Yo me quedo en casa

or Staying In All The Time Without Crawling Up The Walls

Right now, I’m following the advice to stay home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. But to be honest, I wouldn’t have left the house today anyway. For me, not much is different, just that my way of living is state-sanctioned! It’s the socially responsible thing to do!

Because it’s not that I don’t like going out. I wish I could wander the city more. It’s that at the moment, and for the last few years – as I rehabilitate and heal from past damage and misdiagnosis, and give my body time to regain health and equilibrium (I will soon be publishing posts with more detail about all this) – staying in has become my norm.

Probably like many others with physical incapacities, for whom getting around is a daily struggle, this lockdown (while a little frightening) is actually welcome relief. I don’t have to feel guilty or inadequate any more for staying in!

Plus, working for myself for many years meant that home was my workplace. Thinking about it, for the last 15 years, home is where I’ve spent most of my time.

So I have a lot of experience in staying in on my own. Here’s what I’ve learnt.

I think about home differently. For many, it’s merely the opposite of work, the place where you can chill with no pressure to be productive. But just because you’re at home, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do but watch Netflix. Watching TV all the time will turn your brain to sludge! You will feel bored and worthless.

There are many other ways to relax – read, listen to music or podcasts, do yoga, clean… I like to watch the sky/birds/street from my window/balcony and get fascinated by the small details. This is watch (active) not just see (brain not really engaged). The world around us is constantly changing if we make the effort to notice it.

But I find I must also do something productive, have a goal, something to achieve. For a writer, staying in is what we do. This current shut down, with no temptations to go and do something else, is an enormous opportunity for me to stop procrastinating on all my various projects and just do it.

But maybe writing’s not your thing, nor painting, drawing, sculpting, knitting, whatever. I’m also going to be making time for learning, working through the massive Catalan course book for the course I’ve just done that we whizzed through and didn’t finish. I wish I had got round to buying paint for my window frames, because that needs doing. I don’t think anything needs fixing, but I really must reorganise my cupboards!

I also find it really important to have structure to the day. I spend time cooking and eating, and revolve my day around mealtimes. Mornings are productive, after lunch is for relaxing, evenings are for socialising/doing more stuff. I realise suddenly why fitting myself into my new job has been so challenging! I am so used to a different pattern to my day.

Although I’m pretty happy in my own company and like spending time by myself, I am human – social contact is necessary. Luckily for us, in our technologically enabled times, we can do this without leaving the house. Living so far away from many friends and family as I do, I’ve got used to Skyping now (10 years ago, it was a painfully wooden and awkward experience). I’m not sure it’s ever really going to top actually being in someone’s presence, but it’ll do.

Failing all this, just make sure you have plenty of vodka and chocolate 😉

postscript Sunday 15th

I was thinking last night about homeless people and beggars, and how they are going to manage. Stay at home is all very well if you have one. And also about people for whom home is the worst place to be. I hope they will be OK.

Also to tell you about the amazing show of solidarity last night. At 10pm, everyone was out on their balcony or at their window, clapping, cheering and whooping for the doctors and nurses at the frontline who are working so hard in this crisis. It was so heartwarming. It happened all across the country, according to the news. We may be isolated, but we’re isolated together.

And I’ve thought of some more tips! Get dressed – slobbing around in your pyjama’s/loungewear all day just makes you feel like lounging. Which has its place! But if you get dressed like you’re going to go out and meet the world, you feel much more human.

Secondly, get some sunlight/daylight and some fresh air, even if it’s just 10 minutes at an open window. Your circadian rhythms will go out of whack otherwise. This assumes you don’t live in a basement. But please, don’t live in a basement!

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