Self-Care Tips While Social Distancing - une femme d'un certain âge

The View From Here: Heading Into Week 4

Detail: Susan B wears Haflinger coffee slippers. Info at une femme d'un certain age.

In the pre-Pandemic universe, I would have been on a flight to London this afternoon. But c’est la vie. And la vie is the reason we’re doing all of this social distancing.

Above, enjoying a bit of morning sunshine on our back steps. (This was a few days ago…it’s been raining again since last night.) I’m absolutely loving these slippers! (Click on images below to see other styles.)

We’re now in week four of Staying At Home. With the exception of picking up groceries and medication, we began self-quarantine upon our return from Mexico on March 14. Our city and state began implementing stay-at-home directives a couple of days later.

Self-Care While Social Distancing: What’s Working So Far…

We’re very fortunate in that we both are able to work from home, and that we have a home to work from. (Le Monsieur was in the process of retiring from his job when this hit, and is now staying on for a couple more months to help his team transition.)

Here are a few things that are helping me deal with the “current normal.”

  1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule. I try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day. While I do sleep better some nights than others, I find that sticking to a regular routine keeps me from feeling “off kilter.”
  2. Get outside for a little bit every day. We’re able to walk in our neighborhood while maintaining social distancing, so have been doing that daily. When the weather’s nice, I also take regular short breaks on the back steps and watch the hummingbirds.
  3. Limit consumption of news. No, I don’t ignore what’s going on completely. I have online subscriptions to two newspapers, and check once or twice per day. (If you haven’t already subscribed to your local newspaper, many are doing outstanding work and could really use the support.) I avoid watching news on TV.
  4. Go “offline” in the evenings. Turn off the computer, put away the phone. We usually watch a movie or series through one of the streaming services. (BTW, we enjoyed “The English Game” on Netflix. Created by Julian Fellowes, it was soapy, fun and engaging and has some wonderful scenery and period costuming. Though not a docu-drama, it is based loosely on actual events.)
  5. Take a book break. (I’m currently reading the next installment in Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. It’s quite good, though requires a lot of focus.)
  6. Stay in touch online. I’ve been doing a lot more texting, WhatsApp-ing, Facetime-ing. Our family is even planning to get together for a Passover Seder via Zoom meeting!
  7. Exercise, if you can. Even just a few minutes a day is better than nothing. I’m trying out some online classes, will share the ones I like the best. Our cousin (who owns a fitness studio in Brooklyn) is offering classes at no charge via Zoom. They focus on strength and range of motion. I haven’t tried one of the classes yet, but plan to next week.
  8. Take a moment to appreciate something in your immediate vicinity. Do this several times a day until it becomes a habit. 😉
  9. And finally, have something that gives you a sense of purpose and gets you out of bed in the morning. Maybe it’s sewing masks, or cooking, or organizing online family chats, or tending to a garden. For me, it’s writing this blog, and the wonderful sense of connection it provides.

Coming up roses…

Two roses from the same bush.

Here’s a little dose of beauty. Both of these roses came from the same bush. I’m guessing that the pink one in the back is from the original root stock, and the “fancy” one in front was grafted on. (I’d purchased the bush for the cabbage blooms, but am happy with both.)

Masked Avenger

Susan B. of une femme d'un certain age wears a no-sew face mask made with a handkerchief.

Now that we’re being advised to wear masks when out in public (which for us is our daily walk, and weekly grocery run), I had to learn to “MacGyver” us some workable options. Here’s the website for this one, which I made using an old (clean) handkerchief. (I didn’t have hair ties, so used large rubber bands.)


I tried this at first with a couple of small scarves, but found they didn’t provide enough air flow. A lightweight cotton bandana or handkerchief works best.

What self-care practices have you found helpful during this time?

Stay in touch.

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  1. Carol
    April 6, 2020 / 2:14 am

    Sewing machine is out and fabric is cut. Masks tomorrow!

    • Kay
      April 6, 2020 / 11:45 am

      Me too!

  2. Meg
    April 6, 2020 / 4:25 am

    Thank you, Susan, for continuing to blog through the quarantine! Our vacation was cancelled also, and so I’m wondering if on an upcoming blog you would post travel photos and list of favorite cities to photograph, or favorite international must-stay hotels, or best international short-stay cities? (Places to dream and plan for!) Merci!

  3. April 6, 2020 / 5:21 am

    Splendid advice. Maintaining a routine is crucial for me.
    As a journalist, I am considered essential and have permission to go in to work.
    But I am going to TRY again to work from home, because I am in a vulnerable population.
    Wish me luck. It’s the technology that makes it hard.

  4. Sharon
    April 6, 2020 / 5:24 am

    I would like to see my fellow Americans spend their travel dollars in the USA when this is over. Maybe some wonderful travel tips for helping us re build our economy.
    Thanks so much for the blog.

