The coronavirus has forced us all to press life’s pause button and adjust to social distancing. Staying home is not only the responsible thing to do but a crucial step to keeping everyone safe. Staying in doesn’t mean staying bored, unhappy, or uncomfortable. We’re here to help you shift your perspective and find peace during your self-quarantine. 

13 Ways to Find Comfort and Joy While Social Distancing

Embrace the Slow Living Movement 

Be Kind, Stay Home, Save Lives sign
Photo by Mish Vizesi

The slow living movement is more than photos of potted succulents and cups of tea on Instagram with the hashtag #slowlife. Popularized in with the slow food movement of the 1980s, the campaign to live mindfully and embrace the moment at a slower pace has matriculated into the home, education, gardening, travel, and art. Living the #slowlife means you believe the modern world moves far too fast, tethering us to our screens and celebrating the act of being busy. Patrons of this mindset prefer to savor moments and adjust life’s pace. Now that the world is changing to combat coronavirus, we’re joining the club. 

Get a leg up and read Jenny Odell’s New York Times best-selling book, “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy.”

Cultivate Your Space 

Home Office Setup for Social Distancing
Photo by Alexa Williams

Make your space a place you want to spend time in. If you’re new to working from home, set up in a corner of the house that’s separate from your bedroom so you can set a clear boundary between work and rest. Make your impromptu space a peaceful one by decorating with plants, candles, and other feel-good trinkets to bring your joy. Put some lavender essential oil in your diffuser, order some Greenway Coffee beans to brew, and play a record for a tranquil mood. Get some fresh flowers for your workspace or dining room, a simple act that is proven to boost your mood. You’re fully in control of your environment, so take the opportunity to make it a source of joy. 

Follain Candle No. 2

Practice Mindfulness 

Meditation Tips to find joy while social distancing
Photo via The Form Fitness

We’re sure you’re aware of social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but have you heard of its mental health guidelines, too? The CDC suggests meditation as a way to alleviate stress during COVID-19. Thankfully, apps like Headspace are making meditating accessible. The popular mindfulness app has created a free collection of meditations, “Weathering the Storm,” available to the public. The app also includes complete access for healthcare workers and teachers, as well as training tools for companies. 

Need to remember to breathe? Eddie Stern and Deepak Chopra created the free Breathing App to guide your breathing and keep you calm. 

Set Your Intention for the Day

Setting your intention goes hand-in-hand with mindfulness. Rather than busy yourself with an overloaded to-do list, set one intention for the day to guide your behavior and goals. Setting an intention can be as simple as saying, “I’m committed to creativity” or “today, I will take time to rest.” Listen to your intuition and set the intention that you feel you need most. 

Get Active 

Get those endorphins pumping. Exercise is proven to relieve stress, improve your mood, and stimulate cognitive function. Rather than veg out watching all seven episodes of “Tiger King,” get on your workout gear and move your body. Moving can mean anything—stream a yoga class on YouTube, partake in Peloton’s free 90-day trial, or learn a new TikTok dance (we know you want to). 

Take the opportunity to sweat and support local businesses by streaming an online class with some of our favorite Houston fitness boutiques like Dance House Fitness, F45, Revolution Studio, and DEFINE Body & Mind.

Stay Informed, Not Inundated

Coronavirus News on an iPhone
Photo by Annie Spratt

It’s important to stay informed on the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you have to be plugged into it 24/7. The CDC recommends taking breaks from watching, listening, and reading news reports on the coronavirus. That includes limiting your exposure on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Take time to set boundaries on the content you consume, and limit your exposure to certain times of the day. When looking for news, be sure you are visiting reliable outlets and always check the most recent information from official sources like the CDC.gov website. 

Stay Connected Virtually 

Staying home alone can feel isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. Make time to set up a family Skype date or reconnect with your family and closest friends for a virtual happy hour or a game. Apps like HouseParty and Zoom make being with the ones you love possible, even if it’s on a screen. 

Play Chef 

At Home Kitchen Setup - Tips for Finding Joy During Social Distancing
Photo by Becca Tapert

Rather than brave big-box grocery stores, why not support a local farmer? Many Houston farmers are still open, providing fresh products to the community during COVID-19. Get fresh Artisana Bread, Verdegreens farmer box, or shop Local Foods’ new pop-up market at its Tanglewood or Rice Village location from 11 am-8 pm. Find Urban Harvest’s full list of local farmers and small businesses. 

If you want to brush up on your kitchen skills, Houston’s best chefs are here to help. I’ll Have What She’s Having, a local organization formed by women in the restaurant industry, has begun a series of cooking and wine classes with the city’s top female chefs. Each webinar comes with a meal kit, so you can turn your house into your favorite 5-star restaurant for the night. 

Get Fresh Air 

If you’re feeling cooped up in your home, remember to take a moment outside to breathe. Social gatherings may be canceled, but walks certainly aren’t. Taking a stroll in your neighborhood or park is fine as long as you keep six feet away from others. In an interview with Oprah Magazine, Daphne Scott, M.D., primary sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, recommends going for a walk once a day if you’re able. If you aren’t feeling comfortable going outdoors, open up your windows or read a book on your balcony or patio with your favorite herbal tea.  

Get Pampered

Take time to get dressed for the day, and find a sense of normalcy in your routine. Put on your favorite cozy work-from-home outfit, do one of those deep cleansing hair masks you’ve been wanting to try, and pick up an at-home mani and pedi kit from Paloma to pamper yourself. The $50 kits are available for pick up and delivery, giving you luxury-level self-care in a pinch. 

Invest in Yourself

When you’re done polishing your nails, make the time to polish your resume. Learn a new skill and boast about your Ivy League status with one of 500 free online classes. Class Central has made select courses from Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania completely free. When someone asks about your Ivy League lessons, be sure to channel your inner Elle Woods: “What like it’s hard?” 

Write It Out

Journal during social distancing to find joy
Photo by Cathryn Lavery

Whether you’re a verbose diarist or a bullet journal enthusiast, writing is an effective way to process emotions and evoke joy. Keeping a daily journal, tracking your habits, and reflecting with gratitude can help add a silver lining to the rain clouds. Journaling is also a great way to declutter the mind and find focus. 

Browse the Classics

Photo via Thought Catalog

Take a break from the pressures of society by immersing yourself into a new world, one page at a time. Reading has the power to alleviate anxiety and relax tension in your body. According to the University of Minnesota, a study found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68 percent! More than one million books are now online for everyone’s reading pleasure, thanks to the Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library. The Scribd app also launched a free 30-day trial in response to the virus. Readers can unlock popular e-books, audiobooks, magazines, and sheet music at no cost. 

If you need a little inspiration, we’ve got you covered! We polled our Instagram community and found the top books our followers recommend: 

  • “Circe” by Madeline Miller
  • “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow
  • “Sisters First” by Barbara Bush and Jenna Bush
  • “The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett
  • “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides
  • “On Human Nature” by E.O. Wilson 
  • “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle
  • “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins 

Remember, this unexpected pandemic isn’t the new normal—social distancing is temporary and will pass. When we finally have a chance to reconnect with our loved ones, we’ll have a greater appreciation for connection and comfort. In the meantime, we can do all we can to find joy and hope in the little moments. We’re not alone; we’re alone together.