Self-Isolation Suits Me

I’m digging it, but I look forward to entering the ‘new world’ with new habits.

I saw this post by Tara Blair Ball on my Medium home page:

When I read the headline, I had to click it because I’ve asked myself the same question. In the article, Ball asks, “Do I want this to end? It’s not ALL bad…”

Exactly.

Of course, I hate that people have lost their jobs and more. The economic and financial fallout was too much, too quickly. Sickness and death are awful.

I want this to end. However, I feel like it’s not time yet.

The analogy that comes to mind: I want to hit the snooze button, but maybe only for myself.

I want the world to continue at the pace that each person needs — if that makes sense. I like the current pace, but it’s not for everyone.

Reawakening

The world is going through a rebirth right now. For months I felt like I was going through renewal/reawakening and strongly felt that it was related to turning 44. Maybe it was.

Now I see that this is a global thing. The world is changing, and while the circumstances are sad and scary, the world needed a shakeup. We were complacent. We needed new perspectives.

“Shelter in place”: It suits my lifestyle

I’m an introvert.

I crave silence. I like being alone. I hate crowds. The last time I went to a concert, I was tired. Every time someone’s drink splashed out and touched me, and with every mouthful of a ponytail (ew), I had to calm myself down. After being out in the world, I retreat.

For my friends who are extroverts, quarantine/self-isolation is hell. I feel for them.

I tend to feel other people’s energy, so an absence of that is refreshing. If others are frantic, I start to feel that way. If others are anxious, I sometimes absorb and feel that. I try to be a calming influence.

What’s funny is that even though I prefer distant communications, I still forget to attend virtual gatherings.

Work from home

After a few years of being unemployed and under-employed, I finally started a full-time job in January.

I quickly enjoyed it (still do), though I was not thrilled about the hourlong commute to an adjacent city. Two hours of travel time each day is not ideal. Waking up at 6 a.m. does not fit my natural rhythms.

Shelter in place

When government officials advised the public to stay home due to the coronavirus, I jumped at that opportunity. I went to the office on Monday. March 16, a couple of days after restaurants closed to dine-in customers. I went because I thought that my co-workers might need me to help out.

That day, I wrote the company memo about COVID-19 — including the part about encouraging employees to stay home if they can — and have been working from home since the following day.

Working from home is a safety measure for sure — my commute involved two buses and a subway, but it’s also a work preference.

I appreciate so much the temporary suspension of early mornings and the travel time. I am grateful that I still have a full-time job and income. Under the current circumstances, I work more hours than I did when I was working in the office, I have more to do because I work in an essential service industry, and so I accomplish more.

COVID-19 made me more productive because it gave me more to do in a location conducive to productivity.

I don’t take this for granted.

Controlling my environment (ADHD win)

Being able to adjust my workspace, and to do so moment-to-moment, is an advantage from an ADHD perspective. I choose the background noise. I can watch TV while I work or not. More often, I start a show and then pause it while doing thinking work.

I can control the ambient temperature. My office is freezing. At home, I can put on more clothes, throw a blanket over my lap or open a window.

And, while my work-office has few people in it, that’s sometimes enough distraction to reduce my potential for productivity.

I’ll add that not having children is probably an advantage to working from home as well. I do have a dog. She sleeps most of the day and is consistent with her “crazy time” mid-afternoon.

COVID-19 provided a valid reason to stay home, but it’s been an adjustment.

It’s taken me time to adjust — and I still feel guilty taking an hour off in the afternoon to walk my dog even though I make it up in the evening — but I enjoy the flexibility.

During the first week at home, I kept saying, “Maybe I should go in and help. What if they need me?”

I kept telling my boss and colleagues that I wanted to be there for them. I wanted to help share the load. I felt terrible about not being there to help.

It feeds my need to serve

I often say that my role in life is that of “helper”. I know that I have a desire to be validated and seen. While I go into the weekend hoping that I won’t need to work for two days, weekend work is fulfilling. It fuels me. It makes me feel useful. Humans need to feel useful. As I wrote in a post 13 months ago, usefulness is fulfilling. Usefulness is a more attainable goal than happiness. (Or so I quoted actor Chris Sullivan as saying.)

I want to put in the overtime to help the team and so that people appreciate it. I wish my inclination to be helpful were entirely altruistic, but that’s human nature for you.

I want to do excellent work and help the company look awesome.

When I see positive public feedback on something I wrote and posted, it feels good. The pandemic is providing lots of opportunities for that.

I am where I need to be

At the end of my first week, I hit me that I’m exactly where I need to be, doing the job that I’m paid to do. An “all hands on deck” attitude sounds great, but sometimes the best way you can help is to stick to your job description. If I were running around doing other things at the company location, I’d have less time to do my important work, and I might not give it the focus it needed, which would be a disservice to all involved. Recognizing this made me feel less guilty about not being on-site.

If you highlight anything in this post, I think that the paragraph above deserves it most.