    • Lagatta de Montréal
      April 6, 2020 / 2:48 pm

      I’m definitely from the Americas, but no way will I visit Trumpland, especially as they snatched away medical masks that had been destined for Canada.

      Agree that the three North American economies are closely tied, but Trump isn’t playing fair.

      • Lagatta de Montréal
        April 6, 2020 / 4:55 pm

        Sharon, here is the news story I was referring to: V= I have no emnity for the people of the US or any other American country.

        • Susan
          April 7, 2020 / 12:20 am

          Lagatta, I am Australian, but my sister (naturalized American) is a registered nurse in New England, working in occupational health, Last week an Infectious Disease Specialist Doctor brought to her an N95 mask made on a 3D printer (which unfortunately failed) as there is such a shortage of masks they were not wearing them unless absolutely necessary. Doctors are sterilizing their masks at home in their ovens so they can be reused. The Infectious Diseases doctor who works in 4hospitals) is now being tested for COVID19 and my sister as well. I am now sick with worry. I guess it boils down to whose interests come first, Americans or Canadians, here in Oz, local factories are gearing up to produce our own face masks. Meanwhile, keep safe.

  5. melaine
    April 6, 2020 / 5:42 am

    Thank you for sharing with us. I agree with Sharon, would love to keep our travel here in USA for awhile to help boost our economy. We have a 5 week France tripped May/June that was cancelled but really not going anywhere until we have a vaccine. Maybe repost some places or thoughts about places in USA to travel. I enjoyed your travels to Napa in the past as I have done a mother/daughters trip there and relived our time there.

  6. Nancy
    April 6, 2020 / 5:45 am

    Retired RN. I hate to say if you can breathe easily through your mask, it’s too frail! Those N95s are awful. Although I sure wish I had some and some safety glasses.
    The typical OR masks are there to protect the patient. They are too loose on either side of your face. Anyone making masks needs to concentrate on being really tight over your nose and cheeks. If I had access to my sewing machine I would cut a memory foam strip to pad my nose. (I haven’t tried it but it sounds better than a bread tie.) And put some HEPA filter paper into the masks.
    And I wish they would call it physical distancing instead of social.
    I LOVE those slippers. I want the fox and the Tree!!!

    • Susan Blakey
      April 6, 2020 / 7:04 am

      Hi Nancy, from my understanding, the purpose of everyone wearing masks is to reduce the spread of the virus through droplets from those who may be asymptomatic. They’re not designed to keep the virus out.

      • Jan whichard
        April 6, 2020 / 10:48 am

        Do your slippers have that “lump” reviewers have mentioned?

        • Susan Blakey
          April 6, 2020 / 10:49 am

          I haven’t noticed one, no.

    • Lagatta de Montréal
      April 6, 2020 / 2:51 pm

      I tried an N95 a friend (who works in an environment where they are used) and could scarcely breathe through it. Would be terrified of losing consciousness if wearing it. And not enough room for my nose.

    • Margot
      April 8, 2020 / 7:10 am

      I have read that you shouldn’t use hepa filters designed for vacuum cleaners as they may contain other materials that are harmful.

      • Nancy
        April 8, 2020 / 7:27 am

        Oh, I didn’t know that about HEPA filters!
        I made the no sew mask for my husband and me for our grocery store trip, worked quite well. They are so thick by the time you’re done, they are likely better than the sewed ones.
        Susan, I love your blog and the comments. You have the best readers.

  7. April 6, 2020 / 6:22 am

    Online Pure Barre classes are helping me stick to my routine, 3 classes per week. We are also walking around a nearby lake. Being outside helps although some people don’t seem to observe social distancing the way I would like them to do.

  8. April 6, 2020 / 6:34 am

    Thanks for continuing to post, I’ve been enjoying reading your blog post while I have my morning coffee. I’ve also been trying to keep to a routine, even started to run again and even though I’m not terribly focused, continuing doing my artwork. Even though all the spring fairs are cancelled, I’m thinking ahead to fall and winter shows. Enjoy your seder, my family will also have ours on zoom this year.

  9. April 6, 2020 / 6:43 am

    Cute slippers! And good advice. I urge everyone to go outside for short walks. We need the rejuvenation of nature. Oxygen improves our mood and exercise refreshes our bodies. Hang in there.

  10. Jan
    April 6, 2020 / 6:56 am

    Hi Susan! We also have been in since March 14-stocked up freezer & pantry before so only do click list & curbside pickup for groceries when we run out of something-or do without! Blessed with warm spring days so outside gardening, weeding etc.Long walks alone to start the day. We also enjoyed “The English Game”as well as “The Great British Baking Show”(no drama no stress) and got to interact with our children and grandson playing a game via zoom. We also had to cancel our trip to France so I am reading my journals from past trips to relive them! Extraordinary times-stay safe!

