The coronavirus known as COVID-19, as of this writing, is still spreading rapidly across the U.S., and quarantines are still in progress. This is having a major impact on the nation and its people, and that likely includes you, too. At best, being in quarantine away from work or college is boring or annoying, and at worst, it may do great damage to your financial life. But now is not the time for despair. During quarantine, you can use all this newfound free time to reassess your lifestyle and your collection of worldly possessions and practice some self-care. Overall, Americans push themselves very hard to succeed in school, work, and life in general, and a lot of self-care ideas are neglected on the way. But now, you can relearn those self-care ideas and emerge from quarantine feeling much better about yourself and your lifestyle. How might this work?
Give Yourself A Break From Technology
This isn’t to say you should suddenly throw away all your electronic devices and live a pre-industrial lifestyle; modern tech is very useful and important in many ways. Online college classes, for example, or educational YouTube videos. But you do not need to be texting people or looking at screens for every hour of the day; common wisdom holds that moderation is key, and some people today (which might include you) do not have a proper balance where this is concerned. In fact, studies say that text messages are read at a 98% rate, and smartphone sounds and graphic displays are actually designed to be appealing and addictive, not unlike casino slot machines. Some Americans even sacrifice sleep for the sake of all this, staying up too late cruising YouTube or checking emails and texts in the middle of the night. This can be harmful.
So, you may improve your quality of life by deciding on a low number of hours to spend on screens per day, such as two or three, and using the rest of the time on other projects and leisure activities. At first, this transition may be awkward, and you might be left feeling unsure of how to handle this free time. But people have entertained and enriched themselves long before iPads or smartphones were invented. Why not use this time to catch up on all the books you own, which can give your brain a wonderful workout and boost your vocabulary? Books don’t need electricity, software updates, or an internet connection, making them very convenient to carry around and use. Graphic novels and art books can be entertaining the same way, and a lot of fictional stories or educational topics are only available this way (if they were never made into TV shows or movies).
Reading can while away a lot of time, and there are even more options for you to try out. A number of low-cost hobbies don’t require electricity but can be very enriching, such as learning to draw, sketch, or use watercolors if you are feeling artistic. Even if you aren’t a modern Picasso, this can be a lot of fun, and exercise your imagination and take your mind off things. Even jigsaw puzzles can be good fun, and they vary from easy puzzles for kids from huge puzzles for older players to complete. Some people even frame up finished puzzles to put on display, and like books, puzzles are cheap and don’t need the internet or electricity. On a similar note, you can have some fun without screens by playing board games, which come in a huge variety. Some are simple and colorful and are meant to be child-friendly and family-oriented. Meanwhile, other board games are meant for older players and can be great fun for them, whiling away hours at a time while being intellectually nourishing. The same can be said of card games with regular playing cards, or specialized card games ranging from Uno! to games like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon, and Magic: the Gathering.
Playing board games or reading a biography is a great way to work out your mind, but let’s not forget the body. The human body is built for exercise, and there are many health benefits for exercising regularly. These range from better sleep and improved mood to lower risks of heart disease and avoiding obesity, not to mention muscle development. Ordinarily, Americans can get exercise by playing casual sports like soccer or basketball or going to the local fitness center to take a spin class or lift weights. Those aren’t good options during quarantine, but you can take other routes to get moving. You don’t even need a lot of exercises to get some benefits; just 10 minutes of activity per day can improve your mobility and extend your lifespan. Many health experts recommend around 30 minutes of exertion per day.
Assuming you are physically able, you can perform basic exercises indoors, such as push-ups, situps, squats, and lunges, and this alone can go a long way. If you have dumbbells at home, feel free to use those too, and consider having a workout friend, so you can both encourage each other and hold each other accountable. Developing a new habit is easier when someone else is holding you accountable in a friendly manner. As for the outdoors, you should be careful, and it’s a bad idea to go out if you are ill. But if you aren’t, this is a fine time to jog or even run in local parks or nature trails, and the fresh air and sunlight should boost your mood. Be sure to maintain a healthy distance from other people, and refrain from touching anything that you absolutely don’t have to. You could also ride a bicycle this way, or even ride on roller skates.
Plant a Few Flowers
Why not add some green to your life? If you have some seed packets on hand, you can launch a small home garden in the back yard, to make the landscape look nice and give yourself a bonus hobby. Gardening is a pretty substantial hobby in the U.S. already, especially among middle-aged and older women, but it’s something that anyone can do, and it can cheer them up during quarantine. When setting up a garden, be sure that your plants can handle the soil type, ambient temperatures, and level of sunlight that they will be exposed to, so they can grow well. Most gardeners are careful about this; around 92% of them choose native plants when setting up or expanding a home garden. Some plants require more water or sunlight than others, after all, and they can be sensitive to soil acidity. Take note that some home gardens can be placed on a windowsill, rather than set up in the ground itself.
Personal finances are the key to keeping your life running smoothly, and you will feel much better when you know for a fact that you are keeping up with expenses and won’t face any issues from overdue debts. Money is often a major source of stress, but you can eliminate this when you take the time to review all the numbers. How? Note your income and passive income, and then write down all your monthly expenses and how much they cost you. Everything counts: rent/mortgage, car payments, medication, pet supplies, utility bills, and all leisure spending. If you’ve been falling behind, then at least you will know, and you will figure out a way to cut down on unnecessary spending and back on track. Logging your spending this way helps you diagnose any bad spending habits of yours, and you can figure out how much money you can set aside for savings each month, too. It can feel quite gratifying to set aside money this way and build up a retirement fund or save up that money for an important expense after the quarantine is over. Tracking your spending makes that possible.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a deeply unfortunate thing, but you can make the most of it and use your newfound free time at home to reassess your lifestyle and build healthy new habits that can last a lifetime. Reading more books, doing some pushups, keeping a garden, and maintaining a responsible budget, among other ideas, can make you feel like a whole new person, and that is going to be a great feeling.