One of the things psychotherapists say about how to handle this crisis is to limit your time in social media while in quarantine. But I have not been successful. There are times when I get really emotional about what I read online, so I force myself to take a step back. One of my tricks is to think about indoor-outdoor living.
If you are stuck in a concrete jungle like me, you can do it virtually. As long as this internet holds (I hope to God it will). Aside from the many websites that showcase nature, a friend who lives in the countryside is kind enough to send me videos and photos.
Just this morning, she sent me this to show that the Golden Shower is…well…showering.
A couple of nights ago, a friend told me to look outside my window because the star-studded sky was so beautiful, then the next day to say that there was a crescent moon. I couldn’t enjoy those views because the lights in the city are too bright to see the stars at night. The moon is not visible from where I am.
My almost daily indulgence is the Manila sunset. Now those I can see from my window and they can be so spectacular, like this one.
I think all of us have friends who don’t live in urban areas so do reach out and ask if they can send you some images or videos to enjoy when you want to balance yourself after a feverish time at the keyboard.
Turn to nature even if only through virtual means. It’s going to make you feel good.
In the meantime, here are some inspirations that can hopefully calm your troubled mind.
Imagine sitting in the shade, sipping a glass of kalamansi juice (for the Vitamin-C boost), reading a book or conversing with a family member whom you are quarantining with. You can also just imagine being alone and enjoying the sounds of nature around you—the clacking chickens moving around in the yard, the yap of puppies chasing the hens, the rustle of the leaves as the wind playfully teases them, the cawing of crows as they call to each other in mid-air, the purring of the cat as it lazily grooms itself in the shade, the buzz of the bees as they flit from flower to flower, the bleat of a goat in the distance…
Life goes on even in the time of Covid.
Trends in Indoor-Outdoor Living
Indoor-outdoor living redefines boundaries by either the removal of physical barriers between indoor and outdoor, or by creating that illusion through doors or windows that can be opened. Having an expanse of glass to serve as a wall also is a possibility but be careful with this because this will create also so much heat indoors during the summer months. Your AC bill may go through the roof.
Trend 1: The Outdoor Room
Just expand that living space and make an outdoor room. You can enjoy the breeze in this kind of space. It might even increase the value of your property, which would come in handy if you want to sell. Most of the time though in the tropics, you will have to share the space with flies and mosquitoes. To minimize the presence of the latter, plant around the area basil, citronella or lavender (if you’re in cooler climes).
You can also use Boysen Bug Off to paint the walls, pillars or ceilings. This revolutionary paint helps kill disease-carrying household insects like flies, cockroaches, and mosquitoes.
Trend 2: Indoor-Outdoor Bathroom
Did you hear my jaw drop? Love this! For an island girl like me, this could be paradise. Imagine having the clear blue sea waiting there for you to jump in? The bath tub and pool are luxuries but hey, I’ll take them too.
Sea air is very good for your health. The bracing quality of sea air improves respiratory functions like clearing your airways. It’s good for the skin (don’t stay out in the sun for too long though) and boosts your immune system as well. From someone who lives in one of the most polluted cities in the world, breathing fresh air is truly a luxury.
Since the pandemic is never far from our minds, let’s go there. The virus attacks the lungs and damage these to the point that breathing is extremely difficult without the help of machines. To prevent catching the virus, we are told to wash our hands thoroughly and not touch our faces because the virus enters the body through the mouth, nose and eyes. Add to that social distancing and staying at home.
Meanwhile as we stay at home, our world has literally cleared up and has become less polluted. Mother Earth is healing itself. It’s a thought we should all carefully consider: how do we continue to reduce pollution when the crisis is over?
Trend 3: The Outdoor Kitchen
If you’ve got space, build an outdoor kitchen. This place is a good one to host the clan and have barbecues. I don’t know how the world will look like after this crisis, but I do hope that we can go back to enjoying meals with our family and friends. Filipinos love to eat. “Kain tayo” is a sign of politeness, friendliness, hospitality, or just a sincere invitation to break bread together and celebrate life.
Again this brings me to the situation today. Many people are finding it very difficult to make ends meet. There are so many private initiatives online that offer us chances to help. I’m not going to list them down here because there are really a lot.
For myself, I prefer to give to people I know who are raising funds to help communities because I am more confident that the money I give goes to the people who need the help, and is not going to be used for administrative costs. But that’s just me. If you are in a good place, please, please give.
If you are not aware of what’s going on in the depressed areas, look at this report from Al Jazeera.
Trend 4: The Roofdeck
There’s something magical about roof decks. Maybe it’s because you’re on top of the world. If you are able to make it more private and cozy, it could become your den where you can relax and rejuvenate.
For the tropics, it is important to think about how to shield the place from the sun without fully covering it up.
Bring up some plants to make it more attractive, but first make sure that the building can take the additional load. If it can, you can even make a vegetable garden. For many years now, environmentalists have espoused the benefits of having a roof garden, like temperature control and habitat for wildlife, aside from it being a food source.
With this crisis, we have seen how the food supply can be cut off or hampered. Farmers cannot move their goods from their farms to the cities because of road blocks even if they have all the papers that are required by government. So if you get the chance, plant some veggies in your (roof) garden. Who knows you may find out that you have a green thumb.
Gardening is also good to relax the mind and relieve stress. When the time comes that you can harvest your plants after this crisis, you can cook in your outdoor kitchen and invite family and friends over.
Here are additional inspirations from Instagram for those who want to keep on dreaming.
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When the weather is good and you think it will hold, make an intimate space like this. The subdued natural colors make it a tranquil corner. Try to choose furniture that can withstand weather changes, like sofas that have loose seat cushions, which you can bring in.
DIY Secret Garden
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Some of you may have this narrow space that runs along the side of your home.
Make it a lovely secret garden which you can escape to when you want to be alone or to just think about things like what’s going to happen to you after the crisis ends and what you want to do with yourself. Crisis situations can bring out existential questions, such as what’s the meaning of life or what’s your greater purpose. Welcome those thoughts in. Maybe it’s the path to a better you.
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