Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make things run a little more smoothly for you and your loved ones.
When the future feels as uncertain as it does right now, being at home in social isolation can be simultaneously comforting and maddening. Even as you enjoy the safety of home, you can feel the days rolling into each other—and before you know it, it’s the weekend and you haven’t changed out of the sweats you put on last Thursday.
You could treat the weekends like any other day spent in quarantine, but there’s something to be said for the mental health benefits of keeping Saturdays and Sundays separate from the regular workweek. That said, it can be difficult to know how to go about doing that.
The key is to remember the spirit of your weekends before the days of social isolation and self-quarantining—these two days are a chance to relax, pursue your passions, and nurture personal relationships. Even if those activities don’t look or feel quite the same as they used to, they’re still doable from within your home. We spoke with Marni Amsellem, PhD, a psychologist specializing in anxiety, depression, and coping strategies for current and future challenges, to learn more about how we can still hold our weekends sacred.
If you didn’t spend your weekends working before COVID-19, don’t start now. Put away any work-related devices, log out of your corporate email, and, if your living space allows, section off your home office or work station on Saturdays and Sundays. Dr. Amsellem says it’s essential to have boundaries between work time and playtime, and getting some distance from the objects and areas you associate with your job will go a long way toward drawing and maintaining that line.
In that same vein, you should relegate certain parts of your home strictly for leisure—namely, your bedroom. Sleeping in on the weekends will be much more attainable if you haven’t spent the previous week taking stressful video calls from your bed. We have more tips on making your work-from-home setup as pleasant as possible here.
Hopefully you’ve been keeping your home clean already, but when was the last time you reorganized the fridge or cleared out your closet? Dr. Amsellem says doing any kind of household deep-cleaning delivers tangible results and helps you feel productive (without reverting to doing work on the weekend), which makes it a seriously satisfying way to use your weekend. Once you’ve tidied up, you can turn your focus toward décor—consider refreshing your drinkware or trying the meditative (and gorgeous) practice of drying floral arrangements. Think of it this way: If you’re going to be hunkered down at home anyway, you may as well be happy with the state of your interior.
Don’t underestimate the restorative power—and time-sucking capacity—of cooking during immensely stressful times. This is your chance to make a multi-step or classic dish, try your hand at fermentation, or make everything you can think of using the same ingredient. Or break out your Crock-Pot for a day-long low-and-slow cook — bonus points if you end up with plenty of freezable leftovers. And, in the spirit of the previous tip, keep in mind that cleaning out your pantry is just as noble a goal as, say, mastering the art of bread-making, and there’s never been a better time to make use of those dried beans crowding your shelves.
Think back to all of those great ideas and projects you said you’d get to on a rainy day — this coming weekend, regardless of the actual weather, could be that rainy day. Revisit old hobbies that you stopped having time for, make a running list of books you want to read, or resolve to develop a brand new skill. Dr. Amsellem offers an important reminder that the internet is full of educational resources you can explore, whether you’re interested in learning to draw, speak a new language, or sew.
As if making weekends feel separate from the rest of the week wasn’t difficult enough, those who are used to going out on Friday and Saturday nights face the added challenge of making their evenings still feel fun. This is where having a sense of humor can really come in handy, Dr. Amsellem says. Carry on with your hangout plans as you normally would, but get drinks with your friends virtually or stream the same movie and watch it together remotely.
If you’re quarantining with your significant other, hold your candlelit dinner at the kitchen table (there’s a chance that your favorite romantic restaurant has started offering delivery or takeout). Making these adjustments might feel a little silly at first, but you’ll reap the same social benefits that you would on a normal Saturday night.
Dr. Amsellem says it’s important to acknowledge that you may actually have less free time now than you did before—your kids might need more from you or you might have elderly relatives that need checking in on. If that’s the case, don’t feel pressured to take on a massive cooking or cleaning project on top of your other responsibilities. “Let yourself know that not everything will happen on your list,” and that’s okay, Dr. Amsellem says. In the time that you can spare for yourself, just try to relax.
Have a tip for us on how to make a weekend—out of a weekend? Tell us in the comments below!