Worldwide icon-chevron-right How to stay sane during lockdown, according to Time Out’s editors

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How our editors are staying sane
Photograph: Philip Lay

How to stay sane during lockdown, according to Time Out’s editors

Home for the foreseeable? So are our editors in New York, Barcelona, London, Sydney and elsewhere. They share the things keeping them going

By Ellie Walker-Arnott
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As much of the world remains in lockdown, we’re all being forced to find a new normal inside our homes. Our Time Out editors are used to being out and about exploring their cities on the daily, but the current world situation means most of us are now eating, drinking, exercising and socialising inside the same four walls. (That’s why we’ve temporarily renamed ourselves Time In.)

While the reality of lockdown varies from city to city, it’s an exceptional and scary time to live through. Here, our editors from Barcelona, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, ChicagoLondon and more share the little things they are doing to stay safe, centered and sane right now – from playing video games and embarking on inventive home workouts to throwing virtual cocktail parties.

RECOMMENDED: 80 actually fun things to do when you’re stuck at home

How to stay sane during lockdown

Sticking to a strong routine

‘I consider myself a free spirit that goes with the flow but now, order and routine are essential in getting me through the day. I start each morning by making myself a big pot of tea (green tea with rose, in case you’re wondering) and sip on it as I run through my emails. I also look forward to my daily meeting with the editorial team – it’s so good to see their lovely faces and have some human interaction. Then I trudge on with the rest of my day getting as many stories up as possible. With so many restaurants and bars reaching out for support, I feel more connected than ever to the work we do at Time Out, trying to send people their way as much as possible.’ Nicole-Marie Ng, Editor, Singapore

Getting dressed as usual

‘I’m generally a worrier and overthinker but strangely these circumstances have made me a much more positive person. I make it a point to wake up as I would on a day I have to head to the office and dress up with a work shirt and blow dry my hair and everything (but the PJ bottoms stay on!) The best part of the day I guess is still meeting the team on Zoom to discuss our schedule.’ Delfina Utomo, Digital Editor, Singapore

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Walking

‘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 the slices of life that do it for me, I think. Footies being kicked around, the huff-puff of regulation bootcamps, the toddlers toddling. All observed from a safe distance, of course.’ Divya Venkataraman, Staff Writer, Sydney

‘Hong Kong has faced more difficult times recently as the second wave of cases in the city have left many feeling a little jittery. Being at home all day makes me stir crazy, so I've been taking steps – literally – to make sure I don't go completely bonkers. When the sun goes down, and the streets are quiet, I've been masking up and going on walks around the city. These definitely aren’t the best of times, but it’s beautiful, in a weird way, to see Hong Kong so quiet and with so many lights twinkling from apartment blocks as so much of the population remains indoors.’ Sam Evans, English Editor, Hong Kong  

Running

‘The Spanish government will not allow us to go jogging. So hey, you have to make the best of what you’re dealt: every morning at half past eight I run three kilometers inside in my community garage. There is a huge fishnet steel door, so a certain degree of light and fresh air comes in. I feel a bit like Stallone in ‘Rocky IV’, fantasizing about training under fluorescent lights in a USSR industrial warehouse. After this, I join my wife and daughter in our terrace for a half an hour of streaming-guided gymnastics.’ Ricard Martin, Food and Drink Editor, Barcelona

‘I’ve been going running every other day along the beautiful Parkland Walk (London’s longest nature reserve which runs along an abandoned railway line) and that is helping with mental health and positivity, especially for the people who glide effortlessly past me (at a safe distance) on their own runs.’ Philip De Semlyen, Global Film Editor

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Skipping rope
Skipping rope
Photograph: Shutterstock

Skipping

‘I've found skipping is a very good bit of high-intensity exercise that gets me outside too. I also really like Libby Christensen’s fitness Instagram account. She does really simple routines and you don’t have to watch a workout video, they’re just Instagram posts.’ Kate Lloyd, Features Editor, London

Yoga

‘I've been doing Yoga with Adriene every morning, which is great, because she offers all kinds of levels and lengths and types of yoga, and some meditations, if that's your thing. And if it is, check out some free apps for meditation, such as Insight Timer, which I have on my phone and use for a break in the day or to help sleep at night.’ Jan Fleischer, English Editor, Barcelona 

