Quarantine with difficult family & other “How To Stay In” links. #COVID-19

Hello! It’s Monday!

I wrote a piece for Vice about how to ride out quarantine when it means moving back in with the same people you wrote to me for advice about “surviving” holiday visits with.

It’s a good match for Miss Conduct’s column this week: “My daughter’s ‘useless’ boyfriend is sheltering in place with us: Help!”.

I love Robin’s take:

“Start assigning chores and asking him to pitch in financially. The fact that you didn’t do so before hasn’t created some sort of precedent barring you from ever doing so — a fallacy people often subscribe to. Nor does it mean any blame needs to be placed for past behavior.

And then let. It. Go. Stop thinking of this man as your daughter’s future husband. You will go crazy thinking about the future too much. He’s not your son-in-law right now. He’s a foxhole buddy, hunkered down with people he clearly feels wary of. Your goal should be to create and maintain sufficient structure for all of you to share space and resources equitably for however long this lasts. That’s it. That’s enough.”

Are some people being really bad guests and roommates during lockdown? Oh yeah. However, one person’s “useless” is another person who offered to help and was told “No! You’re a guest!” and didn’t know that there was a magic number of times he had to offer and be refused before he was allowed to help or another person’s “I’m going to go hang out by myself and give everyone some privacy.” As stated earlier, you can wait a long time for someone to both notice what you need and actually do it, so if you need something done, ask and be very, very specific.

My piece is part of Vice’s very good (independent of my own contributions) How To Stay In series, which has everything from how to handle being alone right now, ideas for safe socially-distanced date nights, how to structure your days when time has no meaning, how to talk to a partner about the future of your relationship when the future seems like a nebulous concept, and the excellent “What To Do When Everyone Needs Support But You’re Only One Person” that :checks inbox: NINETEEN of you need to read immediately. ❤ I especially like the concept of a “care budget” where you figure out what you need to be OK and function first and then figure out what you can do for others.

Are your roommates not taking the pandemic seriously? Here’s how to try to talk to them. One thing I’m noticing in the inbox is that if you are the stickler roommate (I would be the stickler roommate) your roommates might be sort of displacing their worry and anger at not being able to go out and do things onto you, like you are the barrier to their enjoyment of life, and I think this sucks a lot and it’s okay to push back. “You can’t go on ‘just a little weekend trip’ to visit your parents because there’s a contagious illness that makes people drown inside their lungs, not because I’m being mean. It’s okay to be mad – I’m angry too – but it’s not okay to take it out on me or blame me!” 

Wondering why video chat therapy kinda sucks and how to make it better? (No lie, I took a break from therapy for a few weeks because I could not handle any more talking about feelings in a format that I baseline find exhausting. I’m back in this week, but I’m glad I took a break to reset).

Looking for ways to hang out with friends on Zoom beyond “how…are…you” or “just catching up”? Several people wrote in about this and the answer is: You might need time limits & structured activities.

I’m going to write about this one more, but I want to put Brandy Jensen’s excellent Ask A Fuck Up answer here while I’m thinking about it: “How Do I Figure Out What I Want In Life When Every Day Feels The Same?” :chef’s kiss:

Finally, who wants to look at cats? Click to enjoy some of Daniel & Henrietta‘s recent antics in Tweet-thread form.

troublemint twins
The Troublemint Twins, who turned TWO YEARS OLD this week.

Comments are open. I’d like to know:

  • What is one link or online resource you have personally found helpful in processing pandemic manners, self-care, and/or interpersonal conflicts this week? (No medical advice or “medical” advice or medical “advice,” please).
  • Please keep it to one link per comment (the spam filter and your moderator’s eyes will be happier) and please tell us a little bit about why you chose it.
  • Not everything will be useful to everybody, but before you start an argument with a fellow poster about why something won’t work or isn’t useful, consider sharing something you personally find useful instead. Thank you!

94 thoughts on “Quarantine with difficult family & other “How To Stay In” links. #COVID-19

  1. 1) How to check in: I do it en-masse for most of the folks and I decided we needed an activity, so… I think I’ve become the activities marshall of my college friend group?

    I don’t mind but having a different activity every two weeks is eventually going to exhaust my list of “games that can be played without extensive screensharing, no tabletop prep (because only half the group has ever done that) and no obvious improv requirement because people in this group are unreasonably shy about that.”

    The day I planned the setup but not the activity we watched a musical and it took 20 minutes to get everyone to get that started. The day I planned neither we just didn’t have the meeting. We’ve done Werewolf (extensively) and we’re scheduled for Wikipedia Roulette this week. This is already a semi-blended friend group (college crew, one’s sister, another’s high school bff) so even if we could emulate cards against humanity, I suspect it might be difficult. Commenters, anything else I can try?

