Sunday, March 22, 2020

15 Ways to Stay Healthy & Productive While Social Distancing

The first week of social distancing felt a bit like a working vacation. My sweetie and I stayed up really late every night (mostly to read and discuss the news), we've been cooking from scratch daily, taking long family walks in our neighborhood and have been more relaxed about screen time with Lily as we navigate homeschooling her while both of us work from home while keeping our sanity. Whether you're single, living with your partner, married or have a family, most of us have experienced dramatic shifts to our daily routine, social life and our overall level of productivity due to being self-quarantined and practicing social distancing.

While things are different and sometimes challenging right now, remember this time will pass by faster than you think, so I encourage you to use it wisely. It took me an entire week to figure out what was working and where things were falling apart with my work schedule and family routine to begin making necessary adjustments coupled with setting goals for myself so that I'll feel strong and accomplished. With that in mind, I put together this post on How to Stay Healthy & Productive While Social Distancing so that we can all come out of this as the best version of ourselves while also staying sane!


Spring is synonymous with cleaning and organizing for most of us. It's a time to hit the refresh button on our home so why not finally color code your wardrobe the way you've long admired in magazines. A neat, organized closet is not only aesthetically pleasing but lack of clutter actually helps clear the mind along with speeding up the amount of time it takes to get ready, which will be especially important once we're all thrust back into our regular routines and are back at work.

*Start with trying on sections of clothing in your closet to determine what sparks joy as Marie Condo teaches. If you don't love something, it doesn't fit and isn't in style put it into a donation pile.

*Next, separate the items you need to fix such as sew a button, remove a stain, repair a hemline so you can actually wear them again. This may involve dropping an item off at a dry cleaners  (still open at this time) or taking a pair of shoes into a cobbler to replace a heel lift or to be resoled if they're in good condition.

*Organize by Category. I personally like to keep work attire separated from everyday casual wear such as jeans and sun dresses etc. I like to arrange items by category so all tops are together, pants hanging in the same formal on an identical set of space saving thin velvet hangers and all facing the same direction in all parts of my closet. 

* Lastly, I then hang each item in their respective categories from lightest to darkest via color coding. This makes getting dressed in the morning so much easier and when I'm looking for a particular piece I can spot it right away or recognize that it's in the laundry and wash it right away if I need it for an upcoming event, etc.

If you want to take it a step further, you might also like this post on How to Maximize your Wardrobe with items you already have on and this other one on How to Maximize Your Wardrobe Budget (to avoid wasting money on clothes that never get worn).


Was one of your goals this year to finally start the business you've been dreaming about? For anyone who is looking to begin blogging, open an Etsy shop, wants to write a book, start a podcast, become a Photographer or Graphic Designer, manage social media accounts or a number of other work from home opportunities, I highly encourage you to start putting your business plan in place now and start where you are. If this global pandemic has taught us anything it's that life can change in an instant, no job is secure, anyone can be laid off on a moment's notice and the only guarantees are when we work on a side hustle that allows us to a) work from home or anywhere in the world b) create a business that will not disappear when a 'shelter in place' type order goes into effect and c) is a product or service that will always be needed (think: coaching services, marital counselling, social media marketing, an Editorial position, products on Etsy, etc).


What better time to revamp your beauty regimen? If your skin has been in a rut this winter, it might be time to introduce some new products, skin care techniques such as a quartz facial roller (I'm loving mine) to smooth out wrinkles and reduce puffiness. There is no time like being in quarantine away from others to test products without the fear of going out in public with potentially red or irritated skin-it's the perfect low-risk moment for trial and error! Have you been meaning to try those eye serum masks that everyone keeps talking about or use a new brightening moisturizer? Order it and give it a whirl, it might just become your new favorite!