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Creative home workouts

‘I hate exercising, but thanks to Nintendo Switch’s “Ring Fit Adventure – which I bought last year but played with less than ten times – I get a full-body workout for a 20 to a 30-minute session. Now I don't feel too guilty ordering delivery food during this stay at home phase.’ Ann Chiu, Chinese Editor, Hong Kong

‘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 sixth 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

Family

‘Apart from counting the days until it’s all over, getting to spend some quality time with the family definitely helps. I’m used to working late in the office, so I rarely get to sit down with the rest of my family at the dinner table, but now that I’m at home a lot more, sitting down to chat with the fam and playing with my three-year-old nephew makes me feel like I'm human again.’ Jenny Leung, Digital Editor, Hong Kong

‘I’ve never really been the type of person to video-call someone, 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 on FaceTime. I’m even setting 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, Editor, Melbourne

‘Between having to entertain my daughter all day long and constantly feeding her while trying to actually work from home, I have got no time to even think of the fact that we're not allowed out of our apartment. Not entirely sure if that's a good or a bad thing?’ Anna Ben Yehuda, Global Content Editor

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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

‘Knowing I have friends around the corner from me going through the same thing as I am has been super comforting. I know if I ever needed anything they’d help and vice versa. So far, we’ve done Zoom dates, coordinated a CSA order, waved to each other from our windows and dropped off baked goods (because cake is everything right now).’ Shaye Weaver, Things To Do Editor, New York

My mini schnauzer

‘I have always been happy to have the company of Rumba, my mini schnauzer, but having her now during this confinement period, it's as if I've won the lottery. The lockdown in Spain prohibits going out for a stroll or a jog, but if you have a dog you're allowed to accompany your furry friend outside while he does his business. That means I get to go out every morning and take a breather as we walk through the large Monjtuïc park near my house.’ Maria José Gómez, Director, Barcelona

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Knitting
Knitting
Photograph: Shutterstock

Knitting

‘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

Drawing (and learning the splits)

‘I studied visual arts alongside journalism and being stuck inside for 23 hours a day has helped me reconnect with that. I bought a visual diary online and am currently doing the “draw the same thing every day, for 30 days” challenge (which I’ve decided I will just keep doing until the shutdown is over). I’ve decided to draw candles (because it was the first thing I saw in my house) and so far my daily drawing sessions have really helped create a sense of calm. Making art and being creative is something I find can really give you a sense of control and accomplishment in a very uncertain time.

To keep fit outside of my once daily, government-endorsed walk I’ve also challenged myself to learn how to do the splits. Just cause I think it’ll be a neat party trick for all the celebratory shindigs I am low-key hoping will happen when this is over. 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, Melbourne

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Adult colouring books

‘When you can't control anything that's happening in the outside world, it helps to focus on something you can control, like colouring neatly between the lines of a mandala colouring book. When I need a break from all the concentration, I take a bite of gooey cheese pizza paired with a glass of Cab.’ Deme Walls, North America Engagement Editor, New York

Regular 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 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

‘I'm confined in a big old house with my wife and my nine-year-old kid, which is great because we have plenty of space. We try to eat healthily, and sometimes we play loud music and dance: a great way to avoid losing our minds!’ Borja Duñó, Music Editor, Barcelona

‘I'm exercising by practising different Tik Tok dance choreos with my housemates. It actually uses a lot of brain work because you have to memorise the choreo and make sure you’re in sync with your dance partners. And through practising and perfecting it, you work through your muscles, including the core from all the laughing!’ Cam Khalid, Things To Do writer, Singapore

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Home improvements

‘I’m finally getting around to all the little home-improvement projects I’ve been putting off for months, like updating all the light switch plates in my apartment. Sort of in the same vein, I turned my balcony into a mini studio for spray-painting and refurbished an old jewelry armoire. I’ve never painted anything in my life, so needless to say things got messy. On the bright side, I had so much pigment on my hands and clothes that I couldn’t check my phone for at least a few hours!’ Virginia Gil, Miami Editor

