Yes, we know. At a time when something like a modern-day plague is ravaging the whole world, truth is indeed stranger than fiction. But everyone can use a break from reality into a made-up world sometimes. Don’t reach for your phone to read the news again, and avoid reading Twitter headlines. Instead, pick up a book, any book, so long as it’s fiction. Reading this all-encompassing category can allow you to explore made-up worlds and characters and situations, and offer some escapism. But fiction doesn’t just provide a comforting blind to reality, it also helps you become a productive thinker, allowing you to ponder real-life events or situations through abstraction. Maybe you’re thinking about larger political conversations differently after reading Margaret Atwood’s dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale. Or perhaps a book like The Language of Flowers by local author Vanessa Diffenbaugh has made you rethink your upbringing. Reading fiction is both entertaining and enlightening. Plus, it doesn’t cost much, especially if you have a library card. (Many local libraries are now open for curbside pickup.)
RELAX: With a Spa Night
If you’re lucky enough to work from home, you may have ignored looking at a mirror, save for the occasional look prompted by a Zoom comment on how unruly your hair or your beard has gotten. Meh, who cares what people think? What is important is that you carve out some time to take care of your body. Take a long bath soaking your troubles away with a eucalyptus or honeysuckle bath bomb from Monterey Tasty Olive Bar (yes, they sell self-care products too), or applying topical CBD products from Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine or East of Eden. After that, slap on a face mask, light some candles and fill a diffuser with your favorite essential oils to re-create that spa-like feeling. Maybe then you can graduate to wearing pants around the house?
CONNECT: With Loved Ones Outside of Your Home and Work
This may seem counterintuitive to “me time,” especially if you are stuck with people at home, but talking to someone outside of your routine can allow you to check into other parts of your life that you’ve been sidelining. Maybe you need a good round of inside jokes that only you and your old college roommate can understand. Maybe your siblings are spread through all corners of the country and you really need to blow off some steam about your home life. Schedule a Zoom or Google Hangout cocktail hour and talk it out. Or maybe go on a socially distant walk in the open air and relive some memories.
Imagine your perfect date. Is it a long walk on the beach? A picnic in the park? Dinner and a (streaming) movie? Now, once you’ve got all of those details in your head, plan it – then remove the part where you do all of that while entertaining another person. Go and do it all by yourself. It was just last year when actor Emma Watson coined the phrase “self-partnering,” and while some people see that as another term for “single,” it has some merit to it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married 50 years, divorced or single forever, you’re always going to have one constant relationship: you to yourself. Besides, in a time when Tinder and Bumble and dates can pose a health risk, you might as well use that opening in your social life to do something productive: like building self-confidence and learning to cultivate your own happiness.