5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts of Self-Isolation

I’ll save you the intro. It’s April 2020 and we all know what’s going on at this point.

Things have changed quite a bit since my last piece so I figured I’d update you on what I’ve been doing with my time with the hopes that something here inspires you. I look forward to hearing about how you have been spending what feels like an eternity indoors.

Here we go. I’ve been:

  1. Developing my professional skills: No, not working on a side hustle. Sadly I haven’t found anything I am passionate enough about. As mentioned in my previous piece, now is an excellent time to focus on excelling at your main hustle (if you are #blessed to still have one). I am working on developing my managerial skills as a coach and mentor to my team with some FREE people-management courses on Coursera. This has inspired me to host my very first women’s chat with Quilt entitled Climbing the Corporate Ladder: Finding Purpose in the 9–5 Hamster Wheel which I am very excited to lead on Sunday, May 17! If you’re a woman working a corporate job, come on by. It’s FREE!
  2. Cooking: I do not particularly enjoy cooking, as any of my family members will enthusiastically tell you. I do, however, have the skill of doing whatever I need to do to survive (and save money). After weeks of indulging in the finest foods the city has to offer, under the pretense of “supporting local businesses”, my bank account led me to the kitchen. I have since made the most delicious Brussel sprouts, poached egg salad, and curry chicken my hands could have ever whipped up. I have also tried my hand at a number of new recipes and vegan desserts inspired by my celebrity sister’s upcoming cookbook. I won’t say I love cooking now; I still plan on getting a chef when I am a billionaire. But I will say I enjoy the food I am eating and I’m saving money. I also get to power through some amazing audiobooks like Trevor Noah’s HILARIOUS, yet moving memoir while throwing it down (sometimes literally) in the kitchen.
  3. Having extensive conversations with the fam-bam: My first best friends were my siblings (then my parents later in life but African parents would never let you call them friends, so there’s that). I’ve been spending more time talking to my family in more dynamic contexts ranging from family book readings to memorial prayer vigils and cooking classes. Each event has a flyer and everything! My dad calls my sister and I every night for a “security check” before bed #GirlDad, while my siblings and I pitch business ideas to one another, and calendar followups to hold each other accountable. Getting to know my family members as ambitious career professionals and entrepreneurs has been such a beautiful thing.
  4. Moving: No, not moving country again. I mean movement. Moving my body, getting my steps in, dancing, pacing the halls, whatever it takes. I’ve been fortunate in that my company continues to offer HIIT and yoga classes virtually 4 days a week. In addition to these classes, I am making a conscious effort to get 10,000 steps in at least 3 days a week (the days I poke my head out for either groceries or the mail). I pace while on the phone, dance while I cook, and yes, sometimes I air-swim in bed to round up the last few steps on my FitBit to a number I am comfortable going to bed with.
  5. Doing nothing: I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I watched Mindy Kailing’s Never Have I Ever within a 12-hour window, or that I bing-watched all 7 seasons of Scandal, which then got me obsessed with Kerry Washington and led me to Little Fires Everywhere, which I also binge-watched within hours (you see the spiral?). There’s no spin on this one. Sometimes doing nothing is everything. I’ve finally put my adult coloring book to use, coloring vibrant mandalas as I sit in silence looking for answers to minor questions like, I don’t know, what do I want to contribute to the world?

Now here are all the things I am not doing (anymore):

  1. Eating excessively: It quickly became apparent that the free snacks around the office aren’t so free at home. #ThanksNoThanks. I also can’t justify 2000 calories on a day I took 376 steps.
  2. Dating virtually: It’s exhausting for my personality and doesn’t quite feel like it’s going anywhere. Since there is no end date for the state of affairs and I am not one to #RiskItAll for a stranger (or anyone) right now, dating is not particularly exciting. While on the subject, I must say deleting the Instagram app and resorting to the web viewer has saved my from the noise and clutter and whatever the latest challenge kids are doing these days.
  3. Going to bed late: After the initial juvenile excitement of having no “bedtime”, I realized waking up groggy for 7 am HIIT class or wasting away a weekend catching up on z’s was no way to live. To hit the hay at a decent hour, (and to create a level of excitement in the bedroom…not like that, I mean novelty) I have implemented a no laptop in the room policy. The bedroom is not a place where I lounge around or eat or work. It’s where I sleep. Period.
  4. Talking on the phone (a lot): After the first two weeks of catching up with friends and acquaintances near and far, I felt reconnected. My heart is still full from these conversations. While I occasionally catch up with an old friend here or there, I have intentionally chosen not to use this time gabbing, why? Because I found myself becoming more of a talker and less of a doer. “I plan on taking a course to be a better manager”, I’d tell a friend on Monday, and again on Wednesday. “Yup, going to start soon”, I’d say on Friday. What was taking so long? Well, once we hung up, I’d be on a call with a colleague, then an old college friend, then my siblings, then my dad’s security check, then I’d cook, get my steps in and it was bedtime. Phone conversations do not validate my love and well-wishes to all I’ve crossed paths with. Sometimes less is more.
  5. Drinking: As much as everyone is trying to make virtual the “new normal”, it’s not. It’s a temporary “normal” and I hate it. What also isn’t normal to me is drinking alone. Sure you aren’t alone when there are people on Zoom, but what fun is a toast without a clink?

So there you have it, the do’s and don’ts I learned the hard way so you don’t have to.

I want to take this moment to remember those we have lost to COVID-19. This period is a lot of different things for a lot of us — hell it’s been something different each week for me. But for others, it is single-handedly the worst time of their lives. At the time of publishing, there have been 63,538 deaths due to the virus in the US. The friends and families of 63,538 people are hurting right now.

This won’t just be a time in history when they had to stay indoors for an undetermined length of time. This will be a time they lost a parent, spouse, or neighbor to a terrible virus. A time a loved one went to the ER with chest pains and never came home. Every time we joke about “The Rona”, “Miss Rona” or anything related to the virus, it will trigger some among us. Be mindful of that.

I am guilty of being one of those people looking to get out on the other side of this a more accomplished person. I also recognize and empathize with those amongst us just trying to get out on the other side. My heart goes out to you.

So while you figure out how to use your time to be more productive, or wish you could be back in the office with dual monitors, or worry about losing your #gainz because gyms might not reopen till 2021, remember there is a lot going on beyond your experience during these times.



Been writing ever since I could write … about life & love. About self-healing, fitness, race & society - all rooted in kindness and curiosity. @TheJoyceofLife

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Joyce Chuinkam

Been writing ever since I could write … about life & love. About self-healing, fitness, race & society - all rooted in kindness and curiosity. @TheJoyceofLife