Stay at home

Navigating a New Normal

Tips, Tools & Resources to Make the Most of the Moment

These are unrecognizable times. I have found myself at a loss for words to describe the overwhelming range of emotions I have experienced over the past week in an effort to adapt to a new normal. A normal that looks nothing like anything I have ever see or imagined before, a normal that requires each of us to step up and look out not only for ourselves, but for one another. Never have the words WE ARE IN IT TOGETHER ringed truer, and never have we been called to step up for one another in such a way. Perhaps it is time, we are due for a reset in values, in our relationship with ourselves, with one another and the environment. I have been inspired by the generosity of spirt, the way in which people have stepped up and embraced one another from afar, by the Italians as they sing songs of hope from their balconies. So, even as I grapple with the stages of grief and waves of despair, purposelessness and sadness I cannot help but remind myself that with crisis often comes great opportunity and that there are huge lessons for us to learn here, once we are ready. And if I have learned anything thus far it is that the human spirit is resilient and there is still so much to be grateful for.

In quarantine in Buddhism, it is called retreat. From the cave of our home, like the meditators of ancient times, we can consciously kindle the lamp of compassion and connection.

Lama Willa Miller

TRAVEL. Just not right now.

Believe me when I say that as a company whose passion and sole income is based on the travel & wellness business, this advice is not easy to share, or swallow. But, as we’ve said from the early days of this virus, people’s health and safety will always come first, and we have been prepared to change our stance as new science-based information is revealed. With the onset of the increase in cases around the world, and this article from Newsweek from a doctor on the front line, we currently believe that now is NOT the time to travel. As a culture, Americans and Europeans are not geared towards altruism in quite the same way as a culture such as Japan (speaking of Japan, looking for a great book about the beautiful Japanese culture, check out A Beginner’s Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations by Pico Iyer), yet, at this time, it is all of our responsibility to put off short term gratification for a long term, altruistic goal — each of our health and safety. We must all do our part.

And trust me when I say that although these are challenging times the pendulum swings both ways and will eventually swing back. Wanderlust is a flame that is not easily extinguished! And when the time is right, we are ready to ignite it with you once again!

In the meantime, what to do? Well, to start, please continue to try not to panic. We saw a quote floating around recently on Facebook that is a nice reminder of this. It reads, “Viruses are contagious. So is panic, fear, hysteria, calm, love, enthusiasm, kindness, joy. Choose wisely.” Wash your hands, do not touch your face, keep social distance, eat well, exercise, STAY HOME, live your life — just do so with more awareness and much less social interaction, not just for yourself, but for the greater global good. We must not let one another down. Need more proof as to why we need to all STAY HOME right now? This article from The Washington Post puts it into perspective.

I know I have often found myself saying, “If I only had the time. Just a few days with nothing planned or no interruptions.” Well, that time has now come. We can view it as a burden, or we can view it as a gift. It’s simply a matter of perspective. Here are some suggestions from us, from our friends and clients on productive ways to pass the upcoming weeks.

Learn something new online. One client is learning to play the piano online through a piano lesson app; others are taking MasterClasses on writing, cooking, painting, photography, etc. Just enter a subject of interest and you can learn from the best-of-the-best in a variety of passions and professions. The point it, use this time as an opportunity to expand your skills into areas you always dreamed of.

Read one of the many books that have piled up on you never-ending must-read list. Here’s a link to the most current New York Times Bestseller List to inspire you. Reading is also a great way to wind down at the end of the day… just don’t read the news! And a great way to go media-free at least one hour prior to bedtime, thus increasing your chances for a restful night’s sleep. Why not build a healthy habit at the same time! What are you currently reading? Share with us!

Move! Get in that daily walk (not around other people, but on your own or with people who live with you), stretch, practice yoga or Pilates via one of the many online streaming apps. I’m a fan of Yogaglo and Pilatesology, which both offer classes for any level, many even taught by some of our Escape to Shape teachers! Nicole Keegan, my personal Pilates teacher, will be offering a live online course starting soon (email us for details); Elizabeth Rossa, one of my favorite yoga teachers is offering FREE live yoga & meditation classes; Jessica Bellofatto is offering live yoga classes weekly, and Erika Halweil is offering Ashtanga-based Vinyasa classes weekly as well. For those of you in Europe (or the US), Kari Zabel, another fabulous yoga teacher, is offering live classes from her living room in Munich (in English). Yoga & fitness teachers are yet another example of small businesses that are greatly impacted by the current crisis, so chances are your favorite teacher will be offering live classes soon as well! And exercise and mindfulness are two of the most proven ways we can reduce stress and combat its negative effects, so we encourage you to keep moving!

