Finding the good in each day as I stay home alone
By Alison Rentschler
The stay at home orders meant a lot of changes that seemed to happen all at once, within a week or two — avoiding large groups meant all my “normal” activities outside of work were either canceled or went virtual. For me, these included church on Sunday mornings; a small group; my gym and its group classes; and the Wednesday night kids’ class I’ve been a volunteer leader in for years at my church. Also, I could no longer get together with groups of friends at restaurants, coffee shops or even their own houses. And I started working at home full-time, which required me to adjust my normal routine.
Living alone and being single, I worried I’d start feeling isolated, lonely and depressed. I enjoy being with my friends and family, and I value spending quality time with them. At first, I didn’t know how long the stay at home orders would continue — a month or more? That seemed like a very long time.
And, while I have days that I feel isolated and lonely, I’ve found ways to adapt and find ways to connect with people I care about. And I find time to do activities I enjoy or find relaxing. I’ve also found ways to maintain a daily routine and schedule that helps me manage my time and have some consistency. I’m sharing some ideas that have helped me during this time, in case it helps anyone else.
My daily schedule and routine
Every morning, I wash my face, shower, brush my teeth, get dressed and have breakfast. Every day. I am more awake, focused and motivated when I start my day like this.
I continue to work relatively regular hours Monday through Friday. But when possible, I take a lunch break at about the same time each day, step away from my desk, walk my dog and have a bite to eat. I keep a water bottle close by that I drink from all day.
After I finish work, my dog knows it’s time for his supper and a walk. Getting outside with my dog always refreshes me. Then I eat supper. I’ve consciously been eating healthy meals most of the time, such as chicken breast, brown rice and vegetables.
But, once or twice a week I’ve treated myself to takeout or delivery from local independent restaurants. I’ve enjoyed meals from places like Pappy’s Place, Taco Jed’s, True Smoke BBQ and Porch. It all tastes so much better than what I can make at home!
Besides my regular walks with my dog, I’ve followed my gym’s programming (Crossfit Detour) two or three times a week and do a variety of body weight, dumbbell and kettlebell exercises. I always have so much more energy after these workouts.
As many of us have learned, Zoom is a great way to connect with people when it’s difficult to see them in person! My small group, book group and gym have all used Zoom regularly. And I’ve hosted a virtual dinner/game night. It’s great to see my friends’ faces, even when we can’t all get together as a group.
And I’ve used FaceTime, Zoom, Messenger or Marco Polo to video chat or send video messages to friends and family near and far, too. I’ve had video and phone calls with my brother and family, with friends in the Twin Cities or Rochester, and even with friends in other countries such as Poland, Germany and England. Each time I’ve truly appreciated the chance to see everyone, hear their voices and catch up with them. I’m continuing to check in with friends and set up times to video chat.
As the weather gets nicer and the stay at home orders lessen, I’m hoping to see more friends and family while social distancing — such as going on walks or hikes, and having campfires and grill-outs.
Finding fun and joy
I like to bake, so I’ve made chocolate chip cookies, energy bites and brownies. I’ve frozen fruit for future smoothies. I’ve saved interesting recipes or ideas on Pinterest.
I’ve found getting outside in nature and going somewhere outside my neighborhood is helpful. I’ve gone to a few local parks and hope to go to some state parks and small towns in the area this spring and summer.
I started a vegetable garden — I started a bunch of seedlings in my house this spring. I check their progress daily and enjoy seeing how much they’re growing! I’m almost ready to plant them all outside in my new raised garden bed. I’m excited to see my own vegetables grow this summer!
I really enjoy reading, and I aim to read books every day. I stocked up on several books from the library before they closed in March (but now they have curbside pickup!). I reserved several fiction and memoir e-books, which has been a great option lately.
And then there’s Netflix, Prime and Hulu — watching a Gilmore Girls re-run for the 10th time, the entire first season of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist or a Fixer Upper episode all make me smile.
My dog, Jake, and my cat, Maggie bring me joy every day, and I can’t imagine going through all of this without them by my side. Jake hangs out with me in my office on most days. Maggie likes having me home more often, too.
I’ve enjoyed observing the season changes outside as spring has arrived, seeing the leaves budding and flowers blooming, or taking a different walking route to see the bluebells. I’ve appreciated having flowers and plants in my house, including fresh flowers from family or from my garden and green plants in my office.
During the pandemic
Not every day is a great day, and staying at home isn’t always fun. But I’ve found these strategies help me. I’ve found eating healthy, fitting in regular exercise, getting outside and visiting virtually with friends and family benefit me. You might find other strategies that help you.
Alison Rentschler is a writer and editor living in Rochester, Minnesota, with her dog and cat.