How This Happiness Expert Is Coping With Family Quarantine


“I thrive on a schedule and routine. But my family doesn’t want that.”

There are a lot of stressful factors weighing on us right now amid this global pandemic. But, if there’s something that author Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project knows best, it’s that happy people are more likely than others to do something about the world’s woes. In other words: Finding light during dark times is really important to our collective future.

This week, we’re going to talk to Gretchen about how to cope with the pandemic. Today, Rubin weighs in on how she and her family are staying sane — while cooped up together in Manhattan.

When my 20-year-old daughter came home from college amid the coronavirus fallout, our family settled in for the long road ahead. With me, my husband, two daughters, and dog all under the same roof, I quickly realized that we were all going to cope in different ways. But I also knew that despite feeling cooped up — we could still get through it and enjoy the time-spent together.

I thrive on a schedule and routine. But my family doesn’t want that. So I’ve had to hone in on what I really need in my life during this time. And thankfully — it’s fit in with the grander scheme of my household.

One thing I’ve found especially necessary is getting personal space. One of the highlights of my day is heading outside for a walk twice a day — to lift my spirits. Here in New York City, there are daffodils, and blooming pink trees. It’s very beautiful — and an escape from the stress of what’s happening.

Inside our home, we’ve tried out new bonding activities. My daughters have both been doing school from home. And I’ve been thinking of ways we can all broaden our knowledge together. We all want to learn more about history, so we’ve been looking into different history documentaries to watch. And we’ve also been on the lookout for a television show my extended family can all watch together.

We’ve reached out to our other loved ones to check in — and that’s brought a sense of comfort. I live right around the corner from my in-laws, but we unfortunately can’t see them right now, because they’re in a high-risk group. And my own parents live in Kansas City. So we’ve been calling each of them much more, and sending them funny videos of our dog and photos taken from TimeHop — that app that finds social media posts from the past.

My family has also found inventive ways to prioritize our mental health during this time — many we probably wouldn’t have considered before. Before and after dinner, we’ve been doing a meditation circle. I’m not a meditation person, but I said — in the spirit of Covid-19 — count me in. We’ll sit in a circle and listen to an app for 10 minutes.

It’s a great way to lift our spirits because the reality is: Everybody’s struggling. I think there’s comfort in knowing that we’re all staying in our homes, because we care about each other.

This was As Told To staff writer Amanda Svachula.

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