I need to switch it up; how do you deal with self-isolation alone?
April 6, 2020 1:54 AM   Subscribe

There's been lots of advice for partner board games and group social meetups and work meetings online but I feel like I'm in the vacuumest vacuum in which I've ever been.

I've been at a contract job for 2 months and just got an extension until 4/30. However, I spent last Thursday and Friday on furlough (no pay) and my contract has been paused (no pay) for the next 2-3 weeks.

I have a regular Wednesday evening happy hour that we've turned into a video party but beyond that I have no social interactions and no real reason to get out of bed.

I tend to be pretty bad at self-care anyway so reminders to cook or clean or exercise more may not work.

I'm totally OK with sleeping through it all. There are online classes I can do, partly-finished projects, lots of cleaning that I could do but I just need a kick in the butt.

Mainly I need motivation from fellow lazy people - just lazy people - to figure out how to start and how to keep going.
posted by bendy to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Hi, I'm you even in the best of times.

This is hard as we don't know how long this situation will go on for.
If I were you I'd take a week to be as lazy as I damn well please. If you have nothing pressing to do, why not rest and take a holiday?

After a week you'll probably be bored and ready to do some projects. At that time, pick one thing to get done the next day before you go to bed. Say deep clean the bathroom, or taking one class.
I tend to fail with self-motivation if I get too ambitious with what I can do in one day, and end up doing nothing.

The best thing I've found for feeling at least minimally like I'm functioning is having a regular bedtime and wake-up time and a morning routine. 11-7 works for me.
posted by Balthamos at 2:05 AM on April 6, 2020 [4 favorites]

It definitely helps to have some kind of schedule - I’ve been working remotely for the last 3 + wks and made sure to be online for normalish working hrs, even if I end up being on the internet and don’t hit a productive zone until evening.

I also spend a lot of time talking to friends and family and seeking out people to reconnect with that I may have lost touch with in recent years. And when I chat to somebody and it’s nice and I know them to live alone or single parent with young kids I just schedule the next chat before signing off so we’ve all got something to look forward to. So over the coming week I am going to have a remote spa session with my best friend where we’ll be sipping a beverage of our choice while doing face masks and nails because I had to cancel the trip to see her that was going to entail a trip to the spa this week. I’ll be having a happy hr with two former colleagues I am still in touch with at the weekend and on Sunday I’ll do afternoon/breakfast (because time zones) Hugos with another friend who also lives alone.

On a practical level, it really helps if I manage to get dressed some time in the morning, ideally before I start to work. We rarely use video calls so it doesn’t matter if I sit there in my dressing gown. But in terms of being able to move round and do things throughout the day, be it little domestic tasks or exercise or taking out the bins/go food shopping it makes all the difference between things happening or not happening that day. Even if work inside my home really shouldn’t be affected by this, it does seem to make a difference.

A last thing I find really helpful is to have the radio or music on in the background when I’m not in a call. It makes me feel more connected to the outside world.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:14 AM on April 6, 2020

It started as a joke, but I made up a "schedule" for myself. I'm currently still employed & working 8 hours a day but after that? The weekends? I was at a loss.

So it's something like this: Mondays, I will watch a TV show (for an hour? two hours?); Tuesdays, I will do a craft project; Wednesdays, I will listen to music; Thursdays I will read; Fridays and Saturdays, I will watch a movie each night; Sundays, I will write.

I don't know how much I'll stick to doing this but it does help some of the "what now?" answers for me. My goal is to at least attempt each thing each day. I just want some kind of structure, even if it's fake.

I haven't had a lot of luck with getting people to join online chats (outside of the people I chat with normally, but I keep trying.

Getting dressed (or at the very least, changing out of what you slept in, even if it's just into other pajamas/loungewear) is good. I've definitely been neglecting some of my ... well, not quite "hygiene" because I'm still showering/etc but I'm definitely not washing my hair/shaving as frequently and well, I should stop that slide.

I also find radio helps me feel less lonely, too. I do agree that NPR/etc. now are all COVID-19 all time, but there are plenty of streaming radio stations (I do like ones who have on-air talent) that help. I'm partial to BBC Radio 6, but your mileage may vary there.

Mostly, though, honestly, I do not care about taking advantage of this time to somehow "improve" myself or my life. I'm mostly looking to just distract myself as best as I can. Being lazy is OK if it gets you through it.
posted by darksong at 4:49 AM on April 6, 2020 [7 favorites]

Mainly I need motivation from fellow lazy people - just lazy people - to figure out how to start and how to keep going.