    2) It’s not as useful for current information on the actual state of disease or politics (due to it coming out once a week) but my current favorite podcast for covid related stuff is Sawbones. Dr. Sydnee McElroy isn’t an infectious disease expert, she’s a family practitioner who is really good at explaining why whichever fraudulent covid cure du jour is actually a 100 year old scam that’s been repurposed, and what it means when “hospitals report covid cases because of billing.” (Super short summary: insurance won’t pay for all that covid related care if you don’t say it was covid, regardless of if you managed to get a test, but there’s also very few other things it could be, en masse.) https://maximumfun.org/podcasts/sawbones/ It’s a little easier to deal with the influx of relatives who are either 90% right but aren’t sure what an r-naught is, or who require an entire new scientific education when I can be like “actually, amber won’t do anything about this, that thing about the negative particles is a rumor that started two hundred years ago when they thought that bad smells could make you sick.”

    1. 1) One of my friends does “trivia” with her in-laws every Friday. Everyone comes prepared with 5 questions and they each take turns quizzing the group. Whoever gets the most answers, wins. Very basic and low maintenance. You could even theme it if you wanted. Just make sure the questions stay general knowledge or related to the group’s common interest, so people aren’t left out (for instance, people should not include a bunch of deep cut questions about Harry Potter if the group isn’t populated by HP enthusiasts).

      1. Ooh, thanks.

        We’re a little fandom split these days but we should be able to find some old fandom stuff.

    2. My little brother introduced the family to Jackbox Games this past Mother’s Day, where he and his wife shared they played this with some friends earlier in the week and then got it for themselves. https://www.jackboxgames.com/ Up to 8 players can participate, and only one person needs the actual game; everyone needs a device to play on (which can be the computer they’re calling from). The games were originally designed as a party game, but their website has instructions on how to adapt for long-distance.

      1. For those of you looking to purchase jackbox games for a computer (Mac or PC), most of the packs are currently on sale in the Epic Games store, and when combined with the “mega sale” coupon you can claim ($10 off $14.99), may be cheaper than what is available through the jackbox site. You’ll probably need an epic account and maybe two factor authentication
        to get the coupon/make the purchase. Sale ends 6/11 in the AM (us eastern.) Jackbox games and prices (pre-coupon) are at: https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/collection/jackbox-collection

    3. If folks in your Circle of Friends know the card game Dominion, I have found the website at dominion.games EXCEEDINGLY easy to use, no screen sharing necessary, free, and generally awesome (in that it’s repeatable enough that you can get the hang of it, but changeable enough that each game feels like a challenge.

      1. I’ve been playing this weekly with one of my friend groups, and second this recommendation (as long as no one in the group hates deckbuilding games). The website has also been doing a thing where a different expansion is free to play each week, so a lot of our games have felt pretty different from one another.

    4. May I recommend Jackbox games (requires purchase & one screensharer) or this website, which includes a few free games that can easily be played over Zoom with a phone, tablet, or computer? https://netgames.io If your friend group enjoys Werewolf, they’ll probably also enjoy Spyfall, Avalon, and Secret Hitler. I’ve also been playing a lot of Mafia over Facebook messenger using roles from epicmafia and a little creativity on the side, which is a nice way to keep up sustained contact, since each phase is a day long so that everyone can engage at their own time. Games like these (whether in an evening Zoom or over the course of a few days on Facebook) have been a great way of keeping my mind busy and spending time talking with friends in a structured kind of way, so I highly recommend them.

    5. This might not be useful if your crew is too shy, but a friend of mine hosted a really lovely zoom talent show a few weeks ago. She put out a call to sign up for a talent slot a few weeks in advance so people could prepare, and there was no pressure to perform a talent if you just wanted to be in the audience. There were “judges” who just said kind, funny things about all the performances. It ended up being a very nice mixture of quite talented folks performing drag routines/original songs and goofier stuff, like someone doing a silly voice for there dog and having it tell fortunes. I didn’t even know most of the performers, but I had a really great time

      1. In a similar vein, my book club has been teaching classes to each other. Last week was shrubs (the beverage, not the plant), and a simple cocktail, I’m teaching two pickles and hot water bath canning this week, and we have some kind of baking thing coming up. Having an actual activity helps a ton.

    6. This might not be useful if your crew is too shy, but a friend of mine hosted a really lovely zoom talent show a few weeks ago. She put out a call to sign up for a talent slot a few weeks in advance so people could prepare, and there was no pressure to perform a talent if you just wanted to be in the audience. There were “judges” who just said kind, funny things about all the performances. It ended up being a very nice mixture of quite talented folks performing drag routines/original songs and goofier stuff, like someone doing a silly voice for there dog and having it tell fortunes. I didn’t even know most of the performers, but I had a really great time

    7. I’ve been playing a lot of remote Liar’s Dice with my in-laws, and it’s been great. Setup-wise, each person needs five regular six-sided dice, but anyone who can’t scrounge up five dice from their games shelf can use a dice app on their phone instead. You don’t need to see other people’s dice, just their faces (at the end of a round, when you’d normally reveal everyone’s dice and see who was right, you can just have everyone hold up fingers for how many of the current number they have). Play-wise, it’s short rounds of guessing, with some wildly-uninformed bluffing and a lot of luck, and so it lends itself to any amount of general trash-talking, extravagant displays of disappointment and triumph, and other cathartic nonsense.

