IT'S OUR TURN: Things you learn when the world is closed
When the world is under quarantine, everything is a bummer.
Schools and offices are closed. Many of us are working at home. Then, there’s nowhere to go afterward. Empty churches are live streaming worship. You can’t eat or drink in restaurants or bars. Games and events are canceled. Meetings are becoming conference calls and video chats. Forget about going bowling or to the movies.
Seeing so many closures can open your eyes to things you never noticed before, your mind to thoughts not yet, er, thunk. Here are a few things I’ve become more aware of since everyone was sent home to think about things.
Hard-shell tacos do not travel. Takeaway at the Mexican place doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but when you get home and open that styrofoam clamshell, the crispy tacos have turned into mush.
Mental note for next time: Go for the soft-shell. OK, it’s not ideal. But when this is all over, you’ll have your crunch back. Let that thought keep you going when you’re down.
Your home office has an oven. Well, your home does – unlike your workplace, probably. You know what’ll boost your mood? A pan of chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven.
For some reason, when other shelves were bare, the store had plenty of packages of pre-made cookie dough when I last looked. Buying some was a great decision.
With zip-lock bags, you can break up a dozen unbaked cookies into 2-4 smaller batches. Save some dough for later in the week, and just bake for today. A little chew, a little chocolate and a cup of milk are practically medicine.
Your workplace is 10 paces from your bedroom. So, you can sleep half an hour later in the morning, shower, get dressed, make your bed, eat breakfast and still get to work on time. Take advantage of that to get some extra sleep.
Having trouble sleeping? Add some white noise to the room. The weather is warm enough that you can probably live with a fan blowing nearby. It doesn’t have to be aimed at you, plus you have covers.
It’s been a while since I appreciated how much difference the sound of a fan can make in the too-quiet wee hours. Now, I just need to work on my daytime music playlist.
Feedback is not optional. Even in a small office, you regularly get positive or negative reinforcement. Your supervisor praises your work. Your co-worker tells you off for stealing their yogurt. You sneeze and the stranger in the next cubicle says, “Bless you.”
You may take for granted how important it is to get frequent feedback from others. And then, shelter-in-place happens.
It’s all different when you’re holed up in your spare bedroom with a work-issued computer and your work phone forwarded to your cell. You think dark thoughts when nothing lands in your inbox for a few hours. You feel ostracized when nobody returns your calls. You miss one Zoom meeting and suddenly, you don’t know what’s going on. You text out, “I’m losing my mind!” and the lifeline thrown back says, “LOL. Aren’t we all?”
This might not be an issue if you’re sharing your hidey-hole with pets, kids or a partner. Just think about us lonely people, and check in now and then: “Have you found your mind yet?”