Finding Joy: How to Thrive In the Pandemic Wall

I LOVE to lounge at home. As an anxious person, it’s very difficult to truly relax. So when we got our first stay-at-home orders, I reveled in the ability to stay in without any guilt. But after a whole year at home, even this homebody is facing a looming pandemic wall. Here’s how I’m staying motivated and beating the blues.

Get some sleep.

Remember when we first quarantined and we didn’t know what to do with ourselves before our puzzles arrived? And all of our sleep schedules were totally disrupted because we felt like 11-year-olds at a slumber party for some reason? Yeah, same. But sleep is one of my biggest priorities for staying sane whether we’re in a pandemic or not. 

If you don’t actively work on setting (and attempt to stick to) a sleep schedule, your whole day will definitely be hijacked. Thanks to our lovely Lemon, I was not so subtly forced to accommodate early mornings. I still haven’t gotten her to consistently sleep through every night. But because she does regularly wake up early, we’ve adjusted our sleep schedules to go to bed at a time that makes sense for her sunrise playtime.


This is tricky. Zoom is annoying, and we’re all so sick of our faces on those pixelated screens, but it’s important to do it anyway. I’ve been doing more impromptu Facetime calls with friends, and it’s sparked a lot of joy. We forget how fun it is to be surprised by someone, and hitting that little video camera icon (sidenote, does GenZ know that’s what that is? Do they understand the magic of a camcorder??) to see your bestie’s face is more fun than you think! The light at the end of the tunnel is coming, but don’t forget to nurture your relationships in the present, too!

Need a change of conversation? Find a new bestie on Bumble BFF. I shared my recent experience here.

Take a bath.

Not everyone has a bathtub, so I get this is potentially impossible, but an extra-long, hot shower with some strategically placed aromatic shower bombs can also do the trick. I take a bath at least once a week if only to have some alone time. I, of course, love doing a hair mask, and listening to an audiobook, too, but it’s more about taking care of my mind than my body.

There’s something about being in a tub that instantly eases my mind in a way that even the coziest couch can’t match. And don’t forget the bath bombs! Aromatherapy is one of the most important elements of relaxing in our household, and the tub is no exception.

All the eucalyptus? Yes, please!

Fake sunshine.

I’ve been using a UV lamp for a few months now and I have no idea if it’s really working. With all the other efforts I’m making, it’s hard to distinguish what’s having the most impact, but it certainly can’t hurt.

The dark, long days are starting to disappear, but I also set all of our smart lights to turn on early enough in the day so that it never gets too gloomy at home. And, if you follow along with my Instagram stories, you know how much I love our TV fireplace! Light has a real impact on our moods, and it’s easily taken for granted that we’re getting enough exposure to the elements. But in the winter (especially in the city), a little effort goes a long way!

Clean up.

I am notoriously messy. Being at home all the time means I never escape the constant accumulation of “things”. (Seriously, how is the dishwasher always full!?) And it makes life that much more difficult to function when I’m dancing around items that are in the way or subconsciously stressing me out. Take an hour and pick up a few rooms. I read the Marie Kondo book, and while I understand her ethos, it’s not completely my style. I do, however, believe in setting a goal of cleaning up an entire room all at once. It saves you time.

My favorite strategy for staying organized is having a ‘home’ for everything. I love a good set of baskets that house a certain type of thing. Currently, Lemon’s toys occupy at least 3 wicker baskets and it’s made cleaning up her trail of toys significantly easier! I love these baskets from The Container Store.

Pro-tip: Wear something with big pockets or set out a “clean-up basket”. Then, put all the things that need to go into another room in there as you go. This way, you won’t leave the room and get distracted by something else that needs to be picked up, and subsequently become overwhelmed. I usually wear overalls when I clean for this exact reason. Also, who doesn’t love a good pair of overalls!?

Get Dressed

I bought a tie-dye sweatsuit. It was colorful and on sale and we all know I cannot resist a sale.

But, that being said, it’s important that I do get dressed at least once a week. It’s not a lot and sometimes it’s when I leave the house as opposed to for work. But I miss some of the creativity that comes with wearing a cute outfit. Don’t even get me started on my shoes. Those bad boys must think I’ve died! But making the effort to wear things out of my closet has brought a little bit of joy (and dare I say… pride?) to my appearance that’s been severely lacking in the last 365!

Move your body.

I’ve started doing ballet once a week. The class is within walking distance of my home, and it’s been an incredibly enjoyable way to move my body. It has nothing to do with fitness, and everything to do with wanting to dance and leave the house. I also happen to LOVE classical music so that’s a bonus.

I’ve masked up, pulled on my slippers, and laughed at unbalanced pirouettes. But I enjoy every minute of it, including the short walk down the block. The movement doesn’t have to be a class or a workout, even a walk is something. And weather excuses are lame so pick something simple and start slow!

Rearrange your space.

Scotch and the Fox - Home decorations

I get into moods where I want to change up everything in our apartment. Especially when we’re spending so much time at home these days. But instead of buying something new, I’ve started switching up our decorations more frequently. Before, I used to just move them around, but now, I completely stash away pieces in a tote that’s dedicated just to décor and change it up every few months. 

In the same vein, I also move our furniture around a lot. My dad used to do this all the time when we were kids. And I always thought he was crazy, but it makes a big difference in your space. Something as simple as moving a lamp or end table creates interest and always tempers my urges to raid TJ Maxx! (At least for a little while, ha).

Start cooking again.

This has been THE hardest part of the pandemic for me. As a foodie, I relish every part of the dining out experience. And being home for so long has tipped my ratio of cooking to dining out off-balance. Even take-out has lost some of its luster (although the hospitality industry is still struggling, so we should still be supporting small businesses!).

I just re-subscribed to HelloFresh a few weeks ago, and it’s brought back some of the joy in cooking at home again. Having a recipe to follow with pre-portioned ingredients is much like a workout class instructor; there’s guidance but you can still go at your own pace. I choose from their menu to curate our deliveries, but I don’t have to be innovative in planning dinner. Which is a relief because there’s not much decompressing after the workday without my commute. 

You got this.

There are a lot of ways to bring more joy into your life right now. It’s difficult to get motivated when there’s no official “due date” for when we’ll shift back toward a normal rhythm. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start shaping our new normal now. These are atypical days/months/weeks/years, and we’ll be forever changed no matter what our future holds. So instead of settling into a funk, try setting up a way to move forward that takes care of you, inside and out.