    8. We’ve been hosting brackets of random things with my friend group. Once person hosts and chooses the theme (breakfast cereal, 90’s tv shows), creates a bracket (https://brackethq.com/dashboard/) and then we just choose our favorites and sometimes try to make compelling arguments for why frosted flakes are better than fruit loops. Drinking not required but can be added if that’s your vibe. Some folks join every week, some join occasionally, and some sit the whole thing out. It’s been a low stakes way to connect, talk about things that aren’t pandemic related, and generally hang out digitally in a way that feels more like how we would in real life.

    9. I definitely suggest Jackbox Games as something to play with friends via Zoom. The packs are ~$10-20, come with 5ish party games each, and are specifically designed for playing online. There is screensharing involved, but the person who owns the games shares their screen, and then everyone else interacts with the games through their phone or computer. Rounds are shortish (15 mins?) so if people come late or leave early it isn’t a big deal, especially since they can play as an audience member on most of them. The games are generally riffs on other party games (pictionary, mafia, balderdash, trivia, etc.) but with fun stylistic modifications. Sorry, this has turned into a review/plug of Jackbox games, but I remember wanting something like this early in quarantine and being SO HAPPY when my friend group found it.

      To (partially) solve the issue of someone needing to be the Group Social Coordinator, we set a night every week that we plan to have as Game Night. That way, on Wednesdays I can just text the group “games tonight? 7:30 again? can someone with zoom pro schedule a room?” and that’s the extent of the required prep work because everyone had it in their schedule anyway. Sometimes people still skip, sometimes we hang out more than that, but every week there’s a low-effort, fun way to hang out together.

    10. Can you arrange to nominate someone to choose and set up the activity each time? You can keep a list of backups just in case they don’t get themselves sorted in time, but it would spread out the responsibility a bit without letting the whole thing die a death.

  2. So maybe it is going to take me 45+ days to finish this “30 day yoga journey” and maybe I have absolutely had days where I spent all non-essential-work-from-home time crying and/or playing games on my phone, but I am really enjoying this. It’s my first time doing Yoga With Adriene. This particular series is not for beginners so much OR maybe for those who need modifications, but I am really enjoying it. Also, there’s a dog!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWBfQjuwp4E&list=PLui6Eyny-UzzFFfpiil94CUrWKVMaqmkm
    ALSO ALSO if you find yourself having to Zoom or similar, I read somewhere (can’t remember where or would give credit) to put a sticky note over your own face in the gallery so as not to be obsessively looking at yourself and worrying about what you look like. This has helped me IMMENSELY with the Zooms I must do.

    1. Love Yoga with Adriene! I started doing her videos a couple years ago and she’s still my go-to for myself and for recommending to others. Such a great at-home activity too!

    2. I was also going to post about Yoda with Adriene. I find her monthly playlists to be super-helpful because it removes any need to think on my part — just click on the video and go. Here’s the link to the monthly calendars, btw: https://yogawithadriene.com/calendar/

      I’m very much Not A Yoga Person ™, but for some reason I’ve really latched onto it during my stay-at-home time. I find Adriene is really good — focusing on how the moves feel as opposed to how they look, and showing lots of alternatives for both beginners and more advanced watchers. Also, the video lengths (usually 15-30 minutes) are long enough to feel satisfying without being so long as to feel overwhelming.

    3. You can hide your image on Zoom! There should be a button one of the upper cornerS of your image that holds a menu, including the option to hide yourself from you.

    4. YWA 30-day challenges have really helped my mental health over the last 8 weeks! I became “accountability buddies” with a friend of mine from grad school who I had lost touch with a bit over the years. Every day or two we tell each other what day we’ve done, cheer each other on or or encourage each other if we’ve fallen out of the routine a bit. We did “Revolution” in April and now are working through “True.” Highly recommended.

    5. I also came to suggest yoga with Adriene! I found myself really missing group yoga classes, so a friend and I will sometimes video chat and follow along a yoga video together. It’s nice to have a structured activity to share.

  3. For me, what has helped was the first episode of the new Brené Brown podcast, Unlocking Us. She talks about how being in new situations can trigger feelings of intense anxiety, vulnerability, and shame, and discusses some strategies for mitigating those feelings. Here’s the link: https://brenebrown.com/podcast/brene-on-ffts/

    1. Marillenbaum – agree. I really enjoy her podcast. It can sometimes make me cry a bit (often cathartically) , but it’s great for when I walk the dogs.
      Getting outside and watching my dogs play in the woods is so soothing and I’m so glad I have them to force me to go outside because even when the weather is foul it instantly life’s my mood.

  4. My partner and I noticed we were sleeping more during this weird time and began asking friends if they were experiencing the same thing. (Yes.) So I Googled the matter and came up with this: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.insider.com/why-youre-sleeping-more-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-2020-4%3famp.

