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100 Ways to Make Your Quarantine Magical

Wall of magic
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A couple years ago, we shared our plans for Magical March. Magical March is an event we usually partake in among our staff, since March often really sucks.

This year, things were a little different, what with the pandemic and all. We couldn’t really observe Magical March, and frankly, we didn’t feel up to it anyway.

Well, here we are, mid-summer, and it’s looking like life has changed pretty drastically for the foreseeable future. While we don’t endorse the idea of “making your pandemic productive” (too much pressure!), we are craving a little comfort and magic in our lives. If you’re feeling up to it, perhaps you’d like to peruse our list of ideas for adding a little magic to your social distancing experience (whatever that looks like for you), and choose a couple to treat yourself to.

These work well at home or in the office!

The Original Plan: Magical March

**adapted from the original “Magical March” post**

A few years ago, we came up with an idea to help us get through March unscathed. 

The idea was to not let ourselves sink into the despair that threatened to overtake us via wet socks, grey slush and slippery yet salty roads, and to instead give ourselves things to look forward to. Things to laugh about. Ways to feel joy.

Our Magical March has always consisted of games like Hidden Thing (to be explained below); events like Pi Day, Ice Cream Sundae Day and Potluck Brunch; and activities like a bad joke exchange and a random regift exchange. All activities were optional but open to everyone.

The challenges we currently face have more to do with face masks, a scary virus, missing our loved ones and quite possibly the financial repercussions of this whole mess. But some of the antidotes will work the same. We have taken our original list for the March blues and adapted it below.

You might choose a few ideas from the list to schedule with friends or at work; or print the list and use it for ideas when you feel down; or maybe it will just get you thinking about how you can make this time more bearable. Enjoy!

How to Use the List

First of all, don’t view this as just one long list. Sure, it’s a list of ideas, but you shouldn’t choose more than a handful of things! We recommend you pick a couple of habits or recurring options, like a weekly board game night, for instance; or a shower ritual. Then, choose 3-5 activities in total for the next month, from options like crafts, get-togethers, spa days or a road trip, and find a way to schedule them in. Again, none of this should feel stressful in any way — quite the opposite! Choose things that make you feel really happy, and that seem easy or at least very do-able. They should fit easily into your life and make you feel excited to get out of bed in the morning. Last, share these ideas with someone close to you — your family, people at work or a close friend. Maybe they want to join you? Just be sure to tell someone about it so that you’ll actually do the fun things. We hope you feel much more filled with hope and joy after you have your magical quarantine planned out!

So, without further ado, we give you…

100 Ways to Make Your Quarantine Magical

Set the Mood

1. Light a bonfire. Make a habit of sitting by the fire (in your yard or in your fireplace, depending on the weather) each evening and doing something that you enjoy (keep reading for ideas!)

2. Make a playlist full of positive affirmations. Here are some ideas to get you started!

3. Light some candles. Candles not only give off literal warmth, but candlelight really does create a warm atmosphere. This works outdoors or in. Just be sure to supervise them well!

4. Get your lighting right. Whether it’s via the afore-mentioned candles, “warm” lightbulbs, or simply turning off a too-bright overhead light in favour of lamps, lighting makes all the difference. Keep your spaces cozy by examining your lighting and making changes if needed. A string of globe lights in the backyard or on your balcony also goes a long way toward making a welcoming outdoor lounging space.

5. If you use a diffuser, try scents that are cheerful and uplifting — synergy blends from The Apothecary like Walkin’ on Sunshine and Sunflower Citrus are said to be “happy citrus scents” while Secret Garden is a lovely floral blend. Scents like jasmine, bergamot, tangerine, spearmint, or May Chang might put a little pep in your step.

6. Play nature sounds. Rain, birds, running water, ambient forest sounds… When you can’t be in nature, listening to it sure helps!

7. Bring out the Christmas lights. This is a quick and easy way to add a little whimsy to any space. Maybe inside a blankety fort??

