The Unwind: How we're finding calm during quarantine, from meditation to 3-minute dance parties

Flattening the curve by self-isolating at home is a small sacrifice during the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s not without its challenges. How does one ward off loneliness in the absence of community? What can we do to keep anxiety at bay during such an emotionally fraught time? How do we fill the hours stretching out before us, and use this time to make connections, pursue long-neglected hobbies and discover new ones, and inject a little positivity and calm into our everyday lives?

Introducing The Unwind, a new, recurring feature in which Yahoo staffers share the ways we’re finding moments of peace, levity and inspiration during these trying times. From adopting soothing strategies to boost our mental health, to losing ourselves to virtual social calls, newfound passions and other joyous diversions, these are the things getting us through the quarantine. The days may feel uncertain, but beauty and bright spots abound.

For more, check out the last edition of The Unwind.

Erin Donnelly and her son are enjoying baby Spanish music classes with Mi Casa Es Tu Casa, which is currently offering Zoom sessions. (Photo: Mi Casa Es Tu Casa/CARLI RENE INKEDFINGERS)

Online baby Spanish music classes

All year, the highlight of my now-19-month-old son’s social calendar has been taking Mi Casa Es Tu Casa’s baby Spanish music classes alongside his cousins; the original Spanish-language songs are catchy and include fun dance movements and sign language pointers. Due to the pandemic, classes have now shifted from Mi Casa’s Austin-based studio to Zoom, where my video conferencing gallery view showcases cute tots shaking maracas to songs about pájaros carpinteros (woodpeckers). While my toddler’s not quite ready to be hired as a U.N. translator, he now understands several Spanish words (and loves to stick out his lingua), and I have surprised myself by slowly memorizing the lyrics so I can sing the tunes outside of class. Apparently you can teach an old perro new tricks. (The studio is currently offering free class trials online, and thanks to Zoom, attendees don’t need to be based in Texas.) - Erin Donnelly, Yahoo Life news writer and editor

Meditation using Headspace

Meditation is something that I’ve tried countless times as an escape from my fast-paced lifestyle in New York City. But after many excuses about why I couldn’t take time to meditate, the pandemic has actually forced me to slow down and take that time. In an effort to practice the skill, I’ve used the app Headspace, which has been so simple to use and extremely effective in teaching me how to create the ideal environment to meditate, regardless of where I am. It’s taught me how to slow down my breathing and shift my focus — all things that I’ve found nearly impossible in the past. During uncertain times, it’s definitely a priority of mine to make sure I start or end my day with at least a five-minute meditation. It’s seriously life-changing. - Kerry Justich, Yahoo Life news and features writer

Jon San has been discovering the marvels of exotic fruit (like this cacao) during quarantine.

Discovering exotic fruit

You heard it here first: baking bread is out, ordering exotic fruit is in. At least for me, a lifelong non-baker, ordering otherworldly fruit from Miami Fruit has been the perfect distraction during quarantine. It combines the thrill of unboxing (if you get the variety box option) with education (add Mamey to my fruit vocabulary) and, of course, delicious fresh fruit. And the ripening process (they have an online guide) is almost as exciting as actually eating the fruit. Once you cut into your first cacao, you’ll know what I mean. - Jon San, Yahoo Life and Entertainment producer

30-day yoga challenge

I'm writing this after day 7 of a 30-day yoga challenge on Yoga with Adriene’s YouTube channel. I decided to test the yoga waters after I found my anxiety creeping up on me. I've been a fan since high school, when I used to take classes at a local JCC alongside very in-shape sexegenarians. What brought me to yoga then is the same reason as now: a way to calm my mind and move my body. Each day moves seamlessly into the next, from ab-burning exercises to delicious stretching. While a daily commitment may feel daunting, each video clocks in around 25 minutes. If you're looking to try something new at home, I’d highly encourage it. - Alexis Shaw, Yahoo Life and Entertainment news editor

Dana Oliver is taking on teacher duties for her toddler son. (Photo: Dana Oliver)