    It’s interesting to ponder the fact that we tend to sleep better when we are all collectively stressed out about one big thing we can do very little to control versus zillions of small stressors that we are more or less responsible for dealing with. Also, worry and fear are exhausting!

    Bonus not-a-link content: If you are crafty and want to make something that helps that isn’t yet another mask, use some rice and some lavender if you’ve got it to make a fancy eye pillow. I was sewing masks for friends and started throwing in an eye pillow for everyone, too. I even got fancy and made them eye-mask-shaped with a scrunchie-style strap to hold them in place. They’ve been very popular.

  5. The Feminist Survival Project 2020 podcast, and the book the two podcasters, Emily* and Amelia Nagoski wrote, Burnout, have been really helpful and soothing for me. It comes from the framework of “the solution is not ‘self-care’ (that’s just what you have to do to survive) it’s all of us caring about each other.” https://www.feministsurvivalproject.com/

    *Emily Nagoski also wrote the amazing sexuality book Come As You Are, which I also recommend.

    1. The podcast is great. I think one of the things I find really valuable about is that they’re good with nicknames for phenomena and analogies/metaphors for what all is going on (in addition to being heavily evidence based).

  6. One of the biggest things that has helped me is making a shift in mindset from “acute stress” to “chronic stress”.

    An acute situation means, by and large, do-what-you-need-to-get-through-the-day type coping is fine. Think immediately post breakup, sleep all day binge ice cream cry and mope, don’t shower… that kind of wallowing and being deep in your feelings has its place, but after a short while it does more harm than good to stay in the anything goes mindset.

    Chronic stress, like chronic illness, requires longer term lifestyle changes and a level of acceptance in order to carry on in any kind of reasonably healthy manner. I understand this is harder for some, who may be facing the loss of a loved one, or extreme financial strain. But for those of us who are able to work from home, and are largely stable-but-still-struggling, making the shift to a new routine has been clutch. It has been huge in keeping me from falling into a depressive spiral. That, and giving myself permission to be imperfect, so long as i’m trying. less productive, so long as I’m still showing up.

    1. Thanks for this. You articulated something really well that I’ve been thinking about for awhile but couldn’t put into words: this is still a super stressful situation, but the “wallowing period” for those of us not in an emergency needs to end. It’s almost like a grieving process.

  7. Piggy backing off the yoga suggestion (I also love yoga with Adrienne and have actually been watching her videos for years). Jessamyn Stanley has a very inclusive approach for all levels and bodies. Google her name or search her in IG to find her web presence, but here is one her beginner videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkgJ82UVQ7c

  8. I actually would like to thank CA for answering my email privately and pointing me towards calling United Way’s 211. The person who answered the phone was really reassuring, and she helped me get financial assistance I qualified for. It was also really nice to talk to a human being about it rather than deal with impersonal forms on the internet.

    I’m waiting for my state to actually enact the CARES act so I can actually received unemployment payments since being laid off as a contractor, but in the mean time there was other assistance available that hugely relieved my stress.

    Other than calling 211, I highly recommend watching therapist Kati Morton’s videos about asking for help in a way that is straightforward, non-manipulative, and specifically how to seek out someone who is emotionally trustworthy. She also has a lot of great videos about self-care, some DIY-therapy strategies if you can’t afford therapy or are on a waitlist, and dealing with loneliness.

    Here’s her most recent video on loneliness and being alone: https://youtu.be/ZUNm7FcuH8s

  9. No link, just a reminder. The fact that so many of us are all stuck at home, schedules are more flexible, and there are fewer things to be doing out and about that keep us busy, created a sort of fiction in my mind that I must always be available to people who want to connect with me virtually. I was getting VERY annoyed with certain family members who were calling and texting all the time and really not getting that just because I was at home didn’t mean I was at home *to them, right this second.* It took me time to realize that you don’t have to reply to the text or answer the phone or email right now. Your “I’m busy” is still just as valid when you’re sitting on a couch watching Broadchurch as when you’re on a date in a restaurant, and you don’t have to account for your time to friends and family members who want you to be more available than you actually want to be.

    1. 100% endorse this. It turns out I have social energy for like, 2-3 weekly things, max. Dungeons & Dragons on Saturday takes up one of ’em. The fantasy that I was going to be able do daily happy hour catchups was, alas… a fantasy.

  10. If you’re like me, you probably started out this time thinking “OMG, my house is going to be PERFECTLY organized and SOOOOO clean.” And like me, you have also now discovered that no, that’s not actually going to happen when you are also dealing with working from home or being out of work or parenting/school or some combo of all three in your household, plus worrying about current events/your own health or that of other people in your life who may be at risk, plus the emotional labor of figuring out how to navigate formerly completely mundane tasks like grocery shopping. I decided to go back today to a reliable old resource, the UFYH website and the 20/10 (or 45/15) method, to help me clear a reasonable amount of time to get my habitat into a state where I can more effectively relax in it. https://www.unfuckyourhabitat.com/

    Also re Zoom sessions with friends, firmly endorse the structured activities, whether they be games (I’m now fully obsessed with Ticket to Ride) or non-pandemic-related discussion topics. Re the latter, trust when I say you can feel free to be as fluffy as you damn well please in selecting these. Last weekend my regularly scheduled chat of Awesome Lady Singletons tackled “A Comparative Ranking of The Chrises” and I can tell you it was most enjoyable.

