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Occupy Yourself During Covid19

The world has become a crazy place. My husband and I going on week 4 of shelter in place here in the greater Atlanta area. I’m going stir crazy! Anyone else feeling cooped up? I thought I would use this newsletter to give some suggestions on things to keep you busy—things I’ve been doing that have helped.

Just a quick update to kick things off. I’ve been struggling to write Verath the Red now that I’ve reached the halfway point. I am managing about one chapter per week so I’m keeping up…barely. In tandem, I’ve been working on edits for Prince Gallant (new title coming soon!). I made the executive decision to change the title of Prince Gallant and go with something more fitting, something more marketable. It’s still the same story. I’m really excited for this change. Speculative publication date is mid-summer 2020. Keep an eye out for my announcements!

Okay, on to the list:

1. Reading. Obvious, right? Use this time to catch up on your reading list. Plus, it’s a great escape from reality. They say a reader lives a thousand lives... Need some suggestions on where to start? Here are my favorite books of ALL TIME:

- Uprooted by Naomi Novak (fantasy romance)

- Spinning Silver by Naomi Novak (fantasy romance)

- The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle (fantasy romance)

- The Eyes of the Dragon by Steven King (fantasy)

- The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini (epic fantasy)

- The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey (Science fiction/fantasy)

- The Cogheart Series by Peter Bunzl (steampunk/fantasy)

2. Writing. You knew this one was coming. Now is a great time to start writing that book you’ve always dreamed of. Even if you don’t aspire to be an author, writing can be a great way to pass the time. It also builds mental stamina. If you’re looking to start writing, check out my blog on writing tips for new writers. I’ve got some ways to improve your craft and books you can check out to hone your skills.

3. Get outside! As a lighting engineer, I’ve done research on daylight and how it effects mood. Sunlight and daylight play a HUGE role in our well being to regulate our circadian cycle. There’s this thing called SAD. Look it up. If you don’t get enough daylight, you can get depressed. Get outside and get a few minutes of sun. You don’t need to sit directly in the sun. Allowing your eyes exposure to the bright daylight and necessary wavelengths in the 550 nanometer range can suppress your melatonin and help you feel less sleepy. It can brighten your mood, literally. Don’t sit in artificial light all day or for hours on end.

Do you have a porch or outdoor area where you can relax? Not everyone has this luxury but if you do, use it! I have found that sitting outside on my patio is a great way to beat that cabin fever feeling. I’ve taken to sitting outside in the afternoons on the weekend to read and write. It’s been a huge help. If you don’t have a place to sit outside, see if you can open a window and sit beside it.

4. Take a walk. Please try to stay active during this time. Walking is an excellent way to stretch your legs and help you feel better. Indoor yoga is another fun one. Put some music on and meditate and go through some stretches. You can even do some lunges and push ups or planks to get those muscles firing.

5. Take a drive. I was surprised by how much driving out in the countryside for 20-30 minutes boosted my mood. It’s springtime here. Having the windows down and driving down the country road to look at the landscape and everything blooming really boosted my spirits. Try it!

6. Pick up a new hobby. I’ve recently gotten back into photoshop. I’ve been following tutorials and making book covers. I’m not that good yet, but it’s SO FUN! And it gives me a chance to get my artistic juices flowing. You can go to adobe’s website and get one free month. There’s tons of tutorials on youtube.

7. Start a bullet journal. Those of you who know me know that i’m an avid bullet journalist. It’s the ONLY way I keep my life so organized. It’s how I can work a full time job as an engineer, while working as an author part time. Juggling reading, playing piano, photoshop, my family life, me time, etc. It’s how I track my goals, habits, fitness, health…basically everything. I’ve been bullet journaling since 2016 and I’m still OBSESSED with this method. I even got my mom addicted to it. If you don’t know what a bullet journal is, look it up on youtube. There are thousands of videos online from complicated, to simple.

8. Brush up on a foreign language. I recently downloaded Duolingo and started working on my Spanish again. I took 3 years of Spanish in high school. I also grew up in California which is predominately Hispanic. So I was exposed to Spanish for a large part of my life. But if you don’t use it, you lose it. So I’ve been doing two Duolingo lessons a day and really enjoying it. I can see myself growing. It’s an easy thing to do on your phone while you’re siting on the couch feeling lazy. And it’s free!

9. Write some letters to friends. Remember how in the old days we used to send cards to each other? You know…before there were cell phones and email? Sending a greeting card or letter can really brighten someone’s day. Remember, we’re all stuck indoors and getting something in the mail could be a fun way to say hello to someone you’re not able to hang out with right now. It’s a great way to practice your cursive or even work on some handwriting. How often do we write things out by hand anymore? And it will give you something to do.

10. Make phone calls to relatives and friends. Many of our relatives are feeling just as secluded as we are. This could be a good opportunity to call grandma and see how she’s doing, or an old friend you haven’t talked to for a few months. Many of us are lacking social time right now. Talking is a great way to boost our mental state.

11. Video games! I’m not usually an advocate of video games as my time is limited and I spend most of it working on my writing craft/reading/blogs/editing/etc. But sometimes you need to relax and wind down. I prefer video games over television because it’s more interactive and mentally stimulating to use hand/eye coordination. I’ve got a Nintendo 3DS that has some really fun games to distract me. Legend of Zelda is my favorite, of course. You can download games on your cell phone if you don’t have a console.

12. Movies/TV. Obviously this one is low on my list. We can quickly turn into lazy couch potatoes for hours on end, and that can often lower our mood and even spur depression and anxiety. However, used sparingly this is a great tool. I’ve been doing LOTR marathons and Harry Potter marathons.

Anyway, I hope these suggestions offer you some inspiration. Humans are creatures of habit. If you’re anything like me, your entire life has been upended and you’ve had to make many changes to your schedule and habits. That can be really jarring. Do your best to find a new norm. More importantly, stay safe and healthy!


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