Quarantine has impacted our society in surprising ways. We have time to do the things we love –– connect with our friends and family, meditate, write, read, dance –– and for some of us, we finally have time to work on a project we’ve put off for years –– a new business or writing a book perhaps.
Pent up in our homes all day, we experience ebbs and flows of boredom and feeling useless, followed by spurts of energy and productivity. We aren’t expending energy on the movements of life –– everything has come to a halt. Unused energy must be channeled, or else it builds inside of us and can show up in different ways –– such as fear, anxiety, anger.
How do we channel our energy?
Everyday we get to choose how we use our energy, and it’s important that we spend it on things that bring us inspiration and joy –– it can be creative, spiritual, or constructive. It’s incredible how many companies and individuals are offering free online courses, classes, and shows. IG Live has turned into a global microphone for DJs, authors, professional dancers, all looking to magnify their reach to the millions of home dwellers roaming the internet in search of connection and entertainment. As a recent Hidden Brain episode puts it, “Our access to experts has exploded. Never has it been easier to see so many people display their talents, and never before has so many things counted as talents.”
How do we maintain a sense of routine?
We’re struggling to maintain a normal, daily routine. Normally our lives follow a natural pattern without much thought –– work, gym, dinner, family time, wakeup, repeat.
Now, we must carefully construct our lives from scratch, scheduling our own days, and struggling to find the divide between work and home –– trying to hide our little idiosyncrasies during Zoom meetings and using all of our will to change out of our pajama bottoms.
We’re also struggling to divide our home spaces. We’re using our kitchen as our gym, our bed as our office. Time and space are melting together – creating days that have no start and no finish, no form and no purpose. It’s essential that we maintain a sense of routine. We must divide our days into time slots for different activities and create spaces dedicated to these activities.
Our guide to channeling energy and creating a plan of purpose.
Now that we understand we need to channel our energy and create a plan of purpose, let’s get started. Let’s channel our energy into the things we love so we can begin to feel creative and inspired instead of anxious and fearful. We asked Ambiance Matchmaking members, “How are you spending your time during quarantine?” and compiled a list of their favorite ways to create productive and creative days. Let’s dig in.
Table of Contents
- De-stress: breath work, meditation, journaling
- Move: best fitness and dance youtube channels
- Learn: best platforms for learning new skills
- Finance: learn how to manage your money
- Entrepreneurship: learn from well-known entrepreneurs
- Lifestyle: gain insight into how others live and think
- Cooking: best blogs for at-home cooking
- Dating: learn about dating and relationships + hire a matchmaker
- Podcasts: our favorite podcasts for storytelling, science, and news
- Books: best books for productivity and fiction recommendations for escaping
Dr. John Amaral
Dr. Amaral is doing brilliant work in the field of somatic energy. He uses his Energy Flow Formula to help people unlock energy that holds stress and causes pain. He is now offering a free 7-day Fight-or-Flight to Flow Challenge. Over the course of the Challenge, John Amaral will guide you through each of the seven layers that make up your energy system. You’ll discover how that energy system interacts with your body and mind and learn how to take yourself from an exhausted, depleted fight-or-flight state to an energized, calm flow state. Note: If his challenge is no longer available on his website, email me and I will send it to you.
Join the challenge
This yogi duo offers full-length yoga and guided meditation through their YouTube and website. Juliana Semenova, a former Olympic level rhythmic gymnast, teaches all levels of yoga and pilates, while her husband Mark Spicoluk (former bassist for Avril Lavigne) shoots and edits all videos.
Jay was a monk for 3 years before becoming an internet sensation. He meditated for 4-8 hours a day and experimented with various no water and food fasts to train the mind. Often practicing meditation in extreme environments (hot and cold), he learnt ancient practices of breath and mind control. He studied the timeless philosophies and sciences of the east in great depth, focusing on seeing connections and messages for the modern world. He now brings his wisdom and practice to millions across the web through his YouTube channel.
Try his 20 days of live meditation
Do you prefer a guided meditation app? Try Headspace, now offering a free Basics pack, a 10-day beginner’s course that guides you through the essentials of meditation and mindfulness. It’ll give you a solid foundation to build your practice on.
Website / Download App
Morning Pages is a journaling app that allows you to write the things running through your mind. It also uses AI to track your mood and emotions based on your writing. Writing helps you create deeper self-awareness and gain clarity.
