Living by myself under strict, early curfew in a dark concrete room with electricity for about 3 hours each night for the last 8 months or so, I find myself able to practice the daily rituals that doctors and therapists and yoga teachers recommend, like flossing and deep breathing. It took effort to put good habits into place, but now that I’m an expert at the alone routine, I figured I would share some links in case you ever find yourself similarly forced to amuse yourself for the last 5 or 6 hours of every day. These ideas are of course a bit tailored to the particulars of low-resource, high stress, and poor sanitation of my current rural Central African Republic living sitch, but hopefully you can alter to your more well-lit, stable, and cleaner conditions. Because hopefully you live in those!
My normal evening is spent winding down after work and early dinner, sitting on the toilet reading news articles I downloaded to my phone during the last 5 minutes before they shut the generator (and therefore internet) off at work, washing my hands and then my feet in the sink, doing a 20-minute workout video followed by a 20-minute yoga podcast, then taking a shower while fending off the cockroaches that come up from the drain as they start to drown by bearing down on them with a waterproof headlamp held in my hand like a chair against a lion, then watching the OC or Friends on my computer while I play Spider Solitaire on my phone and/or flossing and moisturizing, dialing my partners’ phone number to receive the no service noise 10 or 11 times, until finally pulling down the mosquito net and reading in the dark til I fall asleep.
Not the most glamorous existence, but it makes the time pass, and more importantly, it ticks all the self-care boxes I need to practice regularly to build up resilience so that when I am woken to gunfire at midnight or a hospital run at 3am, or I go a month not taking weekends while we navigate delivering late deliveries of life-saving supplies held up by crummy roads and armed hold-ups, I got some structure and built up reserves in place to see me through to the next R&R vacation, when I eat whole blocks of cheese and tofurkey-veganaise sandwiches and go on hikes through the the woods to get back to normal.