If you've already got the skincare part down, this might be an ideal time to experiment with make up techniques such as the winged eyeliner you've wanted to attempt, try out different eye shadow colors or master the art of highlighting and bronzing. There are so many fun beauty tutorials on Youtube and Instagram for makeup and even some DIY skincare masks. When I began using this mineral bronzer about 8 years ago, it became a game changer adding a subtle year-round glow. One new item I want to try is their mineral bronzer/blush combo. Finding just the right shade of subtle natural nude lip gloss (or the perfect red lipstick for your skin tone) is something that takes time and is something  every classy woman should have in her arsenal.


If you've ever wanted to improve your photography skills, learn to code or decorate cakes, many online education resources are generously offering e-courses (some of them are even free) to help people stay busy during this time. A classy woman is invested in her personal growth and strives to be a lifelong learner. There are so many free tutorials on YouTube, social media strategy courses, online photography workshops, cooking classes and traditional courses available. Some great free examples are Coursera, Khan academy, Udemy, edX, Codecademy, Ted-Ed and Stanford Online.


Treat this time as you would if it were part of your regular daily routine-schedule your workouts in advance and as often as you typically would (or more if you're looking to get some serious results during this time). While you can't attend a class surrounded by people, there are so many incredible online workouts available, and I can attest to the fact that some of the most challenging are those that use your own body weight so it's not essential to own a set of dumb bells or other equipment. My favorite Here is my favorite YouTube workout instructor for quick 10-15 minute power packed workouts that get results (it doesn't hurt that she plays great music too). I am also a big fan of the Sweat App (known as BBG-bikini body guide) where you can choose at home no weight workouts all the way through to weight machines at the gym so it's versatile. Tone It Up is another favorite and they also offer a healthy diet plan with multiple various in their own app. Increasing circulation and sweating is a great way to start the day. Don't forget to stretch!


I'm going to encourage you to use this extra time at home to be more mindful of how you're eating. It's easy to grab comfort food like potato chips as you relax and watch Netflix more than usual but our immune system needs to be at its peak, eliminating junk food and excess sugar is essential. Opt for a healthy green smoothie recipe instead of a bagel and cream cheese or replacing your takeout habit at dinnertime with an easy meal such as a salad with roasted chicken breast. With grocery store shelves not being as fully stocked as they were, it may be time to get creative with 4-ingredient meals.

If you find that fresh produce is lacking, frozen is just as fresh. If you're not already doing this, buy bananas in bulk and once they're ripe you can slice them up and freeze them in a ziploc bag for smoothies and and making 'nice cream', a healthier non-dairy take on ice cream that whip up like dessert magic in the Vitamix blender (we use ours almost daily for smoothies plus you can make homemade soup in it!). Also, did you know you can freeze those plastic cellophane packs of spinach or kale? It's the perfect way to preserve your power greens for smoothies. Veggies that tend to keep longer are sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and squash. Bean salads are a healthy lunch alternative with a few bell peppers and onions added and you can always make a meal out of avocado toast sprinkled with hemp seeds or topped with cherry tomatoes. Since bread freezes well, you may want to stock up on it. Be sure to keep shelf stable dairy-free milks on hand so they don't have to be refrigerated until opened to use for granola, cereal, smoothies and coffee/tea. Make batches of healthy muffins and freeze the majority so you won't be tempted to eat them all in one day but still always have access to fresh baked goods. If you're feeling extra ambitious start pre-making healthy freezer meals that can just be popped into the oven or microwave in case you feel ill and can't cook for yourself on the fly.


Is there anything better than a freshly cleaned home? I always breathe a sigh of relief when everything has been scrubbed and polished, now it's extra important to stay on top of disinfecting surfaces such as doorknobs, phones, light switches, refrigerator door handles and faucets. Be sure to use all-natural cleaning products so you're not creating a toxic indoor air environment. I recommend tackling your spring cleaning room by room or category by category over the course of a week or two. I started with our pantry for obvious reasons: tossing anything expired, condensing packages down and making room for new items we need to store. Before replacing everything I took a few minutes to wipe down the shelves. I've also tackled Lily's toy and book bins which have made life easier as she's at home with me all day. If you have kids under foot right now, you may want to save floor washing for after they're in bed. I emptied out our under-stairs storage which we're now able to walk to the back of once again, making room for extra cleaning supplies and some non-perishables. My number one goal during our quarantine time is cleaning and organizing our entire home so that once we're able to be social once again, I won't be spending my weekends inside.