Make Welcoming Spaces Within Your Home

8. Hang a hammock. Okay, this is in your yard. It’s amazing how a little hammock time can improve your life!

9. Create a space for plants. Clear a shelf, a corner of your desk, a window sill or even some floor space in a sunny area and add a few houseplants!

10. Claim a corner. Make it your own! If you live alone, this space might just be for a particular, selfish purpose. Whether that is reading, crafting, napping, the spot where you watch Netflix, a place to drink your morning coffee… Choose one small space and really make it inviting.

11. Place a new bouquet of flowers each week. We recommend taking time to wander a bit and pick a bouquet for yourself (responsibly, of course — don’t steal flowers from your neighbours, and be aware of sensitive species and mindful harvesting), but if that’s not an option, try a local florist or greenhouse. They’ll appreciate your support!

Embrace Solitude

12. Try forest bathing. Forest bathing is a specific practice of forest-based mindfulness, with proven health benefits. This is a beautiful guide for beginners.

13. Journal each day. Maybe journalling isn’t for you, but remember that it doesn’t have to be about your feelings or what you did today. There are gratitude journals; weather journals; garden journals; food journals; and one word journals. Maybe you’d enjoy journalling about the birds you see; the pandemic; or even daily affirmations.

14. Seek out the night sky. Find a spot free of light pollution and watch the stars, or check the Aurora Watch website to find out when and where to view Aurora borealis (you can even sign up for text alerts!).

15. Make a short list of books you’re really excited to read. No forcing yourself to read something just because you feel like you should! Next… start reading!

16. Get some sun outdoors — even a few minutes each day makes a difference.

Habits to Build

17. Enjoy the sunrise (and sunset). Try to get a look at either, whenever you can. Not only can they be beautiful, which brings joy in and of itself, but developing a daily habit of observing either or both helps with grounding and mindfulness. Speaking of which…

18. Practice mindfulness: start with one of these three easy ways to be more mindful this week.

19. Adopt moon rituals. If the cycles of the moon are meaningful to you in some way, why not take steps to officially observe them with a ritual you really enjoy? This might be mixing up scented bath salts on the new moon to use in a bath on the full moon; or just going for a walk under the full moon each month; or perhaps tracking the moon and other aspects of your life in a bullet journal. There are lots of ideas out there for observing the cycles of the moon – get Googling and see what feels meaningful to you!

20. Do a month-long yoga challenge.

21. Start a ritual. This could be daily or weekly, or tied to a specific act, like your commute or shower. The point is that it should be pleasurable, and not feel like an obligation. This could mean creating a special morning playlist to play during your shower and buying a body wash that you love to go with it. It could mean making a point of reading for half an hour before bed each night. Or maybe it could be a weekly board game night with the family. Whatever it is, do it with intention! 

22. Don’t fight naps! If you’re feeling like you need to lie down for a 20 minute snooze and you have the option, just go for it. They say napping is good for you, right? And with the stress (or trauma) of this pandemic, our brains can need extra rest.

23. Fake laugh till you make laugh. This is a little saying that we made up here at All Things Jill and The Apothecary. We were all feeling a little down one day and decided to laugh our most ridiculous fake laughs until all of us were truly laughing. And it worked! We have done this a few times and have found that sometimes we think it’s not going to work… but it always does!

24. Read a very funny book. There are a few books out there that can make you laugh out loud. Personally, we like humour from Calgarian author Will Ferguson, and very funny blogger Jenny Lawson.

Eat for Success

25. Up your coffee (or hot chocolate) game! Make a flavoured simple syrup to sweeten your coffee. Buy some really nice coffee beans and grind them yourself. Get a can of whipped cream. Use canned coconut milk in your hot chocolate. Or add extra cocoa. Put a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, cardamom or ginger in either. YUM! (Also consider: sprinkles??)

26. Visit a farmers market or produce stand and buy whatever looks the most tasty. Then, plan your next few meals around those ingredients.

