Cocooning: Self-Quarantining Reframed

One green and one brown cocoon hanging next to a butterfly. Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on UnsplashSocial distancing… self-quarantine… I much prefer the term, cocooning: “to envelop or surround in a protective or comforting way.” Faith Popcorn, a trend forecaster and marketing consultant coined this term in 1981, when there was no email or internet. So many of us are running around trying to stock up, sanitize and avoid contact that I thought we should remember the benefits of staying in and cocooning. Extroverts: I get why it’s harder for you than it is for us introverts! Here are some ways to use the extra time and space.

Keep or create a robust routine

Merriam-Webster defines boredom as “the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.” So make sure there’s a family schedule and a plan for everyone! Don’t have a consistent schedule for sleep, meditation/quiet time, or reading? Schedule it in. This doesn’t have to be a boot camp, but healthy routines can boost the immune system. So schedule the meals, limit screen time and get active (frisbee anyone?). And don’t forget personal and professional development time! This is the perfect opportunity to create or strengthen your ideal routine.

Break out the games

Every family home I’ve helped organize has a closet, room, cabinet or other areas full of games for various ages. This is a great time to go through them all, weed out what you don’t want and give the rest a more prominent location in your home.

Where does your family congregate? The kitchen? Living room? Clear out space nearby so they are easier to access. If they buried in a guest room closet you may not be inclined to dig them out. But if they are in a kitchen cabinet, coat closet shelf or living room, you’re more likely to get your game on.

Read the books, listen to the podcasts

I’ve had a book-a-week goal since 2016 and this is a great time to catch up. I have numerous books on my Kindle reader and Audible account. Many I haven’t read yet, others I’d like to read again. I give myself reading breaks in-between work tasks.

Fiction books, biographies and podcasts are great to listen to while cleaning, doing cardio or other mindless tasks because there is no need for notetaking. Before I know it, the tub is clean or I’ve clocked 20 minutes on the bike. Pew Research shared some stats about who is and isn’t reading. I think that percentage is going to change for the better as we all start cocooning more with books!

Take the classes

Like most entrepreneurs and small business owners, I’ve invested in a lot in online training and mentoring! There are three paid Facebook groups that deserve more time, and more courses than I care to admit that I rushed to buy but haven’t dug into (I’m talking about you Michael Hyatt and Udemy!). Lots of good intentions, not enough time. This is an opportunity for an extreme focus on personal and professional development.

Use the home exercise equipment

I have a weight set, kettlebell, dumbbells, exercise bands, an indoor bike, yoga mat and more. But most of my regimen has been at the gym. It’s time to self-motivate, dust off the equipment, turn up the music and get to work! Many indoor bikes, treadmills, etc. turn into clothing storage. Uncover it all and try it out. Don’t want it? Let it go, but find another way to get your cardio in.

Build up natural immunities

A strong and healthy body helps build up natural immunities so we are better able to ward off illnesses. That means getting enough sleep, eating right and getting exercise. While cocooning, make sure those healthy routines include stress-reducing activities. If you’ve never tried meditation, I highly recommend you try it now. It’s not just a “woo-woo” thing. There are science-backed benefits! Eliminate distractions, and sit quietly, focusing on your breathing and posture. When a thought comes in, let it wash over you and away, much like waves in the ocean. It’s hard to stop the mind from cycling through to-do’s, ideas, and worries, but just attempting meditation has its benefits, even if it isn’t perfect. Nothing is perfect.

Doing mindless, repetitive activities can also reduce stress, similar to meditation. Cutting up produce, folding clothes, crafting, weeding a garden… these all can be mindfulness activities when your thoughts are focused on just the task at hand.

Rediscover your cookbooks

I have some favorite well-used cookbooks and a few others with recipes I’ve drooled over, but haven’t tried yet. You probably have a few that you’ve meant to try when you get around to it. Well, now’s the time!

Pull all your cookbooks together, donate the ones you know you’ll never use, and select two-three recipes you will try this week. Have a few people in your household? Select a dozen and put them up for a family vote. Or let each person pick a recipe that they will prepare. You’ll finally get some use out of those cookbooks and put some variety into mealtime. Our local community still needs your support, though, so consider ordering out occasionally while cocooning.

Clean

If the store shelves are any indication, everyone has enough cleaning supplies for a small hospital. So use them! Don’t have a cleaning routine? Consider what chores should be done daily (dishes, making beds), weekly (laundry, bathrooms, trash) or monthly (refrigerator, lights, fan blades). Here are some things you should clean now with antibacterial wipes or sprays, or a CDC-recommended sanitizing solution with bleach:

  • Entire home: doorknobs, wall switches, cabinet, and appliance handles, lamp switches, toilet flush handles, faucet handles, railings, door frames, and doorbell buttons. Don’t forget to disinfect sponges and scrub brushes!
  • Technology: (follow cleaning instructions): Phones, keyboards, tablets, watches, fitness bands/wearables, plugs.
  • Car: Seat belt buckles, door handles, gear shifts, visor, rearview mirror, steering wheel, trunk latch, gas cap, accessory controls.

Help loved ones stay connected

A number of older women I have consulted with reach out for my help because they are alone overwhelmed and have no friends or family to help them, either due to distance, family dynamics, or strained relationships. Many are lonely and depressed. Loneliness affects men as well, but they do not ask for help as often (even more worrisome). It is heartbreaking.

If you have a parent or older distant relative, friend or even a neighbor who lives alone, help them stay connected when they can’t leave their homes. Teach them how to use technology so that they can make face-to-face calls, whether through Facetime, Zoom, Skype or other communication technology. Write down the steps and practice with them. Then use it to check in with them! Social distancing, self-quarantining and cocooning does not mean disconnection.

In summary…

In spite of a raging pandemic, we all have an opportunity to emerge from our cocoons healthier, smarter, and more connected than ever before. Oh – and with clean and organized homes!

Do you finally have time at home to get organized? I can help get it done with Virtual Organizing! Call 904-500-7678 (SORT), message me, or schedule your free consult for business or residential organizing, life and productivity coaching. I’d love to help you get some clarity so you can live the life you desire!

Barbara Trapp, CPO®, Certified Professional Organizer® and Life/Productivity Coach
Zen Your Den®  and Zen Your Biz™
Professional Member, NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals)
Life Transitions Specialist, NAPO
Residential Organizing Specialist, NAPO
Workplace Productivity Specialist, NAPO