Under quarantine? Here are 10 ways to cope with being cooped up

As more Israelis enter 14 days of isolation, a host of suggestions for how to stay sane

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Illustration: People wear facial masks to protect against infection (iStock by Getty Images)
Illustration: People wear facial masks to protect against infection (iStock by Getty Images)

Stuck at home in self-quarantine?

Whether you live alone and are in confinement by yourself, or are under quarantine with the entire family, 14 days of homebound life require some semblance of a schedule, daily exercise and a working routine, according to several people currently experiencing quarantine.

We’ve gathered some of the best tips out there, from those who have been at this for days, and even weeks.

1) Routine, routine, routine. Try to get up around the same time every day, with maybe an extra few minutes (or more) of lolling around in bed, if that’s the sort of thing you enjoy. Some people check the news first, others get out of bed and do some yoga, pilates, or meditation to get their day started. (One person quarantined said she paces back and forth in her room to try and meet her daily quota of steps.) Whatever does it for you, get moving.

2) Cleaning, or better yet, organizing, has its virtues. For some, there’s the excuse of Passover looming in four weeks as a reason for spring cleaning, but you’ve still got time. Go through the bookshelves and thin out your collection, weed out old board games, get ruthless in the closet and toss anything that hasn’t been worn in the last two years or, better yet, in the last year. Then organize the sock drawers and throw out the single socks (you can also make sock puppets out of them if so inclined).

Political social entrepreneur Gershon Baskin is in quarantine in his Jerusalem home after visiting his daughter and granddaughter in the south of France. He’s been thinning out his considerable book collection, getting rid of 200 books that were dropped off by one of his sons at an open library, cleaning out storerooms and going through his 1970s collection of old slides. (Baskin found a Tel Aviv company that scans slides and hosts them on an online archive, paying owners for any use of photos.)

3) Crafts can help pass the time: For those at home with kids, book organization PJ Library put together a page of resources and crafts, all of them doable with what can usually be found at home.

Gershon Baskin during his 14-day quarantine at home, March 12, 2020 (Courtesy Gershon Baskin)

Baskin, who can’t head to the West Bank for his usual work, said he’s also back to playing piano using his old songbooks, after some 40 years of not touching the keys (after having played throughout his childhood).

4) Turn social media into a positive influence. Shai Davis, a freelance consultant, was sent to quarantine after visiting Germany for a roots project and festival. Though he works at home, he’s found that he needed to leverage social media more than usual as a coping mechanism, lacking the usual outlets of physical meetings and errands.

Davis created the QuaranTineLV Facebook page and A Guide for the Quarantined website, where he posts ideas and journals, and generally monitors what’s happening now.

But when it comes to hobbies, Davis finds that puzzles help clear his mind and offer a respite from his usual screens.

“I just keep trying to remind myself to be forgiving of myself,” he said. “Just surviving this is an accomplishment.”

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5) The family that sings together, stays together. One family of six under quarantine after vacationing in Sinai has been clearing the living room after dinner. The dad, an amateur pianist, tickles the ivories, playing the family’s favorite tunes and providing an opportunity for everyone to sing, dance or zone out to them. Also doable with guitars, harmonicas and ukuleles.

6) Netflix tops most people’s list for favorite ways to pass the time while under quarantine. On the favored binge-watching platform, people can find their favorite TV shows, ranging from those offering escapes (“Sugar Rush” and “Nailed It!”) to dystopian fantasies (“Colony,” “The Walking Dead,” “Black Mirror” “The 100”), and movie marathons.

Or if you’d like to plunge into the bleakness head-first, typing “contagion” or “virus” into the search box will provide you with multiple panic-inducing options for your viewing pleasure.

A self-quarantined resident who claims to have tested positive for COVID-19 listens beside his window as volunteers perform a Purim reading from the Book of Esther, Monday, March 9, 2020, in New Rochelle, N.Y. (AP/John Minchillo)

7) Need to see other faces? Start a virtual book club, join a meditation live stream, create a Zoom call among friends for a coffee meetup or a game of Scrabble. Davis is planning a meditation meetup on a Zoom call Friday. Who knows? Maybe Koolulam will bring us all together for a live singalong.

8) If eating is your escape, you can make use of the extra time. One quarantined mom suggested baking one new recipe a day, while another has been trying to prepare at least one good meal a day, for lunch or dinner. Blogger Miriam Green is gravitating toward baking sweets, while being banned from visiting her mother, who has Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing home. Another quarantined Israeli is working his way through a stack of cookbooks that he hadn’t cracked yet, cooking at least one meal a day from the pile on the counter.

9) More than a few quarantined folks said they’re talking on the phone more, whether they live alone and seek other voices or live with relatives but want to keep in touch with other friends and family.

FaceTime is one way to see some other faces. One woman under quarantine said that what made her happiest was when her partner showed up on the other side of her front door and they talked for 20 minutes. “Just knowing he was there made a difference for the rest of the day,” she said.

''Bidud'' in Hebrew means ''quarantine''????????????????????

Posted by Sarah Friedlander on Tuesday, March 10, 2020

10) Rabbi Dov Singer, author of “Prepare My Prayer, Recipes to Awaken the Soul,” and Israel’s 67th coronavirus case who is currently hospitalized, penned some thoughts while he was still under home quarantine about how to take advantage of time spent alone:

“A summary of the above:
Sitting quietly
Addressing, choosing the right name to call
Giving thanks
Again, thanking
Concluding in silence.”

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