Girl sitting on her kitchen counter eating Ben & Jerry's out of the container with brown hair wearing a black tee & jeans

How I survived for 2 months in a tiny NYC studio alone during COVID-19 quarantine

Jun 20, 2020

While my mom & I were at Paris Fashion Week, the conversation about coronavirus was becoming more serious & much more frequent. We were all wondering how seriously we should be taking the social distancing guidelines. We kept thinking, what the heck is social distancing?! That sounds horrible! We were told we shouldn’t be giving hugs & that we should touch our elbows together instead as a greeting? Have you ever been to a fashion show?! The fashion industry is a very touchy-feely & emotional place. Huge hugs & squeals are immediately exchanged whenever you run into someone you know.

Keep in mind, we were in F-R-A-N-C-E. How do French people greet each other? By kissing on each cheek! We continued along during PFW trying to ease our minds & tell ourselves that it will all be fine. We thought the American press was making it seem much worse than it was. It was alarming when The Louvre closed, but we weren’t set to head home just yet, so we carried on.

Most buyers & fashion week attendees cancelled their trips, which really hurt the brands. They had spent so much money & travelled all that way there in hopes that a new retailer would pick them up or an editor write about them, etc. only to have those meetings cancelled.

Going to sleep each night we pondered things like: would they close the border and we wouldn’t be able to get home? What if they did that mid-flight?! Would we have to turn around? Or land in a random place? Newfoundland maybe (Come From Away anyone??)?! Would we get sick? Would we get others sick? Should we go home early? Will our events later in the week get cancelled? Would we get stuck in Paris? WHO KNEW!!

We made it home safe & sound on March 4th, 2020 which was right when things were quickly escalating in the US. Mom and I parted ways (she flew to Birmingham, and I took an Uber to my Manhattan apartment), & just like that, our Paris Fashion Week adventure was over. Little did I know that I was heading into a quarantine situation in my very small Manhattan studio apartment that would last for over 2 months. I have always been okay with being alone, but this took it to a whole new level.

Most of my friends left the city, so I basically didn’t speak to anyone in person for 2 whole months except for brief & infrequent chats with my super. This definitely took a toll on me both physically & mentally. Did you know you are supposed to get/give 12 hugs a day?? The lack of human contact was awful!

Have you had a similar experience? Here are some ideas for how to survive quarantine alone and/or in a city in general:

