Traveling to meet your loved ones is a welcoming thought. Being confined to a hotel room is not.
Here’s how you can make it work for you.
By Kavita Chandran Budhraja
31 July, 2021
Not every country requires you to quarantine in a hotel after travel, but I live in one that does.
The fear of being confined to a hotel room with no fresh air for 14 days has rescinded travel plans for many in Singapore even as aching hearts yearn warm embraces of loved ones.
Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.
Setting an intention to NOT allow the quarantine to run your mind amuck is key. Treating it like a “no-option adventure” is a good place to start. Let’s face it, you signed up for this when you booked the flight out.
The survivor cord basically rests on positive thinking, and that’s what ensures mental wellbeing.
Here are 10 things that helped me survive my two weeks at the Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium, a dated but refurbished hotel with asymmetric rooms. Thankfully, the hotel staff is super friendly and compassionate. They also open a window on request.
Don’t let the SHN acronym fool you. You are basically on Stay Home Notice, except your home is the hotel for now.
1. Own Your Space
The room, however big or small, is your home for the next few days. So make it your own, and stop criticising it.
How you keep it will reflect on your state of mind over the next few days as dirty clothes, towels and trash start piling up.
Remove your clothes from the suitcase and arrange them in the closet. Go ahead and call the housekeeping for more hangers, they will oblige.
Did you know a cluttered space is scientifically linked to anxiety and depression?
According to a study, people who live in cluttered homes have higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in their bodies.
2. Create A Routine
I have learned this from my Dad: “Every time you look at the clock, you should know what you should be doing”.
If you don’t have a work routine to jump into after your morning ablution, find a way to structure your day. Designate a time for a few activities, be it exercise, yoga, meditation, phone calls, shower, Netflix, reading, breakfast, lunch, dinner or even snacks. This will ensure a healthy body clock and get you into a rhythm, with less time for boredom. Take a nap after lunch every day (such a luxury!) make a list of things that came to your mind each time you said “If only I had the time”–well, now is the time. Arrange those old photos or practice your music, for example.
Also, sometimes it does feel really good to pause, and not do anything.
3. Movement is key
It is easy to blame the size of the room and give up on exercise and movement. An idle body and mind loves to make excuses as the devil gnaws.
You’ll be surprised at how many steps you can clock while pacing back and forth from door to window while on the phone.
Get a mat to stretch. If you don’t do yoga, there are enough stretching videos on YouTube.
You can also rent a treadmill, bike, workout bench and more (microwave!) from HappySHN, a service started by a man named David Lee who has completed two hotel quarantines.
4. Eat sensibly
Let me bust your expectations here—you will not be served gourmet food by the hotel’s room service.
The meals provided are usually catered by them, and you get a daily call to choose your next day’s Asian, Western or Indian meals. In short, it is nothing to write home about.
Therefore, you might find yourself wallowing in self-pity and indulging in junk food orders from all kinds of restaurants. Do you really want an upset stomach in an isolated environment?
There is also no microwave in the room, so order just enough for one meal. It’s easy to indulge and drink your way into the night, especially since you don’t have to drive anyway.
Be wise. Eat and drink to satiate, not to bloat your way to abysmal discomfort.
5. Connect with long lost pals
Consider this an opportunity to reconnect and reminisce with pals you haven’t had the time to chat with in years as work and responsibility ate into your time.
Go through your contact list and call friends in different parts of the world.
Doing a zoom call with school buddies is a sure shot way to boost endorphin levels in the body.
Call up distant relatives, especially the elderly who haven’t heard from you in a while, and receive some blessings. If you enjoy this, make a list and strike a name off every day.
6.Welcome food, flowers and gifts from friends
Don’t be shy. Accept offers from friends who want to drop off home-cooked meals.
Friends love to cook for quarantine pals, especially when you tell them you’re craving a dish they make well.
Don’t be greedy. Graciously accept a one-time meal from each friend.
Friends of mine who were quarantining in the same hotel had a roster of which friend was delivering what food every day.
Not only will you get variety, it will be a healthier option than ordering in from a restaurant every day.
Allow yourself to cheat once in a while.
When you’re open to offers, it makes it fun for friends too.
Decorate your window sill. Flowers made me happy. An unexpected wine bottle with cheese and grapes lifted my evening spirit. A hamper with beauty masks, nuts and dark chocolates got me excited.
7. Stick to happy thoughts & views
I don’t know about you, but I am the kind that sees eerie silhouettes near the window after I watch horror movies.
I am also the kind whose mind can go into a spiral when friends leave me with negative thoughts.
Remember they will go back to merry making, leaving you with the feeling that your life sucks.
Your situation will not improve if a group of friends tell you ugly quarantine stories. Change the topic.
Naysayers will also dislike that you are not complaining while in quarantine.
Amuse yourself. A happy mindset can be baffling to people these days.
8. Breathe Deep and Meditate
It is easier said than done, but positive thoughts don’t always stay by your side. A closed space can easily stir unwanted thoughts and cause anxious moments, leading to shallow breathing and heart palpitations.
Take the time to do some deep breathing every day.
Breathing deep involves inhaling through your nose, feeling your chest swell and your belly rise, and then exhaling slowly out through the nostrils as your belly contracts.
Deep breathing is proven to slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.
Focusing on your breath is a good way to meditate. If meditation is an alien concept, sign up for an online class. You can always find free sessions on YouTube.
9. Be Grateful
You are alive and you are safe.
You have travelled and met loved ones.
There are many who keep a gratitude journal. Maybe this is the time to get one.
You may never get this opportunity again to connect with your inner person that you seem to have forgotten.
This is that ‘me-time’ you have been craving. Be grateful.
10. Stay in the moment, every moment
Just watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset from your room is meditative too.
There is immense power in the ‘Now’. Make sure you are present in the ‘Here and Now’ always.
The mind can play tricks by taking you to places that serve no purpose at that moment.
So, observe everything, from the way you stretch, the breath you inhale, the warm water when you shower, the taste when you eat, the fragrance in the room, and the beautiful sunrise or sunset outside your window.
It won’t be long before this will be over.
Kavita is the editor-in-chief of Yogahood Online. She is also a journalist, author and yoga teacher.