  11. I’m only recently discovering the joys of shared-world games like Terraria and Don’t Starve Together (macabre name, but…) which are cheap on Steam, and feel so lovely to play with friends. If you desire to indulge in the fantasy of living a foraging, monster-fighting life with your pals in the midst of an uncharted wilderness, I totally recommend looking into such things. Even the failures are rather funny. (Me and some of my folk, our game avatars floating around our ruined camp in ghosty shape: “Why is everything on fire?” Legitimately took us a few moments to figure out.)

    My knowledge of games is very shallow, as video games are not Approved Of by my mother, hence their being a comparatively recent discovery for me – I do know that the beautiful Kisima Ingitchuna (Never Alone) also has a multiplayer mode though I haven’t tried it out myself. In any case, when exploration of the outside world is limited, I recommend the virtual world if you so desire. 🙂

    (Living with my brother during the Current Confusion is quite freeing. Our evenings are now free of Mom’s lovingly well-meant but stifling opinions about video games, not to mention many other things as well. This may be for me the nicest thing that has happened due to covid.)

    1. A group of friends have set up a Minecraft server, and I’ve actually found it really relaxing! I like that it’s both creative and collaborative.

  12. I’ve shared this link a bunch throughout all this with various groups, and it’s something I’ve used for years when things aren’t great: https://philome.la/jace_harr/you-feel-like-shit-an-interactive-self-care-guide/play/index.html.

    It’s designed to help you do the self care thing with less decision making required. (There are a few different sites out there with similar flow charts, but I like this one for how it looks and feels.) Sometimes when I feel awful, I see it in my bookmark bar, and it helps me poke through why I might be feeling bad.

  13. I settled down a little from my previous state of Vibrating Mass Of Permanent Anxiety when I came to terms with the fact that I do not have this mysterious extra free time I keep hearing people on social media talk about. It’s totally valid (and good, in ways!) for people to try to find the silver lining, tackle projects they’ve been meaning to get to, etc, but I definitely fell for the “how are YOU gonna be productive during this time? Come out of quarantine your best self!!!!” rhetoric I was seeing all over my social media feeds.

    I recognize how lucky I am to still have my full-time job in a time like this, but I did accidentally spend the first few weeks beating myself up for not taking up an hour of home workouts every day or signing up for three new online courses or [inseert other would-be-fun-but-also-time/energy-consuming new project here]. The truth is that I’m still working 40 or so hours a week (how many of those are productive is another matter, shhhh) and do not actually have all this bonus time that instagram wants me to believe I do. Recognizing that and forgiving myself for not spending quarantine “””productively””” was a desperately needed act of self-care.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVwW6Jq3_TE <— tiffanyferg has some great content on the topic of toxic productivity culture; I recommend her whole channel, but she also has additional links on this specific topic in the linked video's description.

    Stay safe y'all ❤

    1. I…may have rewatched that video three times over the past few weeks, because I am as of now going to the lab to work for a solid 40 hours a week processing my area’s COVID testing samples and yet I still feel guilty that I’m not being more productive when I am at home. Love tiffanyferg, love that one especially.

  14. It might sound absurd coming from this 53-year-old, but making tiktok videos has been the most truly fun thing I’ve done with my teenagers. It shifted us from doing “things to help us cope” to “ridiculously silly thing where we lose all sense of time”. We don’t care that they’re (mostly) crappy videos – that takes the pressure off – and we’re still learning all sorts of things about music, visuals, framing shots, etc. We’re moving around, laughing constantly, and creating things that every so often have a bit of magic joy to them. ❤️

    1. How utterly delightful that you get to do something that sounds so fun and fulfilling with the kids in your life!

  15. I’m finding listening to audiobooks and BBC Radio 4 books and plays calming right now. Anything read by David Sedaris helps.
    I’m very far from my family, which is causing me so much anxiety. Non-fiction audiobooks like Educated by Tat Westover or ‘maybe you should talk to someone’ by Lori Gottlieb have been good at calming me when my mind is on a hamster wheel.

    1. I’ve become absorbed by listening to plays now, too, and I can highly recommend LA Theatre Works.

      They present a diverse selection of plays, performed by tremendously gifted actors. And during intermission or after the play, they’ll delve further into the play by interviewing the actors, or the playwright, or a scholar on the play’s theme.

      The performances take me away from everything in a way that nothing else does right now.