  11. April 6, 2020 / 7:39 am

    I so agree with your tips. Doing exactly that with less following the news.
    Dreaming of Paris. We got everything refunded but would have preferred to go

    • Susan Blakey
      April 6, 2020 / 9:43 am

      Yes, me too. I’m sorry I won’t get to see you this week. But on the plus side, I was able to get an actual refund for the airfare rather than a voucher toward future travel.

      • Lagatta de Montréal
        April 6, 2020 / 3:04 pm

        Yes, I was supposed to be travelling to a conference where I’d have been seeing friends and colleagues from France, the Low Countries and other places. Of course it wound up being cancelled… Fortunately I hadn’t bought the ticket yet; though of course it would have been reimbursed. I was going to see friends (retired academics) in Ghent (Gent in Dutch, Gand in French) where alas I’ve never been. It is a lively university town with many cultural treasures.

  12. Marie
    April 6, 2020 / 7:47 am

    My glasses have been getting foggy when wearing a mask. Haven’t solved that issue yet!

    • Susan Blakey
      April 6, 2020 / 9:01 am

      I find that tucking the top of the mask underneath the bottom of my glasses frames helps a little.

    • Nancy
      April 6, 2020 / 9:06 am

      Yes to tucking the mask and really squeezing the metal strip over your nose or somehow stopping the air flow.

      • Lagatta de Montréal
        April 6, 2020 / 3:06 pm

        Trying on the mask, I thought it more suited to people of East and Southeast Asian heritage with relatively small noses! I found myself gasping for breath. Obviously that is better than being on a respirator, but it is not conducive to healthy breathing in the long term.

        • Susan
          April 6, 2020 / 10:59 pm

          N95 masks come in different sizes and should be fit tested by a trained professional. The danger of self contamination when removing them can render the mask useless and are not meant for prolonged wear.

  13. Rondi
    April 6, 2020 / 8:39 am

    Excellent tips to keep us focused and taking care of ourselves. I would like to thank everyone who is following the mandates and self isolating. It is not easy and we are making many sacrifices. But it is for the greater good and the only reasonable method for stopping the spread of the virus. It is disturbing to see a few that are not following the directives. The sooner we all pull together the sooner we will be looking back on this time. Thanks, Susan, for continuing to blog in this time of uncertainty. The face mask instructions are appreciated!

  14. Vivien
    April 6, 2020 / 8:55 am

    Those are the best slippers! I have the black spotted dog ones with the red bicycle in reserve. My husband wears the men’s version.

  15. Ellen Gloudie
    April 6, 2020 / 9:10 am

    Dear Susan, it is so comforting to read that someone who lives on the other side of the world experiences these stressfull times in the same way. I also try to avoid to watch the news on television. Reading the paper is enough. I read my book, but it is hard to concentrate. We discovered The English Game yesterday, it is great fun to watch. Good actors!
    One walk a day is good to stay sane. Here in the Netherlands most people do not wear masks, because the autorities claim that it provides a false safety. I am not sure, it’s confusing.
    Is it not wonderful that we have the internet, that we can facetime, skype and text with our friends and family! And that we can read your blog! Thank you very much! Stay healthy and safe dear!

  16. April 6, 2020 / 9:11 am

    Excellent advice. I’ve found I have to turn of the drumbeat of the news. You may want to cut back the rose that is coming from under the graft. It is stronger than the grafted rose, and will take it over. Just a little garden advice from the resident garden writer. 🙂 Thank you! ~~Dee

  17. Gina
    April 6, 2020 / 9:34 am

    Thank you for sharing. I look forward to your posts every day even though I am not much for sharing myself….it’s great to see what others are doing and thinking.

  18. Kathy Ludgate
    April 6, 2020 / 9:36 am

    Excellent tips. I do all of them. In addition I am knitting a summer sweater and playing with the kitten I got for my birthday!

  19. Valletta
    April 6, 2020 / 9:41 am

    My company sent out a work from home directive, early, on March 6! I then came down with a very weird cold/flu but had no fever t I’m beginning to think it may have been Covid-19, not sure though. I’m in The Bay Area which shut down early, comparatively.
    Been cooking a lot, shopping and delivering for the elders in the family.
    We’re having weekly Zoom happy hours with different groups of folks, it’s been wonderful to stay in touch.
    Started my garden, which I do every year anyway but added new varieties and more seeds than usual, ordered online.
    And we have weekly front porch/lawn happy hours with fire pit…folks and neighbors walking by are about 10-15 feet away, with masks but we can still chat for a few mins.

    • Lagatta de Montréal
      April 6, 2020 / 3:11 pm

      A kitten or puppy is about the best therapy! Valletta, I’ve bought some organic mung beans and am sprouting them. Please remember that it is EXTREMELY hard for people with hearing loss to follow people wearing masks.