This is how Julia Cameron uses her morning journaling ––
“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.” – Julia Cameron
My favorite go-to for a quick and effective workout is MadFit. Maddie Lymburger offers at-home HIIT exercises ranging from 5 to 30 minute workout videos. Personally, I love her choreographed Song Videos which combine workouts to artists such as Billie Eilish, Tones and I, and Sam Smith.
Heather offers at-home HIIT and full-length workout videos. She is currently offering a free 12-week workout plan guide where you will gain access to five full length workouts every week. Each workout will take between 30-40 minutes to complete. It even includes a 12-week nutrition guide, including recommended foods and foods to avoid, snack ideas, vitamins and supplements, pre and post-workout meals, and recipes with a sample menu!
Free 12 Week Workout Plan
Enjoy yoga classes for all levels, HIIT, bodyweight workouts, barre, pilates, and more! Practice anywhere with thousands of online fitness videos by world-class instructors. They have a free 14 day trial. After your trial, get access to unlimited yoga, fitness, and meditation for only $20/month. That's less than the cost of one studio class.
Ryan is a grammy award nominee for his choreography for Sia and Arcade Fire. He is currently offering Sweatfest, a series of dance videos on his Instagram live channel every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 10am PST.
10 years ago, Jess co-created You Can Dance Again, a community of dance and workshops in NYC. Ever since then, she has been creating dance instruction videos for her online audience. Her training is in classical ballet, and other dance/art forms like jazz, African, Haitian, improv, comedy, and more. She is currently offering a free 13-day series called Dance Alone, Together dedicated to waking up creativity, connecting to your body, and turning aloneness into action.
Audible produces digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs, and audio versions of magazines and newspapers. Lucky for us, it’s making hundreds of titles available for free during Covid19. The audiobook platform has said that, for as long as schools are closed, anyone can listen to a vast selection of its titles. This means books read by Westworld’s Thandie Newton and Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens are available to stream at no cost at all. Simply visit stories.audible.com from any web browser to get started. No log-ins, credit card or passwords needed.
Listen for free
Masterclass is one of my favorite platforms. It offers the experience of taking a private class from a world-class expert. Neil Gaimain and David Sedaris teach writing. Natalie Portman teaches acting. Bobbi Brown teaches makeup. Neil deGrass Tyson teaches scientific thinking. Disney’s Big Iger and Starbucks’ Howard Schultz teach leadership and business. Wolfgang Puck teaches cooking. I mean, wow. It’s not currently offering any free promotions, but $180 is worth a year of unlimited courses (includes membership to gift to someone).
Though Skillshare doesn’t have the same repertoire of world-class instructors as Masterclass, it still has an impressive collection of courses aimed at the creative and entrepreneur. Choose from drawing and illustration, photography, writing, marketing, and business. It offers free classes, but a premium membership gets you the really good stuff. $99 for the year, or $15 a month. Start with a 14 free trial to give it a try!
Ramit, Author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, is doing an Instagram Live series called Fireside Chats every night at 5:30pm PST. He talks about a variety of topics relating to finance, including a Q&A. It’s one of my favorite IG live channels at the moment. And if you haven’t already, his book I Will Teach You To Be Rich just might change your entire financial wellbeing.
Buy his book
Chase is a photographer, director, artist, and entrepreneur. The weekly Chase Jarvis Live show features interviews with top creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs. I personally like Chase because he thinks outside the box and is a “hustler.” I also like his creative approach to business ideas and new projects. Check out his website for his shows and podcasts.
Tim is an entrepreneur, investor, author, and podcaster churning out more content in a year that one could hope to accomplish in a lifetime. He is an author of 5 #1 NYT/WSJ bestsellers, and his podcast The Tim Ferriss Show is often the #1 business podcast on Apple’s list. Check out his website for a ton of valuable content on finance, investing, health, productivity, creativity, and entrepreneurship and search for The Tim Ferriss Show wherever you get your podcasts.
Making a second appearance on this list, Ramit is more than a financial guru. He’s the founder of GrowthLab, where he speaks on entrepreneurship, creating a second income stream, and passive income, aka making money while you sleep. His website is jam-packed with tons of real, online startups ideas, and ways to grow your business. Check it out.
Matt is a filmmaker, minimalist, and productivity hacker. He’s one of my favorite “YouTubers” because of his filmmaking skills, succinct and simple ideas that are easy to implement, and his comic relief. He often does 30-day experiments, such as quitting caffeine or doing breathwork everyday for an entire month. It’s interesting to see how small changes can have huge life impacts –– or in some cases, just be a complete pain in the ass.