      Listen on public radio or stream at: latw dot org slash broadcasts

  16. I’ve started a Tumblr as a way to give myself a reason to do one single thing a day. Whether it’s post about my orchid, or show off that I finally finished spinning some fibre, or reblog an ADHD post and talk a lil about how it affects me, I have proof that I Did One Thing. It’s nice.

  17. Am I allowed to link back to Captain Awkward for this activity? CA’s “The Book of the Face” from 2011 has been beautifully liberating to me: https://captainawkward.com/2011/02/04/the-book-of-the-face/ It has lovely boundary-setting for social media if you don’t enjoy your online interactions with someone.

    Some combination of me being stressed, others being stressed, and everyone being online more has made my social media feed fill up with a lot of content I just don’t enjoy. (Rants, depressing politics I have no power to control, humble-bragging…) Snoozing, blocking, and unfriending have made my feed so, so much nicer.

  18. Not about pandemic manners, but the ONLY online video platform I’ve actually found enjoyable is the just-out-of-beta icebreaker.video.

    It’s kind of like speed dating but for friends. I’ve used it with two in-person communities that would normally host 40-100 person events. The way it works is you’re matched randomly with someone in the group for 7-10 minutes to answer a set of questions, written by the event hosts. Then the “game” ends and you’re paired with another person for a different set of questions. You can come and go anytime throughout the event. I like it because you get the party experience of meeting new people, and you get to talk to them one on one – instead of that weird stilted “whose turn is it to talk” group convo Zoom thing. (And it isn’t based on Zoom.)

  19. Thank you for the Miss Conduct link! I hadn’t noticed that my RSS feed of Miss Conduct hasn’t been updating, so I missed a bunch of her articles!

  20. Does anyone have any good scripts / ideas for small, tangible pieces of support to ask other people for without overwhelming them? I’m struggling substantially with anxiety and depression right now (not caused by the current crisis but definitely exacerbated by it) and one of the things that reliably helps with this is asking people to do small things like send me friendly text messages/give me a hug/talk together for a few minutes about something low-stress like craft projects or pets. Right now, though, a lot of my go to stuff to ask for is off limits and every time I take a look at the news I curl up into a Ball Made of Shame because how can I possibly ask for help from anyone when people are dying and so many people are struggling in every way imaginable? I’ve luckily got a great therapist who is willing to meet with me by phone and we’re working on a way for me to feel comfortable telling friends/family I’m struggling, but in the meantime I’d love to be able to reach out to a few people and ask them to do something small and easy if I could do it without imposing.

    1. What if you reframe “I need support, can you send pet photos/talk about craft projects” as “Hi friend, here’s a cute animal I saw online/here’s my craft project’s current iteration- what’s up with you? Got X minutes around Y time today for a chat?” for a few weeks and see how you feel? With that framing, “Support me” becomes “Hang out with me/look at this cool thing with me.” “Want to watch our favorite show and hang out on Slack/DM after for a minute?” “Want to play this game with me today?” Finding a shared small activity that’s easy to sustain is valuable work you are doing on your friendships, not a favor you are begging. See what your therapist thinks, maybe?

      I personally cannot ask or answer the question “how are you” right now without becoming something non-verbal but I can answer questions about where I am in the Murderbot books or what’s for dinner.

      You do need support, and there is nothing wrong with that, but you also have stuff to offer and consistently presenting yourself as one more chore on the checklist might affect the way you see yourself as much as the way your family sees you.

    2. CA’s advice is great, I just wanted to share I was struggling with the same thing. I officially joined Reddit for the first time ever (same username as below) and have been enjoying making new pals to discuss self-care, crafting and managing anxiety/depression. I have really enjoyed r/journaling because people post their projects or ask questions about their projects. I’m now starting a new project! Can’t wait to post about it.

    3. Cliche perhaps, but a plan that works well for me: keep a couple meme and cute animal pages on tap and then send your favorites to a friend. Sharing music is good too! It can be a minimal effort way to at least feel a little more connected for me, even if I’m not up for formulating my own words. And perhaps they will chime in and start sending some back (I have at least two ongoing show-and-tell chat thread on Tumblr). 🙂

      Courage and best wishes to you as you learn how best to express your wants and needs. Don’t feel like you have to embrace traditional terms for it either…before I felt comfy saying I was Depressed I could tell my friends I felt gray, and somehow that was easier. But otoh, I’ve also found that owning up to the “big words” for my feelings can be validating as well.

  21. One of the things that has been hard for me during lockdown is following the news and feeling helpless and angry. To combat that, I signed up with https://postcardstovoters.org/ to write postcards to Democratic voters. Instead of seething, I could take a little action, right from home.

