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Photograph: Time Out

Time Out Australia staff share the one thing that’s helping them stay sane

Rebecca Russo

From walking around the block to taking virtual trips, talking with friends or learning a new skill, some of the Time Out Australia team are sharing things that are keeping us calm as Melbourne goes into lockdown. 

Knitting’s been a real big help for me in these crazy times. After what usually feels like a long day of checking site traffic and keeping an eye on rolling news coverage in Australia and Indonesia (my family lives there), I stop looking at screens from 6pm and pick up my current knitting project! I’m making a sweater for my sister at the moment and I find the repetitive task is very soothing, plus troubleshooting knots and missed stitches has been a good way to take my mind off the general doom and gloom.” Delima Shanti, audience development manager, Australia.

Virtual trips
“When we had to cancel our trip to the US we decided to take a virtual trip! Our itinerary includes LA’s Mexican food trucks, Yosemite National Park, Katz’s Deli, Employees Only, Russ and Daughters and MoMa – we’re planning to make it all come to life through cooking, making cocktails, watching docos and taking virtual tours. It’s going to be sick!” Shelley Strauss, client service manager, Australia.

“I’ve never really been the type of person to video call, mostly because it didn’t seem logical to waste precious internet data when a phone call would be equally as effective. But nowadays (and since I'm always at home using home internet) I’ve started video calling everyone. I’m even trying to set up my 90-year-old Italian grandparents with Zoom so we can have family video calls and I can watch my nonna complain in real-time about people telling her to stay home (it’s for your own good nonna!)” Rebecca Russo, Melbourne editor.

Reading birth charts
"I’m a Cancer moon so I feel most energised by aggressively making other people feel better. I’ve really taken to virtual hangouts stronger than I thought I would and am (obviously) leaning into a self-ordained Armchair Astrologer persona. Once I clock-off around 6pm I’ve been firing up the Google Hangout/Houseparty/Zoom with mates and insisting on reading out passages about their birth chart from Chani Nicholas’ You Were Born For This: Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance with a bit of my own holy analysis chucked in for good measure." Claire Finneran, branded content editor, Australia.

Making everyday things exercise
When the government shut down all the gyms, panic buying of random exercise equipment quickly ensued. But why fork out for home gym stuff when you can MacGyver your way to a better bod? Got a dog? That’s a hairy, wriggly dumbbell right there, my friend. Live on the 6th floor of an apartment building? Every trip to take the rubbish out just turned into a mini-workout. Exercise is really important for our wellbeing, and it builds a stronger immune system which is definitely a plus given the current circumstances. But also, if things end up going the way of Mad Max, I intend to look snatched in my new steam-punk ‘Fury Road’ wardrobe that we’ll all inevitably have to wear. Come at me Thunderdome, there’s a new Tina Turner in town.” Maxim Boon, Sydney editor.

Booking in social events (in the house)
“Maintaining some form of a normal social life means giving myself ‘events’ to look forward to (it also helps me switch off some of that Covid anxiety). I’ve been planning housemate dinners and parties, TV dates, game nights, weekly virtual lunch dates with my colleagues, FaceTiming family and scheduling at least one Houseparty group chat with my best friends per week.” Julia Healey, account manager, Melbourne. 

Learning the splits
To keep fit outside of my once daily, government-endorsed walk I’ve also challenged myself to learn how to do the splits. Just because I think it’ll be a neat party trick for all the post-Covid celebratory shindigs I am low-key hoping will happen. I’ve downloaded an app called Splits in 30 Days which is (no duh) promising to get me splitting in 30 days. I love its optimism. If nothing else, the exercises are all clearly explained, super easy to do in your lounge room and are really good if you’ve been sitting at home all day.” Nicola Dowse, arts editor/journalist, Melbourne.

DJ live feeds
“I am keeping sane by listening to live feed DJ sets on Facebook by old school ‘90s DJs like Carl Cox, Kevin Saunderson and Paul Oakenfold who are sharing classic tunes from their massive vinyl collections in their home studios and rave bunkers. It's cool to watch them playing around live at home because they're relaxed and unafraid to break out in a little dance when they're feelin' the groove.” Kylie Brown, executive assistant, Sydney.

Facebook live events with friends
I normally play roller derby, and being without my teammates (and an outlet to smash people – in a loving way, of course!) has been a struggle. My teammates are organising Facebook live events during our normal training times – we’ve done skate maintenance, a rules trivia quiz, a how-to-make pasta cook-along and a few strength workouts. It’s all very silly (no one is taking the strength very seriously, we’re mostly whingeing about being sore), but connecting to friends and teammates and keeping our normal schedule is really helpful.” Cass Knowlton, editorial director, Australia.

