What to Do When You’re Sheltering in Place (Fixed)

Set a routine and stick to it. Keep your body, clothes and home clean. Occupy your mind and have faith. Try not to sound like a self-righteous scold. Let people off the hook in a time of profound crisis. Exercise your privilege to change policy.
By Lance Morrow
March 23, 2020 11:02 am ET
The Wall Street Journal (link)
By Kris Raab
Day 14
Make your bed first thing when you get up. Stand up straight. Comb your hair. Dress in clean clothes. Don’t spend the day in pajamas. If you usually make your bed in the morning, cool. Keeping doing it. Spend the day in your pajamas sometimes. It’s fun!
Make a daily schedule and stick to it. It should include brain work, physical work and exercise. Do half an hour of calisthenics at the same time every day, perhaps while watching the news. Keep your muscles tuned; add an aerobic routine. Make a daily schedule and realize that the chances of sticking to it are pretty slim. Ideally, it would include brain work, physical work and exercise, but you’re probably doing most of those trying to figure how to get your kids to do their assignments while you’re doing your regular full-time job and contorting your body to shop in crowded grocery aisles while staying six feet away from anyone else.
You may be doing your regular work online. If not, undertake a project—start to learn a language, say. Take an online college course—something tough enough to absorb your mind. You may be doing your regular work online and still getting paid. Score! If not, undertake a project—file for unemployment benefits, say. Try to understand what resources are available to you as a small business owner to protect your employees and your own livelihood—something tough enough to absorb your mind.
Keep yourself and your home scrupulously clean. Cleaning is part of the daily schedule—vacuum and dust and shine things up. Wash your clothes in the sink if necessary and hang them up to dry overnight. If you have a yard, rake the leaves and fallen branches. Keep yourself presentable for video conferences and your home clean enough to be in a TikTok video. Wash your hands a lot.
Be not idle. Be not alone. Even when you are by yourself in isolation, you can stay in touch with friends via phone, email, Skype or FaceTime. Ask how they are. Help them if you can. Amuse them. Tell them jokes and stories. Console them. Be not idle unless you’re a normal person who likes downtime. Be not alone. (That’s solid advice.)
Expect nobility—in yourself and others. Never complain. Expect yourself and other people to step up, but don’t expect nobility. Complain. Vent your feelings and let your family vent theirs. Accept that you are mad, scared, sad, and sometimes weirdly happy. Pretending otherwise is a recipe for disaster.
Keep politics, anger and hatred out of the house. They are toxic. Everyone needs to get through this, including your fellow citizens whom you may have been in the habit of loathing. There will be time and occasion, when this is over, to resume your contempt. For the moment, give up ranting on Facebook or Twitter. Keep politics, anger, and hatred alive. They are necessary. Use them to make calls to politicians who can send money and equipment to struggling workers, health care providers, and local governments. Campaign for and send money to candidates who believe in government. Be furious about the hollowing out of the civil service, contempt for science and expertise, political cowardice, and gilded-age levels of greed.

Everyone needs to get through this, including people whom you may have been in the habit of ignoring. There will be time and occasion, when this is over, to resume your complacency.
Believe in the Constitution. Read American history—especially about episodes of great crisis: the Civil War, the Great Depression. I am rereading Jean Edward Smith’s biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt, paying special attention to the ways in which he accommodated himself to his crippling polio. Fear the people who are trying to subvert the Constitution. Read the history of social and political upheaval—especially about episodes of great progress: Emancipation, the New Deal. I am rereading Franklin D. Roosevelt’s October 1936 speech, paying special attention to the way he welcomed the hatred of “the old enemies of peace— business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering” and his promise to continue “an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves.”
If you’re with family, reading aloud to one another is the single most pleasant and effective way to get through a pandemic. Do it on a regular schedule, preferably in the evening before bed. “War and Peace” is perfect for reading aloud—don’t be discouraged by the first couple of chapters with their endless Russian patronymics. Jane Austen. Trollope. The prime Dickens, including “Great Expectations,” “David Copperfield” and “Oliver Twist.” My wife and I went through Herman Wouk’s “Winds of War” one winter with much pleasure. If you’re with family, reading aloud to one another might be something you enjoy. It might not. Do it if you have the energy after your 10-hour “essential worker” shift. “Go the F**k to Sleep” is perfect for reading aloud—don’t be discouraged by the swearing. Audre Lorde. Barbara Ehrenreich. Greta Thunberg. Chinua Achebe. The prime Dr. King, including “The Other America” and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”
Read “Robinson Crusoe” for a model of how to improvise a life in isolation. Crusoe spent 28 years on his island alone except, eventually, for Friday and the cannibals who visited occasionally. Read Mark and Paul Engler’s “This Is an Uprising” for models how to use collective action to change laws, policy, and history.
Take advantage of this Elizabethan age of the new art form of serial video dramas, the 21st-century equivalent of the great 19th-century novels. Don’t binge too much, but partake in the riches. Exchange suggestions with friends. I am in the middle of “Poldark” at the moment. “Babylon Berlin” has touches of genius—very dark historical touches. Take advantage of Netflix and the free stuff from your public library. Binge the hell out of “Project Runway” if that’s your jam. I watched “Poldark” and it was really dumb, but you do you. Inspiring documentaries like “Chisholm ‘72 – Unbought & Unbossed” and underappreciated screwball comedies like “Bachelor Mother” are damn genius.
Assign children appropriate regular chores. Limit their time on the Xbox. Electronic devices are narcotics. Assign children appropriate regular chores. Be happy if they do some of them sometimes. Limit their time on the Xbox so they can also use the Wii. Electronic devices are the only way we’re going to get through this.
Avoid alcohol except, if you like, for an evening cocktail or wine at dinner. Entirely avoid opioids, marijuana and other such substances. Avoid alcohol except if you like to drink it. Don’t bogart the joint.
Watch regular news broadcasts, but don’t track the news, or the stock market, obsessively. Watch cat videos but don’t neglect the ones with otters.
Keep a journal of this extraordinary time. Argue with yourself, but not with others. Argue with those who cannot see beyond their own circumstances in this extraordinary time.
Have faith. Prayer is a strong fortification. Pray for us all. Prayer may emerge from unbelieving lips; the agnostic or atheist should pray anyway. Prayer expresses purity of heart—vulnerability, fear, hope, longing. At a time like this, it arises from a platform of humility, a virtue almost extinct in the West. The coronavirus may bring it back. Build solidarity. Solidarity is a strong fortification. An injury to one is an injury to all. Solidarity may emerge from unexpected places; the libertarians and the conservatives will need help too. Solidarity expresses common humanity—vulnerability, fear, hope, longing. It’s rooted in compassion, too often in short supply. May our collective response to the coronavirus bring it back.
Mr. Morrow is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Ms. Raab hates self-important twaddle.