One month into the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine with curfews strictly implemented and quarantine passes thoroughly monitored and the temporarily restricted living is making everyone feel like it’s the new normal. Time spent indoors, even with loved ones, is starting to feel eternal. The fortunate ones who work from home or have online classes have something to keep them busy but many are left to while away the time, sometimes with fear and anxiety.
While it is normal to feel a mix of confusing emotions in this unprecedented situation, there are activities you can do to productively pass the time.
Experience art remotely
Around the world, hashtags encouraging professional and amateur artists to share their work online circle social media to help others cope and learn about how people in different countries experience quarantine. American photographer Jamie Beck started #isolationcreation, a social media initiative to create one original piece of art per day to build a community of art-makers of all kinds. The project celebrates art from poetry to painting, collage, sculpture, pastry art and landscaping design to share a glimpse of how people use art as a form of distraction and expression. Meanwhile, #covidclassics, initiated by art enthusiast roommates, is a series of art experiments recreating classic paintings and photographs using objects found at home. The recreations, which have engaged Twitter and Instagram users around the globe, range from Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring to René Magritte’s The Son of Man and Renoir’s Dance in Town. All these keep online communities entertained while in quarantine.
In the Philippines, various theater companies have started art initiatives to raise funds and help artists in less fortunate situations. Artist Welfare Project, Philstage, SPIT MNL, Third World Improv, and the Theater Actor’s Guild and Ticket2Me launched their online fundraising project under the hashtag #openhousefundraiser to aid the performing arts community. Online art workshops, classes and shows are offered to the public for free to share the power of theater with enthusiasts and curious individuals stuck at home while encouraging them to donate to the cause.
The Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) has also launched its own #letsgetcreative project through a Facebook livestream. Anyone with an internet connection can join the class hosted by PETA’s artist-teachers at 3PM to 4PM every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Topics range from DIY crafts to improv and storytelling techniques.
Be it music, a sketch, a painting or a poem, art has a way of finding one’s red string and connecting it with the rest of the world. Now more than ever, art can be a tool to make people feel part of the shared experience of life in quarantine.
Those who work from home can demand peace and quiet from the people they’re quarantined with for some hours of the day. Just the same, there will still be petty fights over who gets the space by the window for a makeshift office. Squabbles over whose turn it is to wash the dishes, clean the floor or bring the garbage out are common when coexisting with family members, friends or a partner for an undisclosed amount of time.
With boredom, fear, stress and anxiety rising over time, constant communication, strategic easy entertainment and in-between-work distraction are key to reducing cabin fever and having a peaceful WFH time. Seize the opportunity to host movie nights at home while some local film studios and filmmakers make their full feature films and documentaries available online. Regal Entertainment, TBA Studios and CinemaOne uploaded some of their film archives on YouTube while cinema houses are closed and film festivals are postponed. Movie time is another alternative way to bond beside playing board games or sulking in a corner fidgeting on the phone.
As social beings now required to stay at home as much as supplies allow, creative and innovative ways are surfacing to help each other survive each day.
Keep busy and move about
Make the most of the time indoor to catch up on rest and sleep but do not spend the entire day – weekend if working from home – in bed or binge watching on the couch. If reading is not your preferred activity, resurrect a hobby, sort old photos or clean up the closet. Redecorate your room or clear the cabinets of old clothes and other things that may be given or donated away. Take up gardening or baking. Even calling up friends you have not talked to in a long time can keep your mind off negative thoughts during this pandemic.
The idea is to move about and not be idle. Exercise at home. There are many videos to follow or things at home to use as replacement for gym equipment. Even walking the stairs back and forth can substitute for lost gym time.
As the government-imposed social isolation continues with no cure for COVID-19 still in sight and growing fears affect the mental health of people stuck at home, an alternative approach such as meditation can help.
Guided meditation apps online can be the starting point to help them manage a mix of emotions that unfortunately comes with battling a pandemic. With people in different situations vulnerable to anxiety and stress, meditation is one option to help them breathe in and out and stay productive and sane.
If the constant influx of news about the rising number of cases and deaths is causing anxiety, take a break from the news once in a while and if necessary, limit exposure to social media posts. The continuous stream of TV and radio reports and the unfiltered information accessible to everyone online – be they factual, politically driven or neutral – can cause tension. A more responsible way of consuming the news by believing only in trusted sources, the local health department and organizations reduces the stress that comes from misinformation and sensationalization.
Donate and help if you can
Use this time to make a lasting difference by helping others. Philanthropic efforts and services go a long way and benefit not only the receiver but also the giver. If financial resources limit your capacity to donate, volunteer for simple tasks in your barangay if possible or help neighbors. Even small acts such as sharing some food with those who need them more in your community are the ripples that create more positive energy the world needs right now. As heroic health workers around the world go the extra mile to fulfill their sworn duty of preserving life, let us do our part in preventing the spread of the virus and flattening the curve by staying home. But let us stay indoor productively.