We’re several weeks into quarantine, which means my supply of clean sweatpants is running low, tensions between family members are running high, and I’ve been drinking… a lot. I’m not the only one–in a New York Times article published last week, it was reported that Drizly, an alcohol-delivery service, has had its sales increase by 50 percent since news of COVID-19 began to spread.
I’ve seen similar trends within my immediate social circle–on a FaceTime call with a friend last week, we commiserated over our newfound lifestyle, with meal and drink time acting as an anchor for the otherwise mindless passing of days. I flipped the camera to display my ever-diminishing array of booze, an assortment of wine and liquor that had begun to overtake my rather large dining room table. An even more dismal sight was to be found in my recycling bin, which overfloweth with discarded bottles of pinot.
Pre-quarantine, I was maxxing out at 2–3 drinks per week–a glass of wine with dinner here, an after-work cocktail with a friend there. But about a week into work-from-home life, the ratio of days passed to drinks drank was inching closer to 1:1. It’s not that I was drinking as a way to dull the senses–although, yes, if there was ever a time to crave distraction, now was it. More than that though, I was reaching for a glass as a way to mark the hazy line between afternoon and night, work and play, weekday and weekend.
It’s something we do habitually–after hard days and in celebration of good ones, we drink to commemorate and signify a moment. It’s why happy hours exist, after all (which you can read more about here). If you want to and are able to, pouring a drink is not the worst way to maintain some semblance of normalcy during an unprecedented global pandemic. But there are other rituals to practice to stay sane (and safe) that don’t involve another trip to the liquor store…
1. Set the light
When you’re sitting in the same room day in and day out, mood lighting matters. Open up your blinds during the day and burn candles at night to keep the distinction between on and off crystal clear.
2. Put a pot on to boil
Whether you’re making pasta or a cup of tea, there is something about the gentle simmer and eventual bubbling of a pot of water that has the power to soothe. It’s a ritual I’ve found myself retreating to on days when it’s comfort I’m craving most.
3. Play some tunes
Instead of pouring a glass at the end of the day, put on a record or strum on a guitar. The effect is similar so long as you opt for smooth and easy music.
4. Read poetry aloud
When spoken, a poem can feel something like a prayer. Read to yourself, read to someone you love–read because the news is loud and the rest of the world feels a little too quiet right now.
5. Stretch, breathe
Get back in your body by touching your toes. It’s simple, but taking the time to slow down your breath and stretch your limbs can transport you to a calmer place.
6. Preserve your perishables
Make an afternoon out of pickling veggies and sauerkraut. It’s a meditative practice that’s good for salvaging any farmer’s market treasures you have hanging out in your crisper drawer.
7. Take sunset walks
With social distancing in mind, take walks down the side streets you don’t typically trek at the end of the workday.
8. Bubble a bath
Baths are the perfect way to escape–from your screens, from your roommate, from the messy corners of your home. Low light and soft sounds are key here.
9. Mindlessly play
Whether it’s watching Youtube videos or going deep into an Animal Crossing rabbit hole, give yourself permission to delight in the mindless pleasures you typically chide yourself for. In a time where so much of our headspace is being taken up by worry, granting yourself simple comforts is an essential practice.