27. Eat some high quality chocolate: get a bar with 70% cocoa or higher and make sure that you love the taste. 

28. Whip up a nostalgic treat. That might be your mom’s chocolate chip cookies; the mashed potatoes your dad used to make for Thanksgiving; a favourite childhood breakfast; or anything else that feels like a comforting treat.

29. Spend an entire weekend gathering the ingredients for, prepping and enjoying an unusual meal that you’ve never made before. We have our eyes on this vegan ramen!Vegan ramen recipe

30. Buy a really special treat (a beautiful macaron from your favourite bakery? A fancy cupcake? A lovely lemon tart?) and enjoy it on a fancy plate, by candle light.

31. Have a Build-Your-Own-Ice-Cream-Sundae Party! (With cohorts only, of course.) Make sure to have lots of different toppings to choose from and at least a couple flavours of ice cream on hand.

32. Drink more herbal tea! Iced or hot, herbal teas can help keep you hydrated by inspiring you to drink more fluids. Many teas are delicious iced without any sweetener.

33. Enjoy healthy fats! Your body needs fat to aid in the absorption of vitamins A, E, K and D, so be sure to include fatty fish like salmon; nuts; olives and avocados in your diet.

34. Create weekly rituals. Taco Tuesday? Meatless Monday? Pizza Friday? What matters is that your rituals enrich your life, rather than feeling like just another obligation. These should give you something to look forward to!

35. Challenge yourself to use what’s in the pantry. Make a meal without buying anything you don’t already have. This can be surprisingly fun and gratifying.

Some Thoughts on Personal Grooming

36. Make your bath very special! Whatever that means to you — whether it’s the bath salts or foam or bath bomb you add; putting plants or crystals or candles around the tub; what you eat or drink while you’re in there; or what you watch or listen to during your bath, make the experience really good. You’re worth it!

37. Treat yourself to a goodie like a nail polish, lipstick or something else that makes you feel good about yourself!

38. Give yourself a home pedicure.

39. Have a home spa day, complete with a facial.

40. Groom yourself as if you’re going to the beach — exfoliate, shave, whatever you need to do to feel beachy! Then, throw down a blanket in a spot where you can get some sun and relax with a book!

41. Make an amazing body scrub and use it in the shower to moisturize while you exfoliate. Add a scent that makes you happy.

42. Wear a perfume or scent that you love. It’s easy to forgo things like personal scent (and makeup… and pants…) when we are spending most of our time at home and not seeing anyone. But remember that scent is largely for you! How great is it to lift your wrist to your nose and smell jasmine, rose or your favourite perfume whenever you like?!

43. Cleanse your face with oil. Why would you want to do that? Click the link to find out!

44. Stay moisturized! Make a simple sugar scrub from sugar and coconut oil to use in the shower; keep your favourite lotion nearby; and treat dry areas like the soles of your feet, and elbows to a little body butter if you like.

45. Use a hydrosol as your toner. Why? They smell amazing! Get a hydrosol you love and it can either be super relaxing (like lavender) or give you a nice pick-me-up (like neroli). Learn why hydrosols are the unsung hero of the aromatherapy world and then more about using them as toners. I use Neroli Hydrosol as my toner and because I love the scent so much, it gives me a little boost every morning.

Get Cozy

Regardless of the season, it’s always comforting to be cozy. Whether that means warmth, soft fabric or a cushy spot to lounge around, try to think of some ways you can be cozier today.

46. Give your wardrobe an overhaul. You deserve maximum comfort at all times. We fully support the idea of daytime/nighttime pyjamas, but if we’re in this pandemic for the long haul, why not update your wardrobe to be both super-cozy AND fashionable? Criteria: each piece must be warm enough, soft enough, fit properly and cover you sufficiently to feel totally cozy. Promise yourself.

