lot of people out there have never picked up an oven mitt before, let alone knew what a whisk is
used for are taking to the kitchen. Cooking and baking is not frightening as many people might think. The number one thing you have to do while cooking is set timers. If you set timers, you don’t have to worry about burning anything. Tasting good though… that might take practice. But… you have the time to practice. With enough practice, who knows, when this is all over you might start your own banana bread bakery!
- Baking 101 – Timers are essential. Thank goodness nearly all cell phones have some kind of timer built-in. Google/Amazon devices have ways to create and name different timers… if you get really adventurous. There are tons of websites that offer free recipes. Just make sure to bookmark them. I lost a wonderful creampuff recipe because of forgetting to bookmark.
- Practice makes perfect. You’re not going to be Wolfgang Puck overnight. Be patient and don’t be afraid to experiment a little. This is your time to focus on one thing and just relax.
And if you started a garden as well, you can use the bounty of your harvest in your cooking.
TRY YOUR HAND AT DIY
- Pinterest has been a true inspiration during this time. The website has hundreds of ideas on how to be crafty, sometimes with just the discarded items around your house.
- Try your hand at painting. PEACOCK is a free TV AP that offers 24/7 Bob Ross painting instructions. Watching Bob is a wonderful way to distress, regardless if you paint or not. I, personally, can’t help but smile whenever he talks about his “Happy little trees” or the like.
One day soon, this will all pass. Until then, take a deep breath, stay clear from the news, and focus on things that make you happy. This is a great time to experiment… read a new book in a genre that you never thought about reading before or pick up that old flute you had as a teenager. Try to take time for yourself, away from social media, and unplug for a few hours. If you can, take a walk or a hike for some fresh air. Before you know it, you’ll be back to your old life wishing you had the time you have now to explore new interests. Embrace your free time while you have it.