Workout time

At the start of March, right after my birthday, I started exercising several times a week. Now I’ve got more time to do it. Rather than rushing home to do it, I look forward to closing my laptop to do it. I could take an exercise break if I want and go back to work. I do a combination of yoga and HIIT workouts.

**Exercise is excellent for combatting depression and anxiety.**

Family time outdoors

I’m grateful every day that there’s a park with a trail 15 minutes from home with little foot traffic. Even before the virus outbreak, it was rare to see a lot of people there. Now when my partner, dog and I do encounter people, the trails are wide enough to stay physically distant. We can walk on the pavement, on a dirt trail or next to the aqueduct (unless it’s rained). Today we saw by-law officers on bicycles there enforcing physical distancing. They ignored us.

I like avoiding crowds in general.

Evolving the way we work

Changing the way I work

COVID-19 is changing the way we work. It’s making us innovative. It’s making us consider how we work best and work with what we’ve got.

During week two of self-isolation, I set work email up on my phone. It’s something that I’d previously avoided to maintain a work-life balance. I didn’t want to be too accessible during my “off” hours.

Work-life balance looks different now.

With email on my phone, I no longer feel a sense of foreboding every time I leave the house. While there’s little I can do from my phone when I’m out, I can respond. I’m in control.

Last Friday, after driving to a deserted conservation area north of the city, I realized that the structure of my workday has naturally evolved into productivity blocks.

Knowing this makes me feel better about taking that time off in the middle of the day. I often work in the evening. However, if I’m out from 3:00–5:00 and work from 5–7, it’s the same number of workday hours.

The schedule suits me. It forces me to take a break while accomodating my natural rhythms. Waking up at 7:45 or 8 a.m., starting my day with meditation and journaling before opening my laptop feels more humane to me than waking up at 6 a.m. to shower, walk the dog and do those things. (Yes, I shower, at least every other day. :) )

Changing the way others work

I’m taking a new kind of pleasure in the TV talk shows now that the hosts are recording from home. This glimpse inside reinforces that we’re all doing our best with what we’ve got.

Jimmy Fallon’s family — now living at their house in East Hampton — is such a joy to watch. Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Ellen, etc. I watch every episode on YouTube, relishing videoconference interviews and the interruptions left in the episode. Wardrobe and facial hair choices, parts of homes and (edited) authenticity are refreshing. It reflects the new normal. It brings joy to a world that needs it.

While online yoga has been booming for years, lots of studios are taking their classes online too. Now, more than ever, I’m glad that many “online” yoga teachers simultaneously offer free and paid content. Because I can, I do spend $10/month for a membership with one of those I follow. The paid memberships fund the free content. I think that the yoga studios should charge for their content — a small fee or PYWC — to help keep their rent paid. It’s a new way to do things.

We are so fortunate to have entertainers continue to entertain us, and teachers to lead us. Those of us who can work from home are fortunate that we can. We need to support the economy in the ways we can.

Changing at-home activities: Baking & books

I’ve been baking, which I used to do often. I recently made brownies and, just this morning, cookies. Until recently I’d been mostly off sugar and flour for a long time but I want to use what we’ve got.

I haven’t made bread yet, which — going by headlines and social media, appears to be THE THING people are doing these days. I’d have bought yeast and bread flour when I was at the supermarket on Friday, but our basket was full. After Passover, I’ll bake challah for the first time in years.

I’m setting aside time to read at home rather than relying on my commute. I finished two books yesterday.

Things I miss

  • Hugging friends.
  • Letting my dog play with other dogs. I don’t want germs from another dog’s owner to transfer to her and back to us.
  • The possibility of meeting friends for food or drinks. I’m not very social, but I want to know that I can be.
  • Buffet brunch at the restaurant around the block
  • Conversations in person, closer than 6 feet
  • Live music.
  • Restaurants — especially my boyfriend’s and seeing our regulars.

If this thing continues through the summer, I’ll miss beaches, being social in parks and restaurant patios. I imagine that the ice cream shops will open up with few people allowed in at one time.

I feel bad for friends who lost jobs. I hate the devastation that this virus has caused. I want people to follow the rules, to keep their distance, to exercise common sense and compassion. Governments have had to create new by-laws because the public can’t have nice things. You shouldn’t need the threat of a fine to stay 6 feet away from another human being.

A new normal

When the world opens again, and we resume some form of normalcy, I hope that some of our pandemic habits stick.

I hope that we continue to wash our hands regularly, avoid handshakes (they make me anxious), be kind, show gratitude, work from home, honour personal space and innovate.

Our normal has changed. We will come out of it, but things will never be the same as they were, and that’s a good thing.

Andrea Toole is a digital marketer and writer. Visit her website. Follow her on Twitter — she thinks her tweets are smart and witty. Sign up for her email list that she’ll eventually get around to sending content to.

Digital Marketing Manager | Freelance Writer | ADHD Coach for adults | Available for hire. http://andreawrites.ca.

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