47. Keep your softest blanket handy. Spend your days snuggled up!

48. Cuddle. Whether that is a loved one, child, pet or even a stuffed animal, don’t hesitate to cuddle up! 

49. Spend a night, day or entire weekend in bed with a lover — hey, it’s good for your mood!

50. Buy a bunch of very cozy socks and cycle through them this month. Do what it takes to keep your feet warm and comfy!

51. Put a hot water bottle in your bed before you go to sleep. Conversely, if it’s hot outside (and therefore in your bedroom), be sure to pull out a fan and get it going before bed. 

52. Use a heating pad whenever you need it — even at work. You might even want to keep one of those bags filled with rice or barley at your desk to pop in the microwave as needed.

Get Creative

53. Create a terrarium. What a nice way to bring some greenery into your home!

54. Make tiny pieces of furniture and other props and use them to create fairy houses in the forest (make sure everything is biodegradable!).

55. Plan an epic prank and observe the outcome from afar.

56. Create a labyrinth! Use stones to lay it out (or, if you have lots of land to work with, rise to the challenge of mowing a labyrinth!). In winter conditions, find some untouched snow and tramp a labyrinth into it. Sand works well in the same way.

57. Spend a day making Sharpie tie dye.

Sharpie tie dye

58. Finally learn to crochet, knit or do another needlecraft.

59. Start a massive jigsaw puzzle.

60. Take on that project you’ve been meaning to. If you have a piece of furniture to refinish, something to sew, or maybe a flower garden you’d like to build, get to it! 

Make a Connection

61. Plan a random regift exchange with friends or co-workers. Keeping in mind social distancing, of course. At All Things Jill, we planned this in advance and everyone who wanted to take part brought an item to regift, lightly wrapped. We then ran it as a regular white elephant gift exchange.

62. Instate a weekly board game night with your family or members of your cohort group.

63. Invite a friend you’d love to catch up with over for socially distanced tea. Bake something tasty before they arrive.

64. Visit your grandparents, if you have the option. They might love a distanced picnic. Even visiting their window to connect visually is helpful.

65. Print those family photos you’ve been meaning to. They’re all sitting on your phone. Why not have them made into a photo book, or printed and framed?

66. Create a care package to send to someone who could you the pick-me-up.

67. Take on a pen pal. You can both look forward to receiving letters! And this is a great way to reconnect with far-away loved ones.

68. Meet your neighbours with a “Ministry of Silly Walks” sign. It’s so much fun to sit outside and cheer on people’s silly walks! Check out what others have done.

Look to The Future

69. Make a list of all the things you’d like to do this summer. We can dream! Try for a list of 100.

70. Set a goal for the future and figure out the steps you need to take to get there — and then start today!

71. Make a vision board.

Tidy Up

72. Put together a capsule wardrobe to wear until the season changes — only the coziest, comfiest items that make you feel really good!

73. Deep clean your home. A fresh, clean home makes everything feel a little better.

74. Spend a day binge watching a fluffy show and mending those clothes you’ve been putting off.

75. Wash your bedding! Clean sheets are the best!

Go Exploring

76. Make a list of all the outdoor spaces in your community that you’ve always meant to visit. Then make a plan to visit them!

77. Try randonauting. This is a tough one to explain, so we’ll just say that it’s an app that facilitates exploring areas near you using randomly generated GPS coordinates. The idea is to take yourself outside of your regularly traveled routes and see things through new eyes. Oh, and it involves quantum physics. Randonauting has been referred to as “A Real-Life Choose Your Own Adventure.”

78. Take to the trails. Hiking, mountain biking or trail running, hitting the trails near your home can lead you to all sorts of new sights and experiences. It’s amazing what you can find! If you’re looking for a way to stay active, trails are a great place to do it.

79. Google “Weird things to see in <insert your community or province” or “Weird sites to visit in <insert your community or province.” Choose a couple that intrigue you. No trespassing!

