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If There is an Upside to Self Isolation…

7 ways to stay sane and safe while social distancing.

By Robert Danielson

For this post, the Sonoran Scout goes indoors. Many of us have chosen to isolate ourselves at home. None of us know how long this virus will last, and how long we will be staring at our four walls. Last night, in a fitful 3 a.m. anxiety attack, I started thinking about things we all might do to pass the days.

Unlike some of you, I don’t have kids at home. For those of you who do, that’s an entirely other blog post. But for those of us who are either single, childless or empty nesters, here are a few ideas.

1. Reach out and (Proverbially) Touch Someone

I’ve got a drawer of Thank You cards. If you have some at home, gather them up and start writing. There’s no statute of limitations on who and when you can thank someone. That friend that had you over for a nice dinner last Christmas. The high school teacher who made you realize that you had something to contribute to this world. Or, the girl who you had a secret crush on who said you “had a very nice handshake!” If you remember someone’s kindness, that’s a reason for a thank you note. And, don’t forget the postman who is working through this crisis, bringing messages from the outside world to your doorstep.

Here’s another idea. Start going through your list of phone contacts. Select five people a day and send them a kind message. “Hey, Mike. I haven’t spoken to you since I retired four years ago. I hear you got a well-deserved promotion! I always enjoyed working with you. You are one of the good ones. – Robert”

2. Go Back to School

My French has gotten pretty rusty since my last class in college. Learning a language isn’t like it used to be with vocabulary lists and verb conjugations. Online programs at a variety of costs like Rosetta Stone, Humble Bundle and Babbel employ new and innovative methods to get you speaking conversationally in very short order.

But if it’s not learning a new language, why not bone up on our own idiom? The art of the English language has taken a real hit lately. I had an English teacher, Mrs. Quimby, who made us memorize 100 vocabulary words each day. Galling! (That means annoying). You can study words used on the PSAT, SAT and GMATs at Or, refresh grammar rules with English Grammar 101 at or by reading William Strunk Jr.’s Elements of Style, a 1920s style manual that remains a classic resource today.

How about memorizing all the countries in the world and their capitals? Or for that matter, revisit the map of the United States. But whether it is language, geography, history, or the quadratic formula, there are resources online to help you dust off that quadrant of your brain, and prep you for the next episode of Jeopardy.

3. Conquer a Fear

My biggest fear is public speaking. Fortunately, being stranded home alone is not conducive to overcoming that anxiety. Pick something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the courage. Like

Making dough, or homemade mayonnaise as I did yesterday. (By the way, if you have an immersion blender, it uses six ingredients and literally one minute to make, and I’ll never buy store-bought mayonnaise again!) The big dough experiment still awaits, but I’m sure you have your own demons awaiting you around the house.

4. It’s Spring! That Means Spring Cleaning

This could be an epic year of spring cleaning. Instead of cramming it into a couple of weekends during your work week, you can take your time and really give your home a deep clean. Take a tip from Sue Ann Nivens from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Take it one room at a time. Start at one point in the room and work your way around the room clockwise. If you don’t have all the cleaners you need, you can do amazing things with vinegar or baking soda:

5. Take a Home Spa Day

While cleaning, you will no doubt come across a multitude of skin scrubs, foot creams, facial masks, and other products you were implored to purchase on that last cruise our recent visit to a spa. And if you don’t have spa products at home, you can make your own, whether it’s a sugar scrub or an avocado facial mask. Visit Now it’s time to pour a glass of wine, light that scented candle you got in a gift bag and never used, fill the tub, drop in the lavender oil or bath bomb, and just pamper yourself. If your mind doesn’t relax, what a great time to practice your French or those vocabulary words.

6. Immune Yourself

Since canned goods are nearly wiped out at our local grocers, turn to fresh fruits and vegetables instead. Get your dose of Vitamin C by eating the citrus that is bursting off of our local trees right now. Your Vitamin D and exercise needs can be met by working outside in your yard. One final tip – laugh, one of the greatest immune boosters there is. I had a co-worker decades ago who, in her best shorthand, kept a reporter’s notebook of dirty jokes. (After 70 years, she lost the notebook. A true tragedy of a lifetime). Check out and visit its Joke of the Day section, and start your own notebook.

7. If All Else Fails…

Adopt a puppy. Many of us crave the companionship of a little pooch but don’t have the time for the house and puppy training. Well, now we do. Hundreds are waiting for you at the local shelter, along with their kitty counterparts.

We’re all in this together. I’m not a fan of the term “social distancing.” While we are physically separated, we are socially entwined and have many other methods of being together aside from a hug or a handshake. Whether you find joy in reaching out to a long-lost friend, picking that ripe orange off the tree in the backyard, taking a hot bath with a glass of wine, or petting your dog, be healthy and happy. Or as the French say, soyez en bonne sante et heureux.

Robert Danielson is a 35-year career journalist, marketing and public relations expert. He joins us here at Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine as he explores the Valley as a newcomer to our region. Please welcome him by e-mailing him at


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