As someone who often defaults to just playing phone games or aimlessly reading MetaFilter for hours, I find it helps to sometimes remind myself both that it's totally ok to do whatever feels best in the moment, because we need that, but also that whatever feels best in the moment may not be the same thing as what I could be doing now that will make me feel even better tomorrow (eg cooking, cleaning, exercise, working on a hobby, etc). It's a tough line to walk.
posted by solotoro at 4:56 AM on April 6, 2020 [11 favorites]

Remember M*A*S*H? Hawkeye and Trapper spent a lot of time in The Swamp (their tent) wearing Hawaiian shirts and drinking hooch and thinking up pranks and projects to keep everyone in the unit on an even keel during the madness of war.
Maybe you need to find similar weird and wacky jobs to keep you occupied during this strange timeline. Old M*A*S*H episodes might be a starter course. Feel the need to go DIY redhead? They did that for B.J. Hunnicutt.
posted by TrishaU at 5:36 AM on April 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Recently in my week of forced stay-at-home I found myself morphing into a beached whale slowly merging with the couch in front of the TV. After several days in that state, I managed to be somewhat productive on Thursday that week by getting up at the time I would to go to work, putting on work clothes (did adjust to business casual from business professional), and going through my full face prep / makeup routine (the makeup part is very minimal, it's the face prep part that has the multiple steps common in k-beauty routines). At that point it felt natural to go into my home office and do stuff.

I suspect by that time I was also getting bored with my own slothfulness.
posted by needled at 5:56 AM on April 6, 2020

It's helping me a lot to stick to the normal part of my morning routine - get up first thing and go for a walk or run (bonus: fewer people outside at this time), and then shower and put on regular clothes. I tried to skip this routine "for a treat" over the weekend but it made me feel terrible. If I do these things in the morning, then I feel like I not only have permission to be a bit lazy since I already exercised, but everything just feels more familiar and easier to deal with.
posted by something something at 6:07 AM on April 6, 2020

Indulge yourself, by which I mean let go of the concept that you are to be doing something useful right now. Personally I have a cycle of playing video games followed by checking social media followed by watching short films on YouTube followed by checking social media followed by video games. My life is everything my parents ever worried about. But it eats up the days and at the moment I have no complaints.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:07 AM on April 6, 2020 [4 favorites]

I also keep the radio on when not on a work call, but I’ve been leaning towards radio morning shows run by DJ types, which tend to be less doom-and-gloom news cycle and more goofy stupid humor.

I’ve been setting myself small, achievable goals that in a normal world would seem trivial but today is being kind to myself while also still getting the critical pieces done. On saturday my goal was to figure out how to make a mask. Yesterday I just had to get a load of laundry to the dryer (putting it away probably won’t happen...). Today i need to run the dishwasher, ideally with dirty dishes in it. Tuesday i finally need to venture out to find groceries, which is already stressing me out but it’s got to be done.

Also have been binging 90s sitcoms and movies to remind us of a simpler time...

That said, I literally slept all day yesterday. So....
posted by cgg at 6:38 AM on April 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am supremely lazy and will NOT get anything done with a big pile of vague projects just looking me in the face. What works for me is setting an EASY goal of x time worked on something. Try the first day just working on one of them for 15 minutes, 4 times throughout the day, for an hour total day 1. If you get in a groove, keep going, but if not, stop at the end of each 15 minutes. Gradually increase the time and/or repetitions on subsequent days.

But I agree with taking the first week off to do nothing!
posted by sillysally at 6:40 AM on April 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

Nthing the idea to give yourself a week-ish of pure "staycation", farting around doing absolutely nothing much of any consequence, including naps & TV watching and whatever.

Because even us lazy people get bored, so after a while I think you'll be less OK with just sleeping through this.

There are online classes I can do, partly-finished projects, lots of cleaning that I could do but I just need a kick in the butt.

I have found that it actually helps (not just now, but in general) to make actual lists on actual paper - that way the list of things to do is right there in front of me when I sit down at my home desk to faff around on the internet, or walk by my "project table."

So like the general list will be:

- reply to Dad's email
- laundry
- listen to friend's new music release
- clear out one bookshelf
- pay electric bill

I can get to those things pretty much whenever I want so there's no time pressure, I get a regular reminder of "Here's a thing I can do for the next ten minutes - half an hour" and I can literally cross things off the list when I've done them, so I get a sense of accomplishment.

And often the process of doing a thing on my list and crossing it off will remind of a "next" thing to add to the list, so the whole thing is kind of constantly rolling over and I'm getting things done.

Same with the "project" list.

I also have an actual paper calendar on the wall next to my home desk, which is usually mostly for decoration & quick "What day is it?" reference, but now I've found myself jotting quick notes on things I've done on a daily basis (like "groceries" or "walk" or "core" (for core exercises)) which is giving me an overall picture of how I am spending my time.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:01 AM on April 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

People have gotten so used to texting they're not making as many phone calls. I've been home for a month, except for going to work for a few hours one day in early March. I'm making an effort to call people instead of texting or emailing and it is good. I've also been out walking for 40-60 minutes every day at the crack of dawn, but I'm lucky and live in a quiet pretty neighborhood. If you cannot go outside safely try sitting by a sunny window, if you have one, for an hour or so every day. Try to stick to a schedule of getting up early. Don't stress about your lack of focus, discipline, productivity.
posted by mareli at 7:14 AM on April 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don't really have people that will reach out to me unless I do so first: no family, no close friends.