Just because you can't socialize right now doesn't mean that you should stay cooped up indoors. Getting outside into the sunshine is a great way to keep Vitamin D levels high to build immunity, plus sunlight is mood enhancing. Whether you're enjoying coffee on your balcony, lunch on your front porch, barbecuing dinner on your rooftop deck or laying out in the sun with a good book for a few minutes, there are many ways to get your daily allowance. Since wearing sunblock prevents the absorption, I typically go outdoors first thing in the morning. If for some reason you are sick indoors for an extended period of time and cannot get out of bed, a vitamin D3 supplement is your next best option (once cleared with your medical Physician).


If you're used to reading blog posts and quick news snippets, I encourage you to dive into a good book, it provides mental clarity as you immerse yourself in it helping the stresses of the day melt away. All book stores might be closed in your area but Amazon and Target remain my favorite places to order books online. If you're not able to step foot into a library and are trying to save money, there are tons of free e-books available with your library membership or you can find great titles on Free PDF drive. Use this time to join an online book clubs or just read that mammoth book you've been starting then stopping again and again. If you've felt pressed for time during regular days and find it hard to keep up with current events, now is a great time to get into that habit of starting and ending the day with reading.


While it's important to stay current on what's happening with covid-19 and I wholeheartedly believe that a classy woman is well informed so she can be an interesting conversationalist and lady with depth, a constant stream of news is not helpful for our mental health. It can be anxiety-inducing and contribute to poor quality of sleep and rob us of our daily joy and feelings of gratitude. I check news stories in twice per day but avoid using my phone or watching the news at least an hour before bed. 


Now is the best time to go through all the photos that are currently living in your phone's camera roll or stored on your camera's memory card and bring them to life! Once you find a few that you love, order the photos to be printed or enlarged online (I find a set of black and white are timeless), then pop them into some black picture frames and create a gallery wall displaying your favorite moments. For larger walls, you can trace your frames onto craft paper or even wrapping paper you have on hand then cut them out and tape them to the wall. Once you have the arrangement you like, take a pencil and mark where the nail holes would go. You can now hammer that nail right through the paper then remove all paper taped to the wall and simply hang your frames in place.


A spa night is the perfect way to end any day in my opinion, not only is it relaxing and rejuvenating mind, body and spirit, but it's also a great way to unwind before bed for a better night's sleep especially if it involves soaking in the tub with epsom salt which naturally detoxes and relaxes tired muscles. Burning a candle and playing soft mediation music adds to the overall vibe. You can create a combination of spa rituals. For a well rounded spa evening, make sure to focus on the body, feet and face. A purifying clay mask for clearer skin, feet covered in soothing lotion and extra soft spa socks to retain moisture for silky softness and a basic no polish manicure to tidy up cuticles and file rough edges. I always feel like a new woman after I've given myself a treatment or two. Finish the evening off with some lavender essential oil vaporized into the air of your bedroom or a couple drops added to your pillow for restful sleep.


With technology like Zoom, FaceTime and Skype, we can stay in touch with loved ones, host casual Netflix watch parties, have a ladies happy hour catch-up session, join other moms who are currently teaching their kids from home or even follow a recipe and cook or bake together. My sweetie has been setting up 5pm happy hour calls to meet up with friends (all are in the same industry so they can talk, keep conversation casual or even play poker). I reached out via a Facebook women's group to see if other ladies want to start regular sessions for a much needed reprieve from our current daily routines and we're already planning our first one which I'm excited about.