  22. 1) I will shamelessly count http://www.youtubehaiku.net as part of my self-care as it’s one of the few endlessly loading newsfeeds that won’t kickstart my anxiety without warning. YMMV depending on how much meme content you can take. Siphoning off lots of reality-free/emotionally safe entertainment from my regular internet use has been a very necessary exercise. (This also includes some brand new lurking-only social media accounts)

  23. I have no link, but I thought I would share what my spouse is doing. While our son and I are delighted to stay home and quietly do whatever, my extrovert spouse was having a difficult time until he decided to take Wednesday afternoons off for the foreseeable future. He uses that time to volunteer at a local soup kitchen. It does involve scrubbing himself and his clothes clean before every session, but he feels he’s being useful as well as getting out of the house. (Note: we are truly lucky that he 1) has been able to work from home, and 2) has the PTO time to do this.

  24. I was feeling very down yesterday missing my mum, siblings, and niece who are all hunkered down in a house together 20 minutes away from me, which might as well be Antarctica now.
    In the afternoon, we played a boisterous game of skribbl.io (which is like pictionary) while video chatting through houseparty. It made me feel like part of the lovely chaos happening there to all be joking around and playing a fast-paced but low-stakes game. No one can draw well with a mouse or touchpad, so our scribbles were hilarious. It also shows you what others’ wrong guesses were, so that was its own entertainment.

  25. I am in the state of Victoria, Australia. I‘ve been working from home, alone, in lockdown 8 weeks, with no visitors. It’s been very tough. This video series from the University of Melbourne has helped me to stay sane. They talk to you about the science and the psychology, what we can expect and where we’ll end up. People like this have helped keep Australians safe during the pandemic – we have only had 97 deaths so far from Covid 19, and we have 25 million people living here. I hope it helps someone else to keep going …stay strong, and think about all the people who care about you, including people on the other side of the world like me.

    1. Thanks for the link! I’m a new Victorian myself (just moved to Melbourne less than two months ago) and it’s somehow comforting to hear from someone near me 🙂
      Sending you jedi hugs from my apartment here, I am sheltering with my partner so we’re lucky. Stay strong and safe as well!

  26. “Tactics for Maintaining Mental Fitness During the COVID-19 Pandemic” – This site is from Alberta, Canada, but has a lot of archives of past webinars and resources. Topics include: Gratitude, Creating Social Connection, Understanding Stress, Insulating for Anxiety, Social Contagion, and Coping with Grief and Loss


  27. One thing that has really been helping me (not just this week) is playing an MMO, in my case Final Fantasy XIV. Introverted me managed to make friends in the awesome community this game fosters, and because it is a shared space, I can meet and hug my friends (or at least their avatars). This has been really helpful for me and I would recommend FFXIV as a game for anyone who likes MMOs. It’s got a very wide range of things you can do (outside of combat), it seems reasonably easy to find friendly and good people compared to other MMOs and I don’t regret working up the courage to join a “free company” (=guild/mini community). Note that the game is not free-to-play however.
    I have even improved my social skills a little and finding friends has made me a bit more confident in myself as well. If anyone here is on Tonberry and would like a chat, or any help, send me a tell or friend request 🙂 (char name: Narantuya Kha)

    Sending jedi hugs to all who want them, hope you can stay safe and find things that work for you.

  28. I’ve been absolutely loving https://reasonstobecheerful.world/ , which is just what it says on the tin. David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) founded it as an antidote to relentless bad news, and it really does cheer me up every time it hits my inbox.

  29. Re the daughter’s ‘useless’ boyfriend I like my father-in-law’s rather relaxed take on a girlfriend of his son’s the family din’t particularly like: “das was de letzte no nich” — that wasn’t the last one yet. And he was right in the end. The “last one”, at least the one his son married, came several years later and proved to be utterly likeable.

  30. I don’t listen to the podcast, I watch snippets on YouTube, but I find Tablo very interesting and calming.

    Here are some snippets :

  31. I’ve become really into soothing youtube channels that fall into two distinct categories – historical costume recreation and Chinese (country) cooking. I think the historical costume recreation category might be easier for most people to google so I’ll share the others:

    Dianxi Xiaoge’s channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQG_fzADCunBTV1KwjkfAQQ. She’s a farmer/chef in Yunnan who emphasizes Yunnan specialties. Lots of soothing harvesting, food preparation, etc.

    Liziqi’s channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoC47do520os_4DBMEFGg4A/featured. There’s nothing this woman can’t do. She cooks, makes bamboo furniture, etc., all while somehow keeping stuff from getting caught in her hair.

    Xiaoying Food – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJJDD-Hy76jvUMRG-dpFkcw/featured. While you don’t see Xiaoying’s face, you watch her hands expertly prepare foods in surprising and ingenious ways. Also, she’s Taiwanese.

  32. Some of my friends and I meet every morning at 8 on jitsi, do a yoga with Adrienne video then have a bit of chit chat with morning coffee.

    I love having a deadline on the doomscrole, we can talk about the video we did after it finishes, finishing the coffee gives us an end and little and often really works for me

  33. I’ve been watching urban explorers since the quarantine started, and it’s surprisingly relaxing to watch. One night, I was worried sick about everything, it was 2 a.m., and I couldn’t sleep. So I put on one, and he pitched a hammock for the night at the top of a smokestack, and it looked like the most awesome night’s sleep ever. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. He was freezing his behind off all night, but it was a comforting thing to watch, when you’re scared out of your mind.)