  • Create things to look forward to and put them on your calendar. These things are much smaller than what we used to look forward to. For me, this was catch up calls with friends or family and/or attending fashion industry zoom meetings. I spoke to them much more frequently than we would in our prior busy lives. I have been so pleased that my relationships have strengthened over quarantine. I feel like we all helped & supported each other during this crazy time, and for that, I am so very grateful.
  • DANCE & SING YOUR HEART OUT: I rediscovered my love for dancing & singing. Music is by far one of the things that has gotten me through quarantine. Here is a link to some Spotify playlists we curated for you! We created different categories: relax, entertaining, sing/dance, stay strong/uplifting & brave. I also created lots of karaoke videos to keep everyone entertained and to build a sense of community so we could all sing & dance together. I tried everything I could think of to help people know they weren’t alone in this.
  • Learn a new skill: After all my karaoke videos, I wanted to actually create the music myself! I ordered a guitar in April, but it never came :(. Spending all that time alone working without a social outlet was making me very stressed. I thought that learning to play the guitar would give me a new creative activity & could help me to unwind. After 2 months, I eventually came down South to quarantine with my family and my grandmother let me use her guitar! Learning guitar has been really satisfying since it is tangible. For example, I would find a new song I wanted to play, and by the end of the night, I’d make it a goal to be able to play it. It is something where you can see relatively quick results, which in times of uncertainty has been great! Here is a link to a playlist on our YouTube channel with some guitar videos I made for you. I hope you enjoy them and that they provide a sense of comfort!
  • Daily walks for at least 1 hour. I have now walked ALL over Manhattan to places I would have never walked before, because they were “too far.” I feel that I have re-lived my prior NYC life passing spots, restaurants, etc. with many memories, and I greatly look forward to the next phase of my New York City life. I have discovered so many new things wandering the streets without a map or plan. Here is my recipe for an ideal walk. At first, I tried to stay inside as much as possible, because I felt it was a risk every time I opened my door. However, getting fresh air & being outside was very important.
  • Taking time for self-care. This is imperative, and truly makes you feel so much better! Here is a post we did about how to give yourself a facial at home.
  • Take deep breaths periodically.
  • Stretching. When I was feeling so very tense, this was a great way to try to relive stress.
  • What skills do you have? How can you share those with the world? Can you sing or play an instrument? Do you have a positive attitude? Are you an artist? Your skill could brighten someone’s day and/or make a difference in their life.
  • Anything you’ve ever been curious about? Now is the time to learn! You could take a course on a subject you’ve been interested in, or read a book or articles about that subject, etc.
  • What makes us happy? You could take the The Science of Well-Being course, which is Yale’s most popular class that they are currently offering for free on Coursera.
  • Rest. Try as hard as possible to get enough sleep. I basically didn’t sleep the entire month of March, because I was so stressed. Sleep is imperative during this global pandemic, for so many reasons: to keep you healthy, to rejuvenate yourself, etc.
  • Does getting organized make you feel better? Here are some of stylist, Alison Bruhn’s, favorite closet organizational tools. You could also learn the best way to properly store your off-season clothes here. Are your sunglasses & scarves stored in the best possible way? Get the scoop on how to do this here. Last, but not least, there is no time like the present to clean out your closet.
  • Like to cook? During quarantine, I wanted to boost my immune systems as much as possible, so I tried to eat healthy. I made a delicious dump & go crock pot soup and learned to make this blueberry lentil kale salad. What about treating yourself & setting the table even for 1?! Think of ways to make the best meal you can possibly have at home.
  • I started and ended the day with 5 things I was grateful for.
  • I focused on what I HAVE instead of wishing for things I do not have. I also tried as much as possible to focus on what I CAN control vs. what is very much out of my control.
  • Does doing something nice for someone else make you feel better? What about a DIY quarantine activity of making a watercolor flower notecard to send to a loved one?
  • Anytime I went outside, I would wear a mask. This is imperative to protect both yourself AND others.
  • As the quarantine went on, I would go for socially distanced walks with friends which was very nice. We would often get coffee to go to support local businesses.
  • Have a socially distanced picnic! How fun is this?! Get some delicious food & drinks and enjoy the sunshine & outdoors. I’m in!
  • Reading!!! I needed an escape, so I read books that had nothing to do with work. Here are some books I’ve read so far: Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy (have you watched her Ted Talk? I saw this in the early days of my business major in undergrad!), Nicholas and Alexandra: The Classic Account of the Fall of the Romanov Dynasty by Robert K. Massie (Recommended by Lauren Santo Domingo. I am always happy to learn more about Anastasia and/or read a love story), You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero, & Untamed by Glennon Doyle.
  • I felt all the feels and wasn’t hard on myself about that. I let the rollercoaster of emotions come & kept telling myself that this too shall pass.
  • I wrote 2 book series (I had thought of the idea for the books, but hadn’t yet made the time to write them).
  • I started watching TV!! When I don’t have anything to do, as an entrepreneur, I fill the time with work. Working for a month straight led me to have a VERY tense neck & back. I used to attend events in the city every night, so watching a tv show or movie became my new event.
  • I read a magazine a day (Unfortunately, I’ve let them pile up over the last several years).
  • I thought and thought and thought and thought AGAIN! It was just me in my apartment, so all I had were the thoughts in my head. I thought about how to pivot our business, what really matters in life, how I could make the world a better place and so much more!
  • TREAT YOURSELF! I am a very disciplined person and try to eat in a very clean way. However, in the midst of a global pandemic cutting sugar & carbs 100% of the time (remember, we were just coming back from Paris Fashion Week where we ate everything in sight: pain au chocolat, French bread, cheese, etc.) is a bit much. I began treating myself to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream sometimes when I watched my nightly show.
  • Worked out every single day. This was a nice stress reliever and something to help keep you healthy during a pandemic. BUT, if I was too tired or sore, I let myself have the day off and didn’t judge myself for that.
  • CBD oil to help me relax & focus each morning.
  • Went to digital church. This was a family activity, because my mother & grandmother would watch as well, so we were physically separate, but felt together! I found great comfort in these services remembering there is someone/something bigger than ourselves watching over us.

What do you think? Did I miss anything? I hope you found this helpful!! We can do this!

Delia Folk

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