Living

10 useful quarantine tips you need now for cohabitation

Photography by Tracey Creed
Assisted by Amandine Paniagua
Words by Tracey Creed


Published March 31 2020

At a time when the whole planet is on edge, these are the Coronavirus COVID- 19 quarantine tips you need right now for living with your friends, your housemates under stress — in polite society at least. Millennials aren’t intentionally killing homeownership — they don’t feel like they can afford it —this article published on The Atlantic: Why Housing Policy Feels Like Generational Warfare. To Millennials at least this great generational housing divide is pretty accurate and highly relatable — pretty much in every major city. As such, more of us choose to live together to save money on rent.

We are six during isolation, usually, seven. We know one another through varied long-standing relationships. My partner and I, Amandine and her partner — Lagom and our friends Loic and Charli. I have lived with Loic for almost five years. That said, collectively we have created a home, a positive, supportive environment. I think that is important. For as many, as we are, our home is organised and clean, cultivating a calm environment — even more vital now. Everyone will be stressed, be responsible for the energy you create and use this time positively. Cook more. If you’re not sure how you’ll navigate lockdown, start here.

Communication and avoiding conflict

Quarantine calls for higher levels of communication. You cannot be waiting for apologies when the person involved is unaware they even did anything wrong. And unfortunately, we cannot decide for another what reactions are out of proportion. This article from Esther Perel on avoiding the most common argument patterns is something everyone can benefit from reading.

If you find communication challenging, you are not alone. Use this time to work through communication blocks and learn empathy skills — if you do not care what other people think, you’ve lost your ability to connect. Encourage a state of strength and calm when communicating for what you want with your friends, your housemates. And listen, listening is intentional while hearing is accidental — they are not at all the same thing. During this time, commit to being responsible for your energy, practising kindness to self and others.

Be mindful of your presence in shared spaces

How could minimalism and cleanliness boost your homes’ energy? Are your personal items floating around shared spaces, reducing clarity? Your bathroom, kitchen and laundry will have high-frequency usage with everyone around — clean as you go. Remove your laundry, so others have space to do theirs. If cooking with others, be mindful of your timings, could you pre-cook grains during the day to free up the stove in the evening? Practice partial meal prep. Be aware of spreading yourself across surfaces, tables, benches, and so on. Oddly, you can find such freedom in restriction.

Be at least acutely aware of your routine and others

Rituals provide scaffolding for daily activity and for many of us, creating a daily routine will be vital for mental health. Routine is so personal. However, we will need to be more aware of others during quarantine — you preparing your green smoothie might be during your housemates' conference call. We are all working from home and were to varying degrees before quarantine and “work from home” measures. And as such we are more attuned to our presence in shared spaces. If you have overactive housemates that just­-can't­-settle-down, quietly remind them their energy is keeping you from getting your work done.

Intentionally create space and time to be alone

Over these weeks, continually being around your housemates might not always be easy. If your day has been particularly stressful, consider taking a few deep breaths to release tension before engaging with others in your home. Burn some incense and dispel the negativity. If you are beginning to feel claustrophobic, go for a walk to buy groceries for yourself and others in your home, or a run. It is vital we look after one another right now.

If you find yourself in a trigger moment, remember that you can always create a space for personal sanctuary. Start with cleaning your space, cleaning your subconscious and create rituals that will help improve your health, happiness, and access to powerful energy. Perhaps now is the opportunity to adopt meditation. Create a daily ritual of practising your breath work or even a guided meditation. Whether that means face masking while meditating, reading or watching Netflix, use the practices to confidently preparing to face each new day in quarantine.

Maintain a clean healthy home

As many of us may have found ourselves with reduced workloads, use this additional time to clean deeper. You know the drill — scrub the walls, ceilings, clean out your fridge. Create new spaces, rearrange your home. All the things that may not make the regular cleaning regimen. Go through your wardrobe, donate the excess — if you are Auckland based, my friend and housemate Charli runs a local charity called Koha that provides clothing to those in our community who are vulnerable. Send Charli a DM for arranging your drop off when it is safe to do so.

During this time we will be attending more to our garden, cleaning out our basement and deeply cleaning our house. Cleaning and de-cluttering allows us to open up space to breathe, which is pretty vital right now. Fill a bucket with warm water, adding a small amount of plant-based cleanser and a few drops of your favourite essential oils and cleanse.

Codependency and coordination

Organise supermarket runs collectively. Time is money, but also those lines are long — protect yourself by avoiding people where possible. We’re taking turns making runs to GoodFor and our local supermarket. And if this is an option, seek out local co-ops, or individual retailers of essential goods and combine shipping to save money. We are currently patiently waiting for our avocados to arrive from the Avo Tree. Our toilet paper subscription is with Smartass, delivered monthly.

