Healthy Ways to Cope in Quarantine

Mary Chavez, Staff Writer

For many of us, social distancing has taken a toll on our mental health, disrupting our daily routines and limiting our interactions with peers. On social media, quarantine is hailed as an opportunity for productivity, for learning new skills and rising at the challenge. But this pressure to be productive and work in such a stressful time comes from a place of privilege. It only further discourages those who are struggling with their mental health. Rather than focusing on productivity, we should ask, what are some ways one can healthily cope in the era of social distancing?

Personally, I, like many others, have been stress baking. Every grocery store in the area is sold out of yeast of all kinds, from active dry to instant. With our schedules suddenly empty, we’ve all taken to the kitchen as some kind of safe haven, baking bread from scratch and pouring through every recipe on the Bon Appetit webpage for something that seems vaguely doable.

Baked Good #1: Strawberry Chiffon Cake 

I took the recipe for the frosting from the back of a carton of heavy cream, just heavy whipping cream mixed together with powdered sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla, and topped it with strawberries. I’ve never worked with frosting before, so the table was a complete mess by the time I was done.

Baked Good #2: Brown Sugar Cookies

For the sake of my emotional well-being, I added a ton more cinnamon than the recipe told me too. It added a nice kick to some chewy, warm sugar cookies.

Baked Good #3: Chocolate Lava Cake

I baked six of these using a box of Godiva Lava Cake Mix. Super easy and tastes really good with vanilla ice cream. Be careful when you melt the better though, I made a mess in the microwave that I unfortunately spent a while cleaning up.

Baked Good #4: Honey Castella Cake

This was the very first time I used a KitchenAid. With only five ingredients, this Japanese honey cake relies entirely on the egg mixture in the batter to rise. Not too sweet, and very fluffy. 10/10 would recommend.

Other than baking, my family suggested we take advantage of the pleasant spring weather to garden or maintain their house plants. One of the best ways to cope with a change in routine is to set a new one, and I’ve found that watering plants daily helps with this immensely. Plants do give a sense of responsibility, but I, like many others, feel no pressure from gardening. Plants are forgiving, they simply ask us for water and sun, no imminent deadlines. If you need a companion, research even shows that talking to them helps them grow. 

Here are my three houseplants! I named them Donna, Beibei, and Junie. We have more plants in the house but I mainly take care of the three I keep in my room. They only need partial sunlight, and the succulent only needs the occasional misting while the others need to be watered regularly. Pro-tip: Empty tea bags are the perfect plant fertilizer. A dirt jar full of soil, emptied tea bags, and coffee grinds would make a great environment-friendly project.

I also have an outdoor vegetable garden, but none of the seeds have sprouted yet. I bought a strawberry plant and there’s already a tiny little green fruit. I’m worried about birds trying to eat it, so my mom and I are going to set up a bird feeder to keep them away from the fruits in the garden.

Beyond activities like baking or gardening, I have one last suggestion that’s more leisurely. Many people find comfort in listening to music to help improve their mood, so here are the albums I’ve had on repeat all of quarantine.

Sleepless in _____ – Epik High 

mono – RM

Lucid – Raveena

Sawayama – Rina Sawayama