  34. Dance-workout sessions (Zoom-ba?) led by a friend with other friends scattered around the country/world. Double points for getting my heart rate up and seeing people I love twice a week. We’re all getting a little bit fitter and we get to check in and have a mini love fest.

  35. 1) Dance workout sessions with friends twice a week. Double points for getting some exercise and checking in with people I love.

    2) Friday night movies where a bunch of us start a fun film at the same time (8:00 … no, 8:01 … Wait, wait … 8:03!) then watch it while all commenting in real time in a group chat.

    **Apologies if double post!!!

  36. I’ve taken up art. I have wanted to learn to draw well for years and never really done anything about it, but I found SkillShare and started a free trial. Each class is made up of lots of short videos (usually around 5 minutes or less) so I can watch a video or two, mull over the content, grab a pencil during a free minute and do a quick sketch, and once every week or so I spend an hour working on something for a bit longer. It’s an incredibly low-stakes activity because there’s no assignments to submit, no one is judging my work (although I am sharing it on a forum I belong to, which is nice) and I’m seeing it as a very long-term project so I don’t feel pressure to finish it quickly.

    I’m still working almost as much as I used to, just one day a week furloughed, but I’ve gained some time by not commuting to the office any more. That time is mostly eaten by the drop in productivity and the increase in sitting and vibrating anxiously, although having specific activities I can turn to when I start to buzz has helped a lot. Duolingo, Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, my art classes, the sewing project I’m working on, they’re all things I can do in short bursts which have nothing to do with the “real world” and don’t add stress.

    At first I was incredibly busy with video socialising as well, because all the extroverts in my life were suddenly setting up Zoom calls and trivia nights and play read-throughs and House Parties. I love being at home but I’m a sociable introvert so I was thrilled by this development! Except that it turns out that my need for social interaction is still at its former comparatively-low levels. I still only want to hang out with a group of people once every two or three weeks. I still only want a couple of phone calls a week. The fact that the medium for that socialising is now more compatible with my energy levels and preferences doesn’t change the volume of socialising I’m up for. So I had to learn to say no to all the extroverts who were making sure that they could have as much socialising as they had previously, aka far more than I want. I join in when I want to, they extrovert away merrily without me in the meantime, everyone’s happy.

  37. I’m terrible for slumping in an armchair with my laptop on my lap. I find this blog post by a colleague in Switzerland about improving comfort and wellbeing working from home to have some really practical hints and tips: https://blog.zhaw.ch/languagematters/2020/04/17/working-from-home-ergonomically/.
    I have been lurking on this blog for a long time, so I just wanted to say thank you to CA and all the community for your wisdom and insight over the past years!

  38. Therapy client here.

    If you find video chat exhausting or technically challenging, I suggest a plain old phone call instead. That way, you don’t have to do your hair and makeup or even get dressed. No worrying about software being stupid or mics or people walking naked in the background.

    I actually sprained the interior ligament of my left knee three weeks ago while I was having a meltdown over trying to get my cell phone activated, so I know better than to even try to do video conferencing at all. Luckily, my psychiatrist and psychologist were both open to old-school phone calls.

  39. Therapy client here.

    If you find video chat exhausting or technically challenging, I suggest a plain old phone call instead. That way, you don’t have to do your hair and makeup or even get dressed. No worrying about software being stupid or mics or people walking naked in the background.

    I actually sprained the interior ligament of my left knee three weeks ago while I was having a meltdown over trying to get my cell phone activated, so I know better than to even try to do video conferencing at all. Luckily, my psychiatrist and psychologist were both open to old-school phone calls.

  40. I prefer talking by phone over video chat. No worrying about naked people walking in the background or having to get dressed and do your hair and makeup. Luckily, my therapists agreed to that.

  41. I’ve found that I really enjoy sharing movies that I like with friends, and kosmi.io and the Netflix Party plugin have both been good for making that happen. Kosmi handles setting up “rooms” where you can share your screen, stream a video file, even play games that they have on their server, and you don’t even need an account to use it. You can make your room discoverable or you can make it private (I usually leave it private in order to just share with people I give the link to.) Netflix Party just takes some of the countdown timing out of the equation.

  42. The thing that has absolutely saved my life during this period has been creating an Instagram account for my pet. We only follow other pets, every day or every other day I post a cute picture of my pet and whenever I scroll through my feed, all I see are other adorable pets. LIFE. SAVING.

  43. I really found this YouTube video by CGP Grey useful. It frames lockdown as being in a spaceship, where all you have is what’s inside it with you. It’s got bits about the feedback between physical and mental health, and quite a bit about maintaining separate places for separate tasks (even if all of those spaces are in one room).

  44. I hope it’s OK to post a suggestion for smthg to make group social zoomz more fun. One of our friendz in the group is a Certified Zumba Instructor, so we’re gonna do a Zumba sesh.

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