There is plenty to despair over right now. People dying. The world is combatting a problem invisible to the naked eye. The U.S. economy has ground to a halt. Businesses are closing and people have lost their jobs, their income, and their ability to pay for food and rent.
The two urban wineries owned by my employer made the heartbreaking decision to temporarily close last week. I went from shuttering my freelance wine marketing business to taking on a full time job there managing marketing for those wineries, to having that job radically transformed into crisis communications mode in the span of two weeks. Gone are the days of wine marketing campaigns and pinching myself that I’d obtained a dream role–for now at least.
So how does one manage to not give into the ever growing cloud of anxiety and depression right outside our doors?
Over the last week, I’ve begun to zero in on the little things. I made a list: what can I do that will give me a small jolt of happiness in any given moment, while stuck at home? Here’s what I’ve tried, and what has worked pretty well so far (we’re just taking it day by day, people):
Working on my cocktail game
There’s no better way to numb the anxiety of a global pandemic than pouring a steep glass of wine. It’s my industry now, after all. But with unpredictable income and less frequent grocery trips in my future, I’m saving my remaining wine these days. Luckily, before I went into hunker-down-financially-mode, I secured my stores of vodka and gin from local producers – allowing me to experiment with cocktail recipes new and old and spread out my quarantini supply a little longer.
I’ve played with my two long-time favorites: dirty martinis and negronis, working to perfect the ratios of vermouth and spirit each time. And I’ve begun to look up more creative recipes I can make using everything in the fridge and my bar cart… including a limoncello collins I’ll be sharing on my Instagram feed soon.
Cooking new meals
When I need to get away from screens of all kinds, I force myself to cook. I know you’ve heard this all over social media in the last week, but it really helps. I ask Google to play me something relaxing on Spotify (Italian dinner music is a fave, as is J. Balvin’s new reggaeton album Colores). There’s something utterly delightful about taking extra time to really think through what ingredients I have on hand and what new, fun dish I can try. Last week, I made my own pasta for the first time, I experimented with what I’m calling “blue cheese burger enchiladas,” and I even revived my old breakfast food blog, @meags_eggs. The feeling of accomplishment that follows making each new dish gives me a solid hour to forget that the world is falling apart.
Paying much-increased attention to my plants
It turns out, when you’re home all day, every day, you get to see more of the growth of your plants as it happens! My fellow plant-mamas must be able to relate: I get to see how my fiddle-leaf fig tree’s leaves adapt to the sun’s changing angles. My avocado plant is budding tons of new leaves (maybe global panic and increased exposure to humans is helping it out?) and my little baby succulents are growing ever taller, while I get to admire them all day. I’d probably be well into depression if it weren’t for all the greenery in here.
Building regular, goofy movement into every day
Motivation to stick to a regular workout routine has been low around here. But you know how I trick myself into moving my body anyway? I let myself be as weird as I want. Whether that means making up my own zumba moves to the aforementioned J. Balvin album, prancing around the apartment in a pseudo jog/dance to get steps, or simply stretching in all rooms of this confined place whenever the mood strikes, I am trying to find joy. This is all in addition to the recommended occasional solo walk or jog outside – which also help, but don’t give me the satisfaction of laughing at myself like exaggerated zumba moves do.
Knowing when to put Twitter away
Every time I open Twitter and begin reading the barage of memes, alarming headlines from less-than-reliable news sources, and updates on the progression of Hannah B. and Tyler’s #QuarantineCrew relationship, I eventually reach a full saturation point of feeling helpless. Normally, when checking social media, stopping my scroll feels near impossible, unless I’ve consumed all available new content. It is my job, after all. But now – no. When I hit that point of exhaustion, I don’t care how many tweets I have yet to read to be caught up. It’s time to put it away, stand up, and do something screen-less.
And if I don’t quite make it to the standing up stage… I pivot to watching @quarantinecrew videos on TikTok becuase, well… the escalating flirtation between Hannah and Tyler is 10x more entertaining than Peter’s entire season of the Bachelor. And ABC producers are literally quarantined from coming and messing it up.
Connecting with people virtually in more real ways than ever
And finally, the most obvious and important one: going face-to-face with the friends and family I’m not able to see right now. I can’t believe it took a virus outbreak for me to realize how fun the group Facetime feature can be. Drinking together, cooking together, cheering on friends while they shave their head (is that just my friends?), panicking together. Thank goodness we can all see each other somehow. We’ve had smartphones for what feels like ages, but I’ve never felt that they truly brought me closer to anyone in tangible ways until now. Texting just pales in comparison to the those little floating squares with my loved ones’ smiling faces.
P.S. – I’ve been a big fan of virtual workouts in the form of Youtube zumba videos for a long time. If you’re looking for a digital workout with music you’ll look forward to shaking your booty to during this time of social distancing, try out some of my favorites:
- This British 50-minute dance class made up of multiple songs/routines, covering vibes from J. Lo’s “Let’s Get Loud” to Bollywood.
- Girate those hips to “Watch Out For This” By Major Lazer
- Enjoy this Deorro “Five More Hours” workout that brings me back to my cheer days
- Relive your middle school dance memories with this truly joyful workout to Daddy Yankee’s “Rompe”
- And my number one favorite, that I end every at-home zumba workout session with, no matter how tired I am: this dance number to “Loco Contigo” by DJ Snake, Tyga, and J. Balvin (are you surprised?)
Meaghan Webster is a wine and food photographer, marketing professional, and results-based social media manager for wineries. She’s worked for brands from Napa to Virginia, Washington, DC, and New York. Learn more about her work at meaghanwebster.com or see her latest updates at instagram.com/meaghanwmarketing.