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It’s has been a dizzying season for all. There are moments that feel incredibly hard, and then amidst it all, there are moments of hope. For me personally, it has truly been helpful to make time for moments of joy when at home. Especially, when I can’t leave home.

The days at home have admittedly been running into each other. I saw this meme going around on the internet this last week, it was an email that said: “Sorry, I’ve lost control of the day.” Relatable in so many ways, it highlighted how important it is to fill up my joy tank throughout the week because the days can go by quickly without truly setting time aside to do so.

We’ve taken a few weekend trips this summer, and the contrast of returning home is often jarring. Maybe you feel the same?

When I return, I’m leaning heavier on the things that I find joy in. They’re often a combination of small moments, whether it is setting an hour’s time to be creative or dive into something new. So I wanted to share a few ways I’m finding joy at home, in hopes that it will inspire or give some fresh ideas.

7 Ways I’m Finding Joy While at Home

1. Discovering new ingredients and recipes

I think this may be the most talked-about quarantine thing to do on the internet. Whether it is trying a new recipe or giving a go at sourdough bread, cooking is one form of therapy for me. It has been a part of my day that I look forward to. I typically start around 5 pm and will spend an hour or so cooking.

A few things that have sparked a lot of joy for me through cooking are:

  • Doing a night based on an international destination where I focus on recipes from a certain region or country. It has also led me to discover new grocery stores in my city, like our local Japanese grocer, Oto’s.
  • Working my way through Athena Calderone’s cookbook. I swear by her book — it is perfect for eating seasonally.
  • Signing up for a CSA box to focus the majority of our weekly meals on seasonal and local produce. I’m loving Farm Fresh to You. (use my code “JESS9979” for $15 off your first box)
  • I’ve been getting a lot of joy from essentially running my own version of “Chopped” where I take leftover ingredients from the week and put together a new dish.

2. Organizing

Taking 30 minutes to organize has been really about doing something that turns off my brain. It’s a moment where I let my mind rest from the day’s worries. I know that may sound strange, but truly, when I’m in organization or cleaning mode, my brain is not spinning over the bigger stresses of work and the pandemic.

I strategically have left some corners of the house throughout the summer to be organized, for a day that I need to really shut my mind off.

It has basically turned what was something I needed to do, into something I get to do.

3. Listening to a podcast

I’d love to be that person who says I can read a book, but my focus is off right now. I can essentially only do about 30-40 minute tasks before my mind wonders. I find that podcasts have been a great way to digest information. I typically turn on one while I prep dinner or have lunch.

I’ve been listening to podcasts that spark joy or focus on mental and spiritual health. My favorite two are Unlocking Us by Brené Brown and the Robcast by Rob Bell.

For those struggling with anxiety, I so recommend Brené’s Anxiety, Calm+Over/Under-Functioning podcast that was released on April 2, 2020.

4. Painting

When I graduated high-school, this was the first time I had been diagnosed with anxiety. It was truly a pivotal moment in my life where I recognized this will be part of my story and I would have an opportunity to decide its course. I found painting — I even took a semester class on it I loved it so much.

It became a source of inspiration for me. I’m not great, no Picasso of-sorts. But just the movement of a paintbrush on canvas is freeing. I had done it for a few years but really didn’t bring out my paints again to this last season. I was reminded of how much I loved painting 10 years ago when I was organizing my office (see number 2 on the list) back in March at the beginning of quarantine.

So I took out my brushes and decided to try out watercolor this time. A few times a week I’ll set aside an afternoon, when the light pours in, and paint.

I’m a fan of all things beautiful and when we lived in SF, I remembered there was a local store that creates their own pigments called a Case for Making. I ordered a few new palettes from them.

I also love this watercolor set on Amazon as well for a staple set.

5. Going for a walk

My husband and I have been making an effort to go for a walk at least once a day. When gyms closed, it became our new form of exercise and an escape from the house. Whether it’s a long haul or even a short 20 minutes, it’s a moment of time to disconnect from the house.

6. Decorating and rearranging our home

If you follow along on our home account on Instagram, you probably saw a glimpse of some of the decorating projects we’ve done this season. Decorating our home has been a really great outlet for creativity. I find a lot of joy in reenvisioning a room and bringing it to life.

We’ve done most of the projects on a tight budget and have even shared some of them here:

7. Gardening and growing plants

The garden got me through the first three months of quarantine. It was my escape into the outdoors, a chance to do something I normally can’t, due to my schedule. There is so much joy to be found in growing something — whether it’s an indoor plant or a small vegetable garden.

It may be tough to grow plants outdoors depending on location, so I’d highly recommend an indoor plant or two. This month, I even propagated my first pilea plant.

If you want to do even do an indoor vegetable garden or herbs, I’ve just found these that look promising:

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These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


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