I imagine your Real Life is stranger than fiction right now, living in the time of the Coronavirus. I’ll do my best to return to regularly scheduled Hallmark In Real Life programming in the coming weeks (as I think we will all need the respite from our new sheltered realities), but before I do, I want to take this moment to say that I hope you and your families are staying safe at home, vigilantly washing your hands, practicing social distancing, and finding new ways to stay connected in these extraordinary times.
I send my deepest gratitude to the men and women on the front lines serving the public, including healthcare workers, firemen and women, police officers, pharmacists, grocery store employees, those delivering food, and so many more. While these people are putting themselves in danger every day for the good of us all, I am doing my part to flatten the curve by working remotely and staying inside (except for the one bout of fresh air I allow myself each day). I hope you are, too.
Since a homebound life is our new reality for the foreseeable future, I thought I’d share some tips of what I’ve been doing to stay sane in New York City—where the number of COVID-19 cases is climbing—while respecting the new rules of social distancing.
Virtual Happy Hours Are the New Bar Scene
I celebrated my birthday last week with a virtual happy hour. I highly recommend embracing technology and video conferencing apps like Zoom, Blue Jeans, Google Hangouts, or Go Meetings, so that while there is physical distance between us, we stay connected in spirit and have the chance to see each other’s faces on our computer screens.
Real Conversations Are Back In Style
I don’t know about you, but not only am I using FaceTime more, I’m having conversations again. Not text chains, actual phone conversations with friends and loved ones, as we check in on each other and attempt to entertain ourselves. We are sharing our lives with each other in a way we haven’t done in years, because suddenly the hustle and bustle of everyday life has evaporated. Stress and anxiety are ever-present right now, but we are no longer racing from one meeting or event to the next, which frees up time to connect. So, despite the looming uncertainty of our current lives, I am grateful for the opportunity to rekindle meaningful conversations with my many wonderful friends.
Reading Is Still Cool
I’ve made a nightly date with my goddaughter to read to her via Zoom. So far we’ve gotten through four chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I also have a list of books next to my bed and on Audible that are helping to keep me from nonstop Netflix binging. In fact, now might be the perfect time to start a virtual book club. The New York Public Library has books available through SimplyE, a free E-reader app, here. For those outside the NYC area, Kindle and OverDrive are also wonderful resources to get access to great books. And of course, there are the two recent publications from Hallmark Publishing to get you started. You can read my review of Country Hearts here and A Simple Wedding here.
Entertainment Comes in Many Forms
I love Netflix as much as the next person and I am absolutely thrilled that the Hallmark Channel has brought back its Christmas movies. We could all use a little Christmas right now! But we’ve got a lot of isolation-filled days and weeks ahead, and there’s really only so much television a sane human can watch. While we can’t attend many traditional entertainment venues in person, the people in these industries have found creative ways to engage us from our homes so that we can:
- Watch a Broadway Show here
- Go to the Opera here
- Tour a Museum here
- Other cultural opportunities here
Exercise Is Important
Provided that it continues to be safe to go outside, now is a great time to go for a walk, run, or bike ride and get some exercise (while social distancing of course). And even if we can’t go outside—or don’t want to—I am learning that there are a ton of free exercise videos on YouTube and available through many other channels, including the following:
- Sam Heughan, whom you might remember from Hallmark’s A Princess for Christmas, is offering fans a free 30-day challenge to stay active at home here
- If you have a stationary bike at home or want to explore other workout classes, Peloton is offering free classes for 90 days through its app here
- The Daily Burn is offering 60 days of free classes here
What activities, recipes, and news ways to connect are you coming up with while you practice social distancing?