Flatbreads on a table
Flatbreads on a table
Photograph: Shutterstock

Making flatbread

‘More than ever, I feel like my life revolves around food now (what else is there to look forward to?) so I’m cooking a lot. These Jamie Oliver flatbreads are super-easy. All you need is baking powder, natural yoghurt and flour and there’s no kneading or proving involved. You’ll feel like you’ve made something really elaborate.’ Isabelle Aron, News and City Life Editor, London

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Scrabble

‘Call me a nerd – you won’t be the first – but playing online Scrabble with my friends has become the highlight of my day. Not Words with Friends, proper old-school Scrabble (albeit on our phones), in real time. The thrill of covering a triple-letter square with a Z or a Q can cheer me up for hours. But it’s not about winning, it’s about getting the nerds together and focusing our minds on something other than c*ronavirus (16 points).’ Sarah Cohen, Deputy Chief Sub Editor, London

Beauty products

‘In Hong Kong, some people still need to go out for work. I choose to stay at home as much as possible and do my online shopping and get a bunch of beauty products on Sephora to keep me entertained. I also take virtual tours online and explore some of the well-known museums and watch online streamings of concerts.’ Cara Hung, Staff Writer, Hong Kong    

 

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Short stories

‘The Short Story podcast on BBC Sounds is full of beautiful bite-sized stories, which you won’t have heard before. All the tales are award-winning or have been commissioned from best-selling writers. I'm working my way through them one-by-one each day. I save them for after I've finished working from home and they're a little 20-minute window of calm. I've also discovered so many great writers through it.’ Alexandra Sims, Deputy Events Editor, London

Niche podcasts

‘The BBC Radio podcast, 13 Minutes from the Moon, is both distractingly geeky in an engineering way (I think I understand a gimbal lock?) but also all set in space and thus far, far removed from the current traumas on planet earth.’ Oliver Keens, Music and Nightlife Editor, London

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A scene from Act II of Bizet's "Carmen" with Elina Garanca (center) in the title role
A scene from Act II of Bizet's "Carmen" with Elina Garanca (center) in the title role
Photograph: Ken Howard

Opera

‘First off: There's nothing like an opera staged at the Met. The performances are simply incredible, and I mean that in the literal sense of the word—you can't believe that humans are capable of singing like that. But that's only part of it. There are the costumes, the sets, the casts of hundreds, the animals (my young son loves seeing a horse on stage), the music, the acting that's hard to read at a distance but that's so vivid when the camera comes in for a closeup. When I watch “Live from the Metropolitan Opera” with my son, I'm completely convinced that he's seeing the very best performers in the world giving their very best performances at the very same time. The stories are make-believe, but the emotions are real: You can see the singers pushing each other to their limits. It reminds me of what the world was like when it was at its best, and what it could be like again.’ Oliver Strand, New York Kids Writer

Daily applause for doctors and nurses

‘I work in front of a big window which helps me to know what the weather's like each day. I miss people (my workmates, although we chat all day long; my family, who have been suffering from coronavirus; my friends, who take care of me despite the distance). I miss normal life, although we've lost track of what normal is. The cigarette I smoke after having lunch on my small balcony is both a pleasure and an opportunity to stretch my legs and my whole body. I'm not doing yoga yet, or dancing twice a week as usual, and I read less than I would like to. I try not to miss my date every day at 8pm, the moment when we all gather on our balconies or in our windows to applaud the doctors and nurses who take care of our health. Let's hope this pandemic makes us a little bit more respectful and conscious of what is really important.’ Eugènia Sendra, Art and Shopping Editor, Barcelona

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Video games

‘I’ve looked forward to major releases before, but I’ve never needed a video game before quite like “Animal Crossing: New Horizons. For my wife and I (and seemingly everyone we know who owns a Nintendo Switch), each evening has turned into a chill session of orange gathering, wood chopping and stargazing, much of it in service of paying down our virtual debts to lovable raccoon-dog capitalist Tom Nook. Michael Juliano, Los Angeles Editor

‘I’ve never considered myself much of a gamer, but a few weeks before this all began my partner and I got a Nintendo Switch and I’ve been glued to it. We’ve got the ‘Ring Fit’ game, so that’s helping me stay active indoors, and of course I’ve downloaded ‘Animal Crossing’, even if the raccoons are a little culty (it can’t be just me). I wanted to name my island “THUNDERDOME” but it was too many letters, so instead I went with “John Wick.”’ Stephanie Breijo, Restaurants & Bars Editor, Los Angeles 