“I stopped running for a long time. Now that there is no commute to and from work, I'm back into my routine and going strong. There is a park down in Sydney's south-west – Oatley Bush Park – which is perfect for switching off.” Andrea Njegus, group account manager, Sydney.

“My balcony is the main thing keeping me sane. Lots of flowing grass rustling soothes me, with St Kilda's blue skies beyond while I eat my lunch out there every day and read in the late afternoon too, with trusty Chilli (my cat) by my side.” Stephen A Russell, arts contributor, Australia.

YouTube yoga and dance breaks
“Moving my body and being present in my skinsuit is important to me, so YouTube yoga has been a real respite for me. I’m finally chipping away at a 30-day challenge by my gal Yoga with Adriene, and the presence of her dog Benji snoozing in the corner of every video and hilariously getting in the way is a real treat. I also mandate dance breaks for myself, these are more important than ever without the ability to go to burlesque classes or get down with my bad self at one of my favourite establishments. I just pop on one of my favourite Lizzo songs or dredge up a nostalgic indie tune from my teen years and get funky.” Alannah Maher, editorial assistant, Australia.

“Having grown up in the sprawling hinterland of northern NSW, I’d never had too much time for the inner-city, manicured grassland that Sydneysiders called nature. But boy, have I come to regard my evening, before-dusk walk in my local park with a kind of fervent passion. It’s the time when the sky turns pink and the clouds are backlit just so. I walk by other dazed WFH-ers, young professionals who look like they’ve also emerged from their homes for their daily breath of air, with the wide eyes and wobbly legs of baby birds. It’s these slices of life that do it for me, I think. Footies being kicked around, the huff-puff of regulation PT sessions, the toddlers toddling. All observed from a safe distance, of course.” Divya Venkataraman, staff writer, Sydney.

Changing routines
Most of my week is usually spent eating and drinking across the city in restaurants and bars. Tough gig, I know. But what I’ve come to realise is just how little time I spend at home and how much life there is to be lived where you live. Rearrange some furniture, sit somewhere you never have, try working in a different spot each day. I’ve taken off my watch and put it in a drawer for the time being, and I try to spend at least an hour away from all my screens every evening. I’ve also spent more time in the kitchen cooking than I have in many years – and it has been glorious.” Matty Hirsch, acting food and drink editor, Sydney.

Sticking to routines
“I hate to sound like an Instagram lifestyle influencer, but I find that sticking to my usual routine has kept me sane. I rented equipment from my gym and set it up in the communal garage. I still get up at 6am every morning and do an hour-long workout, I get ready and dressed for work like I normally would and still meal prep so I’m not faffing around making lunch even though I am at home. I’ve also been obsessively making sourdough to feed my friends who can’t find bread.” Jess Ho, acting food and drink editor, Melbourne.

Online workouts
“I've been keeping sane by researching and taking advantage of all of the free at-home workouts circulating. I've been taking bits and pieces from a lot of trainers' routines to create my own challenging at-home workout to complete after finishing work for the day.” Mitchell Moore, graphic designer, Sydney.

More walking
I’d say for me, it's the after-work walk around my leafy neighbourhood. I’m trying to make the most of the sun still being out at that time! I'm also loving seeing roses in full bloom (and stopping to literally smell the roses), plus watching birds and appreciating/mourning all the leaves starting to change colours... so just general retiree activities are keeping me sane – ha!” Hye-Joo Woo, group account manager, Melbourne.

More online workouts
I have been keeping sane during this crazy time by doing Instagram fitness workouts. My favourite is Maeve Madden who’s been doing amazing live workouts that you can do at home with just your body weight and a yoga mat. She has a great Irish accent so that will keep a smile on your face. They go for about 20-30 minutes so easily manageable on a lunch break.” Sarsha Grinter, account coordinator, Melbourne. 

Walking and talking
"Walk and talk meetings are my jam normally so now I'm doing more of these – but virtually! It's also great to get some sun and off my bum as it's ten steps from bed to the desk these days!" Elise Bucholtz, commercial director, Australia.

Rediscovering old music
“I’ve been rediscovering old music and digging deep on SoundCloud and Bandcamp to find gems. Curating playlists, putting friends on to music and vice versa. That's been doing it for me.” Erika Clavano, account coordinator, Sydney.

Looking for more inspiration? These are the best things to do at home right now.

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