Staying Sane During Isolation

Staying Sane During Isolation

"Birds" by Phil Fiddyment is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Creative ways to stay healthy and sane during isolation

With the rising numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths, most Americans are working from home (WFH).  Most of us are limiting trips to the grocery store and carryout has replaced going out to eat in restaurants.  Going to a gym is out of the question. For those lucky enough to have good internet connections, many aspects of our lives have gone online or are enhanced by online resources - household supplies and food, business, education, entertainment, socializing, hobbies, and even health and wellness routines. 

What can be done with technology and how information and entertainment is shared over the internet is changing to accommodate the vast numbers and variety of people using it.  More older folk are using it to communicate with family who cannot come see them in person, some K-12 educators are holding classes, and medical researchers are collaborating to hasten the discovery of vaccines and treatments.  Cooking, gardening, home improvement and exercise classes and shows that we have watched on TV are now live-streamed and posted for consumption at a convenient time.  This allows us to maintain a semblance of a normal routine without the commute or the face to face interactions of a normal workday. The Harvard Health blog provides some tips for parents – virtual playdates, FaceTime calls with family members, and using Zoom and Google Hangouts for kids.[1]  At this moment in time, individuals are finding creative ways to come together -- to be a part and apart at the same time.

Music and dance

Music is a part of our daily lives and we listen for pleasure, inspiration, consolation, and serenity.  Just because we can’t go to concerts, practice with the band, or sing in the chorus in person doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy all of the above online.  Music instructors are using streaming media to teach individual students and classes. Some professional musicians are streaming songs and concerts.  Some professional and amateur musicians have changed the lyrics of popular songs to be coronavirus-appropriate.  Europeans have been singing from their rooftops and balconies and the world’s online community has turned out - in isolation together. 

Here are some links to individual performances and comprehensive event calendar links.

  • Separately, from their own homes, the members of the Colorado Symphony recorded their parts of Beethoven’s Ninth, “Ode to Joy.”  These were combined to make a video that has become popular on YouTube.
  • provides a chronological list with links for upcoming quarantine streaming music events.
  • Elsa Williams posted a 27-second video on twitter (with almost 5M views) in which her fitness-instructor mother leads a neighborhood dance while practicing social distancing that has become a regular part of the daily routine.
  • Free ballet classes in quarantine – including links at the bottom of the article to other online ballet classes


Museums and other entertainment

Most museums have online educational videos, pictures and texts, but recently many museums have posted virtual tours of their collections.  Travel writers are posting virtual tours of cities. YouTube is loaded with videos of all kinds – pick your sport and there are tens of thousands of videos to watch. Here are some links to educational and entertaining online resources. 



Making time for exercise is important, especially when you’re confined to your home and not following a normal routine.  Getting up and moving around, doing push-ups or squats while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew, and creating a home routine all help.  Sports figures, celebrities, and health and wellness coaches are posting interesting and creative workout routines for the homebound.  Here are some links to online “classes” by celebrities and the not-so-famous.


For many people, gardening is therapeutic – digging, watering, reaping the bounty – if you’re outdoors, you can enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of spring.  Whether you live in an apartment or a house with a yard, there’s always a way to grow something tasty.  Indoors, herb gardens can thrive in a window with a little sunlight or under grow lights.  Basil, oregano and rosemary are fine indoor or balcony plants.  The Washington Post’s gardening columnist tells How to grow your own food in a modern day victory garden.[2]   If you have a yard with some sunlight, herbs and a few vegetable plants (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers) will fill your table with freshness.  There are many gardening websites by long-time gardeners and newcomers who provide DIY instructions. Be sure to look for what is best for your available growing space (apartment, balcony, patio, garden) and for your area.  Your local garden center will probably be able to assist with what you need and what you need to know.  For small spaces and for immediate use, you will probably want to purchase small plants rather than seeds.  Here are several websites to get you inspired.



Because we are cooking at home more, we have more control over what we eat at every meal.  Fast food is no longer a staple for most of us working from home.  This may be a good thing. This is a great time to learn how to cook healthfully, to use ingredients we normally don’t use, and to be aware of portion size.  This may change how you stock your pantry – deleting chips and ice cream, adding things you would like to be eating.[3]  Availability of ingredients may also change what you buy and how you cook.  For example, my go-to banana bread recipe uses all purpose flour, which is not currently available.  I bought almond flour hoping to use it as a substitute - I discovered that you cannot substitute it for flour in a regular recipe because it has different properties.  So I found a recipe online that got more than a thousand good ratings and made the best banana bread I’ve ever baked – and it’s gluten free. 

If you’ve managed to start an herb garden, you’re in a good place to brighten up almost every meal.  Eggs, pasta, soups, stews, meat and seafood dishes are all enhanced by herbs and spices.  If you’re reading this, then you’ve discovered the benefits of ordering seafood online.  Did you know that was named by Country Living (April 2020) as one of the top eight places to order meat, chicken, and fish?[4]  Add your fresh herbs to your fish, shellfish, and crustaceans and you can’t lose!  Here are some ideas to add variety to your seafood meals.






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