This kid has some impressive autodidactic skills, teaching himself filmmaking, Italian and French, and how to achieve mental clarity (not a small feat!). I have a feeling he learned a lot of his methods from Matt D’Avella, as he also partakes in self-improvement experiments and minimalism. However, while Matt has a permanent LA homebase, Nathanial’s nomadic lifestyle allows us to live vicariously through him as he films Mexico, Italy, and France.
While some of us are reliant on Uber eats, the rest of us are living in our kitchens –– dedicated to mastering the art of cooking. Online cooking blogs are exploding right now, and there is no shortage of material to fulfill your belly’s desires. However, many of us are at the will of what our pantry beholds. But this is when things start to get fun –– you are forced to be creative and modify recipes to match accordingly. For example, I made a vegan pesto out of spinach and whatever nuts I had at home, a creamy pasta sauce with overly ripe avocado and cheese, and vegan mac and cheese with some tahini I had laying around. Let’s jump in and get creative!
Taking a minimalist approach to cooking, Rach Mansfield creates easy recipes using few ingredients to satisfy both sweet and salty cravings. My personal favorite is the fluffy gluten-free, vegan pancakes. Her blog specializes in banana bread and dessert recipes for those who love a cozy baking night. As she puts it, “The word healthy is a bit overrated and there are many things we can eat to truly feel our best besides vegetables (hello, have you made my paleo brownie bread yet?).”
If you're a sandwich lover like me, this blog is the perfect inspiration! It provides an insiders guide to shopping at Trader Joe’s to get the best bang for your buck. My personal favorite is her gluten-free, smoked salmon, scramble egg, avocado, spinach, and aioli recipe –– add cheese for extra decadence.
This blog has tons of variation for those who get bored easily –– and extra bonus points for her easy recipes in 30 minutes or less. I loved creating her tiny cracker sandwiches (I used rice crackers) topped with various ingredients. Each bite has a new flavor! She puts full recipes in each of her Instagram posts –– no need for clicking or searching! She also offers gluten-free dessert ideas, such as the classic banana and chocolate bread.
Gathered Nutrition is one of my new favorite cooking blogs. Mia Zarlengo is a registered dietitian creating accessible yet healthy recipes, finding simplicity in the kitchen, as well as covering topics on women’s hormonal health. Her original recipes have amazing variety and easy substitutions. Her vegan mac and cheese was incredible and I am dying to try her lemon poppy seed yogurt breakfast cake.
Eat, Feel Fresh
Sahara Rose writes this gluten-free, dairy-free, plant-based Ayurvedic cookbook full of 100 recipes. Unlike many diets with rigid, one-size-fits-all guidelines, Ayurveda is a lifestyle that recognizes the ever-changing needs of each individual. Identify your Dosha, or mind-body type, and find out what foods are best for your body. Learn how changes in season and climate affect your digestion and how to adjust what you eat accordingly. Rather than focusing on calories, you’ll focus on food qualities. Rather than focusing on macronutrients, you’ll focus on tastes.
Buy the book
Runner-up: Pickup Limes
Esther Perel is a therapist, NYT best-selling author, speaker and creator of the groundbreaking podcast Where Should We Begin. She’s recognized as one of the most original and insightful voices on modern relationships. If all of that isn’t impressive enough, she is fluent in nine languages. Check out her website for resources and training on strengthening your relationships.
Recommended Reading: Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
Matthew is one of the most well-known dating experts of our time. He started as a life coach for individual clients in his hometown of London, and slowly gained popularity across Europe and the US. His tailor-made program Get The Guy shows women specific strategies for taking control of their love lives and finding the relationship they deserve. His wisdom is available to everyone with an internet connect on his popular YouTube channel where you can find hundreds of videos full of no-BS advice for singles in the dating world.
I couldn’t write this article without a shameless plug! If you don’t know us yet, we are a high-end matchmaking service connecting like-minded singles. We are seeing interest in our matchmaking service skyrocket right now. As singles are self-isolating, they are forming a new narrative –– such as “Life is short. I’ve been so focused on business, money, and success, I really want to focus on my relationships.” –– and priorities shift. Everyone is rethinking what and who is important. If you’re thinking of moving up from dating apps to a matchmaking service, look no further. We are currently matching our members via FaceTime and Zoom, which has proven just as powerful as face-to-face.
