Welcome to The Unwind, a recurring feature in which Yahoo staffers share the ways we’re finding moments of peace, levity and inspiration during these trying times. From adopting soothing strategies that boost our mental health, to losing ourselves in virtual social calls, newfound passions and other joyous diversions, these are the things getting us through the pandemic. The days may feel uncertain, but beauty and bright spots abound.
For more, check out past editions of The Unwind.
Every week my husband and I take sunset drives to nowhere specific. We just drive around for an hour or two with the windows down. It clears our mind and changes the scenery while giving us a sense of “going somewhere.” — Nathalie Cruz, multimedia designer
Scoring a better night’s sleep
I have not had a good night's sleep since the start of the pandemic in March. I've tried everything from melatonin to CBD, and everything in between. Nothing has worked. It would take me hours to fall asleep, and when I finally did, I’d wake up in the middle of the night, wide awake. I’d scroll through Instagram and Facebook in the wee hours of the morning and then check emails — which, let me just say, is not advisable. Someone suggested that I download the Calm app. I was skeptical, but it worked like a charm. From guided meditations to sleep stories, to nature sounds and relaxing music, the app helps you focus and relax in order to get a good night's sleep. Harry Styles has even lent his voice to a lullaby-like sleep story called “Dream With Me,” and I've had good dreams ever since. — Jen Kucsak, Yahoo Life & Entertainment supervising producer
A solo staycation
After a lot of coordinating and quarantining beforehand, I treated myself to a solo staycation at a trendy local motel following strict COVID-19 protocols (including a room key presented in shrink wrap) while my parents babysat. As someone whose personal time typically consists of wolfing down dinner, showering and maybe watching a Law & Order rerun before bed, having a couple of days to catch my breath, sleep, read, sunbathe, do online yoga without a toddler climbing on me during a downward-facing dog, sleep, watch cheesy movies in bed and yes, scroll through photos of my kid on my phone, felt so restorative and made me feel like myself again. It’s been a heavy year, and just having some space to reflect, and not simply react, was a blessing and a privilege. There are a million analogies about oxygen masks and “pouring from an empty cup,” but as a parent, it’s still difficult to not feel guilty about taking time for yourself. This mini-break taught me, however, just how valuable it is, especially in these tumultuous times. — Erin Donnelly, Yahoo Life news editor and writer
Though I've never considered myself much of a hiker, it turns out wandering through the woods is a very zen experience during these uncertain times. And naturally, there’s an app for that! While on a road trip out West, I started using AllTrails. The app caters to both novice and experienced hikers with everything from short, easy walks to long, challenging climbs. Not only do they have trails through national and state parks, but I’ve also discovered new walking paths back home in New York City. You’re bound to find the perfect path to unwind. Happy hiking! — Becky Horvath, Yahoo Life and Entertainment supervising producer
Dance cardio classes
Earlier in the pandemic, I committed to streaming weekly, hour-long dance cardio classes. Now, more than six months at home have passed, and I admittedly fell into a fitness funk. Thanks to a OnePeloton membership, however, I was able to break it. The 20-minute dance cardio classes, with warm-up and cool-down to follow, make me feel like I can hit tangible goals of getting up and moving multiple times a week. Not to mention, the music choices (“Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, anyone?) help me to not take the workout too seriously. — Alexis Shaw, Yahoo Life and Entertainment news editor
As a single mom with a stressful schedule of juggling two kids’ Zoom calls as well as my own, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I had to find a way to steal some time for myself. (I’m a highly sensitive introvert and I have a couple of wild ones!) I’ve always been a night owl and found it hard to transition to being a morning person, but a 30-day morning meditation class for just 15 minutes on the app Insight Timer helped me start the day calmly and with intention, learn to find focus throughout the day, and practice mindfulness. At 42, you can still make new habits! — Ariella Quatra, Verizon Media producer
In the Before Times, it was all too easy to throw our old kids’ toys, personal mementos and general household clutter in plastic bins that we stashed in the garage and ignored. But during housebound COVID Times, those bins proved seriously underfoot. So — with apologies to Ben Grimm — it was declutterin’ time! Every few days, I’d open a random bin and make snap decisions about what stayed and what went. Block sets with 65 percent of the blocks missing? Gone! Old print magazines with my byline? Relevant pages clipped and archived in binders, the rest gone! That broken TV set? Gone! My collection of ‘80s-era MAD Magazines? OK, those I kept. Nostalgia and inertia had always kept me from taking inventory and getting rid of said inventory, but every plastic bin I emptied over that weeks-long project made me feel a little lighter ... and the garage a little easier to navigate. — Ethan Alter, Yahoo Entertainment senior writer
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