Organize. Organize those closets (and donate what you don’t need as many people are in dire need right now). Clean that oven. Purge that desk. Sort through that paperwork. Start your spring cleaning now so that when the time comes to be out and about again, and it will, you can take full advantage of it!

FaceTime or call those friends that you always think of, but never have a chance to catch up with! Connecting with others is an integral part of wellness, yet more challenging during these times of self-isolation. But connection can be through technology as well. So, dial away… you can even make it a “party” by looping other friends into the call. Pour a glass of wine or a cup of tea and settle in for the day/night with friends!

Continue to consume. I would not always advise this, but our economy, particularly small businesses, really need it right now. One of our savvy clients and friends suggested ordering from small businesses online in an effort to help support them while everyone is hunkered down inside. We could not agree with this advice more! From books to products, immunity boosting vitamins to clothing to unique items from our Escape to Shop collection ;), there are many small businesses online that could use your support!

Plant a garden. Even better, order the supplies and seeds you need online from a small business. The beauty and benefits of your garden will long outlast this virus. Plus, you can get a healthy does of immunity boosting Vitamin D in the process!

Sleep In! When was the last time you were able to do that? Give yourself full permission to turn off that alarm clock and let your body tell you when it is ready to wake up. Your body and mind will both thank you for it… and so will your immune system, as getting enough sleep is essential for your immune system as well!

Make some new playlists. We are making a few to share with you over the next weeks. Follow us on Instagram @escapetoshape to listen and download our first one today entitled “Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles”. This playlist is an upbeat way to celebrate the obstacles and opportunities that lie ahead all throughout our life.

Knit (or learn to knit online!). Order supplies online through a small business. Your creations will serve as a reminder of this time, which will pass, but the things you create will live on.

Go on an Armchair Escape! These films are sure to ignite a sense of wanderlust and inspire your next travels! We love the “Ultimate List of Best Travel Movies of All Time” complied by Full Suitcase, and Conde Nast Travelers list of “The 47 Best Travel Films Of All Time”. Have any others to add to the list? Let us know!

Start a GRATITUDE journal or chalkboard. If you have children, include them in the process. Being mindful of just a few things each day we are grateful for (I aim for three, but often find many more) puts things into perspective and sets the tone for the future.

Try out some new recipes! We will be posting some of our favorite flavors from our travels on our Instagram page over the next month, so be sure to FOLLOW US!

And remember to keep boosting your immune system. Need some simple tips on how to do that? Read our last blog post on that subject HERE.

Have any ideas for us to add to this list? Share with us!

Last week we sent out a message alerting you to what we at Escape to Shape are doing in response to COVID-19. If you missed it, you can read it HERE. While we continue to monitor the situation, relying on science-based information such as the resources noted below, we have PAUSED all Escape to Shape: Adventures in Wellness for now, and will reevaluate in mid-April. We have also PAUSED all private client travel plans scheduled from now until May and will reassess at that time. We are currently booking summer, fall, and winter 2020 as well as 2021 trips for both Escape to Shape and private clients, subject to change as needed. We are prepared to PAUSE for as long as needed as the health and wellbeing of our clients, friends, family and the world are our main priority.

These official websites are the most reliable sources for verified information:

CDC Coronavirus General Information
State Department: Resource for current travel advisory notifications and precautions.
World Health Organization: General information on COVID-19
World Health Organization: Q&A on COVID-19
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
Disinfecting Your Home If Someone Is Sick (CDC)

We encourage you to continue to approach this new reality with CARING & COMPASSION. If you have an elderly neighbor, send them some groceries or leave a care-package on their porch. Know of a family struggling? Do the same. Meals On Wheels is a great place to donate and will be sure to get the meals into the right hands. The reality is none of us have any idea what tomorrow will look like, but we can choose to respond by helping others and being kind to ourselves along the way. I encourage you to remember that we are in it together and we will be OK. Escape to Shape/Escape Artist is here to listen, to empathize, to share. Escape to Shape was built on the pillars of CONNECTION & COMMUNITY. And now, more than ever, is a time to connect with compassion to one another. We remain dedicated to serving you as your go-to wellness holiday, your trusted travel advisor and most importantly, your friend.

Please stay healthy! And please STAY HOME!