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Staying at  home more than usual lately? 

Posted by Joanne Gainen, President, Eastside Neighbors Network/updated 3/14/2020

A few days ago, I visited three coffee shops, two grocery stores, and a couple of ENN friends. Traffic was light, both in stores and on the roads. Out of concern for everyone's health,TELOS and two Community Centers in Bellevue are closed for the month. ENN has canceled our Coffee & Conversation for March, and due to the recently-announced KCLS Library closure, we're postponing our KCLS program on Friendship indefinitely. With people and organizations wisely following guidelines to minimize health risks, more of us are staying at home a lot more than usual. 

Meanwhile, there's an abundance of advice about protecting ourselves and others. Since ENN is all about staying connected, we decided to start a conversation about ways to stay positive, resilient, and connected when we're spending more time at home.

A mental health journalist shares her conversation with her mother.

"Social distancing can't mean being disconnected
Opinion by Katie Hawkins-Gaar, CNN, March 14, 2020
Like a lot of people my age, I've had conversations with my mom [age 65] about how to stay safe. We talked about avoiding crowds, no longer attending community meetings and skipping volunteer work at the elementary school she visits once a week. As the list went on, my mom became defensive and discouraged. She lives alone, but maintains an active social life through volunteering, attending church, helping neighbors and meeting up with friends. These activities provide purpose and structure to her day. Without them, it's easy to feel lost and lonely." Read their story here.

"A generational benefit" - Letter to the Editor, Seattle Times, 3/17/20
Maggie Fimia, Edmonds
A potential win-win for those who are staying home during this coronavirus outbreak: Your older relatives have an abundance of stories and information about your family. I recommend giving them a call — starting with the oldest — and getting them talking about their childhoods, their parents and grandparents. Read the letter here.

City of Bellevue Resources


Foster resilience by staying connected and creating bright spots in your day!

First: Find yourself a Buddy or two or three.  Village Members, check the Membership Directory to find contact inforrmation for someone you'd like to know better. 

Second: Before you go to sleep at night, plan something for the next day that will make you want to jump out of bed in the morning. 

Third: “Think about things you've been meaning to catch up on, and make a list.” (Consumer Reports

Fourth: Manage your stress to avoid this Catch-22: "The more you stress, the more vulnerable you can become to viruses, because stress can dampen your immune response." (KUOW)  Mindfulness meditation are well-known stress management techniques. 

How do we stay connected while staying at home? Time to get creative!

To kick off the conversation, we brainstormed stay-at-home ideas.  Here's a starter list - use your imagination!

  • Call your friends! Arrange to talk regularly each week with a few friends or family members. Schedule a coffee or happy hour phone call or just check in to let each other know how you are doing.
  • NEW: Access free Library resources for King Co. residents. This page will guide you to eBooks, audiobooks, streaming TV and movies, online databases, tax filing resources, and the 2020 Census.
  • Start or update a Gratitude Journal. Writing about something or someone you're grateful for each day is sure to improve your mood and sense of well-being. Then share your entries (selectively if you prefer!) with a friend by email or phone.
  • Work in your garden or re-pot those rootbound indoor plants. Ask a friend or neighbor to keep you company or help out, and observe the 6' "social distancing" guideline to avoid unnecessary contact.
  • Get fresh air! A walk with a friend in the Botanical Gardens, a neighborhood park, or just around the block is a pretty safe and reinvigorating outing. Or offer to walk the dog for a home-bound neighbor.
  • Write poetry - express yourself! It doesn't have to be literary quaity. 
  • Put your artistic talents to work. Draw, paint (pictures or walls!), dust off that old saxophone or keyboard and make music, sing or dance along with your favorite performers while you clean house. 
  • Dust off those board games and puzzles, and invite a family member or neighbor to play awhile. No board games? If you have a tablet, there are some grown-up games you can play by yourself, like Mahjong or crosswords, or with others, like Words with Friends
  • Bake something - cookies, cake, bread, pie - and share it with a neighbor who can't get out.
  • Work on your taxes. You have until April 15. File early to prevent scammers from claiming a refund in your name.
  • Tackle that decluttering project you've had on your to-do list forever.  Need advice? There's plenty of it online! Recruit a buddy for moral support.
  • Watch videos or DVDs at home. You can watch excerpts or full shows from "Hamilton" to old-time classics free on Youtube, or check out DVDs from the Library. Watch with a family member, or have a friend watch the same show and talk with you about it afterwards.
  • Speaking of the Library - what a great opportunity to read! You probably have a few friends who are in book clubs, if you're not in one yourself. Ask what they're reading and join in the discussion by phone or email. You can read books and magazines free online with services available through KCLS. Call for help getting set up; you'll need your Library card and a PIN number (they'll help you with both).
  • Learn something new! You can take a free online course to study an academic subject, or watch a Youtube video to learn how to fix that broken ...whatever. Then brag to your kids about how you did it all by yourself. (I recently purchased and set up my modem and router to stop paying $14/month rent to Comcast. I've told at least 10 people.)
  • Stay in touch with a web conferencing service like Zoom, GoToMeeting, or GlobalMeet.  Some offer free plans.
  • Not fluent in Internet-speak? Always wanted to learn how to use Facebook safely? Curious about Instagram? Want to try a web conference? We might be able to help; send email and we'll do what we can.

Would you like to add your suggestions? Send email to, subject line, "Staying connected while staying at home." Or post your comments on our Facebook page.

© 2020 Eastside Neighbors Network