  20. NancyT
    April 6, 2020 / 9:42 am

    We enjoyed The Last Tango in Halifax on Netflix. We binged watched all three seasons, darling senior couple finds love after 60 years.

    Yesterday, I didn’t watch the news, played music all day and watched Netflix, I slept better! We are trying to eat healthy too. I do enjoy my nightly .

    This too shall pass

  21. Blyma Wolpin
    April 6, 2020 / 10:20 am

    I second the importance of movement and fresh air if possible. For viewing -I highly recommend Unorthodox on Netflix. Based (loosely, at least the second half) on the memoir of a woman who left the Satmar Community in Brooklyn, it’s an extraordinary view of extremely religious Jews. The details are amazing and the lead actress, who was also in the phenomenal Israeli series Shtisel – also on Netflix – about an orthodox family in Jerusalem, is a wonder to behold. They also did a short ‘the making of’ video, which is fascinating as well.

    • Lagatta de Montréal
      April 6, 2020 / 5:01 pm

      Or what would call fundamentalists. They exist among all the Abrahamic monotheisms (Judaiism, Christianity, Islam, in chronological order, and other faiths: there are some very scary fundamentalist Hindus in India right now. I’d never attack anyone’s faith, but frankly, many of these (whatever the faith) are misogynist bullies.

  22. Jan Whichard
    April 6, 2020 / 10:39 am

    As a former operating room RN, I agree with the person who mentioned the masks people are making creates a false sense of security. Yes, it protects your spittle, coughs and sneezes from hitting others, but if you practice physical distance that isn’t an issue. If someone coughs, sneezes or spits while talking to you any virus will pass right through and…oh…you are too close! I do find, however, that a mask or a scarf up ver your lower face does help you not to touch your face! That is key.

    I Take my prettiest washable scarf when I go to the store and wash it when I get home and dry on heat.

    Meanwhile, I’m working at my office where there is only me. We created our isolation pod of local relatives early on so that helps. Walking on our trails. Weight, core and aerobic work outs. We keep our normal routine.

    We support our local businesses and support some online stores. My favorite is The Reset who just came out with gorgeous colors.

    Thank you Susan…your blog is WONDERFUL!! Stay well everyone.

    • Lagatta de Montréal
      April 6, 2020 / 3:22 pm

      Yes, I’d been wearing my red and black Levantine keffiah. I wash it by hand, but give it some heat with my hair dryer. (I don’t have a clothes dryer at home but use a hair dryer on things when it is important for health reasons). I dry things on clotheslines, indoor and outdoor.

  23. Elizabeth Johnson
    April 6, 2020 / 10:53 am

    Thank you, Susan, for yet another wonderful blog. Your blogs are always uplifting, and even more so, during this time.
    You are great at connecting people and making us feel connected.

    I finally watched the movie “Julie and Julia” over the weekend. I highly recommend it to others. It’s an exquisite escape and an excellent character-driven film.
    I thought of you with blogging — and how happy the character Julie would feel when she received responses from her readers.

    My daughter, in another city, and I both watched the movie this past weekend. (We’d planned it. We discuss books and movies over the phone — even more now that we’re both at home.) My daughter noticed that people were out and about. Only a month into all of this, and we’ve realized what a luxury it is to be able to move around freely.

    Both Julie (the NYC blogger) and Julia Child are inspiring in their own ways. It’s interesting getting glimpses into their personal lives, as well as their professional lives.

    Anyway, thank you for your creative blogs which connect us all — I appreciate them now more than ever.

    Take care — wishing everyone well. xox

  24. Alexandra Martella
    April 6, 2020 / 11:25 am

    We are loving The English Game too!

  25. Kay
    April 6, 2020 / 4:31 pm

    Hi Susan, We were supposed to leave this week for London as well–our son, his wife and our 3 grands live there! We are so sad not to see them! They are only 10 minutes from Red Leopard–to which I went last summer!! We shall all hopefully get through this time unscathed and there will be happier times ahead!

  26. April 6, 2020 / 8:43 pm

    So far, I’ve found that maintaining a pre isolation routine that includes regular exercise, daily prayer, regular mealtimes, and plenty of sleep has been very helpful. I’ve also added a daily online Spanish lesson using Since winter is dragging on and on here in western Canada, I haven’t been getting outside as much as I’d like. Hopefully that changes soon!

  27. Jane2
    April 7, 2020 / 7:03 am

    I tried my first class today offered by your cousin’s studio – so interesting! Some of it was easy for me, and other moves were a mere aspiration in some distant future. For me, it was a unique way to concentrate on strength and I’ll be tuning in again. What a find…thanks for letting us know about it.

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