The Interview (TED)
The Interview is a long-form podcast series that features Chris Anderson, head of TED, in conversation with leading thinkers. The podcast is an opportunity to reconnect with renowned speakers and dive deeper into their ideas within a different global climate. In its second season, guests include Bill Gates, Monica Lewinsky, Tim Ferriss, Susan Cain, Yuval Noah Harari, David Brooks, Amanda Palmer, Kai-Fu Lee, Sylvia Earle, Andrew McAfee and Johann Hari.
Stuff You Should Know (iHeartRadio)
If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks then look no further. Stuff You Should Know is an award-winning podcast and video series hosted by Josh Clark and Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant, both writers at HowStuffWorks. Their hilarious witty banter is what makes the show.
The Tim Ferriss Show
Making a second appearance on this list, Tim has an impressive roster of thought leaders in a variety of fields –– thanks to Tim’s wide-range of interests (remember, he’s a modern day renaissance man). You can find conversations with Dom D’Agostino, Brene Brown, Tony Robbins, Esther Perel, Jamie Foxx, Bob Iger, Seth Godin, Kevin Rose, Charles Poliquin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and “Mr. Money Mustache.”
Listen to real couples sharing real problems behind the office doors of couples therapist Esther Perel. We get a profound understanding of the complexity of human connection, including how the Coronavirus is either making or breaking relationships. It's also a place for us to listen and feel empowered in our own relationships. So.. where should we begin?
The New Yorker: Fiction
The New Yorker Fiction podcast just hit the decade mark, so you will find no shortage of episodes. Dive into the thinking both of the authors of the stories and of the writers who chose them.
Reply All (Gimlet Media)
"'A podcast about the internet' that is actually an unfailingly original exploration of modern life and how to survive it." - The Guardian. Hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, from Gimlet.
Fresh Air (NPR)
Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today's biggest luminaries.
Hidden Brain (NPR)
Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.
The Daily (New York Times)
Hosted by Times political journalist Michael Barbaro, its episodes are based on the Times' reporting of the day with interviews of journalists from the New York Times.
The Intelligence (The Economist)
Get a daily burst of global illumination from The Economist’s worldwide network of correspondents as they dig past the headlines to get to the stories beneath—and to stories that aren’t making headlines, but should be.
Learn how to learn, fast. Ultralearning is a strategy for aggressive, self-directed learning. It's a strategy—meaning a choice about how to pursue learning to get results. Its aggressive — meaning aimed at doing what works, even if it's a little harder or intense. It's self-directed — meaning you're the one in control.
Get the book
I’ve read a lot of self-improvement books –– especially on habits –– and this is the best yet. You’ll gain insight into why we do the things we do –– and actionable steps toward creating good habits, and breaking bad ones. I think this is more important right now than ever –– we don’t have the convenience of going to the gym, and we have a constant temptation of our fully-stocked fridge and streaming entertainment of Netflix. Learn how to gain back control and lead the life you want.
Get the book
Author David Sedaris
David is one of my favorite writers. I love his wit, simplicity, and comic relief –– which is a must under the current circumstances. He writes personal essays and short stories mostly describing his larger-than-life family. Naked describes his bizarre experiences, like volunteering at a hospital for the insane, but the funniest ones, and ultimately the saddest, have to do with the writer's family. His best character is his mother, a wicked comic with a genius for sarcasm. Me Talk Pretty One Day picks up where Naked left off, and collects tales from both home and abroad. His latest Calypso, Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Sedaris’s original audio pieces can often be heard on This American Life and his written work often appears in The New Yorker.
Reading Recommendations: Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and his newest Calypso.
Author Paulo Coelho
Paulo is a Brazilian Novelist best known for his novel The Alchemist, a symbolic parable emphasizing the importance of following one's dreams. As in many of his books, this novel also has an element of philosophy and mysticism in it. Two of my favorites are Hippie and Aleph, which are both autobiographical, while the majority of the rest are broadly fictional.
Reading Recommendations: The Alchemist, Aleph, Hippie
Author Ann Patchett
Ann is the international best-selling author of Bel Canto –– set somewhere in South America, explores relationships between terrorists and hostages who, shut off from the rest of the world, find unexpected bonds, State of Wonder –– in which a pharmaceutical researcher travels to the Amazon Rainforest to investigate both the death of a colleague and a scientist’s work on an infertility drug, and Commonwealth –– a nonlinear novel about two families dealing with the effects of divorce. In her writing, she often portrays the intersecting lives of characters from disparate backgrounds.
Reading Recommendations: Bel Canto, State of Wonder, Commonwealth
How are you managing your time in quarantine? Tweet to @ambiancematch and tell us!
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