It’s my 25th day of quarantine, and while I had very ambitious plans at the beginning, for a week or so I could barely switch my attention to anything not related to the pandemic.
We’ve all been there: even toilet paper memes have had a touch of hysteria to them. After some time, following all the news makes you so intoxicated that you naturally forget about the small things such as cooking, exercising, reading, self-learning, and quality time with loved ones. The things that can actually help us go through this quarantine and preserve our mental health.
Deciding to drastically limit my news intake was a life-changer. Here I’m sharing a few books and online-courses that have brightened my quarantine.
1. Stefan Zweig, The World of Yesterday
No book ever written is likely as relevant today as Zweig’s The World of Yesterday. A literary masterpiece that emphasises the fragility of multiculturalism in Europe, a celebration of peace and a rare historical memoir of the world that is long gone, Europe before WWI.
A few weeks ago, I decided to re-read some of its chapters, in particular, the one where Zweig describes the period of security in Europe at the end of the 19th century. This particular passage made me experience a sort of deja vu:
“The people of the time scornfully looked down on earlier epochs with their wars, famines and revolutions, as periods, when mankind had not yet come of age, and was insufficiently enlightened. Now, however, it was a mere matter of decades before they finally saw an end to evil and violence, and in those days this faith is uninterrupted, inexorable progress truly had the force of a religion.”
There is, of course, a lot more to this book. My colleague Yael Ossowski wrote an excellent and detailed review to capture your attention:
The themes of Zweig’s stories always yield hope. Universalism was key, personal liberty a calling, and culture was the grand unifier. Authority was seen to be absurd and zealous. Cosmopolitanism was both an achievable and desirable goal.
He crisscrossed the European continent meeting fellow artists, philosophers, and thinkers who would come to shape western civilization for decades to come.
It was in the cafes, theatres, and streetcars of major cities that he fell in love with the dream of Europe, a majestic collection of cultures and peoples wed together by history but bonded by a yearning for freedom.
2. The Science of Well-Being, Yale University on Coursera
The Science of Well-Being is the most popular Yale’s course of all time. At first, this fact makes you raise an eyebrow – because obviously we would all expect to see some economics or IT course topping the charts – but it turns out that “What is happiness?” remains one of the most important questions of our time.
The course’s instructor, professor of psychology Laurie Santos, reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. Along with various lectures and interviews, the course offers a wide array of tools to practice habits such as meditation and physical exercise. What can be a better motivation to leave a couch and put the phone aside for some time than a promise of happiness? 🙂
3. Easy-peasy apple tart!
For those of us who lack enthusiasm in the kitchen but desperately miss boulangeries and patisseries, here is a very quick apple tart recipe – it takes less than 15 minutes (plus 40 minutes in the oven).
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Chop apples and add some cinnamon (if you like it!)
- Make the pastry: beat eggs, add sugar and begin whipping it becomes foamy. Then add some flour – it depends on how many eggs you use – and mix it all together until the dough becomes homogeneous.
- Add apples to the dough
- Grease your baking pan and put the dough into it
- Bake in the oven for about 40-45 mins
Workouts are a cool way not only to improve our health but also, especially in these times, to distract ourselves from the temptation to kill time with eating. Now that most of us are only allowed to go to supermarkets, the possibility of coming out of this quarantine with a few additional kilograms is very high. As delicious as those home-made snacks are, we should resist! And the FitOn app offers free personalised workouts that can come in handy.
For those who’ve always wanted to take up yoga, Waking Up app is a perfect place to start.
5. Follow Consumer Choice Center
Our team has been working hard to continue publishing on the most heated consumer issues. Next time you feel tempted to check the news, you’re much better go on our website and get an insight into our four key policy areas: science and health, consumer goods and lifestyle regulations, digital and mobility.
It’s easy to slide into pessimism with the pandemic looming in the background, but there is nothing most of us can do about it aside from staying at home, and there are many ways we can use this opportunity to the fullest. When we look back at 2020, we will see there were plenty of reasons to be excited about the future.
In the words of the New York Times’ Bret Stephens, “Not everything was bleak. Adults read more books, paid closer attention to their spouses and children, called their ageing parents more often, made more careful choices with their money, thought more deeply about what they really wanted in life. In time, that kind of spiritual deepening will surely pay its own dividends.”
The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.
The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org