80. Do a public art self-guided tour. If you’re like me, you’re sad that art galleries are closed (or just don’t feel so safe). But if you live near a city, there will be lots of public art to check out! Your city might even offer a self-guided tour of local installations, offering information on the artwork and artists as you move along at your own pace (and socially distanced!). Cities in Canada that offer self-guided public art tours include Abbotsford, Brampton, Burlington, Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Prince Albert, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Vancouver.

Special Activities for at Home or at Work

81. Have a Pajama Day! At work, if it’s appropriate, or just at home if not.

82. Hidden Thing: yes, we said we would explain this. In our search for very simple, and free things that would bring us a bit of joy, we came up with Hidden Thing. It simply involves choosing something small and cute or funny (we chose a small plastic cat that fits in our palm) and hiding it. Whoever finds it has to hide it again. And so on. Each time you find the hidden thing, it brings a little bit of fun and happiness! It’s a reminder to not take life too seriously.

83. Declare Fort Wars with your friends. Everyone builds a fort at their own home and then you share video tours with one another. What type of fort will you build: blanket? Tree? Couch? Cardboard box?

84. Run a wellness challenge

Bring Nature Indoors

85. Plant something! Plant seeds in the garden, or just plant something to grow on your windowsill. Seeing those little green sprouts poke through should brighten your days a bit.

86. Buy yourself flowers or a plant. Again, that bit of green can really brighten things up!

87. Wrap a tree branch in yarn (a la yarn bombing) and “plant” it in a bucket of rocks. 

Spring yarn-wrapped branches

Something Fun to Look Forward To

88. Look up the next meteor shower and plan a night trip to your nearest Dark Sky Preserve to watch it.

89. Have a blanket fort movie marathon! Do it with your partner, the kids or your cohort!

90. Plan a staycation! Either stay at home and spend your time visiting all the local attractions you don’t get around to; or book a hotel room nearby. 

91. Take a day off work and go on a road trip to somewhere within an hour of your home that you normally overlook.

92. Have a dance party. Some DJs are hosting online sets — if you can find one, this is a great way to get down at home. You can also find DJ sets on YouTube. If you want to add to the fun, find some friends who want to join in, and coordinate a Zoom party for a socially distanced dance part.

93. Make movie night a special occasion. Many of us are sad that we can’t go to theatres these days. So next time you watch a movie at home, make it a special occasion. Wear something super cozy (like a onesie?!); grab your favourite candy and snacks; whip up some popcorn worthy of the occasion; don’t forget the special drink, and make sure you are as comfortable as possible. Whether that means putting your feet up, creating a pile of cushions to lie in, grabbing a soft blanket or anything else that might keep you comfortable, do what you need to make the experience memorable!

94. Institute a daily happy hour. This doesn’t need to be alcohol! Some people were doing this during lockdown when we were all working from home and kids were schooling at home, and it’s a great way to mark the transition from daytime (work/school) to evening. Perhaps around 4 or 5 pm, everyone gathers in a designated space with a special drink of their choosing and debriefs about their day. It can be hard to keep the days from each bleeding into the next, and this can help!

95. Schedule a weekly Zoom date with your favourite friends or family members. It helps if they’re funny!

It Feels Good to Give

96. Be the eyes for someone who can’t see. Volunteer through the app “Be My Eyes” to help visually impaired people around the world navigate their day. Receive calls from visually impaired people when they need help seeing what is in front of them. “A blind or a low-vision user may need help with anything from checking expiry dates, distinguishing colors, reading instructions or navigating new surroundings.” Find more information on Be My Eyes here.

97. Spend a day writing letters and cards to loved ones and mail them right away— brighten someone else’s day.

98. Get a jump on this year’s Christmas gifts! Make something (knitting, cross stitch, woodworking?); shop sales online; get started on a photo collage or other memory gift.

99. Perform some random acts of kindness! (Socially distanced, of course.)

100. Hang bird feeders or plant flowers for the birds. Watching the activity that ensues can be extremely soothing. 

Hummingbird flying away from feeder