Avoiding Cabin Fever During The Coronavirus
The last week has really turned in Philly: schools are closing, offices are encouraging workers to work from home, and the first case of coronavirus was confirmed. In the midst of all this, I decided to begin working from home to avoid coming in contact with coronavirus on the train. Keegan, my husband with AS, is immunocompromised while he's on a biologic. I'm incredibly lucky to have flexible working from home options and figured it's the best time to prevent my family from contracting it and passing it along to others who may be in a high-risk population.
We've been restless
That said, the last few days have made us a bit restless. Kaya, our year and a half toddler, is running circles around the coffee table many times a day. Keegan and I find ourselves pacing a lot. So we've been actively looking for activities to help keep us sane throughout this cabin fever-like state. I'll break it down the way the Sims does. (Yes, that video game series where players live out their simulated human's lives.) Each Sim has "needs" broken into a few main categories that overlap with our needs during this pandemic: social, energy, environment, and fun. All these areas right now seem a bit strained for me and Keegan, but we're finding clever ways to help each other out.
Addressing all of our needs
1. Social needs
Playing online games with friends and family: Keegan and I are converting our tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) into online games. The website Roll20 is perfect for this. There are tons of other options, including iPhone games and games for all consoles.
Facetime and Skype: I'm charging my phone 2 to 3 times a day now because we've been Facetiming so much. Kaya recognizes grandparents now, so she loves getting a call in the middle of the day. It's also been helpful for us to keep up with family. A day hasn't gone by in the last week without a Facetime call.
Reconnecting with our cats more: Pets help us feel more social, so having our pets around more helps us replenish our social needs a bit. We recently bought some new cat toys, and Kaya loves learning how to play with the cats, too.
Staying off social media: This may seem counterintuitive, but I often feel more distanced and overwhelmed checking social media. With all the news out there, checking Facebook feeds more of my anxiety than helps me replenish my social needs. If I really want to connect with friends, I call or text them directly. Sending silly GIFs has really helped pass the time.
2. Energy needs
Playing in the backyard: Social distancing doesn't mean never leaving the house. For those of us who are fortunate to have a yard (and it's good weather), playing outside has saved our sanity. We recently got a tee-ball set with Kaya. We've played with that and a big ball that she's learning how to kick. One afternoon we played outside for over 40 minutes and didn't notice the time pass by.
Yoga: Gentle yoga, "yin" or restorative yoga, or just anything from the Yoga by Adriene YouTube channel helps us feel like we're active without high-impact or high-cardio. Yoga is a great way to boost energy and reset my mind when I'm feeling restless in the house. Other types of yoga, like hatha and vinyasa yoga, are great to have more of a "workout." Plus many of the videos make me feel like I'm connected with others doing the same practice around the world
Meditation: Headspace is my go-to for meditation. I've been meditation 15 minutes every day either at lunch or during the 2:00 pm afternoon sleepiness time and it keeps me going through the rest of the day.
3. Environment needs
Taking walks and going to the park: Yes, we're avoiding the playground, but it doesn't mean we can't go on walks. It's been beautiful weather in Philly, so walking keeps us feeling less cooped up. A change of scenery helps so much, so just a walk around the block refreshes us.
Regularly picking up and cleaning: In combination with putting on music and dancing, this is a pretty fun one. But tiding up can be beneficial for our mental health. I often feel better after just putting away some clutter for 20-30 minutes. Sometimes if I have the energy I'll vacuum, but it's more about making the space look organized again.
Putting up fun lights: Diving into our basement has been a strange and fun experience lately. We've searched for activities and toys and just whatever we can find to pass the time. Finding fun string lights just makes the space feel a bit more fun. It's silly, but hey, who couldn't use a bit of silliness right now?
4. Fun needs
Board games: Keegan and I play board games with friends typically, but there are some that work well for 2 players. A big favorite of ours is the Harry Potter board game, for 2 to 4 players. (Albeit, the game is tougher with only 2 players.)
Putting on music and dancing: This is a classic for our family. Kaya loves Frozen and Moana. If you entered our house at any time, one of those soundtracks would be playing.
Finding our favorite comedians on Netflix and YouTube: Laughter is the best medicine, metaphorically and sometimes literally. We find rewatching stand up comedy and YouTube comedians really helpful, especially at the end of the day.
Cooking and baking together: Kaya made chocolate chip cookies for the first time last week! (She kept eating the dough, but who doesn't?) Rediscovering recipes from our family and ones we put on Pinterest ages ago is a great way to pass the time and cut back on our eating out budget.
What are you fellow AS warrior doing to stay safe and sane amongst the quickly changing times with coronavirus? Any tips for our family with a toddler to stay healthy and happy?
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?