I'm giving myself permission to accept the reality of that and simply, well, not reach out as much: it feels like largely useless flailing at this point. I do have 12 step meetings that I attend daily: no need for close connection there.

What am I doing instead?

1) Reading, mainly in audiobook form since my case of dry eye kills me with all the screen time
2) Listening to the radio (WFMU and WWOZ mostly)
3) Watching TV, plays, movies, and operas. The blue and Twitter have been good sources of info about streaming productions.
4) Making sure my attorney can take care of my estate in the event of my death
5) Planting a tiny container garden
6) Working out with my TRX suspension trainer
7) Going for walks
8) Reaching out to the occasional client for writing or editing work
posted by Sheydem-tants at 8:07 AM on April 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

I made a list kinda like the one soundguy99 did, and my tiny goal is to do just ONE thing on it every day. It helps me feel a bit less adrift.

I'm also exercising right after I wake up every morning. Very light exercise in my case; 20 minutes of beginner yoga; but it kinda puts me in a reset/ today is actually a new day rather than a continuation of yesterday mindset. ("Morning" is whenever you wake up; time no longer has any meaning.)
posted by metasarah at 8:38 AM on April 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

If radio isn't a good option for you, I've found the Welcome to Night Vale podcasts good for background. They're literally fictional news for a (very strange) small town, so they have the friendly radio announcer minus actual current news. They're entertaining but don't require you to really follow any kind of storyline.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:18 AM on April 6, 2020

Best answer: I'm really struggling. I'm writing this from my couch as I ignore my work laptop.

So far things keep changing - every time I think "OK this is how things are with me," the gears shift. So just give yourself some mental space for all of that. Your brain is adjusting to a lot of stuff.

A new thing I'm trying is scheduling check-ins with various friends. It helps if at least some of those friends are less lazy than me (today another lazy friend and I have been trying to hold each other accountable and we've had some success but also we've both flaked on some stuff).
posted by bunderful at 11:20 AM on April 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

This does sound hard. I’ve been finding it easier when I think about other people I know who are struggling and trying to help them if I can, and using that as a reminder to be grateful for my situation. Framing it as, “I do not have very vulnerable children or parents or pets relying on me to keep them sane and healthy, or relying on my income.” Maybe that kind of framing wont help- I don’t know. But it’s what helps me when I find myself envying others right now. I may not have it as easy as some, but I have it much easier than others.
Trying to do one thing every day to help someone else helps me a lot. Calling a friend who I think might need connections too, dropping care packages off for others (with safety precautions), donating to a local fund, even posting friendly offers on neighborhood sites, etc.
The “Happier” podcast by Gretchen Rubin has helped me. She has an episode about self-isolation with some practical tips. Feel free to message me if you want to talk.
posted by areaperson at 12:12 PM on April 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have the kind of ADHD that makes you kind of lazy and where, left to my own devices, I could spend an entire day scrolling on Facebook while rewatching old episodes of The Office on Netflix. That's fine for a day but after that I start to feel terrible. I've been working from home for the last 4 years so have developed some coping skills, but this is on another level. Here are the kinds of things that have helped me during this time:

- LOTS of check-ins and virtual dates with friends and groups of friends. To the point where it's actually gotten a bit overwhelming/annoying, but I stick with it because it keeps me from the abyss. I actually made a list of people to talk to and will just randomly call people when I'm feeling itchy for human contact. I don't think I would have just called most people without texting first before all of this, but those norms have changed.

- I have to leave the house twice a day to walk my dog. Even if you don't have a dog, you might consider doing this. Go for a walk, or run an errand for a neighbor who is immunocompromised (if you aren't, of course). Last week, a neighbor and I sat 8 feet apart outside with our own drinks and had a happy hour, and I couldn't believe how much it brightened my mood (I know really strict distancers will say not to do this, but if you're not traveling to do it, and you're being responsible, it's low-risk and can be really effective for keeping one sane).

- I made a list of things I want to do around the house, and I try to do one or MAYBE two a day. No more. Each of these are things that take about 20 minutes but it's amazing how much better they make me feel. For instance, yesterday I cleared off the top of my fridge. On Saturday night I got high, played loud music, and re-organized my pantry cupboards.If you're truly lazy, there are probably a bunch of things that could use a declutter or deep-clean in your apartment.

- I keep meaning to do this: make a list of things I WANT to do. TV shows to try out, movies to watch, craft/cooking projects to try, new walking routes. Things I think would be fun or interesting. I think I'll do this tonight and put it up on my fridge so whenever I'm bored I can look at it for ideas of things to do.
posted by lunasol at 1:12 PM on April 6, 2020 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all. I took a week off from people, from the internet and everything else. I got out of bed, made coffee and walked over to the couch to binge-watch Ozark.

I'm still not great. There was a question from someone who was looking for suggestions of an encouraging sign to display from their home. I made this one and it put it on my porch facing a busy intersection:

to your neighbors
we're all in this

Walking down the empty streets,
we all need
a smile or
a head nod or
an eye roll. Or a
fist bump if you're brave.
posted by bendy at 6:06 AM on April 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

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