Homeschooling

Even though I come from a family of teachers, I’m no professional educator. Still, I wanted my 1-year-old son to maintain some sort of learning routine while he’s been out of school during the pandemic. I rely on Montessori-style puzzles, instruments, tactile letters and books like this one to challenge his young, brilliant mind. Juggling the working mom/teacher hustle is no easy feat, however, it’s been amazing to see him develop and nurture his curiosity. He’s even surprised me with just how much he already knows, and that let’s me know I’m doing something right. — Dana Oliver, beauty director and managing editor of branded content

Zoom poker nights

I've been quarantined with my daughter and my partner who is now six months pregnant, so needless to say, I don't get much "guy time" anymore. That's why, every other Friday night, I get on Zoom with the boys, pour myself a scotch and open up my Pokerrrr 2 app. Pokkerrrr 2 has a nice setup, but there are in-game costs, so we're going to switch to either PokerStars or 888poker, which are both completely free. I've been playing poker with this group of guys since I moved to Los Angeles 13 years ago, but the poker games have gotten fewer and farther between the last few years because, you know, adulting is time-consuming. So a real bright spot in this dark time has been the fact that we've played more in the last few months than we have in the last few years. It also doesn't hurt that I've been on a pretty good winning streak. - Nick Paschal, Yahoo Entertainment senior producer

Ethan Alter is returning to some beloved classic video games. (Photo: Ethan Alter)

Feeling young again with old-school video gaming

Marty McFly and Doc Brown can keep their DeLorean: my way back to 1985 during quarantine is via the NES Classic Edition. The mini version officially replaced my childhood console which, just like me, had been feeling its age. Now I can start a Super Mario 2 run without the game randomly restarting in the middle of the Fryguy fight. A lot of my favorite games are already among the 30 pre-installed titles: Punch-Out!! is the perfect stress-reliever, Mega Man 2 is platformer perfection, and I’d love to unleash Dr. Mario on the coronavirus. (On the other hand, I would have programmed RBI Baseball over Tecmo Bowl and A Boy and His Blob over Kid Icarus. And why no Paperboy, Chief Willoughby?) It’s nice to know that even as I’ve gotten older, 8-bit button-mashing stays the same. - Ethan Alter, Yahoo Entertainment senior writer

Buying produce straight from the farm

My family has been making hour-long weekly drives to a California farm to buy produce from a "drive-through stand." Drivers move slowly through a line and point out fruit and vegetables while gloved and masked farmers box them up. While it's not a perfect system, it beats the grocery store where produce, laid out in the open, is handled by multiple workers and customers. Since we're not going anywhere these days, our weekly scenic drives break the city routine. And knowing this is a local organic option, we might continue even after the pandemic. - Elise Solé, Yahoo Life writer and editor

Becky Horvath and her pals meet up for enthusiastic three-minute dance parties. (Photo: Becky Horvath)

3-minute online dance parties

A friend, Cindy Phillips, started hosting nightly “3-Minute Dance Parties” the last week in March. She’ll post the week’s songs on Facebook so you can warm up (and dress up!) accordingly. You sign into Zoom at the designated time, she hits play and everyone lets loose for the length of the song. You log off immediately and look forward to enjoying the video online. On a really bad day, it’s amazing what dancing with reckless abandon for three minutes can do to boost your mood, not to mention the joy it brings to watch everyone afterward. Next week marks dance party #50! - Becky Horvath, Yahoo Life and Entertainment supervising producer

Running

I have never understood the idea of running for pleasure. To me, the idea was intertwined with the memories of being surrounded by 40 sweaty, smelly high schoolers while being forced to run a timed mile. But when the stress of the pandemic and readjusting to living in my childhood home (with my entire family of six under the same roof for the first time in a decade ) became too much, I laced up my sneakers and went for it. Without putting pressure on myself to run a certain distance or in an allotted time period, I was able to finally understand "running for pleasure." I started running different distances and routes each time to keep it from becoming mundane and allowing myself that time to just listen to whatever music I wanted, not necessarily the perfect running playlist but anything that took my mind off what we're currently living through. At my best, I can only run just under three miles but to me, that wasn't the point. Every time I completed a run I could tell my stress was significantly lower than before I went — and my family could tell too. - Allison McHugh, Yahoo Life and Entertainment social video producer 

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides. 

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