Life has been pretty surreal lately. While it's easy to get swept up in the constant cycle of heartbreaking news, sometimes it's necessary to silence the chaos and embrace this unusual moment of stillness by finding ways to appreciate the simple joys of being home, and being present.
Since this may be easier said than done, we've put together a list of 15 easy ways to help you push the pause button and embrace slow living.
1. Silence the noise
This could mean tuning the news out for a day, hiding or unfollowing social media accounts that make you feel inadequate, or just finding time to quiet your mind with a few deep, meditating breaths.
2. Light a candle
There’s something both soothing and indulgent about lighting a favorite candle. The scent and the familiar ritual of it can help boost not only your mood, but your energy.
3. Self care
Take a bubble bath, put on a face mask, try out an at home hair mask, give yourself a manicure, or find some time to do whatever it is that makes you feel calm and pampered.
4. Open a book
Whether this means diving into a longer book that’s been on your list for some time, listening to an audio book while you do some work around the house, or just skimming the pages of a coffee table book - reading is an easy and incredibly effective way to mentally escape.
5. Play a game
It seems like the whole world is on a virtual game night kick, and while that can definitely be a fun way to engage with friends and family separated by distance, don't forget about the classics! Consider turning off electronic screens for a night and playing a card game, checkers, Monopoly, or putting together a puzzle (like this one, which is worthy of framing once complete!)
6. Get some fresh air
This might seem counterintuitive in light of the recent guidance we’ve all been given to remain indoors and/or socially distance ourselves, but getting fresh air doesn’t have to mean putting yourself or anyone else at risk. If you’re lucky enough to have some outdoor space (and weather permitting), consider enjoying your next at home yoga class outdoors. If you don’t have the space for an outdoor workout, even just opening up a few windows and letting some clean air in can help refresh your living space and your mood.
7. Connect with an old friend
There is no better time to reconnect with an old friend than right now, when everyone is feeling a bit overwhelmed. We could all use a pick-me-up, and what better way to fuel your spirit than by reaching out to let someone you care about know that you’re thinking of them in these uncertain times. If virtual happy hours aren't really your thing, consider sending a text, or even a hand written letter, just to wish someone well.
8. Create or learn something
“Creating” may mean something different to everyone, but some ideas include painting, drawing, writing, photographing, or creating a Pinterest or vision board. If you don't know where to start, there are tons of platforms offering free online courses right now - like Brit + Co, offering all online courses for free through the end of March. And if you're not feeling very artistic, consider learning a new skill (like data analytics) or a new language!
9. Put on a favorite song or create a feel good playlist
Music can have such an immediate mood boosting effect. Putting on a favorite song can make any menial task more enjoyable. One of my favorite ways to discover new music is to listen to playlists based on a favorite song or artist, and then to gradually create a new playlist from those recommendations. To take it a step further, come up with creative titles for your playlists ("golden hour" is my most recent Spotify curation) and even add photographs that capture the mood of the playlist.
10. Exercise or stretch
The hardest part about exercising is convincing yourself to do it. The best way to eliminate that debate and stop coming up with excuses is to make it into a routine. Block off some regular time on your calendar, do it when you first wake up, or do it immediately after you log off from work and before you cook dinner. It's all about finding a time that works for you, and most importantly, one that you'll stick to. Exercise isn't necessarily something that everyone enjoys, but I promise that you'll feel better after you do it. Even just a nice long stretch session can be beneficial, especially when many of us are sitting in chairs for long stretches of time while working from home.
11. Look back on photographs from a favorite trip or start planning your next one
While most of us aren't planning any major trips in the near future, this is a great time to scroll through photographs from past trips. You can use this as an opportunity to finally pick out photos to print and frame or just to fondly recall your favorite meals, stops, and souvenirs. Either way, it's a perfect time to look back on and be thankful for the experiences you were able to have and the memories you made. It may also provide you with the inspiration you need to put together a list of places you'd like to visit next.
12. Declutter or rearrange a room
Consider using this as an opportunity to tackle a home project that you've been putting off for some time: cleaning out a messy cabinet, sorting through your closet to make donations, organizing your spice rack, or testing out a new furniture arrangement. One item that was on my to-do list for over a year before recent events forced me to tackle it was putting together a home office. Especially if you're working from home full time these days, it's important to have some space to be able to focus (and mentally separate your work space from your living space). In case you don't know where to begin, check out this round-up of essential office decor items.
13. Try a new recipe
Consider trying out a fun new recipe or having an at home pizza competition for your next date night. Other fun ideas include making bread or pasta from scratch, or baking these incredibly easy (and relatively healthy!) chocolate chip banana muffins.
One of my favorite ways to embrace slow living and take my mind off the chaos of the outside world is to spend time gardening. There are so many easy ways to start an at home garden, from ordering seeds online, replacing your next grocery store herb purchase with a live plant, to propagating a plant that may already live in your house or yard. It's so rewarding to watch something you plant thrive, and few things taste better than food you had a part in growing.
15. Open a nice bottle of wine (bonus for pairing it with delicious cheese)
If you've been saving that bottle for a special occasion, maybe it's time to create one. Consider getting dressed up with no place to go, putting together a charcuterie board, lighting some candles, and treating your patio or your living room like your favorite local wine bar.
Above all else, this is an important time to be grateful - for your health, for your safety, and (if you're fortunate enough) for having your loved ones nearby or a phone call away to endure these uncertain times with.