The Sane and Healthy Shut-In: a Primer for Being an Oxymoron

Can anyone tell me what day it is? Because I’m not even sure anymore. You know what I am sure of though? I can tell you with 100% certainty that if you’ve had a cat at any point in your life, there is cat litter underneath your baseboards. Like, a shocking amount. How do I know that? 

Well, I was cleaning my basement yesterday – not the usual tidy-the-clutter-and-clean-the-surfaces kind of cleaning, but the vacuum-the-walls-and-scrub-the-corners-with-Lysol variety in preparation to build a serviceable basement gym, when a speck that was caught between the floor and the baseboard wouldn’t go up the vacuum hose. So, as you do, I turned off the vacuum cleaner and dug at it with my fingernails until I lost my temper and tore off the baseboard. (Yeah, I know – ambient stress levels are a little high in these parts too; I’m sure everyone can relate. And this is not the first act of violence I’ve committed on my house because of anger management issues; ask my husband about the time I flushed my phone down the toilet and then got mad and ripped the toilet out of the floor. It’s never unprovoked.) Anyway, what followed was a veritable landslide of cat litter that had been packed in between the wall and the baseboard for who knows how many years…because it’s been two years since we’ve even had a cat. Seriously though, there is no job much more immediately gratifying than vacuuming up a really horrific mess and I have to get my jollies somehow. Eventually my entire house is going to be deep cleaned and then what? Are we even going to make it through months of this? 

The answer to that question is, I don’t fucking know. But this foul-mouthed trainer is here to help you hang onto whatever shreds of sanity you’ve got left! Here’s what I’ve got: most of it is stuff you’ve probably heard before but it’s easy to forget the basics when it seems like the apocalypse is here. Ready? 

Go outside and get moving. I know, you haven’t been sleeping well and probably don’t feel like it, but I promise it’ll make things better. Even if you’re not feeling 100%, a walk can help boost your spirits and your immune system. Vitamin D is good, and some exercise will make you happier and help you sleep better. Extra points if you leave your phone at home.


My dog is pretty pumped that we’re all home together.

Get some extra zz’s. If you’re like me, most of the time life feels like you’re on a treadmill that’s going just a little too fast – not so fast that you fly off the back and end up on FailArmy, but, you know, zone 3 territory where it’s just starting to get unpleasant and you can’t sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star without starting to black out. Haven’t you been asking the universe to just slow the fuck down a little bit so you can catch up? I know circumstances suck but this is your chance to make yourself into a big human burrito and get some extra sleep. No point in staying up to worry – there’ll be plenty of time to stew about shit when you wake up, and things will look better after a good sleep. Sleep is also good because that’s when your body rebuilds, fights illness most effectively, and your brain files away all the nastiness so that you can focus on what’s important. 

Stay hydrated! I know it’s tempting to run on coffee, green Monster drinks, and whiskey (just me? Y’all are liars), but dig deep for your inner Facebook Sanctimommy and make yourself some herb tea a couple of times a day. Or you could go full basic and make some water with cucumber slices in it…or,  just chug some tap water. Staying hydrated will help keep you healthy when there are lots of the usual garden variety cold and flu strains going around and you’re likely as not to get punched in the face if you cough at Costco. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Eat a vegetable – or two or three. It’s easy to forget to eat well when you’re stuck at home and feeling anxious about your employment status. I feel you – the Pandemic Diet of wine, jalapeno bread with cream cheese, and brownies (glorious results of stress baking) is easy to stick to but when we all have to put on pants to come out of our houses in a couple of months it’s going to be a problem. Be proactive and make some of this cream of spinach soup instead – it may look like slough water but it’s easy, freaking delicious and will cover your bases.

Ingredients: 1 onion, 4 stalks celery, 1 sweet potato, olive oil. Get out a big pot and heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Starting with the sweet potato, chop up the veggies and saute them in the pot until the onion is translucent. Next you’ll need 1L of chicken broth and a big clam shell of spinach: throw them into the pot too. When the spinach is wilted and it’s heated through, blend it in batches (careful blending hot stuff; if it’s too hot it’ll blow the lid off the top of your blender and you’ll get slimed like the teenage hosts of You Can’t Do That On Television and then you’ll be cleaning green soup out of places in your house you didn’t even know existed for years to come). When you get to the last batch of soup in the blender, throw in 1 cup of cottage cheese. Put it all back in the pot, heat it through, season with salt and pepper, and pour yourself a mug of that whenever you feel like day drinking or eating more nachos. 


Learn some stuff. Learning is always fun and engaging and it’s a welcome distraction from managing the thousands of goddamn emails rolling into all of our inboxes from every place we’ve ever shopped at, explaining what they’re doing to protect us from COVID-19. Look, DSW, I don’t give a shit – I don’t have any place to go right now that requires a new pair of stiletto heels and I’m busy making sure our savings will stretch far enough to cover our basic needs. 

But I digress. Where was I? Learning! Learn something fun – could be work-related (which I think is fun but sometimes people tell me I’m a giant geek) or not, whatever floats your boat. So learn an instrument. Learn to code. My plan for today is to learn how to give a really good Thai massage, because homies, YouTube has EVERYTHING. And if you’re stuck in your house, you have the time! 

Above all else, be kind to each other, stay healthy, and for god’s sake don’t eat while you have headphones on because your chewing noises will give all your family members Forrest Whittaker eye. 


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: