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Filling The Time.

Quarantine. Self-isolation. Shelter At Home. Social Distancing.

These are not phrases that were part of the popular lexicon last month, but now, as the world reels from wave after wave of horrible news surrounding the Coronavirus, they are phrases we find ourselves saying every day. We are watching what we considered to be wildly unrealistic movie tropes play out in front of our eyes and hating every second of it, wishing desperately that we were no longer here. As many astute Twitter users have pointed out, March seems to have lasted several centuries already.

With declining rates of activity, people are struggling to fill their days with anything other than fear and worry and anger. I am one of these people, trapped in my little home with no one to talk to physically but my immediate family and nowhere to go but around the block on brief walks.

I didn't realize I needed to get out of the house as much as I do, and I didn't realize how much it was helping me stay in control of my mental health. When I was still going into work, before medical concerns put me strictly at home, I was at least getting out of the house. I was driving, listening to my music as I kept up a steady routine. I was seeing new faces, from six feet away and through glasses and masks and gloves. I was moving and busy, both physically and mentally.

Now, I have spent a week staring at white walls covered in old posters and talking to the same three people in short bursts between sessions of restless panic. I needed to do something about it.

I thought I'd share what has been keeping me from going over the edge while I cannot leave, in the hopes that it might help you if you're in the same boat. I know that the things I do aren't things that everyone else can, and I know that what helps me might make things worse for others. Again, I just thought I would share, on the off chance that these things help.

I am taking walks. As I mentioned earlier, the only times I go outside right now are to walk around my neighborhood for about twenty minutes when the weather is nice. It seems to help me to get out into the sun and wander for a little while, listening to music or an audiobook, and just generally get moving for a little while.

I am playing games. I've gotten quite addicted to Stardew Valley, and am dabbling back into Minecraft. Playing simple, meandering games with no goal other than to explore and have fun (and in the case of Stardew, socialize, what a dream) is a good way to distract myself when I don't feel like doing anything else.

I am reading. I'm using this time to catch up on my reading list...or so I tell myself. But I have finished a few I was working on, including An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green (which I've written up a mini-review of in my Book Recs section on this site), and a few more chapters of Thomas Foster's Twenty-Five Books That Shaped America and Pierce Anthony's Esrever Doom. I love to read, and when I'm busy worrying about the rest of the world, I don't seem to have time to. It's nice to be able to spend hours lost in a book again.

I am writing to-do lists. I tried this today, and it really seemed to help. I wrote out a list last night of all the things I wanted to accomplish today, and have been slowly working on it all day. It makes me feel more productive and it gives me a chance to use a beautiful multi-list book I got from Paperchase years ago when I visited London.

I am talking. I'm talking with my friends in our group chats, with fellow fans of various things on social media, with my family, with anyone who wants to talk. It's a good way to stay connected, and it makes me feel less alone.

Normally, this would be the part of the post where I wrap things up in a nice little bow, offer some poetic meaning to the subject of my examination and reflection...but I can't do that today. I don't have conclusions for you, or insights, or anything like that. I don't have any sagely, writer-ly wisdom for you. I will just wish you well and hope that reading this has helped you, or at least distracted you, in some way. Good luck, and stay safe. We will get through this somehow.

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