Epsom salt baths

‘Not to state the obvious, but this is a somewhat stressful time. I’ve found that one way I’ve been able to decompress has been with epsom salt baths. Most grocery stores and pharmacies carry Dr. Teal’s which more than gets the job done. I recommend the eucalyptus offering, which makes my tiny apartment smell like a day spa. I also like the Pink Himalyan Mineral Soak which has actual salt in it, something I’ve decided is a plus. I have a strict, no-phone policy to force me to take a break from my nightly panic reading.’ Will Gleason, New York Editor

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Negroni cocktail
Negroni cocktail
Photograph: Shutterstock

Virtual cocktail parties

‘In Hong Kong, it is already our second time working from home since the outbreak started in February. The government have implemented stricter regulations and advised everyone to work from home again. Hong Kong dwellings are a bit smaller than in other cities so it can get a little cray cray cooped up in a tight apartment. I stay connected with my family and friends around the globe through video calls. We have virtual cocktail nights and a few laughs while online to keep our social lives. I actually feel more connected with so many people now; we spend more time reaching out to each other compared to before.’ Tatum Ancheta, Editor-in-chief, Hong Kong

‘My roommate published her book ‘Regarding Cocktails’ (her late husband was Sasha Petraske of Milk & Honey) a few years ago. It’s filled with 75 recipes and seeing as we have to stay home these days, I've been testing my mixology skills under her watchful eye. But I'm too slow (we're thirsty, after all!), and my technique needs refining, so I usually just end up posting Instagram stories of her showing off how to properly pour a drink with a piece of helpful advice. Cheers!’ Bao Ong, Food and Drink Editor, New York

‘What’s keeping me sane? Equal parts meditation and mixology. I recently downloaded the Headspace app, which has helped me carve out little moments for myself throughout the day. I'm working through a course on patience now, and I use the app’s Sleepcasts to settle my mind at night. On the flip side, I've also been upping my bar game with take-home cocktail kits from some of the best bars in Chicago. Right now, I'm perfecting my Old Fashioned with a kit from the Violet Hour –perfect for all of those virtual happy hours I keep getting invited to.’ Morgan Olsen, Editor, Chicago

Visiting a virtual piano bar

‘As someone has been going out to the theater or nightclubs nearly every night of the week for 20 years, I am comforted by the amazing stream of new live theater and cabaret content that's available to us every day. Between these doses of performance and shop talk (via Facebook, YouTube and Instragram) and my nightly visits to piano bar Marie's Crisis, I feel intimately connected to a non-virtual world that I would otherwise be missing even more acutely.’ Adam Feldman, National Theater and Dance Editor, New York

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Live-streaming DJ sets

‘We've been taking our dog on long walks around the neighbourhood and to pick up dinners from some of our favorite restaurants offering contactless takeout. Zoom, Houseparty and Facetime are keeping me connected with friends for happy hours throughout the week which has resulted in a definite uptick in my alcohol consumption! Streaming live DJ sets has been a fun way to kinda feel like you're out hanging at a bar. I always dig the Lot Radio in Brooklyn. Miami’s ATV Records and Club Space have also been live streaming some cool stuff since closing.’ Falyn Freyman, Associate Editor, Miami

Slowing down

‘With the chaos that’s going on in the world, it’s understandable if your anxiety starts to kick in full force. Working from home has provided me an opportunity to slow down in the morning instead of just rushing to get out of the house. I make it a point to wake up earlier and start my mornings with a short guided meditation (I use the Mindfulness app) to check in on myself, followed by a home workout. There are so many free videos and apps you can access right from your living room. I love Chloe Ting’s two-week shred challenge.’ Dewi Nurjuwita, Arts and Culture Editor, Singapore

More inspiration for things to do at home?

50 things to do while your stuck inside
Photograph: Time Out

80 things to do when you’re stuck at home

Things to do

A quarter of the world’s humans are at home right now. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re one of them. Yes, it’s important to stay safe indoors to protect ourselves and others – but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time. 

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