Prioritise movement

Leave the car and walk. If you fall into the category of people that are not high risk, prioritising walks alone outside or with someone you are in quarantine is an option. Here in New Zealand, we are pretty much limited to trips to the grocery store. Avoid where possible public spaces which have been problematic — I think we all saw those images of Bondi beach.

Most of us have gym memberships and as such, have taken to scheduling workouts in the backyard with one another. Amandine is working out with a mat, weights and a chair. I have an exercycle. I’m getting back into yoga — that is a practice as accessible as you make it. Between fitness apps and free YouTube workout videos requiring zero equipment and minimal space, regular exercise sessions should be on your agenda during the quarantine. And also, when your wellness is on point, you feel more vibrant, and you will radiate that feeling.

Nourish yourself daily

We’re in varying stages of this global pandemic, it’s normal to feel stressed. This is why self-care is more meaningful than ever. Start with sleep, good water and seek out nourishing plant-based foods that hold all the nutrients required for high health. Go mega on the greens. For us, eating plant-based and removing highly processed foods from our diet is a return back to the baseline of the grassroots health movements of the 70s. Perhaps quarantine will encourage others to do the same.

We create our own health, and while much of the global focus remains on Coronavirus, heart disease and cancer are highly prevalent in our global society and yet we are not giving as much attention to diet and disease. And amongst those people who are at higher risk of developing aggressive forms of Covid-19 are those with heart disease, obesity and the immunocompromised, including cancer treatment.

Nutritionally a plant-based diet gives us the benefit of all of those cancer-fighting and disease-preventing qualities. If you want to eat more plant-based, start here with our free ebook. Quarantine represents an opportunity to commit to this massive lifestyle transformation if you are yet to. You can also access the below lists to ensure you’re eating for high health.

high protein foods, plant-based sources here

foods high in fibre here

high energy foods that take inspiration from the medicinal practices of Ayurveda

Focus on the quality of your ingredients as well as the energy of food preparation. Unfocused thoughts can result in disrupted eating rituals. Drink a lot of filtered water. Do your best to eat intentionally during the quarantine, and create wellness habits that continue beyond the quarantine.

Sleep — at least eight hours

Truly, sleep deprivation is worse than anything else you can do during these stressful times. Create routines that nourish your body and calm your mind, so that you may completely relax into deep rest. Chamomile tea is often enough to diffuse restlessness and promote deep sleep. Or prepare a sleep tonic on the stovetop. Whisk your favourite plant-based milk with warming spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. And if you have access to this Auryvedic adaptogen — a teaspoon of ashwagandha and coconut oil.

— If you are still not getting at least eight hours, then look to taking magnesium supplements for stress relief, Garden of Life and Natural Vitality, Natural Calm are both good options.

— Balms are good options to ensure deep and restorative sleep, we like Badger Balm which is also organic.

Headspace, available on Google Play and App Store, is also another option for managing stress.

— To boost immune function as recommended by a GP, we are also taking magnesium, zinc and vitamin D. Previously I have taken Bio-Strath — a whole food formula that supports the body’s natural ability to fight stress and fatigue while strengthening the immune system.

Let’s use this time to invest in ourselves

Let's reveal our best selves during these coming weeks in quarantine. Sure many people will spend quarantine binge-watching Netflix, however much of us will still be working. We are. Use this time to invest in yourself professionally. There is an abundance of online courses available, many of which are free, and if you are financially able to, you can access more in-depth offerings.

This past week I have received many emails offering various writing courses, email marketing resources, and much more related to my interests in marketing and photography. If you are new to working from home, read this article from Hubspot. It is advice for working from home by those who do it. Most of us are now unable to receive Amazon shipments, lean on technology to stay connected and keep busy. Most books worth reading are available on iTunes, Kindle or via Google. There are many titles which are free and many more under $5. If you sign up for an Audible account, you receive your first book free. On Amazon where you spend $20 on eBooks, you receive a $5 credit. Many books are available to read for free via the Kindle app.

You can’t always control events, but you can choose how to respond to them. Yes, you do need to watch the news, remain informed. Yet keep some distance. How we take care of ourselves through food and movement, how we choose to engage with others and with life, manage our stress levels, is vital in creating high health. And remember nobody is perfect — this experience and how you respond will enable you to effectively recognise complicated situations and manage your emotions. Protect yourself with personal rituals, communicate, help each other remain positive.

How you are coping with your housemates? Share with us your feelings, and your tips, through [email protected] or DM us on Instagram.

Images were taken for Little Bird Organics as they prepared to shut down their brick and mortar business based in Auckland, New Zealand, to operate online.

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