A woman with her eye closed leaning against a wall

In the heart of Manhattan, I sat in my living room on a Sunday afternoon by the window. I looked out into the too-early warmth of March while the sun hit the tops of the buildings, which told me it was about noon without having to look at the clock. Everything seemed picture-perfect with one significant difference: silence.

As a society, we crave connection, touch and conversation. The recent news of COVID-19 has started to alter our lives by the hour. Activities and social gatherings have been canceled for the foreseeable future. Broadway has closed. Gyms have closed. Even Urban Outfitters has closed. What we once craved every day is finally at our fingertips: time. The question now is, how do you use it?

What we once craved every day is finally at our fingertips: time.

Many of us have embraced the simple pleasure of being able to binge the latest Netflix shows we need to catch up on while aimlessly scrolling on Instagram. We’ve been sending our friends memes about the coronavirus for days and laughing about our recent encounter with the absurd grocery store lines. However, without stepping into our offices, local stores or spin studios, we are left feeling socially isolated. We are left realizing that social media isn’t actually social, after all. 

When the world stops, everyone stops. We begin to realize how much we take for granted regularly. Even the packed subway cars with people yelling at each other to get out of the way. Even the sound of cars honking during rush hour. Yes, even the too-loud music at your local bar. Once the noise is gone, we’re left to the noise in our minds, and this is often the loudest noise of all.

Stimulate your mind.

Keeping our brains stimulated and reconnecting to our true identities is going to be crucial to help us navigate this time of disconnection. We must make it a priority to focus on ourselves more than ever before, in order to support our community as a whole. With ample time now on our hands to get distracted in our own minds, we can shift our mindset to use this time to imagine, create and play. 

We can shift our mindset to use this time to imagine, create and play. 

There’s going to be a major shift in pastimes for the next several weeks. This shift will unequivocally wake our society up to realize that the way things have been is not the way they should be. We will re-learn the pleasure of reading, turning each page in our hands and getting lost in the story. The joy of putting upbeat music on to move our bodies and singing at the top of our lungs will be found again. Maybe we’ll finally pull back the cobwebs on that 1,000 piece puzzle! Keeping our minds engaged through our inevitable remote work isn’t going to be enough. How we decide to keep our minds connected is what matters most.

Get your heart rate up and get moving.

Staying active has never been more important. Although many of us may feel afraid to leave our front doorstep, we need to find ways to connect to our bodies as much as our minds. Luckily, technology is (ironically) here to save the day in ways that it wouldn’t have been able to years ago. YouTube has a plethora of online workouts, as does ClassPass. Many yoga studios are now adding streaming options. You’re in even more luck if you have a stationary bike like Peloton or FlyWheel. For the ultimate connection, FaceTime a friend and workout together. 

Appreciate nature.

If you choose to leave your apartment, then try rediscovering your love for parks. Reconnecting with nature at this time is a great way to stay grounded. Go for long walks, runs or bike rides. Bring a book and sit under a tree with a packed lunch. We must take advantage of the time we have to be alone outside now that we have it. (Plus, the weather is getting nicer too!)

Connect with others through a video call or meeting.

When it comes to staying socially connected, we are lucky to live in a digital-first world where we have many online forms of connection. FaceTime, Zoom and Google Hangouts all allow us to see one another face-to-face anytime. Today, they’re more important than ever.

During this time of physical distance, it’s vital we keep communicating as much as possible. Video calls and phone calls are essential. You can even try checking out your local events spaces and communities. They may be holding an online version of their panel or comedy show to fill in your evening plans after all!

Create a routine.

When it does come to boredom, choose your boredom wisely. Make a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Block off designated time for creativity, outdoor time, FaceTime calls with friends or loved ones, exercise and making nourishing food. We are creatures of habit that crave routines that are put in place for us, so make your routines work for you.

Remember: You are not alone.

The most important thing in all of this is that we must remember we are not alone in this. Our community will come out resilient, and the importance of human connection will be at an all-time high. We will crave what we once took for granted and seek out more and more opportunities to disconnect in order to reconnect to what we do best: build community.

Let’s make a pact, as a society, to stay connected. Reach out when we’re lonely, and close our eyes and breathe when we’re overwhelmed. Work on strengthening our mind-body connection. Once this is over, we will finally see the importance of disconnecting from the superficial, filtered world and focusing on the one we’ve built with each other and within ourselves.

How are you staying connected during this time of global quarantine?

Image via Kat Borchart, Darling Issue No. 15

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