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Shelter in Place Activities Part One: Passive, things to do when you don’t want to do anything

If you are not an essential worker and you are sheltering in place you may feel like you have done it all. The walls feel like they are closing in and the effort to think of a new thing to do is daunting.

If you are working from home then you don’t have the free time that the world assumes you have since you are still working. The mental effort of working from home sapping all your mental energy to learn a new skill but still needing something to break up the time.

In either situation you are coping with a huge change in your world and it is taking a toll on you.

You might be tired of the posts online telling you to spend this time enriching yourself. You might want to enrich yourself but the very task of thinking of something to do is daunting. If you are depressed, you lack energy, you have lost interest in things that used to interest you, you have trouble sleeping or you are sleeping too much etc. This is a trying time and it is understandable for you to be depressed right now. The unfortunate thing is that these symptoms foster more of the same feelings and can become cyclical.

At the moment the world is changing and people are dying. These are things that are not past tense. You are going through this all right now. Often time we don’t process things in the midst of a crisis. In a crisis we do what needs doing and then we collapse when the crisis has passed. In this case though the crisis is ongoing and that is going to take a toll on you. Be kind to yourself, you are allowed to collapse before this over and take a break.

If you are up to it, I encourage you to do something that will break the cycle and foster energy. These don’t have to be large activities so much as things you find comfort in, make you feel better, and fill your internal battery.

For today we will focus on activities that are passive. Stay posted for Part 2 the active things you can do when your battery is full and you feel ready to do so.

Let yourself stop

I want to let you know first off, that it is ok if you feel so stressed that the task of coming up with something to cut into your boredom is difficult. There is a reason there are so many lists online for things people can do while depressed. This article is if you want something to do but haven’t the energy to come up with something.

It is ok to not be doing something. Give yourself a break. If you need a day (or two) to do nothing then take a day to do nothing. You can even make a point of scheduling yourself a day to do nothing productive. Scheduling in time to do nothing can break up the time during the week so that you have something that makes today different from yesterday. It is ok to spend this time not accomplishing something. If you spend the shelter in place coping with being in the shelter in place that is ok. You don’t need to spend this time enriching yourself or doing something altruistic. What you are going through right now is a big deal. The very fact that you are sheltering in place is altruistic. That is why this list is starting with non-productive activities.

Let yourself be sad

Right now, things aren’t ok and it is ok to feel the way you feel right now. You may be panicked, angry, lonely, afraid, stuck, etc. These are all valid emotions in reaction to what you are going through.


You may have lost someone close to you or heard of a distant coworker that has passed away due to the covid-19. It is ok to take the time to grieve and be sad.

Even if no one you know has passed away you can very well still be grieving. You are grieving the world as you know it. It is ok to take the time to grieve the way things used to be.

Drinking (Non-Alcoholic) I don’t mean have an alcoholic beverage. I mean don’t drink and let yourself feel how you are feeling. It may feel easier to have a drink and there is a time to drink. If you need to process your emotions right now you might be doing yourself a disservice by burying them under alcohol though. It is ok to feel miserable right now. Have a glass of water and give yourself permission to feel for a moment. Then have that drink a bit later.

Movies Watch a movie series that you have a positive emotional attachment to. Instead of binging it force yourself to only do one a day or a week. Make it something to look forward to. There are even some online lists that will break it down into daily tasks for you. If you have the energy, make it a small event. Pop some popcorn and put your favorite flavor powder on it. Put on a shirt or socks or pajamas that represents your fandom. Make a plan to watch the movies at the same time as your friends. You can stream each other as a group and chat/react to the movie together in real time. (If you want to see your friends but a chat seems too stressful this might also be a good middle ground since you don’t need to talk. You get to just exist around your friends virtually.)

Home Spa It is easy to not take care of your skin or shower when you feel like you have no one to primp for. Primping for yourself can be amazing though. When you feel physically cared for, you can feel emotionally better. I have always had trouble justifying time for the more time-consuming spa type activities. (In the past I have put on a face mask and vacuumed but that isn’t self care, that is multitasking skin care) During this shelter in place then you can do the time-consuming things now without any guilt. · Full body scrub in the shower · Face mask complete with your face system · Soak and scrub your feet · Bubble bath in the tub · Hair mask · Do your nails. (This doesn’t have to be nail polish. It can a trim, file, lotion etc. Even if you do nail polish it is ok if they don’t look perfect. What matters is how it makes you feel.)

Reading/Audio books/Podcasts/Comics Libraries are closed and you don’t have the money to order new books or subscribe to a service. Check online for your local libraries free app. It might be Libby or Hoopla or Overdrive. You will have access to audio books, e books, and movies. Many of them have increased the monthly allotment you get since shelter in place has started. Spotify is free, if you are willing to deal with advertisements. They have a plethora of podcasts you can stream. Webtoons is a free app with comics with a wide range of genres. There are spending options if you end up wanting to read beyond the weekly updates but if you are patient you won’t spend any money.

Meditation The key to this is going to be mindfulness. Research has shown that meditation can refill our mental stamina and reduce anxiety. It can be hard to do meditation since our minds naturally wander and classes that talk you through it can be expensive. One option is the headspace app which is currently free.

Food If you are financially able to, then allow yourself the gift of delivery on occasion. It is ok to take a break and not have a fully planned balanced meal every day. All those posts you are seeing online about how you now have the time to make a gourmet meal are great (if cooking is your coping skill) but you are allowed to order in a meal and just exist for a bit. If you are with family it will give you all a chance to not have the extra chore of cooking and all the dishes that ensue. You can all just exist with each other for a bit with one less thing to worry about. You can also take solace in that your food order is stimulating the economy and helping out a business.

Affirmations Remember back in the day when you were a kid or *cough* high school and you would draw on yourself? Take a washable marker and write positive things about you on you. Doodle on yourself. Have fun with it and draw/write whatever makes you feel better! Rule: Write/draw nothing negative on your body though, this is about making ourselves feel better not beating ourselves up. I kindly ask you to process your negative emotions on paper and not your body in the avenue of thought I mentioned earlier of being kind to yourself.

Ask for help If you are sheltering with roommates or family they are currently your primary social and support network. If you have the relationship with them to do so then ask them for help when you need it. Maybe that looks like asking for a cup of coffee when you don’t want to get out of bed or having a hash session about how bad this all is and how much it sucks. You can return the favor when you aren’t feeling like your body is trying to move through sludge.

Say no If you aren’t in a good place to do something that someone asks you to do, give yourself permission to say no. This can be really hard, harder than asking for help, but if you need time to take care of yourself then take that time to do that. Together you can choose another time to do the thing you can’t do right now.

Cuddles If you have a cuddly pet cuddle them! Cuddle your significant other! Cuddle your kids!

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