The coronavirus may have put a kink in your plans for 2020, but it doesn't mean you can't still achieve some of your goals this year while you're hunkering down inside for a while. Tony Robbins has always said that our happiness is directly tied to our ability to experience progress in our life. Maybe you want to go from being able to do 2 regular push ups to 20 in the next couple weeks or you want to work up to 2 extra miles for your daily run. Maybe you'd love to finish 3 new books (one per week) or try a brand new recipe every single day for dinner. Perhaps you're looking to freshen up your space and your goal is to repaint your bathroom or add an accent wall to your living room or get all of your spring flowers planted in pots on your front porch or backyard to add some cheer. We all need meaningful goals to work towards which will help us keep our sanity and also force us to be productive.


While we may not be able to stroll along a beach, enjoy our favorite cafes or bring our kids to the playground (ours are all closed in the city), we can go for a little drive to change the scenery by getting out of the house without technically being "outdoors" or interacting with others. If you're doing the same daily walk around your neighborhood that may get old as the weeks pass. It's amazing how just hopping in your car and driving through a scenic area or parking somewhere in nature can provide a visual refresh. Our go-to has been a local beach just 15 minutes away from home. A nice side bonus being that Lily will often take a nap by the time I've arrived if it's midday or later, so I always pack a good book along with my airpods so that I can read or listen to a podcast as she rests which is a win-win for everyone.


Let's Socialize!


Thursday, March 12, 2020

Social Distancing Etiquette

Have you been practicing 'social distancing' because of the Covid-19 coronavirus, but simultaneously wondering how exactly to politely communicate it all to those around you? Whether you find yourself needing to turn down requests from friends who are still sending out invitations for girls' brunches, kids' birthday parties (I received 2 for Lily yesterday!) or that client who extends her arm to shake your hand but you're trying to figure out how to politely introduce yourself, build a connection and conduct business without ever sharing germs, my goal is to arm you with the right tips so you're that prepared before you ever find yourself in these situations.

A classy woman likes to be prepared, organized and have a plan, she also strives to make those around her feel comfortable at all times. That said, let's look at 3 specific ways that a modern lady can approach these tricky times with ease and grace.

1. Make it about Them- Instead of expressing personal concerns over how you could potentially contract the virus from someone else, flip it around by showing concern for the recipient by saying "Thank you so much for the invitation, and normally I'd love to join, however  I would feel just awful if I unknowingly spread any germs to your family and made them ill". This way, it takes the focus off you and simultaneously shows genuine care which everyone will appreciate.

2. Use Self-Deprecating Humor-While I won't typically recommend that a lady degrade herself or speak unkindly of her personality traits or habits, there are times when a little bit of humor can really lighten the mood and still get your message across. Here are some examples when invited somewhere you cannot attend: "You know me, I've always been the germophobe in the group, I'll have to sit this one out". This can work well if it truly resembles who you are. For that person who is looking for a hug or at the very least, a handshake, you could respond with: "I'm normally such a hugger, but given what's going around right now, I'm greeting everyone with elbow bumps these days!"

3. Defer to an Expert- Unlike personal opinion, facts can't be disputed and sometimes this is the easiest and best way (as it relieves you of having to come up with a creative reply or appear opinionated), and yet still provide useful information to someone who may not be quite as educated and informed as you are on the subject. You can cite everything from your favorite business magazine such as TIME, Newsweek or Forbes to medical-based articles, and of course share stats from the CDC website itself. The key here is to do it in a way that gently informs another without making them feel unintelligent about the subject or as if they themselves are the plague you're looking to steer clear of. If you've been invited to a small church event or business meeting of 6 people and don't feel comfortable, you could site how easily it's transmitted just sitting next to someone else who is unknowingly carrying the virus with the CDC's  information or make mention of the spike in cases around your area and suggest a conference call or Skype call if your employer or client isn't up to-the-minute on what's happening. By staying current and being well read, you'll be more prepared and in the know, but benefit from letting the graphs and stats speak for themselves.


Let's Socialize!

In what ways have you changed the ways you socialize and communicate these details to those you come in contact with?

Thanks for reading!


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