How to cope with Shelter In Place during COVID19? (or Quarantine Glow up)

People are talking about an Uncertain time these days, meanwhile I’m like, Has life ever been certain? I’ve long accepted Uncertainty as the nature of life, and have been taking things with a light heart. 

With all the craziness going on in the world, what has changed in my life since the Shelter in Place order in San Francisco

To me, to be honest: Nothing much. I normally don’t share about stuffs other than arts, but guess now is the time I allow myself to be a bit…more human and personal?  

The biggest hype in town? Work-From-Home (WFH). I’ve been used to WFH before with previous startups, basically working from my bed, lounging around in my Pyjamas, wearing no makeup, seeing no tank in productivity. I do occasionally, move to my table when I have a video conference, so far that doesn’t happen very often. I wouldn’t debate here about my Work From Bed routine. I know that even when I was at work, I like to work from a bean bag. That’s just my favorite setting. Find something that works for you. Get some back support, buy a studier surface, get some new storage or a standing desk. Also, I don’t find a legit cause for WFH outfit. If anything, I do less laundry! But don’t quote me on that, you do you!

Although our clients as Restaurant owners are hit hardest from COVID19, I’m thankful that I’m still able to keep my job. We pivot, and remind ourselves of the good things that happen during the 2008 recession (Not to downplay the situation, the pandemic is a lot worse). As our team is so distributed in 5 timezone, I work around the clock to ship stuffs. It’s a chaotic time, and our new product launch is less than 10 days away, so fingers crossed!  

I eat and sleep whenever I want. I take intermittent nap as needed. I didn’t have the luxury of daily food catered at work, so I’m still diligent about cooking, and adjusting my eating habit, now that I don’t have social occasions to attend to. 

I have enough toilet paper, and not a hoarder. (Since when Toilet paper conversation becomes the norm, or even, an expression of care?). I wash my hand, sanitize, stay at home, do my part.

Instead of coping with Shelter in Place, I’d like to turn that into a Quarantine Glow Up approach: 

Spice up my routine 

If you do know me, I’m all about adding variety to my day.  However, not all variety is created equal. I get really clear about what elements I want to be predictable, what element I’m ok switching up. For example, having a quiet place for phone calls and meetings are important to me. Therefore, pre-COVID, I don’t try to work at different coffee shops, as I don’t want to run the risk of a loud environment disrupting my workflow. The variety, however, to me, was food. I try different spots close by my workplace. Now that such luxury is gone, I switch to different jogging track, some off the beaten path, some pretty far off from my direction.  I was able to enjoy the serene scenery that is unheard of in San Francisco.


Move my social life to digital


On an average week, I go out 3 or 4 times a week on regular weekdays, sometimes to meetup, event, festival, performances, comedy, museum, more or less a mix of professional, personal development (Fun is also incorporated in my personal development territory :p). Now that the landscape shifts, I move all work-related meetups to Slack conversation. I don’t have mass interaction anymore, but my one-on-one online conversation is still focused, and condensed. Fun wise, I do Zoom call with friends and family, consume more online content, or hanging out at my sailing group virtual happy hour, or, the piano learner groups that I’m part of. I actually enjoy more in depth conversation, with a lot less distraction. 

Stay active 

I wake up around 6-7am for the most part, so by 9am, I already got a lot done. I got out when everybody is still asleep, so I quite enjoy my morning walk/run. I normally work out 5x/week, and during the quarantine, I’m able to tackle full body work out everyday for about 1hr. If the weather is good, I’ll run/walk for another hour (or 2! – It’s long I know, but if it’s not for quarantine period, I’d spend that much time outside at event). I don’t have fancy gym membership, neither do I have equipment, or need support group or pep talk. I’ve been working out entirely at home since Oct 2019, and I was doing very fine, with a 2x expanding metabolism! 

Each picture is my meal in one sitting! First pic is one pound of Bibimbap beef (including around 1/4 cup of rice). 2nd is 1lbs of shrimp

Learn something new 

I wouldn’t bother you by sharing: Here’s 100 links of new things you should learn. I believe that if you really want to learn something, you already do it by now. There’s no point in living up the hype of “taking advantage of this free time”. I’ve been committed to master my music playing, quarantined or not. Maybe the only difference now is that I have a more structured practice spreadsheet for jazz. Work wise, I’ve learned lots of new skills. I’m grateful for the opportunity to to work on partnerships, content (press release, media pitches, product positioning, etc.), product onboarding experience. Another side project I’m doing got moved digitally 100%, which is an unforeseen opportunity to speed up my marketing operations skill. On a non work-related topic, I read extensively about nutrition, physical capacity, finance. (Now I’m able to understand and dissect my blood test, to every single detail :D) 


Check in with yourself daily 

A few things i’m keeping tab of are: 

  • My physical space 
  • My mental space 
  • My emotional space 

Physical space: My motto is to make the best of what you have. I grew up in a tiny space, where my mom took care of 2 kids, and we had tons of fun playing in the corner. Now I got everything I need as a kid: A (much bigger) space, a lot more commodity, what is it there to complain about? I pay attention to the way I set up things. Does it leave room for distraction? What do I need? What can’t I leave without? Everything else then is secondary. There’s not much flexibility with the indoor setting, but I added some new essential oils, change up a few things on my table, but overall, I’m not much bothered by the familiarity of my room. It has good natural lighting :). 


Mental space: With the overwhelming daily email regarding COVID19, it’s easy get paralyzed out of confusion. I don’t want to be drinking from the firehose, but much more prefer to be on the  creator seat. What can I create out of this situation? Do I add any value to the already crowded space? If I do, I voice it. If I don’t, I shut up. It’s actually more difficult to shut up, than adding much moire noise to the world :).


Emotional Space: not so obvious, but not strangely the most difficult one to nail down. This is where most turmoil comes from. I only worry about the things I can control, not that I’m ignorant, but there’s only so much I can do on my part. I stop reading the news first thing in the morning. It’s good to be informed, it’s good to show appreciation to the people on the frontline, combating the virus every day, but it’s not healthy to live in fear. Apart from the pandemic, I already have other things that take up my emotional space, it sends my stomach upside down and disrupts my sleep pattern.  Therefore, I make sure to write down my emotions as a form of acknowledgement, and make peace with it.

On another note, I don’t buy into self-care as mode of indulgence. To me, it’s a form of sustainable living. Who would take care of you, if you don’t take care of yourself first? Would you wait until the world collapses to start picking up on yourself? If you want to take a salt bath, do it. Want some manicure? Do it too. If paying the bill here and there take the load out of your mind, do it. Now that you can’t travel, can’t run away from your problems, or bring in distraction just to delay another painful solution, look inside yourself and be ruthlessly candid. If enforcing a certain regime helps with your wellness, do it. 

“My experience is what I agree to attend to”, “Only those items which I notice  shape my mind.”

In 1890, psychologist William James wrote .

Once you accept that every day is a Groundhog day, you start embracing its sameness. You take ownership of your own little life, so you can have something to look forward to. 

P.S: As always, I’m still searching for events, online or not. If you’re looking for some entertainment during the stay-at-home period, check it out here. It includes Music and Concerts, Theatre and Performance, Art, Online learning, Fitness & meditation, Animals and the Outdoors, Games and Shared experiences. 

As we’re all in this together, trying to find our way forward within our capacity, my new commitment is to write about all the goodness happening amidst uncertainty. Sign up if you want to hear from me. (No spam I promise!).

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One day we’ll come out of this stronger on the other side

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